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The Nice - The Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack  CD (album) cover

THE THOUGHTS OF EMERLIST DAVJACK

The Nice

Symphonic Prog


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lewisoutrider
2 stars I was too young to be into the Nice when they were around but I did follow Emerson Lake and Palmer and Refugee as a teenager. Out of curiousity I bought this CD in the hope of discovering a sound I was already familiar with. Big surprise! Clumsy sixties experimental pop. A bit like trying to find Led Zeppelin in the Yardbirds - no hope. I have no idea what the Nice's later albums are like but this one is dreadful. I tried to keep it just for archival interest but everytime I came upon it in my collection it seemed to taint the rest of the CD's . See I'm a bit of a perfectionist, if things are a bit dodgy like, well I can't be bothered.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#5119)
Posted Saturday, January 10, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
5 stars Although a psychadelic record , this album turns out to be the first progressive rock album ever made along with the Moody Blues's Days Of Future Past and Procol Harum's debut(even if the original vinyl did not have Whiter Shade Of Pale), two years before the Crimson King's ITCOTCK. Yes , without this record most of the progressive masterpieces probably would've never come out in the form we know them. One of the main flaws is the muddy sound recording qualty but we are in 1967!

Although I am not a real fan of Emerson this the only album where he has someone giving him a reply and did Mr. David O'List ever managed that well but he must've been disgusted after that one and never really recovered (brief spell in Roxy). Flower King of Flies , the title track ,Maggie , Eugene and Bonnie K are psych pop tunes a bit in the realm of Pink Floyd's Emily and Arnold and do sound dated nowadays. But the real gems are the two longer tracks Blue Rondo and War & Peace, both reworks of classical themes but unlike any other Emerson work with a superb guitar. The apex of the album though is Dawn with its deep gothic feel , great monumental ambiances and it is written by them. BTW: this Emerlist Davjack person getting the writing credits is a contraction of Emerson . O'List , Davidson and Jackson.

Get the remaster with the bonus track "America"with O'List on it to find out the real quality and potential of this band as a foursome. Simply put": the best of many version of this track. His searing guitars add so much on, that the other version pales in comparison.

Not perfect, but such an important album in the historical context of Prog Rock history , that I rounded up to the fifth star.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#5120)
Posted Tuesday, February 03, 2004 | Review Permalink
herky@hawkeye
4 stars Like many an ELP fan, I started listening to the Nice long after they had broken up. Because the record shops weren't exactly overflowing with Nice albums, I became acquainted with their work in reverse order- that is, the KEITH EMERSON AND THE NICE stuff first and "Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack" last. I've come to regard "Thoughts" their best album - not uncoincidentally, the first and last time that Emerson had a full-time guitarist in his band. Too bad: the presence of O'List and his considerable chops actually did Emo a lot of good. The songs on "Thoughts" stand up well, also, with the possible exception of the Lee Jackson snarlfest "Dawn." All in all, a must have for ELP fans and very enjoyable in its own right.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#5121)
Posted Friday, February 06, 2004 | Review Permalink
richardh
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Interesting but flawed debut album that saw Keith and chums still finding their feet as a band.It's a long way from the ground breaking prog of Emerson's later band ELP but it does at least contain some pretty tunes and one real powerhouse instrumental 'Rondo'.

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Send comments to richardh (BETA) | Report this review (#5122)
Posted Sunday, May 09, 2004 | Review Permalink
Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I am no ELP fan but this is an interesting debut of a group featuring Keith Emerson and shows his early aspirations at mixing rock with classical influences. This is actually quite a psychedelic record, which is normal being in the year 1967, and it carries influences from Hendrix to Pink Floyd. Nothing special as a whole but shows some good distorted guitar work from Dave O'List. Standing out are the symphonic hit-like title track, a proto-type Hammond/guitar interplay for many later prog sound "Rondo", and a nice psych ballad "The Cry of Eugene". Usually I would give this 2 stars, but since this should be seen in the prog-rock context, for early influences to the genre, there goes 3.

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Send comments to Seyo (BETA) | Report this review (#5123)
Posted Sunday, May 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
lmqsam@hotmai
2 stars Many people call this album "the first progressive album" , far, far , far from reality, the things is that in those years the nice were totally unknown and non influential while others were not only far in front but known among music lovers and musiciens, the duo "Hansson and Karlsson" by 1967 with only drums and organ were making such a great "real prog" that even Hendrix went after them to play with them .... this is maybe the first full progressive album ever, not the nice or MB, all instrumental, all original material and a glimpse of what ELP will be in the future.

Listen to it and the we talk .....

