The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack is the 1967 debut album by the English psychedelic rock and progressive rock group the Nice. It is considered one of the first albums in the latter genre.
The name Emerlist Davjack is a pseudonym created by combining the last names of the four members of the group; Keith Emerson, David O’List, Brian Davison, and Lee Jackson.
The album was promoted by a sampler (featured on the Castle Communications 2000 box set “Here Come The Nice” (CMETD 055-1)) featuring a commentary by John Peel, which included the following comments:
1967 was a strange year for pop music with groups experimenting with new sounds and bouncing on and off bandwagons with dizzying speed and agility. They were calling themselves ridiculous names and regretting it shortly. The Nice came together in a void and will be here when the others are in pantomime in Wolverhampton.
The cover, photographed by Gered Mankowitz, shows members of the band shirtless, wrapped in cellophane.
The original disc credits all compositions to “Emerlist Davjack”; later releases gave more specific credits.
At the 1967 Windsor Jazz & Blues Festival, lead singer Jackson said the song “Flower King of Flies” was about Beatle Paul McCartney. “The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack” was used as incidental music for the 1968 children’s television drama “The Tyrant King”, directed by Mike Hodges and written by Trevor Preston for Thames Television, from the London Transport book by Aylmer Hall. The 6-part series also featured music by the Rolling Stones, the Moody Blues and Pink Floyd.
“Rondo” includes a short excerpt from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Toccata & Fugue in D Minor, as well as an extended quote and re-harmonization of the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s “Blue Rondo à la Turk”. “The Cry of Eugene”, which was later re-recorded by Jackson’s group Jackson Heights, refers to “Harlequin & Columbine”.
The album was named as one of Classic Rock magazine’s “50 Albums That Built Prog Rock”.(by wikipedia)
The 1998 Castle Communications reissue (ESM 647) of the only album by the progressive band as a quartet runs circles around every other version of this album on CD, including the material in the 1995 Charly Records box, which was pretty good. Otherwise, the music is a flawed but valiant effort at progressive-type art rock, a little too heavily influenced by spaced-out, druggy psychedelia and suffering severely from the lack of a real singer in the ranks of the band. Keith Emerson’s organ and piano flourishes never sounded crisper, and Davy O’List’s Hendrix-ish guitar is in sharp relief as well. Mostly, though, this record still suffers from the fact that the players had virtually no experience in a recording studio, and seem uncomfortable working without an audience in front of them. (by Bruce Eder)
This album surprised me. The music is a blend of psychedelic and progressive rock, somewhere between The Piper at the Gates of Dawn and Thick as a Brick. Rondo is the centerpiece but inventive and exciting music abounds. The problem is that it is not an instrumental album. The lyrics and vocals are borderline embarrassing. An instrumental version of the album would be a 5* classic. (Jeff Yutzler)
The Nice’s debut album, and the only album released by the band as a quartet, is more of a band-oriented effort than their subsequent works. It shows the group in a more formative stage, playing typically English psychedelic rock with only a few hints of the classical/progressive music they would soon be remembered for. And although this isn’t in the same class as, say, a Pink Floyd or Deep Purple, there is some interesting material here that you’d rarely hear Keith Emerson attempt ever again. Emerson’s keyboard virtuosity manages to peek through in spots here, though he’s not the dominant force in the band quite yet. Regardless, his organ fills in “Flower King of Flies” are bedeviling, dissonant playing in the bluesy “Bonnie K” is unexpected, and pieces like “Rondo” and “War and Peace” rank among his first classical adaptations. He also handles the harpsichord well in the album’s title track.
Music by the Nice even at this stage in Emerson’s career is quite dense and demanding, and is something of an acquired taste, even for prog rock fans. Nevertheless, this album is the band’s most accessible outing, and fans of Emerson, Lake & Palmer may find this album a fascinating piece of history. (Russell Newton)
This is really not the best LP of The Nice (because of the vocals parts), but it was the start of a brilliant career of an organ player called Keith Emerson. And on this album you can hear his first masterpiece … called “Rondo”.
Brian Davison (drums, tubular bells, timpani)
Keith Emerson (keyboards, harpsichord, vocals)
Lee Jackson (bass, guitar, vocals, timpani)
David O’List (guitar, trumpet, flute, vocals)
Billy Nicholls (background vocals on 02.)
01. Flower King Of Flies (Emerson/Jackson) 3.20
02. The Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack (Emerson/O’List) 2.49
03. Bonnie K (Jackson/O’List) 3.24
04. Rondo (Bach/Brubeck/Emerson/O’List/Davison/Jackson) 8.21
05. War And Peace (Emerson/O’List/Davison/Jackson) 5.13
06. Tantalising Maggie (Emerson/Jackson) 4.35
07. Dawn (Davison/Emerson/Jackson) 5.17
08. The Cry Of Eugene (Emerson/Jackson/O’List) 4.41
09. The Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack” (Single Version) (Emerson/O’List) 2.49
10. Azrial (Angel of Death)” (Emerson, Jackson) 3.44
11. The Diamond Hard Blue Apples Of The Moon (Davison/Jackson) 2.48