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The Nice - The Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack CD (album) cover


The Nice


Symphonic Prog

3.47 | 121 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars "... they were to set the standard for Progressive, Classical based rock. The many groups that subsequently took to utilising classical themes in their music were merely followers in the steps of these often underrated pioneers." - Robert M Corich.

A forerunner of ELP, this was the first Keith Emerson masterpiece. The Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack (1967), from The Nice, is still very underrated and unknown, once it was one of the most influential albums into the progressive rock: a psychedelic rock band breaking the chains of cliche songwriting of their time. They were all seasoned musicians that had been bought together by the head of the newly formed Immediate Records, Andrew Loog Oldham. The Nice started as a backing band for the soul singer P. P. Arnold. But the band self reputation drove them high to majority. They were sent out early to work up the crowd for twenty or thirty minutes before P. P. Arnold took to the stage. It didn't take long for the band to develop a highly distinctive sound all of their own. It also didn't take Andrew Oldham long to realise the possibilities in working The Nice as a separate act altogether. The Nice became the main attraction at the Marquee's National Jazz and Blues Festival (England, 1967). They had been selected to play a smaller stage adjacent to the main stage. Emerson saw this as his attention grabbong chance and after an amazing set by The Nice he completed some of his musical endeavours with ear splitting volume, loads of feedback and some cleverly placed smoke bombs. It was designed to get the audiences attention. The tactic was an unmitigated success, people rushed over to see what was happening amongst the chaos. The band of course, played on, delivering the most memorable spectacle and performance of the day.Even P. P. Arnold, after the show, realised that was impossible to compete with a band like this. They parted company the very same day. Immediate Records of course had gained an exceptional band without even lifting a finger. Emerson and his band attempted to capture on tape some of the excitement they exulted live. The resulting recordings were released in December of 1967 as their debut album Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack. The album title being made up from each of the players surnames.

The first track, Flower King of Flies (a satyrical reference to Beelzebub), is my favorite track from the whole album. The psychedelia, the feeling, the guitar deep riffage and Keith Emerson unique playing got me from the first time. A must check for any classic rock and prog fan. The second track has the album title, shorter than the previous track, and starts out with a happy chorus, followed by a brilliant melody. Emerson classical organ interventions was very outstanding when the album was released, and is still pleasent for me. The harpsichord creates a perfect mood for the songs. So, Bonnie K, the third track, is a psychedelic blues rock n roll. You can feel it at the very beggining of the song, with the organ hits and the catchy guitar riffs. The drums and signature variations at the chorus are awesome, the technical work of these guys made them the most progressive band from the psychedelic early rockers. The next song, is the classical Rondo, where Keith Emerson shows his personality to anyone who dares listening to this album. The marching bass and drums sets the base for emerson madness and experiments, while the guitar makes cool noisy noises. It needs a great performance to keep the same base working for almost nine minutes, but Keith Emerson did it well.

War and Peace is just a blues jam track. Well, any jam featuring Keith Emerson rules. After the pompous Rondo, this track fits well as a follow up. Tantalising Maggie includes weird choruses and vocal effects, but 'Nice'. A funny bass line while the organ and harpsichord plays the standard. The guitar work here, and the song chorus reminds me of a slower and psychedelic hillbilly country. The song and additional vocals gets weirdest as the song is about to end, and that's cool in my opinion. Dawn starts with Emerson classical playing, followed by a hard rock tune and whispering vocals. This song is very progressive and experimental. You will find outstanding musicianship here, and noisy stuff too. The Cry of Eugene is the last track from the official release of the album. The intro riff, maybe the main riff of the song, has a beautiful feeling. The bass line is cool, and the guitar is noisy, just the way it should be. It's a different kind of track, is smooth and lovely, without any lost from the previous tracks. But wait! From 2:45" to 3:05". Thats WOLFMOTHER'S JOKER & THE THIEF, RIGHT?? Those guys totally ripped off their most known song intro from The Cry of Eugene. And according to wikipedia article about Wolfmother: "influenced by a mix of 'bluesrock ooze', including Yes, MC5, The Nice," Stop here. I don't need to read the rest, they ripped off The Nice, without any doubt. Ah, Wolfmother, they're not bad at all after check the rest of the tracks, but this was shameless.

After this debut album, the band turned into a "power trio" without guitar, but keys/organ, and the progressive rock standard was clearly defined. The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack is a great album, and worth at least for the historical value into music.

VOTOMS | 5/5 |


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