Led by the keyboard exploits of Keith Emerson, the Nice were a pioneering psychedelic prog-rock outfit, and while the band never reached the commercial heights of Emerson, Lake & Palmer
, in many ways that may have been a blessing since it left the group free to explore a lot of different musical avenues, particularly in live shows. This two-disc set collects several such live tracks from shows performed between 1967 and 1970, both as a quartet (disc one) and as a trio (disc two), including a reimagining of Bob Dylan
's "She Belongs to Me," covers of the Byrds
' "Get to You" and Tim Hardin
's "Hang on to a Dream," a surprising version of Frank Zappa
's "Lumpy Gravy" (with Emerson on celeste), and a turn at Sonny Rollins
' "St. Thomas" (with Roy Harper
handling the vocals). The sound here ranges from good to merely passable, and while this set captures the Nice in action perhaps better than any of their studio albums, it has the feel of an upscale bootleg recording when all is said and done -- a good thing if one is already a Nice fan, a maybe not-so-good thing if one is trying to decide.