The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Nice - Five Bridges

The Nice – Five Bridges (Charisma UK, 1970)

I recently got a CD of The Nice “Five Bridges” – my first CD by The Nice. I guess I’d never really noticed that Side One is about the bridges that lead in and out of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. It was also nice to see some British jazz guys present: Kenny Wheeler, Chris Pyne etc. (Frankly, I wish there was more ‘jazz’ on this LP!) Listening anew to this work, I notice that Lee Jackson’s vocals sound a tad sloppy; Joseph Eger’s orchestral arrangements are just fine, but it doesn’t seem to meld together entirely. Perhaps I’ll edit down a version doing away with the overture or something. On Side Two, I always did like “One Of Those People” – a nice, snide pop song stuck at the end of the LP.

In the early 1970’s – it was fairly easy to find LP’s by The Nice in bargain bins – “Five Bridges” must’ve been deleted (cut-out) within a year of it’s US release – it was re-issued once Keith Emerson found his stride in Emerson, Lake & Palmer (for another label).

I took me a few years to hear the final Nice LP “Elegy” – but the Charisma (US) label “Autumn To Spring” LP was in every 99 cent bin; 35+ years hence, we can see that it’s a neat collection of proto-prog singles made in the late 1960’s – the British copy of this LP informs us that it’s autumn ’67 to spring ’68…one could guess that by the sound quality, performance etc.

There was a little bit more interest in The Nice after Keith Emerson teamed up with Atomic Rooster’s drummer and King Crimson’s bassist / vocalist. I wonder if it made Tony Stratton-Smith (Mr. Charisma) upset that once Emerson left the Charisma stable he got so famous / recognized etc.?

The CD of “Five Bridges” that was issued in 1990 has approximately ½ of “Autumn To Spring” as bonus tracks – you have to find the ’90 issue “Elegy” CD to get the rest of those tracks on CD. I feel sorry for people who scrambled to get the original (Japanese) issues of “Five Bridges” and “Elegy” that didn’t have bonus tracks.

In 2007, I have bought re-issued CD’s of things that I originally bought in the 80’s and 90’s – but I think the 1990 UK EMI / Virgin / Charisma CD of “Five Bridges” with it’s bonus tracks and decent mastering will suffice for me. Of course, I am keeping my original UK Charisma LP.

Apart from Emerson’s obvious destination – bassist / vocalist Lee Jackson went on to form Jackson Heights, recording LP’s for both the Charisma (“King Progress”) and Vertigo labels. Drummer Brian “Blinky” Davison had a band after The Nice who managed a sole LP for Charisma, “Brian Davison’s Every Which Way”. After a few years Davison and Jackson got together with Swiss keyboard wizard Patrick Moraz to for Refugee, recording a self-titled LP for Charisma. As far as I know, Refugee was the end of the line for Davison and Jackson in the music business – though I suppose it is possible that they may have re-formed some aspect of their previous glory for a crowd of fans in the UK (or Japan).


Anonymous Jim Donato said...


Laddie, did ye not know that The Nice reformed for a series of concerts in 2002? Yeah," One Of Those People" is a fun tune. Too bad it was left off of the CD I got of "Keith Emerson With The Nice" many. many years ago that is a mashup of "Five Bridges" and "Elegy." A few tracks had to go and that was one. I really enjoy The Nice. Now more than ever, and I liked them "then."* All 4 of my Nice CDs are early, awful sounding things with no bonus tracks to boot. Castle Communication's comp "The Collection" holds the record for worst sounding early CD I've ever heard!

* "Then" for me is the late 70s when I discovered them in the first used record bins I ever pawed through. Wait, no, the radio station I worked at in high school had a copy of "Elegy" and since ELP was alright with me then I listened. But yeah, I found no other Nice albums until I hit the used record store for the first time. And wouldn't oyu know, I acquired some albums by The Nice that used to belong to Mr. Ware!

10:33 AM  
Anonymous Jim Donato said...

P.S. And said acquisition of Nice albums that were formerly owned by Mr. Ware happened at least 5 years before we met...

10:34 AM  

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