Patrick Campbell-Lyons (a British guitarist and vocalist) and
Alex Spyropoulos (a Greek keyboardist) started a studio project (not really
a band) called Nirvana that debuted with
The Story of Simon Simopath (1967).
The album, arranged with an orchestra, contains derivative
melodies inspired by Broadway musicals but infected by the languor of
psychedelic-pop and the marching tempo of Monkees-style ditties
(Wings of Love, Satellite Jockey) and sometimes by the cabaret (Lonely Boy,
also reminiscent of the Kinks, and
the tuba-paced bar singalong 1999).
Putting all these sources together, the music occasionally gets truly
original. For example,
the anthemic refrain of We Can Help You winks at
medieval dance music, children's lullabies and cartoon tunes
(alas, only for two minutes); and
the orchestral pop of Pentecost Hotel certainly dwarfs the
sleepy ballads of Burt Bacharach and
the dreamy cheerful singalongs of teen idols like Petula Clark.
The album was a sort of rock opera, and it came out before
the Pretty Things' S.F. Sorrow and the Who's Tommy, so
technically it could be the first rock opera.
The duo, ignored by the press and by the public, split up after two more albums,
All Of Us (1968) and To Markos III (1970).
Their career was summarized in several anthologies:
Black Flower (1987), the triple-disc Chemistry (1999) and
the double-disc Rainbow Chaser (2018).
Secret Theatre (1994) and Orange and Blue (1996) collect rarities.
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