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The Nice - Keith Emerson With The Nice CD (album) cover

KEITH EMERSON WITH THE NICE

The Nice

 

Symphonic Prog

3.56 | 7 ratings

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Atavachron
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Though simply a reissue of the Five Bridges LP (sans 'Country Pie/Brandenburg' and the final track) and Elegy combined in one release, Keith Emerson with the Nice does offer the more casual fan a way to own both of these extremely important albums without having to acquire either. I was certainly pleased to see a used copy at a record shop and grabbed it-- having only owned vinyls of both, it was a tidy way to enjoy this landmark music with ease. And the mastering for CD, done by Howie Weinberg in 1990 before the albums were re-released individually, is excellent.

Keith Emerson's affinity for the Romantic and Heroic schools of the 19th Century is heard in the five-part centerpiece, an admirable achievement for a young rock composer, sounding better than ever with a very willing Sinfonia of London embracing Emerson's material and conducted with vigor by Joseph Eger. Frilly and dripping with pomp is 'Fantasia' but the orchestra rocks, Emerson throwing in a jazz improv on piano, and finally the band kicks-in for a brilliant vamp blemished only by Lee Jackson's scratchy groaning. His 'Chorale' works fine, though, and reminds faintly of Greg Lake's angelic timbre, walking cool-jazz mingles with swirling strings, and a rousing reprise for 'Finale'. Sibelius' Karelia Suite is forced to dance with this motley crew next, Keith propping it up with his cool organ lead and Hendrix feedback. A near-flawless 'Pathetique Symphony' shows the group's genius for classical/rock adaptation, Mr. Tchaikovsky rolling over just once during Brian Davison's unbridled drum solo. 'Hang on to a Dream' from the posthumous Elegy record is a treat at over twelve minutes, a slightly rushed live take of 'America' from the Fillmore East, and a very nice deconstructed treatment of Dylan's 'My Back Pages' to end.

Tacky cut 'n paste job meant to quickly cash-in on Emerson's growing popularity in 1970 perhaps, but a perfectly fine issue nonetheless, and an invaluable peek into the conditions that spawned the most popular prog supergroup.

Atavachron | 4/5 |

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