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The Nice - The Nice CD (album) cover

THE NICE

The Nice

 

Symphonic Prog

3.40 | 57 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Hanging on to a dream. by a thread

This was in fact the third album by The Nice, and their final studio recording. Even then, only the first side was actually recorded in the studio, the second side containing a pair of lengthy live tracks. The band decided this time to produce themselves, a brave decision which, perhaps surprisingly, was to prove to be a correct one.

From a song writing point of view, it seems the band were experiencing significant writers block, the tracks here being a selection of reworkings and covers. As the title of the opening Azrael revisited, implies, it is a re-recording of Azrael, previously a non-album B side of their first single. Hang on to a dream is undoubtedly the most beautiful song the band ever recorded. Originally composed by Tim Hardin, the vocal delivery is notably far more delicate than usual, the song as a whole being a sheer delight.

Even what appears to be the one of only a pair of new band compositions on the album Diary of an empty day turns out to use a piece by Lalo for its music to accompany Lee Jackson's lyrics. For example starts out about as close as the Nice got in the studio to what became Emerson Lake and Palmer, largely due to the distinctive organ playing of Keith Emerson. The track is certainly progressive in structure, wandering off in a number of directions including a jazz piano passage and a burst of the Beatles Norwegian Wood. Overall it comes across as unfocussed and poorly arranged.

The second side of the album has a lengthy re-working of Rondo, which originally appeared on the first album, and a cover of Bob Dylan's She belongs to me (from his Self portrait album) both recorded live in New York. The rendition of Rondo does not really add anything to the studio version, while the lengthy interpretation of Dylan's She belongs to me may not go down too well with Dylan fans, but visitor to these parts should be fine with it. In some ways, it is like Yes's version of Simon and Garfunkel's America, the original song being used as a basis for some extended improvisation around its theme. The track gives the best indication of the way the band would go on their following fully live release Five bridges.

In all, this is the most accomplished of the Nice's first three albums. Despite the rather patchwork nature of the album in terms of part live/part studio and the lack of genuinely new material, it makes for an enjoyable listen. At the end of the day, that is all that really matters.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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