This one by the nice is just OK.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#5124)
Posted Thursday, July 01, 2004 | Review Permalink
usmanbello35@
3 stars All the hallmark elements of ELP are there, even though L and P aren't present: classical and jazz quotes, virtuosic musicianship, bafflingly inane lyrics... The instrumentals are the best part of the album, most notably "War And Peace," although "Flower King of Flies" is a nice song. It is very evocative of its time, so those who aren't fond of psychedelia might want to steer clear. Otherwise it's quite a fun album.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#5125)
Posted Thursday, July 08, 2004 | Review Permalink
Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars I remember when I bought this album more or less 20 years ago, I thought it was only worth for the fact that Keith Emerson played with them and considered this record nothing special, reason enough to stay far away from my stereo for almost a decade until the early 90's. Then one day tired of the second class music of those dark years started to give a new chance to those old forgotten albums, and I'm pleased did so, because it's a very good album that learned to love with the pass of the years.

If I had to describe The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack in a phrase I would say it's a group of three very talented musicians and one genius playing classical Psychedelic album but ready to evolve into a prog' band.

But also to be honest, since the first time I listened this good album I was sure that even in the late 60's it was evident that Keith Emerson wouldn't stay for long with The Nice, he was too innovative and adventurous for them, and of course it's also easy to notice that Keith is at least 60% of The Nice.

I want to focus in three tracks, being the first one of course the title song which really captures the essence of British Psychedelia, but Keith's Baroque keyboards give a special and absolutely unique sound, it's incredible to listen all that noisy percussions mixed with complex vocal works that make me remember the early Moody Blues but in the middle of everything that incredible touch of Bach. Emerson was the guy that made the band different, without him The Nice would have only been a good Psyche band that almost nobody will remember today, despite the quality of Davidson, Jackson and O'List.

The second track is the loud Rondo, a bizarre song inspired in the jazz classic Blue Rondo a la Turk by The Dave Brubeck Quartet. In this case all the noise made the whole band (including Emerson) would mean nothing without Keith's Classical (in a generic sense) chords that appear all over the song, a beloved track that became the ideal closer for any ELP concert.

The cry of Eugene is one of my favorite tracks in the album, an experimental and powerful psychedelic ballad in which the vocals and the dazzling piano combined with the winds and the frantic guitar are simply spectacular, easily one of my top songs by The Nice.

Hughes Chantries who reviewed this album a few months ago mentions a new version with America as a bonus track, I haven't heard that version, but I'm looking for it because America is simply the best adaptation I ever heard by The Nice and if it's played with David O'List, it's something that must be listened carefully.

Not a masterpiece but a very solid album that deserves to be included in every decent prog collection, I would rate it with 3 1/2 stars but because this is not possible I will give four stars because its closer to this rating than to three stars.

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Send comments to Ivan_Melgar_M (BETA) | Report this review (#5126)
Posted Thursday, November 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Nice start lads

While The Nice' first album has some of the pomp and indulgences of their later Emerson driven works, it is generally more 60's pop based. The title is of course a concoction of the names of the four band members, and while they are apparently given equal billing, it is perhaps significant that the part of Emerson's name appears first.

The two tracks which give the best indication of what was to come are the instrumentals "Rondo" and "War and peace". "Rondo" is a long, frantic, "Sabre dance" like piece, of classical origin. It offers an early indication of Emerson's prowess on organ, and also contains some fine guitar work. "War and peace" which follows is in a similar vein but rather muddled. While "Rondo" went on to be included in the ELP set, "War and peace" quietly(!) disappeared.

Most of the remaining tracks are "of their time", with a late 60's pop sound predominant. Tracks such as "Flower king of flies" and "The cry of Eugene" have similarities to early (Barrett era) Pink Floyd. The title track has some striking choral harmonies, which sit rather uneasily with the heavy organ and drums.

"Tantalising Maggie" is notable, not so much because it is good (it's not bad!), but because of the progressive nature of its structure. It's a mixture of rough 60's style vocals, heavy organ which degenerates into spacey sounds in the middle, becomes somewhat chaotic, then ends with a piano solo.

At the time of its release, this album was inventive and original. While the music is a bit rough and ready at times, there is plenty here to confirm that The Nice were among the pioneers who developed the style of music which became progressive rock. Those unfamiliar with their music may now find the archaic sound distracting, but looking beyond this, there is a quality to the compositions and the musicianship which is undeniable.

