Nirvana

Nirvana

Nirvana were a United Kingdom-based progressive rock band active in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Though the band only achieved limited commercial success, they were acclaimed both by music industry professionals and critics. In 1985, the band reformed.

Early years, 1965-1971

Nirvana was created as the performing arm of the London-based songwriting partnership of Irish musician Patrick Campbell-Lyons and Greek composer Alex Spyropoulos. On their recordings Campbell-Lyons and Spyropoulos supplied all the vocals. The instrumental work was primarily undertaken by top session musicians and orchestral musicians – with Campbell-Lyons providing a little guitar and Spyropoulos contributing some keyboards.

Musically, Campbell-Lyons and Spyropoulos blended myriad musical styles including rock, pop, folk, jazz, Latin rhythms and classical music, primarily augmented by baroque chamber-style arrangements to create a unique entity.

nirvanaIn October 1967, they released their first album: a concept album produced by Blackwell titled The Story of Simon Simopath. The album was arguably the first narrative concept album ever released, predating story-driven concept albums such as The Pretty Things’ S.F. Sorrow (December 1968), The Who’s Tommy (April 1969) and The Kinks’ Arthur (September 1969).

Island Records launched Nirvana’s first album “with a live show at the Saville Theatre, sharing a bill with fellow label acts Traffic, Spooky Tooth, and Jackie Edwards.”

Unable to perform their songs live as a duo and with the impending release of their first album, Campbell-Lyons and Spyropoulos decided to create a live performing ensemble and they recruited four musicians to enable them to undertake concerts and TV appearances. Though hired to be part of the live performance group rather than as band members, these four musicians were also included in the photograph alongside the core duo on the album cover of their first album to assist in projecting an image of a group rather than a duo. However they were not core founding members of the group and within a few months Nirvana had reverted to its original two-person lineup. The four musicians who augmented Campbell-Lyons and Spyropoulos on their live appearances and TV shows for those few months were Ray Singer (guitar), Brian Henderson (bass), Sylvia A. Schuster (cello) and Michael Cole (French horn, viola).

nirvana rainbow chaserThe band appeared on French television with Salvador Dalí, who splashed black paint on them during a performance of their second single “Rainbow Chaser.” Campbell-Lyons kept the jacket, but regrets that Dalí did not sign any of their paint-splashed clothes. Island Records allegedly sent the artist an invoice for the cleaning of Schuster’s cello.

Following the minor chart success of “Rainbow Chaser”, “live appearances became increasingly rare” and the songwriting duo at the core of Nirvana “decided to disband the sextet” and to rely on session musicians for future recordings. Spyropoulos cited Schuster’s departure due to pregnancy as the instigator for the band returning to its core membership. Campbell-Lyons also cited the high cost of having the additional members as a reason for their departure. Schuster later became principal cellist of the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

In 1968, the duo recorded their second album, All Of Us, which featured a similar broad range of musical styles as their first album.

Their third album, Black Flower, was rejected by Blackwell, comparing it disparagingly to Francis Lai’s A Man and a Woman. Under the title, To Markos III (supposedly named for a “rich uncle” of Spyropoulos who helped finance the album), it was released in the UK on the Pye label in May 1970, though reportedly only 250 copies were pressed it was deleted shortly after. One track, “Christopher Lucifer,” was a jibe at Blackwell.

In 1971 the duo amicably separated, with Campbell-Lyons the primary contributor to the next two Nirvana albums, Local Anaesthetic 1971, and Songs Of Love And Praise 1972, the latter featuring the return of Sylvia Schuster. Campbell-Lyons subsequently worked as a solo artist and issued further albums: Me And My Friend, 1973, The Electric Plough, 1981, and The Hero I Might Have Been, 1983, though these did not enjoy commercial success. ~ Wikipedia


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Tracks played on Psychedelicized…

  • June
  • Melanie Blue
  • Pentecost Hotel
  • Rainbow Chaser
  • The Touchables (All of Us)
  • Tiny Goddess