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Nucleus were a pioneering jazz-rock band from Britain who continued in different forms from 1969 to 1989. In their first year they won first prize at the Montreux Jazz Festival, released the album Elastic Rock, and performed both at the Newport Jazz Festival and the Village Gate jazz club. They were led by Ian Carr, who had been in the Rendell-Carr Quintet during the mid and late 1960s, and was a respected figure in British jazz for more than forty years. Their jazz-based music evolved from an early sound incorporating elements of progressive and psychedelic rock toward combination with a funkier sound in the mid and late 1970s.

Nucleus' first line-up was frontman and trumpeter Ian Carr, keyboardist/oboist Karl Jenkins, saxophonist/flautist Brian Smith, guitarist Chris Spedding, bassist Jeff Clyne and drummer John Marshall. By their third album, the band had expanded to include trumpeters Kenny Wheeler and Harry Beckett, saxophonist Tony Roberts, bassist
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NUCLEUS Discography

NUCLEUS albums / top albums

NUCLEUS Elastic Rock album cover 4.19 | 16 ratings
Elastic Rock
Fusion 1970
NUCLEUS Solar Plexus album cover 3.92 | 9 ratings
Solar Plexus
Fusion 1971
NUCLEUS We'll Talk About It Later album cover 4.39 | 15 ratings
We'll Talk About It Later
Fusion 1971
NUCLEUS Labyrinth album cover 2.97 | 6 ratings
Fusion 1973
NUCLEUS Roots album cover 3.43 | 6 ratings
Fusion 1973
NUCLEUS Under The Sun album cover 3.90 | 5 ratings
Under The Sun
Fusion 1974
NUCLEUS Snakehips Etcetera album cover 3.38 | 4 ratings
Snakehips Etcetera
Fusion 1975
NUCLEUS Alleycat album cover 3.40 | 5 ratings
Fusion 1975
NUCLEUS In Flagrante Delicto album cover 3.08 | 4 ratings
In Flagrante Delicto
Jazz Related Rock 1977
NUCLEUS Out of the Long Dark album cover 3.50 | 4 ratings
Out of the Long Dark
Fusion 1979
NUCLEUS Awakening album cover 3.08 | 3 ratings
Fusion 1980

NUCLEUS EPs & splits

NUCLEUS live albums

NUCLEUS Live at the Theaterhaus album cover 3.09 | 2 ratings
Live at the Theaterhaus
Fusion 1980
NUCLEUS The Pretty Redhead: Live at the BBC 1971 & 1982 album cover 3.50 | 3 ratings
The Pretty Redhead: Live at the BBC 1971 & 1982
Fusion 2003
NUCLEUS Live In Bremen album cover 4.29 | 5 ratings
Live In Bremen
Fusion 2003
NUCLEUS Hemispheres album cover 3.92 | 3 ratings
Fusion 2006
NUCLEUS UK Tour '76 album cover 3.50 | 2 ratings
UK Tour '76
Fusion 2006
NUCLEUS Live in Europe 1970-1971 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Live in Europe 1970-1971
Fusion 2009
NUCLEUS Nucleus With Leon Thomas: Live 1970 album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Nucleus With Leon Thomas: Live 1970
Fusion 2014

NUCLEUS demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

NUCLEUS re-issues & compilations

NUCLEUS Direct Hits album cover 2.50 | 1 ratings
Direct Hits
Fusion 1976
NUCLEUS Awakening & Live At The Theaterhaus album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Awakening & Live At The Theaterhaus
Fusion 1993
NUCLEUS Labyrinth / Roots album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Labyrinth / Roots
Fusion 2002
NUCLEUS Solar Plexus / Belladonna album cover 4.50 | 1 ratings
Solar Plexus / Belladonna
Fusion 2002
NUCLEUS Under The Sun / Snakehips Etcetera album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Under The Sun / Snakehips Etcetera
Fusion 2002
NUCLEUS Alleycat / Direct Hits album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Alleycat / Direct Hits
Fusion 2004
NUCLEUS Elastic Rock / We'll Talk About It Later album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Elastic Rock / We'll Talk About It Later
Jazz Related Rock 2015

