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Number 96

The Nice - America (Immediate IM068 - 1968)

Returning once again to memories of 'Progressive Rock Night' held every Monday at the Top Rank in Doncaster throughout the early 1970s, I distinctly recall a handful of regular tracks being played every week without fail. One of those records that the DJ couldn't get away without playing was a version of Leonard Bernstein's America by The Nice, PP Arnold's former backing band, a six and a half minute keyboard frenzy courtesy of Keith Emerson, whose wild theatricals included the burning of the American flag, which got them banned from ever playing at the Royal Albert Hall again. Emerson described the record as being the first ever instrumental protest song, which comes complete with a spoken section at the end, with PP Arnold's three-year-old son speaking the famous line 'America is pregnant with promise and anticipation, but is murdered by the hand of the inevitable.' All pretty controversial stuff at the time in light of the assassinations of John F Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. Still, the track was played every Monday night to the spaced out kids on Silver Street in Doncaster.