Five Bridges is a delectable representation of early-'70s progressive rock. Its makeup contains all of the elements needed to complete a solid prog album: a heavy intermingling of synthesizer and electric guitar, strong punctuation of both bass and drums, a central concept, and the fusing of rock and classical music, which in this case employs the Sinfonia of London. The eight tracks, centered around Newcastle's urban structure and life in a blue collar society, are as colorful as they are intricate. "Intermezzo" from Sibelius' Karelia Suite, and Tchaikovsky's "Pathetique" are marvelous examples of classical and rock commingling, with the spotlight focused on Keith Emerson's keyboard virtuosity. The second movement from Fantasia is a sparkling model of improvisational use containing various rock & roll rhythms and time structures, while the third track entitled "High Level Fugue 4th Bridge," was inspired by Guida's "Prelude and Fugue" and incorporates assorted jazz techniques and boogie-woogie styles into a classical recipe. "Country Pie/Brandenburg Concerto, No. 6" unites Dylan with Bach for a most extraordinary illustration of instrumental creativity. Each example of genre merging is pristine and fluid, making the actual overlapping of multiple styles completely transparent. Five Bridges may rank just a tad below The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack or Ars Longa Vita Brevis on the patience scale, but it does demonstrate how Emerson's work with ELP came into fruition.
AllMusic Review by Mike DeGagne