10 Essential Songs From Keith Emerson And The Nice

The Nice Songs

Photo: By Gorupdebesanez [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Our Essential Songs from The Nice list looks back at the band that most classic rock fans recognize as the band ELP’s Keith Emerson played in before the Emerson Lake & Palmer era had begun. However, to just categorize The Nice as Keith Emerson’s first band would be unfair to the legacy of the band The Nice and Keith Emerson. Keith Emerson’s work with the Nice was an extraordinary period of creativity and performance. It was not just a showcase of things to come from Keith Emerson, but rather it’s own point in time of brilliance.

The Nice were a progressive rock band formed in the late 1960’s that played an important role in the history of Progressive Rock. The band was first formed in 1967 by Keith Emerson, Lee Jackson, David O’List and Brian Davison. Some of the band members had been originally part of a band called Gary Farr and the T-Bones. However, circumstances led to the eventual formation of The Nice.

The Nice released their first album in 1967 entitled The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack. A year later they released their sophomore album Ars Longa Vita Brevis in 1968. An album titled Everything As Nice As Mother Makes It was released in 1969. In the U.K. the album was simply titled The Nice. The band The Nice released their final album Five Bridges in 1970 before Keith Emerson broke up the band to form Emerson Lake & Palmer. In between studio albums and after the band broke up. there was also a series of live albums and compilations.

Our 10 Essential Songs of The Nice list looks to define some of the band’s most intense moments from their live and studio catalog. This one should knock you out!

# 10 – Flower King Of Flies

Opening up our 10 Essential Songs by The Nice is the great track “Flower King Of Flies.” The song “Flower King Of Flies,” was the opening tack in the band’s debut album The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack. The album was released in 1967. This was a recording that helped fuel the growth of Progressive Rock music in the mid to late 1960’s.

# 9 – One Of Those People

I have always loved this song and used to play it to annoy my younger brother. Brilliant music ahead of its time. “One Of Those People,” was the closing track on the band’s final album Five Bridges. The album was released in 1970.

# 8 – Daddy Where Did I Come From

The perfect song to follow up “One of These People,” on this Essential list of songs by The Nice. Yes this is not what you expected, is it? The song “Daddy Where Did I Come From?” was released on the band’s second album entitled Ars Longa Vita Brevis . This great album also featured guitarist Steve Howe who would soon join the great band Yes.

# 7 – Karelia Suite (Live)

Its amazing to compare the Karelia Suite (Live) to  “Daddy Where Did I Come From?”. Yes this is the same band, with just a little orchestra added to the mix. Simply stunning!

# 6 – Pathetique

Simple proof that no one ever came close to the skills that Keith Emerson displayed both in the studio and on the concert stage. This is incredible playing. There are no worlds to really describe it. Words are not worthy of what you will hear when listening to this incredible musical performance.

# 5 – Ars Longa Vita Brevis

This is pretty much side two of the band’s second album Ars Longa Vita Brevis. It’s worth every second of listening time you can afford.

# 4 – Rondo

Continuing with our best of The Nice Songs we turn to the band’s first album The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack which was released in 1967. The track “Rondo,” was the closing track on the album’s opening side. Simply just killer!

# 3 – She Belongs To Me

The great Bob Dylan songs was given the Keith Emerson Nice treatment. It became one of the band’s most popular live performance songs. It sounded nothing like the Bob Dylan original version. This was just an amazing reinterpretation that remains as stunning in 2018 as it did in 1970.

# 2 – Hang On To A Dream

If you ever want to argue that Keith Emerson was one of the most dynamic piano players in classic rock history, one play of this mighty track should help you easily win the argument. The recording of “Hang On To A Dream,” was issued on the band’s live album Elegy.  The album was released in 1971.

# 1 – America

One of the most fabulous and stunning pieces of Progressive Rock music ever recorded. Utilizing the theme from Leonard Bernstein‘s “America from the marvelous motion picture West Side Story. Listen to Keith Emerson dark organ solo at the beginning as its wrapped around by that haunting chorus. And then BAM its rock and roll progressive heaven. This version of
“America,” was released on the album Autumn 67 Spring 68.

Updated Nov 6 2020

Top 10 Essential Songs From Keith Emerson And The Nice  Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021

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  1. Avatar Walt Nicholson June 25, 2021
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