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The Nice - Autumn To Spring CD (album) cover

AUTUMN TO SPRING

The Nice

Symphonic Prog


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4 stars Devotees of vinyl will appreciate this as a supplement to 'The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack' LP, as this includes several re-recorded versions of tracks from that recording. It also features a different version of 'Daddy, Where Did I Come From?' which was released later on 'Ars Longa Vita Brevis'.

I adore these early Nice recordings in spite of the poor vocals, back when the band had an actual guitarist. The songs were shorter, focused, and leaned somewhat towards psych. The condensed version of 'Amercia' presented here is terrific.

For those who insist prog was born in 1969 with the release of 'In The Court of the Crimson King' should hear what Mr. Keith Emerson was up to in 1967... hail to the true King! A pre- cursor to the greatness to come.

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Send comments to DonE (BETA) | Report this review (#85124)
Posted Saturday, July 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
richardh
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Just noticed this CD.Superb music but PLEASE BE AWARE that you can find half this album as bonus tracks on the remastered Five Bridges Suite and the other half on Elegy! So you do not need to buy it if you buy those 2 albums instead.

What you basically get here is stereo versions of tracks that were on the first album plus a few previously unreleased ditties.This is the FOUR PEICE LINE UP inc Davy O'List on guitar.This band inspired others in the late sixties inc Deep Purple and its easy to see why.Essential PROTO PROG.

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Send comments to richardh (BETA) | Report this review (#85155)
Posted Sunday, July 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Along with King Crimson & the Moody blues, the Nice probably started the progressive rock movement. We can find elements obviously from early ELP, but also from Jimi Hendrix and from a quiet version of Led Zeppelin. The organ is the instrument by excellence on this record. There are some psychedelic & experimental parts, like on the crazy "Dawn" track. You probably heard about the famous fictitious HELP band, stating a possible reunion of Hendrix, Emerson, Lake & Palmer; well, this record partly shows a small preview: "Bonnie K" is probably the most representative track of how could have sounded HELP: a Hendrixian song full of dirty visceral organ. The anthemic "America" remains the best track and the most progressive one: it really sounds like ELP or even like early Triumvirat, as revealed by a symphonic, structured & dirty organ. The Nice show they can be mellow and a bit sentimental: indeed, "Cry of Eugene", among my favorite ones, is really catchy and remind a bit the first Genesis' album, especially the lead vocals. "Daddy where I come from?" is another good Hendrixian track in the style of his "Ezy Ryder" song, minus the wah-wah guitar. The sleeve of my LP shows a red mushroom with pale dots; the rest of the sleeve is blue.

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Send comments to greenback (BETA) | Report this review (#122169)
Posted Tuesday, May 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Worth getting... 35 years ago!

This compilation actually sold quite well when it was originally released in 1973. In the UK, the title was slightly different, being Autumn '67, Spring '68. At the time, ELP were riding on the peak of their popularity, so anything which offered an insight into the background of the band members was lapped up by an inquisitive public. The Nice having been in relative terms not nearly as successful, this budget priced release offered a useful summary of their earliest recordings.

Many of the tracks here appeared on the band's first album, albeit in slightly different form. If you have the original albums though, there's nothing here which makes this release essential.

The highlight has to be the spirited (and controversial) interpretation of America from West side story, the rest of the tracks being decidedly more mundane. As the band evolved, they would move into more progressive areas with pieces such as The five bridges suite and Rondo. Here by and large, we have psychedelic and pop influenced rock with hints of proto-prog.

Worth getting at the time, but now of historical interest only.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#158566)
Posted Monday, January 14, 2008 | Review Permalink
Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Reviewing this exemplary relic from the earliest days of progressive rock affords me the opportunity to expound on a topic that interests me no end and probably will till the day I'm cremated so indulge me, if you will. Why did God bestow upon the British Isles such an exclusive, bountiful anointing of genuinely phenomenal musical creativity in the 60s? Although the beneficiaries claimed that they were, almost to a man, obsessed with and unequivocally influenced by obscure American R&B artists and a pale, skinny kid named Buddy from Lubbock, what they turned those primitive notes into and shipped back over was a product we couldn't get enough of or duplicate to save our souls. No matter how hard we tried, with few exceptions the most talented of bands in the USA were wholly incapable of coming up with anything near to even the likes of Freddie and the Dreamers. Perhaps the post-WWII generation stateside was too paranoid about the Red menace to relax; whereas the English were happy as clams that their parents had somehow survived the blitzkrieg and were gleefully letting it all hang out without worry over what tomorrow may bring. Or maybe it was something in the fish & chips. We'll never know for sure but I'm one of the lucky ones who came of age during that tumultuous decade and, as far as I was concerned, the only rock & roll that truly thrilled me to the marrow was the brand being imported from the UK. Face it, we Yanks just couldn't keep pace with their imaginative and adventurous capabilities and when it came to symphonic prog - fuggitaboudit - the Brits literally had no competition.

