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The Nice - Elegy CD (album) cover

ELEGY

The Nice

 

Symphonic Prog

2.90 | 59 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Just a collection of antiques and curious

My copy of Elegy is the second LP of a double album entitled "Keith Emerson and the Nice". The first LP is "Five bridges". The words "Keith Emerson" are much larger than "The Nice" reflecting the marketing viewpoint that Nice albums sell almost entirely due to Emerson's involvement. While this may be partly true, it rather underplays the contributions by the other members of the band. Emerson was undoubtedly even then the showman, and his musical influence was undeniable, but The Nice were very much a band where all the members pulled their weight.

Elegy was the band's final official release, although there have been any number of repackages, unreleased tracks etc., since. Even then, this is simply a posthumous compilation of four tracks two of which were recorded live and two in the studio. The two live tracks were recorded in New York towards the end of the band's time together. Tim Hardin's Hang on to a dream is considerably extended from the studio version which appeared on their self titled release, the extension being primarily down to a Piano improvisations like jazz break and an even less structured, over indulgent section. For me, this bloated interlude destroys what was originally a fine cover version.

The 10½ minute romp through America (which closes the album) ensures that the second side of the album remains devoid of vocals. This is undoubtedly the best of the four tracks here, and one which will please all fans of prog in excess. The additional time (when compared to the studio version) is used to fine effect through further pomposity and indulgence.

The only new track as such here is a cover of Bob Dylan's My back pages. This 9 minute studio recording maintains the focus on piano, with Lee Jackson's vocals being frankly rather poor. Emerson eventually switches to organ for a decent solo (pretty much the one on Blues variation on ELP's Pictures), supported by some rather clumsy bass-work. New as this song may be in Nice terms, I cannot in all honesty recommend seeking out Elegy simply in order to acquire it.

In a reversal of the inclusion of two live versions of studio tracks, the version of the Third Movement of Tchaikovsky's Pathetique is a studio recording of a piece first heard live on Five bridges. This rendition does not really add anything to (or indeed take anything away from) that version, indeed the impression is gained that this was recorded live in the studio.

In all, a rather poor epitaph for a band which showed great promise. In retrospect, it is clear that Emerson needed to work with musicians who were capable of challenging him and driving him on to his creative peak. The remaining duo proved through their link up with Patrick Moraz in Refugee that they too were far from a spent force. As for Elegy though, it is really only for the devoted fan of The Nice.

Easy Livin | 2/5 |

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