NIRVANA is a movie, for sure – if Vadim, Antonioni or Kubrick had made pop records back in the late 1960s, they might have sounded somewhat like the delights on offer here. The imagery, both expressed and implied, is most exquisite. A pair of dolly birds giggling frothily in a booth at the “Speak”. The day-glo sunset from the balcony of a Monte Carlo casino. Tantalizing intrigue amongst the international jet set. NIRVANA’s is a uniquely cinematic soundscape.
This is America’s first real opportunity to dip into the chocolate box that is NIRVANA. The group’s original stateside releases were limited to the Simon Simopath album and a trio of unsuccessful singles, and it’s not hard to imagine that back then, their records were considered too European – too Continental, even – for American tastes.
That was then, this is now. NIRVANA was both completely of its time, and curiously timeless, because their central strength is the songwriting. Beautifully fragile as in ‘Pentecost Hotel’, indescribably sad as ‘Lonely Boy’, insidiously off-beat as in ‘St John’s Wood Affair’. It makes sense that the main protagonists, Patrick Campbell-Lyons and Alex Spyropoulos, first met as jobbing songsmiths, because composition and craft are central to the NIRVANA aesthetic.
Neither of the participants was an Englishman, but their records have the heavy accent of the very best Britpop of the day, with London’s top session crew to help things along. Dollops of jazz, an angelic chorale and strings going for baroque, the artful splendour of the arrangements combine with an emblematic production style - heavily limited drums on ‘All Of Us’, the outrageous phasing of ‘Rainbow Chaser’ (a cherished oldie in Europe to this day) – that is completely intoxicating.
Patrick and Alex may give us exotic locales and quixotic characters, but they also
sing of the everyday and the mundane, the sad and the pathetique. There’s an innate sense of melancholy one derives from the gamin vocals and the mournful melodies. It’s most perfectly poised in ‘Tiny Goddess’, something of a standard, given that this splendid tune was also recorded by the likes of Francoise Hardy and others.
The biographical details behind NIRVANA are intriguing enough – Irish native Campbell-Lyons journeying to London to take part in the beat boom as lead singer with R&B outfit the Second Thoughts, who wandered Europe, helping to ignite a songwriting muse that saw Patrick collaborate with future producer-of-note Chris Thomas. But a more substantial partnership bloomed upon meeting Greek film student Alex Spyropoulos.
Both singers and keyboard players, the new partners’ combined Celtic and Hellenic humours inspired the formation of NIRVANA: pop confected with jazz and classical textures. The background in song-smithy and an altogether progressive approach to the art of making records saw the new act swiftly inked to Chris Blackwell’s Island Records, an organization moving beyond their bread-and-butter bluebeat toward the psychedically-inclined rock of that halcyon summer of ’67.
NIRVANA was a group of sorts at first, and that was how their first album, the gorgeous, thematic Story Of Simon Simopath, was presented, along with sundry, cleverly devised live performances that were the talk of the town. Chart action for the group’s various singles was intermittent, even if the pirates loved them, and the act had devolved to the core of Alex and Patrick by the time of the sequel - and NIRVANA’s masterpiece – All Of Us, one of the best albums of the late 1960s, in any land.
Blackwell was less impressed with their progress however, and passed on the band’s third album, which they were free to take elsewhere – and they did. However, Black Flower aka Dedicated to Markos III proved a hapless victim of marketplace confusion, and there would thus be a considerable gap before the last two vintage long-players credited to NIRVANA at the dawn of the 1970s, Songs Of Love & Praise and Local Anaesthetic.
