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KEITH EMERSON WITH THE NICE

The Nice

Symphonic Prog


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Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Though simply a reissue of the Five Bridges LP (sans 'Country Pie/Brandenburg' and the final track) and Elegy combined in one release, Keith Emerson with the Nice does offer the more casual fan a way to own both of these extremely important albums without having to acquire either. I was certainly pleased to see a used copy at a record shop and grabbed it-- having only owned vinyls of both, it was a tidy way to enjoy this landmark music with ease. And the mastering for CD, done by Howie Weinberg in 1990 before the albums were re-released individually, is excellent.

Keith Emerson's affinity for the Romantic and Heroic schools of the 19th Century is heard in the five-part centerpiece, an admirable achievement for a young rock composer, sounding better than ever with a very willing Sinfonia of London embracing Emerson's material and conducted with vigor by Joseph Eger. Frilly and dripping with pomp is 'Fantasia' but the orchestra rocks, Emerson throwing in a jazz improv on piano, and finally the band kicks-in for a brilliant vamp blemished only by Lee Jackson's scratchy groaning. His 'Chorale' works fine, though, and reminds faintly of Greg Lake's angelic timbre, walking cool-jazz mingles with swirling strings, and a rousing reprise for 'Finale'. Sibelius' Karelia Suite is forced to dance with this motley crew next, Keith propping it up with his cool organ lead and Hendrix feedback. A near-flawless 'Pathetique Symphony' shows the group's genius for classical/rock adaptation, Mr. Tchaikovsky rolling over just once during Brian Davison's unbridled drum solo. 'Hang on to a Dream' from the posthumous Elegy record is a treat at over twelve minutes, a slightly rushed live take of 'America' from the Fillmore East, and a very nice deconstructed treatment of Dylan's 'My Back Pages' to end.

Tacky cut 'n paste job meant to quickly cash-in on Emerson's growing popularity in 1970 perhaps, but a perfectly fine issue nonetheless, and an invaluable peek into the conditions that spawned the most popular prog supergroup.

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Send comments to Atavachron (BETA) | Report this review (#175547)
Posted Saturday, June 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
3 stars First of all, I have the CD version of this, with a few of the LP tracks missing. But I doubt those tracks would make much of a difference in my review.

The album begins with the five part Five Bridges Suite, an ELP-like work that is marred only by Lee Jackson's sloppy barroom style vocals. It would have been interesting to hear what Lake and Palmer could have done with this piece. Intermezzo "Karella Suite" is interesting because it contains the Hammond abuse that Emerson usually performed during their Rondo abomination (see my upcoming review of their eponymous album for my thoughts on that song).

Pathetique Symphony No. 6, 3rd Movement by Tchaikovsky, with the assist of an orchestra is good, but badly mixed. Emerson get's buried from time to time. I do like the extended version of Tim Hardin's Hang On To A Dream, which fares better here than Dylan's My Back Pages.

And Bernstein's America is essentially the same as Emerson still plays it these days (although without the Bach Toccata).

While this is a passable album, most of the albums by The Nice were better.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#295792)
Posted Sunday, August 22, 2010 | Review Permalink

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