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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 2 March 2008
And nothing wrong with that!

You need to belong to a certain generation I suspect to get a great deal of pleasure from this - but, as I DO belong to that generation, I was not disappointed.
This always was experimental music and a consequence of that is mixed success. What still stands the test of time is the 'second side' of the album - the reworking of classical tracks to include the bass, drums and keyboard - something that gave me a nodding head and bright smile back in my youth - and which had a similar result today.
The added material was not essential - although America is a bonus.
Of its time, yes, and for people of its time who are still not quite moribund.
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VINE VOICEon 7 August 2009
Back in the days when you could trade in vinyl and get new stuff, I traded in my Nice albums for this recording. Boy was I dissappointed. So much orchestra and not much Nice. The frst track starts off with orchestra and I was worried that it wouldnt contain any Nice at all. The version of Country Pie is good and the 5 Bridges suite grows on you. There is a vicious version of Karelia suite but the orchestra doesnt really gel with them.
Big Gripe. I know that the remasterers wouldnt want to change the running order, but the encore comes after the studio track One Of Those People. I know cds can be programmed, but I would have prefered the concert to run as it did on the night ( and one of those people is not that great anyway).
The remastered cd sounds really good as with all the other 2009 remasters ( when will the get the master tapes to Nice and Thoughts of Emerliststavjack? )
So if you like your Nice with a heavy dose of orchestra, go get this. Yes it is a bit clunky, but no more so than many of the other Rock/classical get togethers and much, much better than the Deep Purple group/orchestra album
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on 23 August 2006
I finally got this album following a bout of nostalgia for my native land and in particular for an area of the country where I frequented my youth.

Thirty seven or so years later, the album does not generate as much enthusiasm as it did in my younger days. While the expanded edition is a most welcome addition to the growing repetoire of the available music of the Nice, it really has not stood the test of time too well.

All the trademarks of the band are there in their glorious splendour while Keith Emerson towers as a colossus virtuoso against the others in the band who are no novices in the rock game themselves. However there is a gnawing sense of doubt against the project of group and orchestra in the Fairfield Hall. The music of the time stands as empty as a Tyneside shipyard today despite all of Emerson's skills as a musician. I find that the commissioned work is not a real reflection of the city either then or now. The city which has undergone a major renovation and has been transformed into a city of culture from a city of deindustrialisation and now presents a bold new face to the future.

In retrospect it seems to me that this is a vainglorious attempt at a novel approach for the arts in bringing a progressive rock band together with an orchestra via the mechanism of Emerson who clearly is a talented and gifted musician but who lacks the rquisite skills of composition to do a significant portrayal of the city of Newcastle.

Having said all of that the musicianship of this album is no doubt exceptional and certainly portrays the power and intensity of the Nice and the orchestra. It is a real pity that a DVD does not exist which would transform the aural experience to the multi-media event that a Nice performance was. One can almost see the daggers fly into the Hammond organ as one writes.

As another reviewer commented the additional tracks are a real treat. As I drove through a northern city in New Jersey the other day with America blasting out into the 86 degree sunny atmosphere, a driver called out to me at a traffic light that he had never heard such a rendition with so much life and gusto. As the lights changed I explained that this was music by a sixties English band called the Nice whom he had never heard of.

