ARTIST: The Nice
TITLE: The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack
YEAR RELEASED: 1967
CHART ACTION: None
SINGLES: The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Rondo (perhaps, it’s the most famous)
LINEUP: Keith Emerson, David O’List, Lee Jackson, Brian Davison
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: For better or worse, this is probably the first real prog-rock record.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: This album probably draws a line between casual and hard-core progressive rock fans. There’s a lot of 1967-era psychedelic nonsense here too (like the pretentious whispering vocals in “Dawn”). I say nonsense even though I do love some good psychedelic rock – this seems just contrived.
Keith Emerson steals the show here with his keyboard histrionics, of course. Though O’List’s guitar is a nice counter point, it’s Emerson’s show, and he’s not restrained at all. Though much of his stuff on this album is high-falutin’ noodling and not grounded on anything really. Add to that is the vocals – no one in the band was really a singer.
What is impressive is their interpretation of “Rondo” – the Dave Brubeck piece “Blue Rondo a la Turk” was the backbone to their 8-minute dive into this, with a little Bach thrown in for good measure. “Rondo” is where prog rock really starts – and where Yes, et. al. get their marching orders from. For that reason, the Nice are important and vital in the history of rock. This record, though, is only good in fits and starts, which means you probably will be satisfied with select numbers and not the whole thing.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Emerlist Davjack is, of course, the beginning of the last names of the four band members. Clever!
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, it collects various singles put out before or just right after this album. That deluxe version isn’t streaming but the Immediate Collections have them.
GRADE: C+: Hard core proggies will love it. I am picking and choosing and exiling the daft cuts.