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The Nice - Ars Longa Vita Brevis CD (album) cover

ARS LONGA VITA BREVIS

The Nice

 

Symphonic Prog

3.24 | 84 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

KMacNutt
3 stars When this was released in late 1968, this album was quite innovative as it was the first true collaboration between a symphonic orchestra and a rock group. That said, it certainly has not aged all that well, but is still a good listen. The US version tacked on a censored, stereo version of the single "America" (here it lacks the "America was pregnant with promise and anticipation..." bit from the single) while the European release opens up with "Daddy, Where Did I Come From" (the second track on the US album) which features Keith Emerson on vocals, not Lee Jackson (although you can now see why Jackson was picked as the vocalist). The majority of side one is filled with psychedelic oddities including their attempt at copying The Mothers Of Invention with "Happy Freud" and a early stab at jazz with "Little Arabella" which features some rather terrible vocals from bassist/vocalist Lee Jackson.

The end of side one is really where this album begins to take off with a psychedelic rendition of Jean Sibelius' "Intermezzo from the Karelia Suite" which begins as a fairly faithful adaption for organ, drums and Jackson's signature bowed Vox bass. Side Two is filled with the title suite for rock band and orchestra. This is quite an ambitious piece although Emerson mostly relies on combining quotes from a whole variety of classical composers (the "Acceptance" movement is a rock & orchestra rendition of J.S. Bach's "Brandenburg Concerto No. 3") and jazz musicians. It's rare that he uses his own original themes, although he does approach other peoples work creatively.

For better or worse, this is one of the true beginnings of symphonic progressive rock. While many can credit Moody Blues "Days Of Future Passed" which was released a year earlier as the first classical rock album, the Moodies did not really collaborate with the orchestra so much as have orchestral interludes which were more Montovani than Mozart. Check this one out and remember, this was quite innovative in 1968.

KMacNutt | 3/5 |

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