The Nice' three albums on the Immediate label (Thoughts of "Emerlist Davejack", "The Nice", and "Ars longa, vita brevis", are now available as a budget priced 2 CD set, which includes some non-album tracks too.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#5127)
Posted Friday, November 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars An uneven and flawed effort in some ways, but also pretty ambitious and fun as long as one doesn't expect this to be extremely similar to ELP. David O'List is an underrated guitarist, much in the vein of Syd Barrett (and apparently nearly as eccentric, personality- wise) and his guitar textures and effects help to enhance and elevate the material. This is essentially a UK psych lp with some proto-prog moves on tracks like "America" and "Rondo". I am not a huge Emerson fan so for my money, the more outre' psych tracks work the best for me. Lee Jackson's vox are pretty naff, but the sheer strangeness of cuts like "Dawn" (everyone that I know that is a prog purist hates this track, but if it was a single by a less well-known band, drooling psych heads would be paying megabucks for it, as it is a truly menacing freakout ala Floyd's "Scream Thy Last Scream") and the zoned beauty of "The Cry of Eugene" should fill your headspace quite nicely. The charming toytown psych title track features Immediate Records singer/songwriter Billy Nicholls on backing vox as well. One could do worse than pick up the 3CD "Here Come The Nice" box set that includes this lp in excellent fidelity, remixed and remastered, along with their other material released on Immediate (Ars Longa...), plus a cd of bonus tracks, outtakes, and remixes, some taken from the "Autumn to Spring" release that Charisma put out in the 70's to cash in on ELP's popularity. Well worth it and a surprisingly fresh listen even today.

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Send comments to prabbit (BETA) | Report this review (#45176)
Posted Thursday, September 01, 2005 | Review Permalink
lor68
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars It's a "proto-prog" album, and as a raw composition of that time you cannot expect to hear something particular: the songs are worth checking out, but don't represent the best prog tunes ever, to be collected in a desert island I mean... it's an attempt to give such a classic rock music (with a few hints of J. Hendrix) the first progressive form, within an exploration of styles, in which the contamination is good, even though is not extraordinary.for instance you find some references to the 60's psychedelic music in the track "Flower King of Flies", as well as a melodic title track, which is easy to take, being connected to the old beat music.ok it's strange such a compromise between the commercial exigencies of the late sixties and the free act of "emancipation" from all the previous schemes, which could affect the true beloved project by Emerson. Anyway here They settled the foundations of the following progressive rock of the seventies, as They looked after the future, moreover being able to compose whatever They liked in that moment!! That's the approach I like, even though at the end it's important to order our own ideas within an organic music contest, which is so difficult.probably Emerson alone finally reached this goal with ELP in their most successful albums: nevertheless I want to remark also the importance of the collaboration between Jackson and P. Moraz, for example, performed some years after, in which They carried out till the end the previous good music ideas composed by Nice, sometimes emulating altogether the grandeur of the golden era of prog.

Definitive score (being much better than "Ars Longa Vita Brevis"): "3 stars", as for the importance of this work!!

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Send comments to lor68 (BETA) | Report this review (#46338)
Posted Sunday, September 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
ozzy_tom
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Before I have listened to this album I had "got acquainted" with "Ats long vita brevis" & "Nice" and I'm sure that it isn't so mature like them but "The thoughts of Emerlist Davjack" is equally enjoyable (even better than "Ars longa." 'cause titled suite isn't very interesting for me there.). It's much more psychedelic than progressive rock (at first sight we can notice that there aren't any very long length tracks like later suits "Ars longa." or "Five Bridges.") but it isn't important for me (in fact psychedelic rock was a kind of progressive rock in 60'.Don't you think ?.) 'cause first of all I am fan of organ-driven rock in general and Keith Emerson in particular. OK, let's check all these songs one by one:

1. Flower King Of Flies This track begins with some strange-psych irregular sound of bells and. then starts quite simple psychedelic-pop song dominated by Hammond organ. Nothing special but really listenable.

2. Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack Another psych-pop song again dominated by Emerson but we can hear .a lot of fine "choruses" too. Of course it's "a little" out of date nowadays but it suits this very "happy-light" song. Pleasant. P.S. Very good organ (a la church organ) solo which is out of place here.but never mind.

3. Bonnie K More straight rock'n'roll song. The most important instrument here is O'List's guitar and we can listen to something non typical for "Emerson's" band: guitar-organ interlacing solo ! Unfortunately vocal in this song is really awful and weak !

4. Rondo My favorite track in this album and I think my favorite from all Nice's songs ever. It starts from some bass playing and suddenly Emerson begins play in his Hammond really ground-breaking riff.It's a real heaven for all fans of this instrument ! besides we can listen to very loud, repetitive bass lines which intensify the atmosphere and electric guitar solo as well. One of the best instrumental tracks I've ever heard ! Believe me ! Really furious and melodic playing simultaneously, where classic music meets rock..

5. War And Peace The second instrumental composition in this album. But it isn't as good as the previous one 'cause I can't find any main riff or melody here. This is more like some kind of jazzy-blues free jamming. A little irritating .but not so bad at all. I can only add that the guitar and organ plays equal roles here.

6. Tantalizing Maggie It's the weakest song for me. Vocal is awful again and it's very indistinct (singing like from under ground or something like that). And this terrible poppy refrain..