So now, almost a half-century later, we have Cult, the Young Persons Guide To NIRVANA and what a delirious romp through their remarkable catalogue it is. Because they were effectively a studio-only exercise, NIRVANA have never really received their due amongst the rock literati, and consequently, beyond the original listenership, their magic has been the province of a knowing cabale of true believers. Let’s hope Cult does its intended job, and shows America where true NIRVANA lies
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Cult Track Listing
1 Wings Of Love
2 Lonely Boy
3 We Can Help You
4 Satellite Jockey
5 In The Courtyard Of The Stars
6 You Are Just The One
7 Pentecost Hotel
8 Rainbow Chaser
9 Tiny Goddess
10 The Touchables (All of Us)
12 The Show Must Go On
13 Girl In the Park
14 Miami Masquerade
15 You Can Try It
16 The St. Johns Wood Affair
17 I Believe In Magic
18 Life Ain't Easy
19 Darling Darlane
20 Oh What a Performance
21 Habemus De Loca
22 Requim for John Coltrane
23 Our Love is The Sea
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The 13 Dalis Deluxe Edition.
Patrick Campbell-Lyons brings us a new slice of the psychedelic music with his latest release. It's a lovely, lively slice of reflective rock, exactly the kind of natural development you'd expect from a talented veteran who has kept his eyes, ears and heart open. Patrick's voice, a sensitive whisper, seems to attempt hardly more than respiration while conveying attractive, memorable melodies and gentle observations about love, urban indifference or a lost address book. His songs are greatly enhanced by a wonderfully consistent, languid mood (embodied in Alex Chappelow's ever-floating steel guitar) and a rich yet transparent soundscape (mostly under Patrick's spacious production and the detailed engineering of Duncan Inglis). Nirvana fans will be especially drawn to "Flowers for Friday" and "All I Do Is For You," both co-written with Spyropoulos and decorated with familiar '60s touches -- surreal vocal infusions and Byrdsy lysergic guitar. Patrick also tends the flower bed with appropriate covers of Tim Hardin, Arthur Lee and Richard Thompson; Thompson's "Galway to Graceland," about a woman who forsakes Ireland to minister Elvis Presley's memory, stands as one of the highlights.
Still, we're looking mainly through Patrick's tinted glasses. His softly insistent "Sunset City" rocks like a boat and shimmers with bells; his "Nothing Changes or Does It" makes a sonic statement with its unusual vocal arrangement (female call-and-response, children's chorus); his "Sad Song" carries the feeling of the traditional community music-hall productions that had such an influence on the Beatles and the Kinks. It all comes off with proficiency and ease.
This special deluxe edition contains bonus DVD that contains the never before seen videos for Girl From Roxyville and the cult favorite song Love Is. These videos have never been seen before and were only recently rediscovered Patrick when he was going through his archives. The video Love is a true psychedelic masterpiece that all nirvana fans would love to see. Also included is the new music video for Falling from Patrick's new CD The 13 Dalis and the Nirvana performance of Pentecost Hotel from their Beat Club performance and the documentary portion includes interview with Patrick. The bonus disc is only available the new Deluxe version and it is only available here.
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Disc 1 Features:
1. A PRAYER BEFORE A KISS.
5. LIVE AND LET LIVE.
6. ADDRESS BOOK.
8. GALWAY TO GRACELAND.
9. SUNSET CITY.
10. SAD SONG
11. NOTHING CHANGES.
12. FLOWERS FOR FRIDAY.
13. ALL I DO IS FOR YOU.
Disc 2 Bonus DVD features:
Documentary short with interviews
Falling Music Video from the 13 Dali's
Girl From Roxy Ville- Lost Patrick Campbell-Lyons video
Pentecost Hotel live at the Beat Club Nirvana 1968
Love Is- Lost Patrick Campbell-lyons Video
CD Deluxe Edition
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Psychedelic Days 1960-1969
by Patrick Campbell-Lyons Softcover Book
PSYCHEDELIC DAYS is an energetic insider’s account of the international music scene from a performer who was there. From “Swinging London” to Morocco to Brazil, Patrick Campbell-Lyons lived the psychedelic life on stage and in the studio and knew them all—Jimi Hendrix, the Stones, Mickie Most, Salvadore Dali. Campbell-Lyons tells the stories you haven’t heard about the origins of Island Records and how a little band called Nirvana paved the way for the likes of ELO and The Who. PSYCHEDELIC DAYS will take readers on a trip they didn’t expect, especially those who thought they’d heard it all before.
—Wesley Britton co-host “Dave White Presents,” KSAV.org
Signed by Patrick