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The Nice - Elegy CD (album) cover

ELEGY

The Nice

 

Symphonic Prog

2.97 | 55 ratings

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daveconn
Prog Reviewer
2 stars It was (the) nice while it lasted, but Emerson had already fired the help and gone to a higher ELP when Elegy was released. This album combines of pair of unreleased live and studio tracks (which is which isn't worth the wondering). If there was any doubt that Keith Emerson was The Nice's main attraction (and I don't think there was), Elegy removes it. He sets the tone at the beginning of each piece, adds wry instrumental commentary, delirious solos, and drives the arrangements from dawn to dusk. Any discussion of The Nice inevitably leads to ELP, as the one was a blueprint for the other. You'll hear the future echo of ELP's playful iconoclasm and classically inspired rock in most of these songs; in any song from The Nice, really. Lee Jackson didn't have the vocal presence of Greg Lake, wasn't what you'd call a brilliant bass guitarist, but Brian Davison was a good drummer. Both players get buried under the avalanche of Emerson's towering talent, and it's unlikely that Davison and Jackson had even half a say in the final arrangements; at least they don't trip in their pursuit of Emerson (just check out the trio on their Tchaikovsky piece). While the four songs recorded here are hardly fluff, Elegy isn't an album proper. Only their playful interpretation of Bob Dylan's "My Back Pages" (which foreshadows "Jeremy Bender") is entirely original to this album, and it's mostly a showcase for Emerson. Live versions of "Hang On To A Dream" (again with Emerson uber alles) and an explosive "America" (which is worlds apart from the version Yes would later record) are at opposite ends of the energy spectrum. A return to Tchaikovsky's Pathetique Symphony is engaging, but some may still have mementos in their mind from Five Bridges. As posthumous compilations go, I've heard worse (from Traffic to Cream), noting that it's historically not a rich field of research.
daveconn | 2/5 |

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