7. Dawn the most psychedelic "song". We can hear a lot of whispers, breathing and some kind of very silent monologue. There are many irregular drums' beats, experimental sounds and even really pleasant harpsichord solo. I like "Dawn" 'cause it creates really strange atmosphere. Try to listen to this track when you are alone in dark room.It impresses.

8. The Cry Of Eugene the most peaceful piece of music in this album. Instead of dominated organ we have a lot of piano, guitar and even trumpet's music here. Quite listenable.

In remastered editions we can listened to some bonus tracks:

Azrial (Angel Of Death)

This is first version of "Azrael Revisited" from "Nice" album which includes organ & guitar instead of piano. In fact I prefer the latest version but it isn't one of the best Nice's song for me in general.

Diamond Hard Blue Apples Of The Moon Really fine song. I think that it should take place in main album instead of for example terrible "Tantalizing Maggie". Catchy melody and not bad vocals.

America My number two in "The Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack" ! I love this instrumental track. It has everything what progressive rock needs: thrilling start ("cathedral" organ, some kinds of shoots' sounds, screams), maniac organ riffs and solos, interesting guitar playing.Stunning !

To sum up it's enjoyable album for psychedelic and symphonic prog rock fans (especially "Rondo" & "America" for this second group) as well. I can especially dedicate it to people who like such albums like Pink Floyd's "Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" or Arthur Brown's "The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown". Psychedelic which announces progressive rock.

Greetings from Poland !

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Send comments to ozzy_tom (BETA) | Report this review (#53701)
Posted Friday, October 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It's true, the Nice's debut was a psych record, an unmistakable classic of paisley-soaked Britpop kitsch and a perfect specimen of lava lamp excess. As well, the painful 'singing' of guitarist/arranger Dave O'List & bassist Lee Jackson is legend, as is Keith Emerson's spastic keyboard teeth-pulling. It's all there to laugh at, but something more is happening here and for my money, this is indeed the first rock album that convincingly infused true classical and jazz motifs with psychedelia-- not as a gimmick or with studio tricks and clever production, but with quality playing by musicians who had the background to support such ambitions. Remember, it was 1967, an amazing year for music; 'Sgt. Pepper's', 'Smiley Smile', 'Axis', 'Piper', 'Absolutely Free', all creating history as the world watched and this debut from a "pop band" was making its mark not on pop or psych, but on a new form of music that took from the best of what had come before while maintaining a rock spirit. And though King Crimson's landmark 'In the Court of the Crimson King' (1969) is seen as the first Prog album with all elements present, the Nice did it first and, in certain ways, did it better. Especially in those early days when Crimson wasn't much more than a new version of the neat but nerdy Giles,Giles&Fripp, just with better production and a good-looking singer. No, the Nice were the genuine article when the others were still staring at colors in the sky, and the proof is all there.

Fresh out of Gary Farr and the T-Bones, Keith Emerson and Lee Jackson had joined forces with a good drummer (Brian Davison) and an over-hyped guitarist (Davey O'List) to back singer P.P. Arnold. After a stint with Arnold, they intended to make a record that might appeal to the growing underground market. But because of the quality of musicianship, the session became much more. On the surface, opener 'Flower King of Flies' is an ordinary 60s romp, clangy and dusty. But Emerson's sophisticated changes and high-tech trills raise the bar, turning this into an early prog giant that still excites with high energy and a neat arrangement, echo chamber fun and Davison's marching drums. Horrid Beach Boys vocals and Beatles cliches ruin the title cut but 'Bonnie K' saves the day with her fun, heavy bounce. In the classic 'Rondo' we hear some of the very earliest prog rock as we know it-- symphonic prowess, jazz spaces, gothic colors and rock'n roll bravado, seamlessly brought together for over eight straight minutes. No bluffs, no bullsh*t, just quality stuff with a little wit attached. 'War and Peace' doesn't do much more than dance around, though, and 'Tantalising Maggie' is more a joke than a song, saved by a great classical piano break from Keith, and 'Dawn' creeps open with dungeon noises and a smooth organ vamp enhanced by the skill and unexpected good taste of this group. This is progressive rock in its infancy, just starting to break away from its beginnings, walking upright and not looking back. The album concludes on the remarkable and sublime 'The Cry of Eugene' with church bells, beautiful organ and some squeaky horns. A five star album any day of the week for importance but for some failed moments, only four here. Innocently wonderful and full of the best intentions, the Nice were destined to fade away but the impact they made and contributions to the future of rock music was immeasurable, and we all owe them a debt of gratitude.

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Send comments to Atavachron (BETA) | Report this review (#132032)
Posted Monday, August 06, 2007 | Review Permalink
ExittheLemming
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The Great Leap Forward by the Gang of Four

Whether intentional or not, the Maoist connotations of the appalling title wedded to some groundbreakingly inventive music captures some of that heady whiff of revolution that was in the air on this precocious 1967 debut by the Nice. If that were not sufficient grist to undermine the prevailing genteel mill, then the sight of four reprobates cavorting in cellophane on the cover just might have tipped the balance.

