The Nice: Elegy


APRIL 1971 (41 YEARS AGO)
The Nice: Elegy is released.
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 4.5/5
# allmusic 4/5
Elegy was the final official album release by The Nice, Keith Emerson having moved on to Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Lee Jackson to Jackson Heights and Brian Davison to Every Which Way. It consists of live versions of songs from earlier releases and a cover of “My Back Pages”. Released after The Nice had disbanded, the album achieved number 5 in the UK album chart.
Back in 1972, Elegy was the first compilation of the Nice’s work ever issued. Rather than being a collection of hits, however, it was a selection of left-over vault items assembled by the manager, Tony Stratton-Smith, after the trio’s breakup. And given those origins, it was a phenomenal record. The live version of “Hang On To a Dream” was one of Keith Emerson’s finest moments on the piano, allowing him to meld George Gershwin and Tim Hardin, among other glorious attributes. Emerson’s piano and organ work on Bob Dylan’s “My Back Pages” made that his best Dylan adaptation, even if Jackson’s singing is a disappointment, especially in the opening section. And the live rendition of “America” is the best representation that the piece ever had in the group’s hands. Even “Pathetique,” adapted from the Third Movement of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6–their one major concession to the future of progressive rock here–holds together well as a rock trio reduction of a symphonic work. This reissue is a considerable improvement over the earlier issue, even though the bonus tracks have been cut back–the earlier expanded version added a clutch of psychedelic-era outtakes from the other end of the group’s history, when they were a quartet. The two bonus tracks on EMI’s 2009 edition include, “Country Pie” and the live BBC version of   Pathetique,” a rip-roaring performance, and the perfect companion to the studio arrangement on the main album.
The UK edition came in a gatefold sleeve. It was designed by Hipgnosis (Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell), well-known as designers of album covers for Pink Floyd and other progressive rock bands. The front and back covers show a Sahara desert scene with a line of fifty red footballs (credited to Mettoy Playcraft) receding towards a distant dune. The inside of the cover shows, in the distance, a mesa or plateau; in front is a gravelly landscape strewn with memorabilia of The Nice such as older album covers, publicity shots, press releases and a scrapbook of press cuttings.
REVIEW
by Bruce Eder, allmusic
Comprised of songs cut during the final 13 months of the Nice’s existence, Elegy is a must-own title for fans of Keith Emerson, offering his best live performance on piano (“Hang On to a Dream”) ever to get a legal release, showcasing his organ playing on unique and beguiling arrangements of Tchaikovsky and Dylan material, and ending with a live version of the Nice’s showstopper, “America.” CD buyers should be aware, however, that the British compact disc release from Virgin Records offers superior sound and a lot more music (albeit from their psychedelic era) by the band.
TRACKS:
Side one
“Hang On To A Dream” (Live) (Tim Hardin) – 12:43
“My Back Pages” (Bob Dylan) – 9:12
Side two
“Third Movement, Pathetique” (Group Only) (Tchaikovsky arr by The Nice) – 7.05
“America” (Live) (Bernstein/Sondheim/The Nice)  – 10:27
CD-release 1990
The CD release 1990 contains six additional bonus tracks and the length of the original four tracks is slightly different.
“Hang On To A Dream” (Live) (Tim Hardin) – 12:42
“My Back Pages” (Bob Dylan) – 9:10
“Third Movement, Pathetique” (Group Only) (Tchaikovsky arr by The Nice) – 7;05
“America” (Live) (Bernstein/Sondheim/The Nice)  – 10:17
“Diamond-Hard Blue Apples Of The Moon” (Emerson, Jackson) – 2:46
“Dawn” (Davison, Emerson, Jackson) – 5:05
“Tantalising Maggie” (O’List, Jackson) – 4:19
“Cry Of Eugene” (O’List, Emerson, Jackson) – 4:30
“Daddy Where Did I Come From?” (Emerson, Jackson) – 2:46
“Azrial” (Emerson, Jackson) – 3:46
2009 Digital Remaster
The 2009 Digital Remastered CD contains only two additional bonus tracks and the length of the original four tracks is slightly different.
“Hang On To A Dream” (Live) (Tim Hardin) – 12:41
“My Back Pages” (Bob Dylan) – 9:12
“Third Movement, Pathetique” (Group Only) (Tchaikovsky arr by The Nice) – 7;07
“America” (Live) (Bernstein/Sondheim/The Nice)  – 10:22
“Country Pie” (BBC Radio 1’s “Sounds Of The Seventies”) (Bob Dylan) – 4:57
“Pathetique (Symphony No. 6, 3rd Movement)” (BBC Radio 1’s Sounds Of The Seventies) (Tchaikovsky arr by The Nice) – 6:59
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