Reaching Nirvana… Ahead of Time
Or who were Nirvana before Nirvana
Landing on the top of the listening pile was ‘Local Anaesthetic’ album by Nirvana. From 1971.
For the uninitiated, and probably surprised, there was another Nirvana, ahead of ‘that’ Nirvana. This one was a duo from Britain, and they started playing all the way back in 1965.
Oh, at some point, later on, there came a connection with the Cobain led outfit when the ‘new’ Nirvana was sued by the old one, with the lawsuit promptly settled out of court and the old recording the new with their version of ‘Lithium’ for a nineties unreleased collection.
Yet that old Nirvana turns out to be no slouch actually. The initial six-piece band plugged in into the psychedelia boom of the late sixties with some excellent albums and singles, starting out with a science-fiction concept album ‘The Story of Simon Simopath’ and a minor hit single from it, ‘Pentecost Hotel.’
They quickly became faves with music critics and a relatively small fan base but didn’t get further than that. As years went by, the group trickled down to Patrick Campbell-Lyons and Alex Spyropulous.
Along with the first album, its follow-up ‘All Of Us’ is now considered as an archetypal example of the sixties’ psychedelia with the title song featured in ‘The Touchables’, another typical ‘psychxploitation’ film of the era (definitely worth watching!), and ‘Rainbow Chaser’ from the album constantly making rounds on various sixties psych compilations. The song actually became prominent when the band appeared on French television with Salvador Dalí, who splashed black paint on them during a performance of the song.
From there on, it was mostly downhill. Their original label Island refused to issue their third album ‘Black Cower,’ so they moved elsewhere, re-recording the album which sold only a few hundred copies.
When the time came to take a ‘Local Anaesthetic,’ Spyropulous left and Cambell-Lyons was trying to bring in prog-jazz elements with quite patchy results, with the good ole psych elements that were still there being the best part of the album.
Trying to get on the right track, ‘Songs of Love and Praise’ featured re-recorded ‘ Rainbow Chaser’ and ‘Pentecost Hotel,’ but to no avail.
And while the quality of their first two albums kept them in the vogue with a strong cult following, they started to fade into a memory, which Campbell-Lyons and Spyropulous tried to review in 1985 with their reunion.
It seems that the lawsuit against Cobain and co. revived the spark, because their version of “Lithium” (possibly part of the settlement) was a true flower power gem itself. It makes you sit through ‘Local Anaesthetic’ looking out for those great passages, hidden there, somewhere.