The 'who made the 1st prog album?' debate argued with increasingly shrill protestations of certitude is now a game that we should all be heartily tired of. Judging by the adolescent imbecility of some of the propositions on offer, we would just as well conclude that Progressive Rock originated in some primordial soup of an acquired taste, and get on with enjoying music that we care about.

That said, the prevailing reference points surrounding Thoughts have to be acknowledged or else we end up pretending that art is independent of history. (Art is a product of history, and NOT vice versa)

Blah blah blah

So, a balanced history primer might include (but is not restricted to) Floyd's Piper at the Gates of Dawn - Family's Music In a Doll's House - Hendrix's Axis Bold as Love and Van der Graaf Generator's Aerosol Grey Machine as products of the sort of influences that were at play around this time. I'm sure you will agree, as varied a bag as are assembled here, they represent some rip-snortingly fine music.

'Flower King of Flies' - not sure if this is really inspired by William Goldings novel 'Lord of the Flies' but it clearly hardly matters to the band in a very enjoyable slice of poppy psychedelia featuring some knowingly over the top backing vocals and a very fine tune. A distant relative of the similarly acid drenched Diamond Hard Blue Apples of the Moon

'Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack' - This was a single and I could be wrong, but this is Davy O'List singing right? Whoever it is, it's a damn fine reading of a very accomplished and classically tinged pop tune. The faintly silly 'bah bah BAH baaah bah Baaah' refrain on the chorus will be an unwelcome guest in your head for months to come after hearing this. Subtle and restrained use of mood building harpsichord by Keith and trumpet by O'List.

'Bonnie K' - the Nice's recent past as jobbing RnB musicians is brought to the fore here in a raucous blues rock number. Plenty of energy and ferocity but I fear this substitutes for lack of substance in the composition which is really tantamount to a mediocre riff masquerading as a song. Emerson's 'Hammond on Amphetamines' sound is captured faithfully however and his playing is always worth some of your time even on weaker material.

'Rondo' - Where Emerson tosses a Brubeck 9/8 salad into the air and surgically enhances the pieces that land into a galloping 4/4 with the rest being history. On this much lengthier track we get perhaps our first 'peek' at the sort of improvised magic the Nice would subsequently cast with astonishing frequency when allowed the room to breathe and explore as they are here.

O'List's guitar solo deserves special mention as he displays a very finely honed ability to pace his musical ideas and ensure they have a beginning, development and satisfying conclusion, in stark contrast to many of the 'throw enough fuzzed up freakiness at the wall and some it's bound to stick' school of 60's guitar methodology.

Digital technology was good to both Davison and Jackson, as the CD reissues of much of this early material by the Nice at last does some justice to their vastly underrated and innovative supporting work behind the twin barreled assault of the group's two competing soloists Emerson and O'List.

'War and Peace' - Mercifully shorter than the work it alludes to but rather a perfunctory instrumental blues, albeit one that is framed in gaudy psychedelic colors. The energy and abrasive textures employed are of more interest than the composition.

'Tantalising Maggie' - This COULD have been something right up there on a par with See Emily Play calibre Syd Barrett, but unfortunately the many sublime individual fragments of the song are presented haphazardly as if the band were unsure as to how best to show them off to full effect. Something of a missed opportunity.

'Dawn' - Despite some inspired atmospheric effects and Emerson's injection of classical baroque elements, this is a rather ponderous and plodding number not helped in the least by Lee Jackson's whispered narrative which appropriates 'laryngitis' rather better than the intended 'menacing'

'The Cry of Eugene' - Truly wonderful and as good as anything accomplished at around the same time by Floyd, Beatles, Crimson, Family and the rest. The cream of their admittedly weak vocal melodies rises straight to the top and the song is a (completely impenetrable) haunting and yearning slice of melancholia as touching and sensitive as Hang on to a Dream but with the economy of learned pop and the energy of their innate rock. Here lies in embryonic form, one of the seeds that was to flower into what we might recognise as the bouquet of progressive rock.

Andrew Loog Oldham and his Immediate label's 'groovier than thou' manifesto must be culpable in the failure of the Nice to make a significant mainstream breakthrough earlier than they did. Up until they switched to Tony Stratton-Smith's Charisma imprint in 1970, they had still not received a single penny in royalties from Immediate and the band's sole source of income was from incessant gigging.

Tip: Best to avoid any contractual obligation to a Svengali with double barreled name

By the time Five Bridges had been released the band had already gone their separate ways at the behest of Emerson to free the latter in his besotted pursuit of King Crimson's handmaiden Lake for a planned musical menage a trois with an ex-Rooster.

