NEBULA ‘To The Center’ (Reissue) Review.

Words El Jefe.

So when Eddie and Ruben split from Fu, and subsequently hooked up with former Fu bassist, Mark Abshire, to form Nebula, you could assume they would be strutting a similar path to Fu Manchu, albeit with a different songwriting stance, you know, due to being different songwriters etc. And there ARE similarities, but that’s not to say Nebula aren’t / weren’t their own unique entity. Leaning more to the psych-rock side of the spectrum, and capped of with Romano’s heavily Bonham-esque drumming, they released a slew of awesome EP’s and albums. And because we’re a deserving bunch of motherfuckers, Heavy Psych Sounds have very kindly reissued a whole bunch of Nebula records. Good news for fans old and new. I myself have finally (or will have once the order arrives!) landed the Nebula classic To The Center on good ol’ fashioned vinyl. My CD version has been played too many times to count and remains a firm contender for the El Jefe Ultimate Top 25. So now, eighteen years or so after I first bought it, I get a shot at reviewing it. And it’s Saturday!

The title track, ‘To The Center’ opens with some spacerock atmospherics, but quickly moves ahead into the rockout zone, replete with a heavy gong!

‘Come Down’ is a fuzz-drenched pop tune, and the lyrics have always hit me as such a pure strain of stream of consciousness that lifts and drives the whole track forward. This song is much more than the sum of its parts. Plenty of chunk with Watcha Lookin’ For, too. Eddie’s slick lead riffs, and the monolithic rhythm section that never quits makes for some excellent sounding jams.

The longest track on TTC, ‘Freedom’, is built around Romano’s epic tribal rhythm. Abshire does his part, and Glass gets the “freedom” to do as he pleases.

‘Antigone’ is a basic kinda riff, but as with most great bands, it’s what they do with it more than the riff itself that makes the difference. The Stooges ‘I Need Somebody’ is up next. Mark Arm of Mudhoney, an early supporter of Nebula and the driving force behind getting them signed to Sub Pop guests on vox here. He does a fair fucking impersonating of Ig too.

‘Fields of Psilocybin’ is the Nebs’ ode to Alice’s weapon of choice, the humble ‘shroom. Not that I’m implying these dudes would have anything to do with an illegal and dangerous drug….Dropping back a gear or two, there’s a bit of breathing space with this song. So too with ‘Synthetic Dreams’, some jangly acoustic guitar deeply adds to the sounds and fills it out in fine style.

They rev up the van again for ‘Between Time’, another classic stoner song. ‘You Mean Nothin” is the closer (bonus reissue live tracks aside), and is everything I love about this band. Riffy, dirty and powerful.

So onto the bonus round.

‘So Low’, and ‘To The Center’ have been added. Both great songs, although the sound quality isn’t great, it makes for some interesting listening regardless.

I was lucky enough to catch these guys both times they toured here, although seriously regret not catching both Sydney shows on the first tour. My memory of that tour was awesome, the band in full flight, and even Abshire falling down a flight of stairs at the back of the stage didn’t break their stride. Nor did he drop a note either. The next tour, they weren’t quite as impressive, but it was post 9/11, and they had a second guitarist in the lineup at the time who refused to fly as a direct result (or so I recall reading somewhere) so who knows what the mindset was at the time. But that’s not to say they were shit; still great, just not quite getting there in comparison to the previous year.

So enough of my bullshit, if you don’t know Nebula, get ya paws on one of the reissues, grab a beer (or ‘shrooms…) and play the fuck outta it to your neighbours. Who knows; maybe they’re already fans.

NEBULA’s reissue of To The Center is OUT NOW through Heavy Psych Sounds HERE.