This is the first LP of The Nice I've ever owned and, despite its contents being well over four decades old, listening to it as a Nice virgin makes me feel like I'm 17 again, filled with adolescent wonder over the resourcefulness and ingenuity these guys injected into their art. Where did they come up with such a splendid blend of influences? How did they combine such a non chalant looseness with such impeccable skill? How did they include such a feisty sense of humor without the end result becoming vaudevillian? How did they consistently break every rule of making records without losing their validity? It's a mystery to me but the bottom line is this: If not for the British Invasion the 60s would've been a lot less fun, exciting and liberating for this land-locked na´ve native of the north Texas plains. For a kid like me groups like The Beatles, Who, Stones, Yes and Jethro Tull invigorated and challenged me to think outside the Top 40 box constantly. And if The Nice had garnered even a smidgen of radio time in my area I know I would've owned every album they released. Alas, better late than never, eh wot?

By 1973 the Famous Charisma Label had seen more prosperous days. Due to the immense popularity of ELP, repackaging the endeavors of Keith Emerson's former band seemed like an effortless, profitable way to cash in on his fame. "Autumn to Spring" sounded better than "greatest hits" and I figure the execs thought that sneaky ploy might trick some into thinking this was a new recording so, voila, this collection that relied heavily on their first album's material (6 out of the 9 cuts) taped between Fall '67 and Spring '68 showed up in the platter bins. Gotta admit that the simplicity of the cover design with its raised leaves sitting on a white canvas is effective and quite fetching. Kudos to the art department.

"The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack" says everything I clumsily attempted to put into words earlier about clever English musicians. It starts like something you'd expect from Petula Clark, then takes an abrupt left turn into a shadowed alleyway. What at first sounds corny and patronizing becomes a very poignant statement of remorse uttered by an older person who, in reflection, "knew that I was right/then everything moved/I wandered out of sight." The juxtaposition of a mindless, dancing-down-Carnaby-Street pop atmosphere against those rueful lyrics is brilliant, especially at the end when they contrast the song's "groovy" theme with the singer's delusional and foolish exhortation of "I'm going back to be young again." It's a great tune I wish I would've heard when it was still fresh. "Flower King of Flies" is next and it opens with clattering wind chimes followed by a stark upright piano and compressed vocals from bassist Lee Jackson. It has a grand, pompous chorus and a chord progression far ahead of its time. On the down side there's a somewhat dated psychedelic guitar ride from Davy O'List and a lot of brittle organ tones to contend with.

"Bonnie K" is a bluesy rocker with a pair of big ones hanging low. More gritty and aggressive than anything Mick, Keith & Co. were putting out there, this was the kind of raucous rock that we puberty-stricken teens were ravenously hungry for and weren't getting from our homies. It ain't complicated and it didn't need be. It's a shame we didn't get proper exposure to this song because it embodies the full-throttle garage band abandon we so craved and we would've eaten this right up. The only track I ever heard on the FM dial from The Nice was their revolutionary take on Leonard Bernstein's "America" from West Side Story and the belated but significant airplay it finally received was yet another reason for this album's appearance. It is nothing short of groundbreaking and should be revered by all proggers. It has a misleading (but gorgeous) cathedral organ beginning that leads to Keith's growling, percussive Hammond that dominates without mercy. The band displays intricate and precise playing throughout, especially the rhythm section of Jackson and underrated drummer Brian Davison. Davy's guitar lead is a bit off-kilter but it doesn't last long and Emerson gets to dazzle for the rest of the way. Their bold, spirited interpretation of this awesome piece of modern composition (with wisps of Dvorak's "New World Symphony" tossed in because they could) is one of the earliest and greatest examples of pure, unadulterated symphonic prog there is. They unlocked and opened wide a huge door with this one.