(relax, I meant Palmer)

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Send comments to ExittheLemming (BETA) | Report this review (#170215)
Posted Thursday, May 08, 2008 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars As most reviewers (if not all) I was waaaaaaay too young to have discovered this band with their debut (I was only eight years old at the time). Now, as an introduction, I have to say that I like ELP quite a lot (it was my first true prog concert in May 1974).

As most of the albums released in those early days of prog, it is not easy either to review them or to imagine their impact when they came out on the market. Needless to say that this work sounds rather psychedelic and that you don't need to expect lots ELP-ish sounds here even if Keith is already Keith if you see what I mean.

Several tracks are short psychedelic pieces with not so much flavour (Flower King of Flies or Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack. They are pleasant for sure, but not really great.

The first outstanding number is the long instrumental Rondo. The exchange between guitar and organ is quite unique and the second half of this instrumental number features a HUGE organ play form dear old friend Keith. But he is not alone during his part: Davidson and Jackson are just phenomenal.

This track is the absolute masterpiece of this album and it is raising its level quite dramatically. It is totally disjointed, hence great. To have recorded such a track in those early days of prog (or underground) was quite daring. This song is a monument to be honest.

If there would be any comparison with ELP, I would say that this album is mostly instrumental. The classical performances form Keith are not yet to be discovered but his work is already the highlight of this debut. Just listen to the heavy War & Peace to be convinced.

It is quite astonishing that the band sounded so brilliant during some of the songs featured, and so childish and old fashioned during such a track as Tantalising Maggie. But let's not forget that this album was released in '67.

In this context, a track as Dawn should have been a killer by then. Heavy loaded IMO. It is not easy to digest such a song in the quite environment of my room, standing alone and listening to this old piece of prog music but one has to admit its later influence.

In all, this is a good album. I guess it was considered as great while being released and that some might think it is a poor album in today's appreciation.

Three stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#187517)
Posted Friday, October 31, 2008 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack is the debut full-length album by UK psychadelic/ progressive rock act The Nice. The band started out as a backing group for soul singer P.P. Arnold who they performed live with during the summer of 1967. The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack was recorded during the autumn of 1967 and released in December 1967 through Immediate Records. The Nice is mostly known for featuring one of the most prolific and influential musicians in progressive rock in keyboardist Keith Emerson ( Emerson, Lake & Palmer)

Even though the album is often considered one of the earliest examples of progressive rock, I think that the album belongs more to the psychadelic rock genre. The songs are generally pretty simple psychadelic rock songs but with added classical inspired piano, organ and harpsichord by Keith Emerson. Very original at the time. Even though most songs are simple a song like the instrumental Rondo does stand out as being different ( War & Peace and Dawn also features progressive elements). Some great soloing by guitarist David O'List in that song but Keith Emerson of course steals the show completely with his inventive playing. The musicianship is excellent througout the album but the production is not the best IMO.

The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack is a groundbreaking album from the sixties and it´s hard not to acknowledge that. Personally I find it enjoyable but not really excellent and a 3 star rating is deserved.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#224301)
Posted Friday, July 03, 2009 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
4 stars This is one of those late 60's psychedelic albums that would lead to the progressive rock movement. Like most music of its time, the song writing is basic psychedelic blues rock that everybody was doing. But Emerson's keyboards are really excellent throughout and they make this music bigger, more ambitious and commanding then much of its contemporaries.

Flower King Of Flies is a great opener. A heavy blues rock number with excellent keyboard embellishments from Keith. Imagine this with a slight different arrangement and ELP is not too far away. But the credit does not just go to Emerson, the other bright light in this unit is of course O'List. His sharp Hendrix inspired playing offers the right balance against Emerson's urge to take the spotlight. It is mainly because of him that this is the only record where Emerson works as a band member instead of the ego tripper he usually is. So of course he would kick out O'List after this album and much of the appeal of The Nice would go with him. Just compare this opening track to anything from the ensuing Nice albums. It goes from focussed energy to mindless doodling in just one year. The contrast couldn't be bigger.

On Rondo, Emerson takes a classic twist on things and it forebodes things to come. He rarely matched the raw energy of this track here. Rondo comes in fact very close to what Jon Lord of Deep Purple would be doing in the years following this release. It's an excellent track, both proto-prog and proto hard rock. War and Piece is another instrumental with a great guitar versus organ battle without ever overdoing it.

Like many other tracks on this album, Tantalising Maggie could have come from Pink Floyd's 1967 debut so it's no surprise O'List joined Pink Floyd for a brief stint after being fired by Emerson. Dawn is another highlight: dark and brooding, heavy and gothic, symphonic and theatrical. The Cry of Eugene is another winner

There are many other early examples of prog. The fact that they are mostly from the same year indicates that not just one band can claim to have originated prog. It was something that was brooding in many artists' music from that time. The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack stands as a fine example of that creative ambition of 1967.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#244878)
Posted Friday, October 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
4 stars The first album by The Nice is their only studio album with founding guitarist David O'List. In a way, it actually helped their sound to have another instrument to temper Keith Emerson's keyboards. And the album is quite progressive for it's time (1967). While there is only a hint of what Emerson will eventually do with ELP, I'd still call it progressive.

