Five Bridges [with 5 bonus tracks] CD
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Rock and classical music fusions have often ended up being damned by both sides of the cultural divide. Those artists venturing into such areas can find themselves labeled 'pretentious' by rock purists or simply patronised by a condescending elite.
Not that such criticism stopped those trying to experiment and push the boundaries in the hothouse days of 60s popular music. The Nice had previous form with classical cross-overs. An incendiary version of Bernstein's America had led the charge on their 1967 debut, and in 1968 they rocked up Bach's Brandenburg concerto.
However Five Bridges represented Keith Emerson's first serious attempt in his own right to mix the oil and water which rock and classical music traditionally represented.
Commissioned by the Newcastle Arts Festival in 1969, with Geordie ex-pat, bassist and vocalist, Lee Jackson providing a bitter-sweet libretto about his hometown, Emerson's intention was to try and build bridges between the different forms.
Emerson bolted together a collection of stirring themes in the Romantic tradition, threw in a dash of jazz (with some of the best players of the day including Joe Harriott) and cranked up the volume all the way to eleven.
Whilst it's true the results are variable, there's probably a greater degree of integration achieved here than on the comparable effort by Deep Purple (Concerto for Group and Orchestra) from the same year.
By the time of its original 1970 release when it reached number two in the album charts, The Nice were history. Along with Greg Lake and Carl Palmer, Emerson would enjoy world-wide adulation and yet more grandiose symphonic adventures.
These days however, its the relatively humble musing of The Nice which often sounds the more adventurous and artistically satisfying of the two. --Sid Smith
Find more music at the BBC This link will take you off Amazon in a new window--This text refers to an alternate Audio CD edition.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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... Read morePublished 16 months ago by BIG D
I actually missed getting this on vynal. I really rate this. The forerunner of the establishment of ELP.Published 18 months ago by C. Parcell
Enjoyed listening to this music again after so many years not hearing it.Published 20 months ago by Danman