NUCLEUS singles (0)

NUCLEUS movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)


NUCLEUS We'll Talk About It Later

Album · 1971 · Fusion
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Though I think the last two compositions on the album are rather spoiled by the inclusion of vocals, We'll Talk About It Later is still a very confident and capable follow-up to Elastic Rock, with Nucleus continuing to practice their own distinctive style of fusion. Debate over whether or not they had any influence in their early material from In a Silent Way or Bitch's Brew aside, by this point they're very much ploughing their own furrow, developing a style of jazz-rock which would end up having a glancing influence on late-phase Canterbury bands such as Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, National Health and, of course, the later Soft Machine albums.

NUCLEUS Elastic Rock

Album · 1970 · Fusion
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Before listening to Elastic Rock I confess I hadn't had any prior experience of Nucleus, and tended to think of them as "that band which most of the late-period Soft Machine lineup came from". I suspect that my distaste for the later Soft Machine albums ended up delaying me dabbling in the world of Nucleus, but Elastic Rock has forced me to think again. Ian Carr's trumpet is the secret ingredient which makes the whole experiment gel, but all the band members turn in good performances and offer an interesting Bitches Brew-influenced take on fusion which tends towards shorter, snappier tracks than most of the fusion crowd were working with at the time. Whilst I still think the amalgam of Soft Machine and Nucleus didn't quite work, I find the original Nucleus a much more tasty proposition.

NUCLEUS Out of the Long Dark

Album · 1979 · Fusion
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Sean Trane
Although, I recently found out this album was not the Group’s final studio album, since there was a German-released Awakening album a few years after the present, OOTLD is vey much in the line of its predecessors. Out Of The Long Dark is the last album of the second full-fledged stable lie-up Nucleus group (one that had started with Under The Sun) and we’re still finding keyboardist Geoff Castle and drummer Roger Sellers, and returning to the fold, woodwind player Brian Smith. Only bassist Billy Kristian is new, replacing the usual Sutton. Great “proggy artwork on the artwork cover too.

Recorded hot on the heels of In Flagrante Delicto, OOTLD is almost a brother album, even though there is a general light concept feel to the present as most of the pieces on the flipside are dedicated to long-time buddy and sculptor Gerald Laing (the titles in the brackets are named after a few of his sculptures). But let’s return to the A-side with the 9-mins+ funky Lady Bountyful (inspired by his second wife) track that features long solos from Brian and Ian over a solid groove. The quieter 7-mins Solar Winds features two more percussionist, but the main theme seems to emerge from the Plexus project from almost a decade earlier, even though the groove and keyboard layers are definitely late 70’s-ish, somewhat reminiscent of his buddy Neil Ardley’s Hamony Of The Spheres, on which most of the band participated. The sensual Selina track feature some ecstatic background brass and piano riff.

As mentioned above, the flipside tracks have a bit their own life as the opening 7-mins+ title track features Brian’s flute, the 5-mins Sassy has an ultra-funky bass-line, Simply This’ disputable synth choices (the late-70’s synths were rather tacky in some cases) despite Castle’s superb Rhodes in the second part, the gentle 7-mins Black Ballad’s shifts from slow-mo ballad to mid-tempo funk and the closing trumpet requiem For Liam. Well the least we can say is that Nucleus remained a superb and relevant band all the way until the 70’s decade and that OOTLD might just be a tad better than the IFD release. Definitely worth your while if you’re into classic fusion sounds from the later-70’s.

