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  • Nice
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4.6 out of 5 stars8
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on 9 December 2009
This was amongst my first albums purchased in 1969, but unlike the previous reviewer, I loved the first side of the original album, and don't agree that the Nice were not an album band. There's no doubt that their live act was masterful and that Rondo was up there with America at the spearhead of their energy - so much so that this became a mainstay of my own rock act and remained so for around 25 years. However, the energy of those acts very much covered over the fact that the fundamental material was really quite shallow by comparison not only with their own album tracks, but also with the subsequent music that poured forth from, of course, ELP, but also from Refugee, the band that the remaining members of the Nice formed with Patrick Moraz, but which was unfortunately cut short by PM's absorption into Yes.

Their album tracks demonstrated a depth of musicianship well beyond this single theme stage stuff, and nowhere more than on this album. Asrael revisited could almost have been a forerunner of Van der Graaf Generator or even early (Peter Gabriel era) Genesis, whilst For Example has to remain the most novel and multi-textured variation on the blues that I have ever heard by any band ever.

So in addition to enjoying the instant gratification of the live tracks, try a few listenings of the studio material - as with all highly structured and textured music it takes a few listenings for it to "grow" - and I'm sure you'll agree that there's ample room for both.
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on 11 February 2011
I have a really soft spot for this album mainly because it was one of the first I ever bought and played over again and I still think that it is The Nice at their best.I still get a tingle when I hear Keith Emerson piano intro on the first track.There is a very fine jazz/choral arrangement of Tim Hardins ' Hang onto a Dream ' and though ' Diary of an Empty Day ' is lifted from a classical piece ( Edouard Lalo's Symphonic Espagnole ) which of course was not uncommon regarding all fits and works rather well with the lyrics.The live tracks introduced me to the likes of Brubeck and Dylan and the Jimmy Smith style ' For Example '. Unfortunately by the time I had discovered The Nice they had split up and I had to be content with ELP who I saw but never loved.Give me Lee Jacksons gravelly vocals any time.
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This was one of the first 'progressive rock' LP s I listened to many years ago on my mates Dansette. (Ask your dad what an LP and Dansette is!). Those that remember these things will know you had to turn the things over to play the other side.
BUT we never bothered with the first 4 tracks of side 1. The killer and standout track here is the live side 2. Now no doubt there will be legions of fans who will say that the first side was/is excellent I agree it's just that the second side was so good and was my favourite.
People forget that with LPs there were two sides asingle CD does not have that paradox.
I'm not saying I do not like the first 4 , rather I do. So if you see a review reeferring to the first 4 being great they simply have not read my review in full.

Now back to the album.
The stand out track being Rondo 69. This has always remained my favourite Nice track and captures what the Nice were, a really fabulous Live band. That organ sound that Emerson produces drives the trio along. No lead guitars see. She belongs to me, a Bob Dylan song, has Lee Jackson barking out the vocals, his bass guitar being the powerhouse with able support by Brian 'Blinky' Davison on the drums.
Now the proof that Rondo is wonderful and timeless is that it was a popular addition to the ELP live shows.
This revamped CD comes with seven extra tracks live versions this helps swell the shortness of the original LP. Why the 3 stars? Well any fan will tell you that the Nice never really 'cut the mustard' on LPs. The live shows were their forte and never was a term 'Showman' more apt for the knife throwing, Hammond organ abusing Emerson! Bad luck with their ill fated label Immediate and their sad breakup prevented the Nice from achieving their potential.

On a further note there is an import version of this 'LP/ Album making Four versions on CD alone by my count.
A reviewer called '70s' contacted me via a review.
Here is what I wrote (to borrow a phrase from Ernie Wise)

After a little bit of research and a note from a reviewer called '70s'
I learned that the album was released in the USA as "Everything As Nice As Mother Makes It"
Now '70s' reckons it has a slightly longer version of Rondo on it as well as a ('garish orange cover!)
So I Just did a bit of research .
Wikipedia- yes I know you have to take what they say with a pinch of salt! Say
"Everything As Nice As Mother Makes It" is the US version of Nice after Immediate's distribution changed from Columbia to Capitol. Nice had been initially released in the US with a slightly longer version of Rondo 69 not available on the UK or on the Capitol distributed US versions."

So maybe just maybe this version import has the longer version of Rondo.
I still think it's a steep price to pay for and extra 30 seconds or so of one track but the completists may be interested.

Now I am not prepared to invest in this CD just to test that theory but if any one can help would they add a comment??

Further to writing this review I did a little bit of research.
This album has been included complete on other collections.
Also I was totally amazed to find that there were about 30 plus 'best of the Nice' CDs under different labels with just the odd track or two different.

So I spent a few hours finding out what was on the CDs (Amazon do not have track listings hardly any of them).
So I listed the whole shebangs sad or what?

Any how this does have the advantage of informing the buyer which collection is the best value and which contains the best, for that buyer's tastes, selection.

If you have a few minutes and a fascination just type in the Nice on Amazon and see how many you can find!

Post script.
This was one of my first reviews ever,
I gave it 3 stars.
This has generated quite a bit of criticism and discussion.
After a lenghty period I have upgraded my review to 4 stars.
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on 7 January 2011
We (my wife and I) hadn't heard this record since the early Seventies, but we knew every note when we played the CD - what a thrill! Also, having recently heard and seen all the anniversary publicity about Dave Brubeck's 'Take Five', The Nice's 'Rondo 69' made sense as a tribute to Brubeck's 'Blue Rondo a la Turk'. A lovely bit of jazz/rock history.
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on 10 March 2011
Every track a gem - BOTH sides. Masters of jazz-prog rock. And this is easily Nice's best album. The live tracks thankfully do not involve Keith Emerson stabbing at his organ in a frenzy! Having seen Nice live twice, I always thought Emerson's Hendrix-inspired instrument self abuse took away from the performance, not added to it. "Rondo" is one of the most exciting organ-led live tracks I've heard, second only to "She Belongs to Me" - the very next track! Whilst the Dylan original I'm afraid had never really grabbed me, the unrecognisable Nice version is simply mind blowing - maan! If you only buy one Nice album, this is the one to get - no argument. None of my old student pals ever liked Nice and if I ever put a Nice CD on these days, both my wife and daughters immediately run out of the room screaming, but I still think their originality made them stand out amongst prog rock groups.
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on 25 November 2015
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on 19 March 2009
This is classic Keith Emerson...quirky, sometimes banal but interspersed with brilliance. I loved it in 1972 and I love the nostalgia now.
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on 29 August 2008
Be careful¡¡ I have just purchased this cd, take care that is NOT a two cd box set as is stated by amazon. Is a single album¡¡
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