"Diamond Hard Blue Apples of the Moon" with its extremely exploratory in nature use of sampled noise to set up the initial beat brings to mind embryonic Pink Floyd but that observation begs to query "just who was influencing who, exactly?" The renegade trumpet is cool and the tune goes tumbling out the same strange way it tumbled in. "Dawn" is next and I must confess I don't like it much because evidently I have a phobia about whispering I didn't know about until I heard this number. It's creepy and this track has too much of it going on for my comfort. It's a queer duck, too. Keith lays down a blanket of classical scales for a while, then it changes over to a spell of some weird kitchen utensil percussion being banged around, it returns to a marching feel, then they collectively fall into a vat of trippy improvisation before Emerson emerges from the melee straddling a harpsichord and knifing out a mess of distorted Hammond organisms. Unable to stand for long, he falls back into a sea of psychedelia and they end it with more spooky whispering. Stop it, man, you're freaking me out. Seriously.

"Tantalizin' Maggie" is so raw and brash that Johnny Rotten must've been weaned on it. This is punk before The Ramones were potty trained! The in-your-face, rebellious, up-your- mother's-nose-with-a-rubber-hose vocal delivery plastered rudely over Keith's electrified, classically-structured progression is a hoot to hear. On the technical end Emerson stretches the limits of what was possible in the studios of that day with numerous overdubs of different instrumentation and the luxurious piano flurries that arise in the finale are outstanding by any measure. "The Cry of Eugene" follows and it's as close to a ballad as they probably cared to venture, keeping their edge intact by allowing O'List's eerie guitar feedback to lurk about in the surrounding scenery. Overall the song is rather dreadful but if you lend an ear to the incredibly brave things they manage to work into the track you'll be impressed by their tenacity, at the least. They finish up this set with a previously unreleased version of "Daddy Where Did I Come From," a riff-driven steamroller of a tune served up with a large spoonful of quirky British humor, complete with shrill, silly voices. The marvelous thing is that the boys in this band (and many of the others hailing from the island regions) had absolutely no self-consciousness or qualms about being goofy blokes on tape. To us in the no-nonsense USA this wasn't music from the mother country, this was hatched on an alien planet in a distant universe! Not one American combo could've gotten away with such irresponsible shenanigans even if they'd thought to try. We were way too uptight to laugh at ourselves.

I'll honestly admit that what I thought this quartet was and what they actually were are two different animals entirely. But it was a "nice" surprise to find that out. I like them in much the same way I have great affection for The Move, that eclectic group of musical asylum inmates that I fell in love with circa 1970. Madmen Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne had the same slightly slanted frame of reference and disrespectful attitude that I find in this collection of tunes and I'm drawn to that mindset like a lab moth to a flaming Bunsen burner. At the same time it's easy to see why Keith Emerson would feel limited by this environment and eventually break free to scale the heights of Mount Prog alongside Greg and Carl but it's obvious that he cut his sharp teeth on the tough chew toy that was The Nice in the late 60s and I sadly regret not discovering their charms in a more timely manner. I would've been a rabid fan, no doubt.

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Send comments to Chicapah (BETA) | Report this review (#304598)
Posted Saturday, October 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Originally released in 1972 by Charisma as a contractual obligations album, this turned out to be a far stronger release than their two official albums for the label ('Five Bridges' and "Elegy'). Collecting alternate versions and outtakes from their first album and early singles, this collection is fantastic from start to finish. Tracks such as "Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack" and "Flower King Of Flies" are in longer form while "Diamond Hard Blue Apples Of The Moon" and "Azrael (Angel Of Death" (CD reissue only) are presented here, for the first time, in true stereo. The version of "Daddy Where Did I Come From?" is completely different featuring David O'List on guitar and bassist Lee Jackson on vocals (the album version from 'Ars Longa Vita Brevis' featured no guitar and Keith Emerson on vocals).

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Send comments to KMacNutt (BETA) | Report this review (#377542)
Posted Monday, January 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
3 stars This collection, released after The Nice was long broken up, and Emerson Lake & Palmer was filling arenas around the world, focuses primarily on the psychedelic aspects of the bands music. Well, that may be appropriate, as that is what made up most of their studio recordings. And the more symphonic tracks were mostly too long to fit on a one LP collection without dominating the release.

You do get a good idea from this as to what The Nice was about (minus the classical and jazz interludes Emerson would go off into when playing live). There is also a previously unreleased recording of Daddy, Where Did I Come From (a comedic piece, like Benny The Bouncer).

All in all, it's a fair selection from one of the original prog rock bands.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#584579)
Posted Thursday, December 08, 2011 | Review Permalink

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