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The Nice - Keith Emerson With The Nice CD (album) cover


The Nice

Symphonic Prog

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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.

Report this review (#175547)
Posted Saturday, June 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury 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.

Report this review (#295792)
Posted Sunday, August 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars One day, as I wandered aimlessly through the shadowy corridors of a music store that had survived the zombie apocalypse, my hand carelessly came to rest on a CD box, that, from all evidence, was very old. The out-of-focus cover picture only added to the other trace indicators of age (dusty, handled, multiple sale stickers). But I did not push it aside. The artist name on the cover brought back memories of the heady days of TARKUS and BRAIN SALAD SURGERY. What was the other name mentioned ... "THE NICE"? I struggled to remember the scattered voices I had heard many decades earlier and what they had actually said. I remembered "GOOD" and "TRY IT". But in those years long past there was a lot of new, and exciting music that needed to be explored.

Now is a different age. The old icons of Prog are long dormant if not completely silent. The CD in my hand started to create a longing for the old carefree days when Progressive rock ruled the music store aisles. The gravitas of that style had even caused Led Zeppelin to issue Houses of the Holy - therein contained the singular most important song of the Progressive rock age - NO QUARTER. I could not see getting back to my home at Bag End fast enough and flip the CD in my computer, download it into iTunes and hear it on my iPod.

It is important to have a clear understanding that I am not one who is easily impressed, and my first hearing of KEITH EMERSON with The Nice was not impressive. But, many things did capture my attention. Why did a Bob Dylan song (with no Folksy stylings) stay in my head. Also, the vocalist, who seemed to bring to mind a rustic, pastoral setting fronting a "rock" band. Plus the nearest thing to a lullaby - "Hang On To A Dream" - I had heard in a long time, caused me to want to press replay (which I had not done since Peter Gabriel I).

Obviously there were astounding goings on. This CD in many ways seemed more like ELP than the real ELP. Things meshed together - classical, rock, jazz, all keyboards, guitars and vocals. Mr. Emerson was not kidding around. He had seen the future in 1967 and it was Progressive music. During the next three or four albums the band set about setting down the infrastructure and boundaries of Classical Rock. They really dropped the big one. The war was over before it started and The Nice were the rulers of the Progressive Rock Universe (nay the creators of Classical Rock). It has taken this long for me to see the light. Arrive at the fact that all of the tired dinosaurs or Art Rock are only the offspring of The Nice and mere reflections of the one true Prog band.

Let this be my first epistle: Romans, Corinthians, Thessalonians, cast aside your golden calf and other false idols. Follow the one true path to aural inspiration. The Nice is the band that will lead you to the promised land only hinted at during the 1960s and KEITH EMERSON with The Nice is the gateway entrance to the lands of milk and honey. The rest of their catalog is an adventure waiting for you. Take your time, enjoy - ye who read are saved.



Report this review (#1474348)
Posted Friday, October 9, 2015 | Review Permalink

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