August 11, 2009
EMD Int'l
Pop/Rock, British Psychedelia, Prog-Rock, Psychedelic, Art Rock

Album Review

Originally, this collection was put together in 1972 by Tony Stratton-Smith from outtakes of the Nice's early stay at Immediate Records, and issued (at least, in the U.S.) with no explanation and little annotation, making it a bit confusing to longtime fans of Keith Emerson and the trio. Its timing was also unfortunate, in that a huge cache of record club copies of the Nice's first three albums on Immediate, pressed by Columbia Special Products, had shown up in cut-out bins at just about the same time. One had to listen closely to see that everything here was an alternate take of material from the band's first two albums. Essentially, Autumn 1967/ Spring 1968 (aka Autumn to Spring) was an outtake version of the group's debut long-player, The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack, shorn of the two longest tracks from that album, "Rondo" and "War and Peace." And it worked better than that record for their absence, being trippier and a lot more playfully psychedelic, especially given the slightly rougher, unfinished renditions of most of the material, which lent it a bracing freshness, compared to the final versions. And the absence of "Rondo" and "War and Peace" means that the worst excesses of Keith Emerson's and Davy O'List's keyboard and guitar excursions are excised, and that's for the better -- there is still some psychedelic blues-based work in the manner of Jimi Hendrix or the Creation, in the form of "Bonnie K," and Emerson's flourishes enhance the psychedelic textures of the album in no small way. The whole thing is more fun in this form. And this album does, indeed, capture the Nice as a four-piece with O'List in the lineup, and as a psychedelic outfit -- in contrast to their later, more widely exposed work, in which the psychedelic elements receded in favor of progressive rock and classically based showpieces, here it's the progressive elements that are in the formative stage, mostly taking the form of flourishes and cadenzas around (and occasionally breaking into) choruses and endings, on songs like "Tantalizing Maggie." The version of "The Cry of Eugene" represented here is also preferable to the rendition on the debut album; and the quartet version of "Daddy, Where Did I Come From" (which ultimately ended up, in somewhat altered form, on their second album, Ars Longa Vita Brevis), now comes off as a lot more fun than its later rendition, although it was obviously too raunchy to be released in 1968. This reissue offers excellent sound, considerably improved over the 1972 release, and also a pair of bonus tracks -- the early single "Azrael" is a curiously theatrical piece of psychedelia, and certainly as bold an attempt at a debut single as anyone ever would have heard; and "Diary of an Empty Day," which doesn't sound different at all from the released version, but it's still a fun piece of early prog rock.
Bruce Eder, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack
  2. Flower King Of Flies
  3. Bonnie K
  4. America
  5. Diamond Hard Blue Apples Of The Moon
  6. Dawn
  7. Tantalising Maggie
  8. Cry Of Eugene
  9. Daddy Where Did I Come From
  10. Azirial
  11. Diary Of An Empty Day