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The Nice - Five Bridges Suite CD (album) cover


The Nice


Symphonic Prog

3.48 | 107 ratings

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Symphonic Prog Specialist
3 stars After many years of ignoring this album due to the lack of interest in Rock/Pop albums with artificial orchestral patches in the vein of Days of Future Passed and due to the very descriptive reviews I found in Prog Archives, decided to buy a copy of Five Bridges and was gladly surprised, because unlike most previous Orchestra and Band releases, THE NICE and THE SIMFONIA OF LONDON ORCHESTRA melt perfectly in a musical piece on which the Rock and Classical component are one new musical product.

The central piece of the album is "The Five Bridges Suite", which was commissioned for the Newcastle Arts Festival in honor to the architectural structure of the city, in reference to the 5 bridges over the River Tyne, was premiered in Newcastle on October 10, 1969, but was recorded on October 17..

Side A consists of the The suite which divided in five "Bridges" or Movements

"Fantasia - 1st Bridge)" starts as a relatively anodyne piece for orchestra and Emerson's piano, despite the efforts of the orchestra to create a pompous and brilliant sound, the piece sounds dated and boring. Luckily as soon as Emerson's piano starts, gets more interesting, as a fact sounds a lot as "Piano Improvisation" blended with "Piano Concerto N° 1" by ELP.

"Fantasia - 2nd Bridge" is a jazzy piece for band without orchestra in which the perfect timing of Davidson and the bass by Jackson are enhanced by the frenetic synths of Keith, a good finale for a movement that started weak despite the rough vocals.

"Choral - 3rd Bridge" is a piece for Vocals and orchestra with interruptions of the band, incredibly the voice of Lee Jackson sounds softer and much better than ever, which is followed by "High Level Fugue 4th Bridge" is a piece for piano and cymbals, more in the vein of what Emerson and Palmer did on Works

The suite ends with "Finale - 5th Bridge", my favorite movement, in which the band with additional horns really give a pure Prog Rock performance, brilliant and frenetic, announcing what Keith will do when joined by Lake and Palmer, an excellent closing for a good but uneven suite.

Side B consists of four individual tracks that start with "Intermezzo Karelia Suite", a new version of their Ars Longa Vita Brevis classic, that sounds excellent with the orchestra melting with the band, sadly one of those loud sonic excesses of Keith Emerson with cacophonic sounds partially ruins what could be the best rendition of Sibelius masterpiece.

Despite what most people say, I believe that "Pathetique (Symphony No. 6 3rd Movement)" is a magnificent adaptation of Tchaikovsky's work with an amazing keyboard work by Emerson, specially because he avoids the usual loud experimental synth sounds that ruin other pieces.

"Country pie / Brandenburg Concerto No. 6" is an unusual mix of Bob Dylan and Johan Sebastian Bach that incredibly blend perfectly, as if they were created to be rearranged and performed by THE NICE with a Keith Emerson in flames.

The album ends with a filler called "One of Those People" recorded from a BBC session if I'm not wrong, a totally anti-climatic ending for a good but uneven album. My version has 5 bonus tracks that are out of place in this album so will not review them.

Now is time for the difficult moment of rating the album, and I say difficult because this is one of the first occasions in which a band perfectly blends with an orchestra, the problem is that there are excellent, average and terrible tracks , so despite the marvelous moments and obvious achievements, will have to rate Five Bridges with only 3 stars that could have been 4 if it wasn't for the last track.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 3/5 |


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