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The Nice - Five Bridges Suite CD (album) cover


The Nice


Symphonic Prog

3.48 | 99 ratings

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3 stars I find this to be generally less engrossing than the Ars Longa Vita Brevis album and if you compare the two multi-part classical/rock fusion epics you'll see why. Too much of the Five Bridges Suite is classical fluff that obscures some great rock playing from the band. (Before I start reviewing the piece I should let you know that the divisions on my CD are as follows: Fantasia 1st Bridge (6:08), 2nd Bridge (3:59) Chorale 3rd Bridge (3:30), High Level Fugue 4th Bridge (1:02) and Finale 5th Bridge (3:34).)

Five Bridges Suite commences with a lengthy opening orchestral overture before some solo piano that's technically sound but largely boring takes over, the track concludes with another dull classical segment featuring brass and strings prominently. The 2nd bridge is quintessetially 60s rock with a bass led groove being overwhelmed by a powerful Keith Emerson organ solo before Lee Jackson's vicious vocals come in. There's some great playing here, with Brian Davison also standing out, and there are sounds that every ELP will recognise. Unfortunately the orchestra returns for the 3rd bridge bringing with it some very churchy vocals that are just crying out for someone like ... oh I don't know ... Greg Lake to sing them them (although to be fair, it's one of Jackson's best-ever vocal turns). This segment alternates with a nice acoustic jazz trio bit, in which Davison's drumming catches my ear again. The 4th bridge abruptly brings in some high octane lead piano work from Emerson. The 5th bridge sees the best inter- action between band and orchestra, although it's ruined a bit by Jackson's returning vocals. There's even some lead brass instrument that does some fiery playing and actually out-soloes Keith, which is something I've hardly ever heard from a fellow musician playing alongside the man.

As for the rest of the pieces ... Intermezzo Karelia Suite recovers from the same overblown orchestral start and also contains some great playing from Keith, but gets lost in a couple of minutes of sonic experimentation and I actually prefer the version on Ars Longa Vita Brevis. The adaptation of Tchaikovsky's Symphony Pathetique just gets on my wrong side ... by the time Keith comes in I've lost all interest ... and a "nice" drum solo from Brian Davison is wasted at the end of the piece. While the fusion of Dylan's Country Pie with Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No 6 is another interesting experiment, One Of Those People is just another one of those bawdy silly tunes that both The Nice and ELP enjoyed doing. I still struggle to believe that nobody stopped The Nice in their tracks and asked them to get a half-decent singer. ... 51% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 3/5 |


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