Five Bridges

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Five Bridges
Live album and Studio Album by
ReleasedJune 1970
RecordedLive at Fairfield Halls, Croydon, London, England, 17 October 1969 except "Country Pie", live at Fillmore East, Manhattan, New York City, New York, December 20, 1969 and "One of Those People" (1969 studio recording)
GenreProgressive rock
LabelUK: Charisma
US: Mercury
France, Germany: Philips
ProducerThe Nice[1]
The Nice chronology
Five Bridges
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic3/5 stars[2]
TopTenReviews9/15 stars[3]

The "Five Bridges Suite" is a modern piece of music, written in the 1960s, combining classical music and jazz. Written about the UK city of Newcastle upon Tyne, it was released as an album by the Nice as Five Bridges, which achieved the number two position in the UK album charts.[4] In the Q & Mojo Classic Special Edition Pink Floyd & The Story of Prog Rock, the album came No. 29 in its list of "40 Cosmic Rock Albums".[5]


The work was commissioned for the Newcastle Arts Festival and premiered with a full orchestra conducted by Joseph Eger on 10 October 1969 (the recorded version is from 17 October in Croydon's Fairfield Halls). The title refers to the city's five bridges spanning the River Tyne (two more have since been built over the river, including the Gateshead Millennium Bridge), and the album cover, by Hipgnosis, features an image of the Tyne Bridge.

The five movements are:

  • "Fantasia" – orchestra with solo piano interludes by Keith Emerson
  • "Second Bridge" – trio without orchestra
  • "Chorale" – Lee Jackson's vocals with orchestra, alternating with piano trio interludes
  • "High Level Fugue" – piano with accompanying cymbals
  • "Finale" – a restating of the Second Bridge with additional jazz horn players.

Emerson used Walter Piston's well-known textbook on orchestration for the work.[6] Emerson credits Friedrich Gulda for inspiring the High Level Fugue, which uses jazz figures in the strict classical form.

Also included on the Five Bridges album were live performances from the same Fairfield Hall concert of the Sibelius Intermezzo and a movement from Tchaikovsky's Pathetique Symphony. Both involved the orchestra playing the "straight" music juxtaposed with the trio's interpretations. Newly discovered material from this concert was later issued as part of a 3-CD set entitled Here Come The Nice.

The Five Bridges album also included a blending of Bob Dylan's "Country Pie" with Bach's "Brandenburg Concerto No. 6" (with a quote of Coleman Hawkins' jazz line "Rifftide" as well) and a studio recording of the original "One of Those People".

Track listing[edit]

Side one[edit]

  1. "The Five Bridges Suite" (Keith Emerson, Lee Jackson) – 18:06
  • "Fantasia 1st Bridge"
  • "2nd Bridge"
  • "Chorale 3rd Bridge"
  • "High Level Fugue 4th Bridge"
  • "Finale 5th Bridge"

Side two[edit]

  1. "Intermezzo 'Karelia Suite'" (Sibelius, Arr. Emerson, Joseph Eger) – 9:01
  2. "Pathetique (Symphony No. 6, 3rd Movement)" (Tchaikovsky, Arr. Emerson, Joseph Eger) – 9:23
  3. "Country Pie/Brandenburg Concerto No. 6" (Bob Dylan, Johann Sebastian Bach) – 5:40
  4. "One of Those People" (Emerson, Jackson) – 3:08
1990 CD Reissue

The 1990 CD reissue has 5 bonus tracks taken from 1972 compilation Autumn '67 - Spring '68. These are:

  1. "The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack"
  2. "Flower King of Flies"
  3. "Bonnie K"
  4. "Diary of an Empty Day"
  5. "America"

The original album is tracks 1 to 8. The bonus tracks are tracks 9 to 13. The "Five Bridges Suite" track numbers bear no relation to the music, and the sleeve notes bear no relation to the CD tracks.

Sleeve Notes

  • "The Five Bridges Suite" – Tracks 1 to 8

CD Tracks

  1. "Fantasia 1st Bridge/2nd Bridge" (2.42)
  2. "Chorale 3rd Bridge" (3.27)
  3. "High Level Fugue 4th Bridge" (4.01)
  4. "Finale 5th Bridge" (7.59)

Actual Music

  1. "Fantasia 1st Bridge" (6.11)
  2. "2nd Bridge" (3.58)
  3. "Chorale 3rd Bridge" (3.32)
  4. "High Level Fugue 4th Bridge" (1.00)
  5. "Finale 5th Bridge" (3.26)
This means that Track 3 is actually the 2nd Bridge and Track 4 contains 3rd Bridge, 4th Bridge (at 3.32) and 5th Bridge.


Chart (1970/71) Position
Australia (Kent Music Report)[7] 28
United Kingdom (Official Charts Company) 2
United States (Billboard 200) 197


The Nice



  1. ^ "Nice, The – Five Bridges (LP) at Discogs". Retrieved 3 October 2009.
  2. ^ "allmusic ((( Five Bridges > Overview )))". Retrieved 3 October 2009.
  3. ^ "TopTenReviews – External Link". Retrieved 5 December 2009.
  4. ^ "The Official Charts Company – The Nice – Five Bridges". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 3 October 2009.
  5. ^ Q Classic: Pink Floyd & The Story of Prog Rock, 2005.
  6. ^ "Keith Emerson obituary, The Guardian". Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  7. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 217. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.