A very satisfying acclamation from a musical innocent. A good album no doubt, a grand project no doubt, the best album by the band? No I must say I prefer the three disc compilation with the live version of Rondo at Newcastle City Hall, but the Nice are always better live than in the studio which cannot be said to have captured their true essence.
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on 22 January 2005
I was 18 when I first heard this album. That was 33 years ago!
I never bought it - I was too broke!
Some ten years ago, on a sailing trip to Jersey, I came across a vinyl copy of the album, in a second hand record shop and succumbed. Since then I wore it out.
Recently I saw a CD copy advertised on Amazon and could not resist. To my delight I got the full flavour of the best of 'Nice' and the progressive rock that I enjoyed in my youth.
The quality is much better than I remembered it - either as a kid or more recently on vinyl. It stirs all the emotions of a classical musician, with rock 'breakout' tendencies.
Now I'm old enough not to care - I can finally turn up the volume and enjoy the full brilliance of 'The Nice'.
A must-have for rock geriatrics like me - who intend to rock till they drop!!
Enjoy top quality classical rock music that is timeless. Just buy it.
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on 24 October 2001
Keith Emerson tried the symphony - rock group merge before others (Deep Purple etc), it is not easy to get a piece of music feeling complete with that setting. Many very interesting ideas, but at times the different parts just dont hold together. Switching between rock group and the orchestra in the usual manner most of the time. The part that holds together the best is the add-on version of Karelia, where the rock group AND the symphony orchestra plays together, and it really rocks! It is a great piece to have if you are a Nice fan (like I am). If you are not, then there are better records to begin with, like "the thoughts of Emerlist DavJack".
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on 23 March 2015
I have this on vinyl, but no longer have a deck to play it on. Terrific early "prog rock", Emmerson's keyboard work is fast, furious, and the arrangements of classical works to incorporate his playing are great.
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on 22 October 2014
Innovative rock trio and orchestral work, can be a bit challenging but I love it (This replaces my worn-out Vinyl copy). The other tracks show Keith's versatility as a keyboardist, just listen to the Country Pie/Brandenburg 6. I've been a fan since Seeing them at the Royal Festival Hall in 1968 (OK showing my age here a bit!)
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on 23 July 2011
I can echo one of the earlier reviewers - if you belong to a certain generation, then this music is just a part of you. My first experience of it was round at a friend's, playing the LP on his Dansette. The aim was to see how much you could get it to vibrate when playing the electronic-noise part of the Intermezzo - Karelia Suitre track.....

I love my classical music too, and as it happens Sibelius' Karelia Suite is amongst my favourite pieces. I've never considered this disrespectful in any way though. Keith Emerson certainly went on to some pretty pretentious things with ELP, but this still has a certain freshness. My main regret each time I have listened to it over the years is that they couldn't get a better quality orchestra - or perhaps to record it better. The music deserves better in my view and I still rate this as the finest orchestra / rock band piece of crossover. It's my personal opinion that Lee Jackson and Brian Davison never got enough of the credit for being such a great rhythm section behind Emerson's Hammond organ. I guess the orchestra / band mix is always going to get flak from some quarters, but I think Emerson had a pretty good idea of classical music structure and the Five Bridges Suite itself still really works for me.

I still really love this music.
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An odd mix of orchestra and pop that never quite works, but is worth listening to nevertheless. Orchestral flourishes give way to Emerson's frantic keyboard playing backed by the able rythmn section that then merge back into snippets of classical music or experimentation. There are interludes in which Emerson experiments with noise and droning (Mainly on Intermezzo: Karelia Suite, which then turns into an Emerson solo very remiscent of what was to come with ELP.).

A bold experiment, and way ahead of its time - will most definitely appeal to fans of Emerson, but casual listeners may be baffled by the disjoint mix of orchesta and Nice.
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on 15 February 2009
I first heard this album when a girlfriends brother played it to me in 1970 (on vinyl of course). At the time I was just getting into Prog Rock and had been introduced to Beggars Opera, ELP and Yes by the same guy and at first listen found this very similar. Further listening however revealed that this was indeed different. This was a band playing with a real orchestra and not just mellotrons ( I hadn't heard Deep Purples' concerto or Atom Heart Mother by Pink Floyd yet) Up till now I had heard the Moody Blues and their orchestral effort Days of Future Passed but had also read that they and the orchestra did not play together that the orchestral parts were indeed Mike Pinder on Mellotron when the Moodies were playing and the orchestra alone when they were playing.

I found Five Bridges easy to listen to (no I don't mean easy listening!)
compared to some stuff I had been introduced to and the themes of the Bridges sweet soon embedded themselves in my head.

I don't intend to give a track by track review but simply feel that the album should be listened to in three parts:

1 The 5 Bridges Suite.
2 The next four tracks (the original "B" side of the album
3 Finally the bonus material

The reason I recommend this is that the original album (minus bonus cuts) was made to be listened to this way and maybe I just got used to it. 39 years later this album still sounds very fresh (o.k. some of the bonus stuff has aged...who hasn't?) If you are at all interested in Prog or indeed orchestrated rock ( Love , Forever Change springs to mind) give this a try, then if you haven't heard them move on to Atom Heart Mother, Deep Purple's Concerto,Uriah Heep. Salisbury, title track give them a whirl as well. Who knows you may well be pleasantly surprised.

Happy listening.
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