As on any album by The Nice, Lee Jackson's vocals can be annoying. At least he only uses that drunken barroom voice sparingly.

The title track is interesting, if only for the 60's flower child vocals on the intro. It's fun to picture Emerson (who is credited for background vocals) singing along. Then there's Rondo. While I like the song somewhat, I wish they had had the courtesy to credit Dave Brubeck with the composition (and turned it into a 4/4 song).

War And Peace is a cool, bues rock jam, but Emerson seems to have gotten short changed in the mix. His keyboards are waaaay in the background at times.

The rest of the songs are primarily sixties psychedelic, with Emerson's flourishes adding a slight symphonic prog flavor.

For proto-prog, it's actuall somwhat compelling.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#295989)
Posted Tuesday, August 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Post/Math Rock Team
3 stars 1967 was quite a year for 'popular' music. This album was released the same year as other great prog and proto-prog albums like Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, Days Of Future Passed and Absolutely Free. The Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham put this group together as a backing band for R&B singer P.P. Arnold. This is the only album to feature guitarist/vocalist David O'List. Of course this album introduced the world to Keith Emerson. The name Emerlist Davjack comes from combining the band member's last names.

A mix of psych-pop and proto-prog would be the best way to describe the music here. Although O'List is not the greatest guitarist or singer in the world, I miss his contributions on later albums. I'm reviewing the album without the bonus tracks. Two of those bonus songs, "America" and "Azrael", are amongst the best things The Nice ever did. "Azrael" in particular is a great psych rock song and O'List's guitar playing is greatly missed on the "Revisited" song from the 1969 album.

"Flower King Of Flies" is a psych pop song with harpsichord. Some interesting organ sounds and good bass during the guitar solo. That guitar gets sped up. Marching drums at the end. The title track is another psych pop tune with some harpsichord. This one has more classical overtones however. Good organ and distorted guitar. "Bonnie K" is a blues- rock song typical of it's time. Almost Cream lite if you will.

"Rondo" is the longest song. An instrumental based on "Blue Rondo a la Turk" by jazzman Dave Brubek. Throughout the song is a fast bass part which is steady, repetative and almost hypnotic. Good organ solo here. The guitar for the most part stays in the background. "War And Peace" is a R&B styled instrumental. Good drumming. Nice organ solo. "Tantalising Maggie" has awful vocals but good drumming. Some classical piano at the end.

"Dawn" is the best song and most forward thinking. Starts with eerie organ and some noises from the drums. All the vocals are whispered. Great organ playing and good guitar. Around 2 minutes is just drum sounds. I love the organ sound and dissonant guitar that starts around the 3 minute mark. Then some harpsichord. Ends with echoed whispering. The lyrics are poetic and creepy. "The Cry Of Eugene" is almost Floyd like, especially the vocals. Good sustained guitar. Lovely trumpet in the middle. Hypnotic organ near the end which gets faster and the song just cuts off.

A good debut album for 1967. This band, and Emerson in particular, will go on to do better things. "Rondo" and "Dawn" are the proggiest parts of the album and must have seemed ahead of their time...at the time. A nice psych/proto-prog album but not necessarily better than other psych/proto-prog albums from the same year. A good listen if you want to hear some of the origins of progressive rock. 3 stars.

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Send comments to zravkapt (BETA) | Report this review (#335525)
Posted Friday, November 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I have more than a few thoughts...

The title of this album is one of the lousiest I've ever come across; I get the ''cuteness'' of merging all four band members' names into one ''person'', but I can't help but bust out laughing every time every time I try to pronounce it. It almost overshadows the pompousness ELP took.

I'm getting too off topic here though. Musically, I find The Nice's debut to be lacklustre even though I recognise its place in the world of prog rock. The first three tracks are little more than whimsical psychedelia that are either awful or bland. The same goes for ''Tantalising Maggie'' and ''Cry of Eugene'' with both needing a good kick up the production.

The longer instrumental workouts are more likely to attract the interested progster, although ''Dawn'' isn't exactly instrumental thanks to the stupid whispering. Emerson and O'List whip out stellar instrumental performances, but it turns to mush at the end. ''War and Peace'' is another muscle-flexer with a more blues-like scale and not as interesting.

All you ever need to know about this album is in the eight-minute-plus romp-and- roller ''Rondo''. It's the only time where I really notice the potential of Jackson and Davidson giving that galloping rhythm that makes the guitar-keyboard interplay that much better. The highlight of the album.

