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The Nice - Five Bridges Suite CD (album) cover

FIVE BRIDGES SUITE

The Nice

 

Symphonic Prog

3.43 | 77 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Nicely out of tune?*

It is a matter for debate as to how time would have remembered the Nice, had it not been for Keith Emerson's subsequent membership of ELP. There is no doubt that his iconic status has helped to maintain interest in the Nice over the last 30+ years. That said, they did make some innovative and adventurous albums, and would have been worthy of their status in rock music, even if ELP had never existed. Tellingly, my repackaged LP version of this album is credited to "Keith Emerson and the Nice", the former being in much larger font than the latter.

"Five Bridges" is a fine example of what the band could produce. It is one of the earliest examples of a collaboration between band and orchestra. Partly recorded live in Newcastle (UK), the album title, and indeed the suite which occupies side one of the album, relate to that city. The suite is largely successful, if at times a bit rough and ready, Lee Jackson's vocals in particular being rather poor. The band and orchestra tend to keep themselves to themselves, with little in the way of interplay between them.

Side two has four separate tracks. Of these, the mostly faithful reworking of "Intermezzo from Karlia suite" is the most successful, and indeed the best track on the album. Band and orchestra work closer together here than on any other track, resulting in a well constructed, and highly melodic piece. It also includes now famous "knives" routine.

The classics are in evidence again on the next two tracks, with a fairly nondescript reading of "Pathetique symphony". Bob Dylan's "Country Pie" however combines well with "Brandenburger concerto" to form a single piece. The final track, "One of those people", is a "Benny the bouncer"/ "Are you ready Eddy" type throw away track.

There have been many examples of band and orchestra combining in a live environment over the years, and in truth, a number have been more successful than this. "Five bridges" is very much of its time, but when viewed on that basis, it works well.

* "Nicely out of tune" was the name of an album by Newcastle band Lindisfarne.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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