The Nice – The Swedish Radio Sessions (1967/2001)

FrontCover1.jpgOne of the mainstays of the early Prog-rock/Art-Rock genre were Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Their popularity was enormous worldwide and their fans ran the gamut from mainstream pop enthusiasts to hardcore stoners.

But that was the 70’s. Tonight it’s an incarnation from 1967 in which the common link is keyboard maestro Keith Emerson. The Nice came on the scene right at the time of Psychedelia and were a sizable hit with audiences. They blended an interesting mixture of Pop, Psych, Jazz and Art-Rock into one relatively seamless presentation and had an enthusiastic following as the result.

Here´s a very rare live session done by The Nice while on tour in Sweden. Recorded by Sveriges Radio with a reasonably sedate audience, this live document of The Nice offers a few disappointments. First off, the vocals were not the strong suit of The Nice, and Keith Jackson’s voice is flat a lot of the time, a well documented weak aspect of the band which probably hampered their universal success.

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But that’s a small nit to pick for an otherwise long-thought-lost radio session by a band that, at the time were just getting ready to release their first album and were destined to do great things.

What more than makes up for any vocal deficiencies is the fact this recording is so good and is something of an anomaly for a period of time where live recordings were rare and well recorded ones even rarer. (by pastdaily.com)

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The Nice were booked to play live on Swedish radio in the fall of 1967, prior to the release of their debut record while they were still a quartet. Organist Keith Emerson was not yet the dominate force he became following the departure of guitarist Davy O’List, who is quite prominent on this session. The music is a bit of a mishmash, with Bob Dylan’s “She Belongs to Me” starting a bit erratically but finally coming together. Their own composition “Flower King of Flies” has a more subtle vocal by bassist Lee Jackson than the studio version they eventually released, though he has trouble staying in tune. The instrumental jam upon jazzman Charles Lloyd’s “Sombrero Sam” seems a bit like filler, but the turkey of the evening is a forgettable cover of Vanilla Fudge’s overwrought “You Keep Me Hanging On.”

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A quick take of their own “The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack” is followed by the gem of the date: a 12-minute workout of “Rondo,” better known as jazz pianist Dave Brubeck’s “Blue Rondo à la Turk” (though the Nice were initially credited with composing the piece by their own label, Castle gets it right).

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This version of “Rondo” easily eclipses all the other versions by the Nice (even though the rhythm is still very stiff compared to its composer’s recordings) because of the interaction between the organist and the guitarist. Considering the vintage of this long overlooked music, the sound is quite good, so any fans of the Nice should consider this to be a lost treasure worth acquiring. (by Ken Dryden)

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Personnel:
Brian Davison (drums)
Keith Emerson (organ)
Lee Jackson (bass, vocals)
Guitar – David O’List (guitar)

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Tracklist:
01. She Belongs To Me (Dylan) 6.06
02. Flower King Of Flies (Jackson/Emerson) 4.25
03. Sombrero Sam (Lloyd) 7.27
04. You Keep Me Hanging On (B.Holland/Dozier/E.Holland) 6.44
05. The Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack (Emerson/O´List) 3.07
06. Rondo (Brubeck/Emerson/Jackson/Davison) 12.14

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