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The Nice - Five Bridges Suite CD (album) cover

FIVE BRIDGES SUITE

The Nice

 

Symphonic Prog

3.43 | 75 ratings

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daveconn
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Five Bridges contains a live performance from Newcastle Arts Festival featuring Joseph Eger and the Sinfonia of London orchestra. "Five Bridges Suite," commissioned for the occasion, consumes the first side of the elpee, and stands as an early, successful attempt to merge classical music and rock (the "bridge" that Emerson was trying to build). Moreso than ELP's Pictures At An Exhibition, which was a little excessive for my tastes, this album incorporates rock into classical music without overpowering it. After all, Emerson wasn't going to outwrite Tchaikovsky or Sibelius, so he uses what's best about those works as a conveyance for his own modest contributions. As Emerson himself writes on the liner notes, sometimes The Nice and the orchestra achieve a fusion of sound, and sometimes there's conflict. There was more conflict in ELP, as Lee Jackson's voice (arguably the most non-traditional element in the mix) hints at the profane direction Greg Lake would take but rarely rises high enough in the live mix. Oddly, listeners may be more aggrieved at what The Nice do to Bob Dylan than J.S. Bach in the live combination of "Country Pie" and "Brandenburg Concerto No. 6." (I don't hear much of the Concerto in this, so I assume it's been interwoven into the musical treatment of the Dylan song.) The elpee closes with a lone studio track, "One of Those People," which remains one of my favorite tracks from The Nice. It's here that Jackson prefigures the profanity of Tarkus and Brain Salad Surgery, while Emerson and Davison lay down an intoxicating backdrop to the perverse proceedings. Though primarily a catch-all of live performances, Five Bridges became the first Nice album to crack the US Top 200. Listeners were finally coming around to the idea of a classical/rock hybrid, but they'd need to read ELP to find out how it ended. The material on Five Bridges remains fresh today, though the compromised recording quality of the performances has taken its toll on the music.
daveconn | 3/5 |

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