NUCLEUS Live at the Theaterhaus

Live album · 1980 · Fusion
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Sean Trane
Again released on the German label Mood, this Stuttgart concert feels like a swansong for Nucleus, with even the faithful Geoff Castle now gone, and although the amazing John Marshall returns on drums, it doesn’t help rekindle the flame. Indeed, the rest of the line-up consists (outside of the unmovable Carr) of rather unknown sidekicks, including a guitarist that toys with guitar synths (the atrocious Synclavier, I guess). Again graced with a grim grey & black photo-shoot (the group has come down from the fire escape onto the back-alley ;o))), as far as I know this was to be the last Nucleus release when the band was still active.

The general feel of the album is more of a standard-jazz than anything fusion-esque, with the 12-mins Bouquet Pour Ma Belle baing frankly very early 60’s-ish, and Wood’s guitar sounding like René Thomas with some effects. Personally I find it very boring and jump the track ASAIC, but the following For Miles And Miles cannot hide that it’s Miles-inspirations will be very 60’s-ish as well, even if fretless, synclaviers and Rhodes are all over the track, it sounds quite retro, even when the band suddenly wakes-up, it doesn’t sound too jazz-rock or fusion. Only Easy Does It Now sounds fusion-esque enough to sit in a Nucleus, and even then, it is somewhat of a stretch, but the fretless and funky drums do change from much of the rest of the album, along with a real electric guitar solo… clearly the etter track, really.

Somewhat un-Nucleus an album, if you’re into updated standard-y jazz, this Theaterhaus recording might be up your alley, but this fusionhead will pass on it, because it’s not my cup of tea, and in some extreme way, even look at it as un-worthy of the Nucleus moniker. WStill good in its own genre, I’d have much preferred that this album bore Carr’s name instead of his legendary group, because it might have been less misleading.

NUCLEUS Awakening

Album · 1980 · Fusion
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Sean Trane
Nucleus’ last studio album (to my knowledge anyway), featuring the returning Brian Smith, the faithful Geoff Castle and the new-coming Merchan and France in the rhythm section, Awakening is a rather unusual album. Released in a very different era, the music is generally softer and axed a tad more towards electronic keyboards (a bit like Neil Ardley’s Harmony Of The Spheres, to which Carr had participated with Geoff Castle the previous year) and if Ian apparently wrote most tracks, I’m sure his keyboardists contributed heavily to most of the tracks, even getting his own composition White City Blues on the album. Having lost its Vertigo/Phillips recording contract (for whatever reasons), Nucleus had found refuge on a German label Mood and the group would go on to mostly play live episodically until roughly the mid-80’s (including a BBC broadcast on the Pretty Redhead release), but the general excitement was lost since a long while ago. Awakening was released with a grim grey & black photo-shoot of the band on some kind of fire escape stairs, which probably portrays well the situation at the time.

If the 10-mins opening title track holds still some of the fire of the Nucleus of yesteryear, the following Midnight Oil is a bit of a snooze-fest, where Merchan’s fretless bass , where Castle’s gentle Moog and Korg play a predominant roe, despite being a bit embedded in the mix. The same Castle opens Mutatis Mutandis on his Rhodes, but the feeling is gentle, despite an energetic rhythm, but it seems that the production softened of the natural attack of the band. The Castle-penned WCB track is well within the album’s soundscape, and is actually more energetic than most its companion-pieces, despite a flawed Moog-organ imitation. As the Things Past might suggest, the 10-mins track is a reflective soft and calm ballad piece that sounds standard-jazz enough to reminisce of his Redell-Carr Quintet days (65-69), although that band was not always as straight-jazz as one might think. Well if the track starts a bit aloof, it gets more involved around the second half, leaving a good aftertaste once the disc stops.

Don’t get me wrong, a bad Nucleus album doesn’t exist (at least to my knowledge), so awakening my just be a tad better than my review might make it out to be, but was the band anymore relevant in the early 80’s, as it once was? Most likely not you’ll agree, so you’ll understand that this album is anything but essential, despite being still good enough to be acquired.

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