The album is little more than a curiosity for the ELP fans that wish to know where Keith started out. ''Rondo'' only faintly justifies the album's strength as everything else around it just pads or weakens the appeal. It's part of prog's early history if you're into that stuff.

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Send comments to Sinusoid (BETA) | Report this review (#381914)
Posted Monday, January 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars "... they were to set the standard for Progressive, Classical based rock. The many groups that subsequently took to utilising classical themes in their music were merely followers in the steps of these often underrated pioneers." - Robert M Corich.

A forerunner of ELP, this was the first Keith Emerson masterpiece. The Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack (1967), from The Nice, is still very underrated and unknown, once it was one of the most influential albums into the progressive rock: a psychedelic rock band breaking the chains of cliche songwriting of their time. They were all seasoned musicians that had been bought together by the head of the newly formed Immediate Records, Andrew Loog Oldham. The Nice started as a backing band for the soul singer P. P. Arnold. But the band self reputation drove them high to majority. They were sent out early to work up the crowd for twenty or thirty minutes before P. P. Arnold took to the stage. It didn't take long for the band to develop a highly distinctive sound all of their own. It also didn't take Andrew Oldham long to realise the possibilities in working The Nice as a separate act altogether. The Nice became the main attraction at the Marquee's National Jazz and Blues Festival (England, 1967). They had been selected to play a smaller stage adjacent to the main stage. Emerson saw this as his attention grabbong chance and after an amazing set by The Nice he completed some of his musical endeavours with ear splitting volume, loads of feedback and some cleverly placed smoke bombs. It was designed to get the audiences attention. The tactic was an unmitigated success, people rushed over to see what was happening amongst the chaos. The band of course, played on, delivering the most memorable spectacle and performance of the day.Even P. P. Arnold, after the show, realised that was impossible to compete with a band like this. They parted company the very same day. Immediate Records of course had gained an exceptional band without even lifting a finger. Emerson and his band attempted to capture on tape some of the excitement they exulted live. The resulting recordings were released in December of 1967 as their debut album Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack. The album title being made up from each of the players surnames.

The first track, Flower King of Flies (a satyrical reference to Beelzebub), is my favorite track from the whole album. The psychedelia, the feeling, the guitar deep riffage and Keith Emerson unique playing got me from the first time. A must check for any classic rock and prog fan. The second track has the album title, shorter than the previous track, and starts out with a happy chorus, followed by a brilliant melody. Emerson classical organ interventions was very outstanding when the album was released, and is still pleasent for me. The harpsichord creates a perfect mood for the songs. So, Bonnie K, the third track, is a psychedelic blues rock n roll. You can feel it at the very beggining of the song, with the organ hits and the catchy guitar riffs. The drums and signature variations at the chorus are awesome, the technical work of these guys made them the most progressive band from the psychedelic early rockers. The next song, is the classical Rondo, where Keith Emerson shows his personality to anyone who dares listening to this album. The marching bass and drums sets the base for emerson madness and experiments, while the guitar makes cool noisy noises. It needs a great performance to keep the same base working for almost nine minutes, but Keith Emerson did it well.

War and Peace is just a blues jam track. Well, any jam featuring Keith Emerson rules. After the pompous Rondo, this track fits well as a follow up. Tantalising Maggie includes weird choruses and vocal effects, but 'Nice'. A funny bass line while the organ and harpsichord plays the standard. The guitar work here, and the song chorus reminds me of a slower and psychedelic hillbilly country. The song and additional vocals gets weirdest as the song is about to end, and that's cool in my opinion. Dawn starts with Emerson classical playing, followed by a hard rock tune and whispering vocals. This song is very progressive and experimental. You will find outstanding musicianship here, and noisy stuff too. The Cry of Eugene is the last track from the official release of the album. The intro riff, maybe the main riff of the song, has a beautiful feeling. The bass line is cool, and the guitar is noisy, just the way it should be. It's a different kind of track, is smooth and lovely, without any lost from the previous tracks. But wait! From 2:45" to 3:05". Thats WOLFMOTHER'S JOKER & THE THIEF, RIGHT?? Those guys totally ripped off their most known song intro from The Cry of Eugene. And according to wikipedia article about Wolfmother: "influenced by a mix of 'bluesrock ooze', including Yes, MC5, The Nice," Stop here. I don't need to read the rest, they ripped off The Nice, without any doubt. Ah, Wolfmother, they're not bad at all after check the rest of the tracks, but this was shameless.

After this debut album, the band turned into a "power trio" without guitar, but keys/organ, and the progressive rock standard was clearly defined. The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack is a great album, and worth at least for the historical value into music.

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Send comments to VOTOMS (BETA) | Report this review (#1005712)
Posted Friday, July 26, 2013 | Review Permalink

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