The Nice – Fillmore West 1969 (Virtuoso 069)

Fillmore West 1969 (Virtuoso 069)

Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA – December 12th, 1969

(59:43):  Country Pie / Brandenburg Concerto No. 6, Hang On To A Dream, Pathetique (Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6, 3rd Movement), For Example, She Belongs To Me

The Nice began as a great idea.  They released a couple of very good and original albums at first.  By the time they played this show in San Francisco, their limitations were pretty obvious.  There is very little cohesiveness to the playing and the songs wander on into many different directions without seeming to make a point.  The Nice played this show with King Crimson on the bill and it is well known that at this time Emerson and Lake discussed a future project which would blossom into Emerson Lake And Palmer.  

This tape surfaced on Wolfgang’s Vault recently.  It is a great sounding and well balanced soundboard recording.  The show begins with Emerson announcing the first song, a strange marriage between Bob Dylan’s recently released “Country Pie” and themes from the Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 by J. S. Bach. 

“Hang On To A Dream” is played on piano, in Emerson’s words, and is the Tim Hardin cover from the Nice album released earlier that year.  It contains a catchy jazz improvisation in the middle but Davidson and Jackson don’t seem to know what to add.  They remain mostly silent when Emerson plays the different parts of the piano in the middle. 

“For Example” is off of their current album and stands as the most interesting song of the set.  Beginning with a nasty organ, the fifteen minute piece runs through the gamut of jazz (the solo Emerson would resurrect later in “Take A Pebble,”) snippets of “America” and the other musicians add interesting contributions to the piece.  The show ends with their long cover of Dylan’s “She Belongs To Me.”  The vocals are horrible but Emerson adds more diddling on stage, sampling Bach’s violin concerto and forcing the Hammond into unique sounds.  Overall Fillmore West 1969 is a great document for Nice and ELP collectors.  It captures the strength and weakness of this outfit and offers a tantalizing glimpse into their future projects.   

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