Title - Emerson, Lake & Palmer - 2016 Reissues (#1) [BMG]
Artist - Emerson, Lake & Palmer
For any one truly still not in the know, Emerson, Lake & Palmer were an English progressive rock supergroup formed in London in 1970. The band consisted of keyboardist, the late, great Keith Emerson, singer, bassist, and producer Greg Lake, and drummer and percussionist Carl Palmer.
They were one of the most popular and commercially successful progressive rock bands in the 1970s with a musical sound including adaptations of classical music with jazz and symphonic rock elements, dominated by Emerson's flamboyant use of the Hammond organ, Moog synthesizer, and piano (although Lake wrote several acoustic songs for the group).
ELP were also one of the most successful, innovative and ground breaking British groups of the golden age of Progressive Rock. As well as creating spectacular ‘live’ shows that incorporated advanced technology and showmanship, they also recorded en masse of powerful albums that sold in millions around the world.
After forming in early 1970, the band came to prominence following their performance at the Isle of Wight Festival in August 1970. In their first year, the group signed with Atlantic Records and released Emerson, Lake & Palmer (1970) and Tarkus (1971), both of which reached the United Kingdom top five.
The band's success continued with Pictures at an Exhibition (1971), Trilogy (1972), and Brain Salad Surgery (1973). After a three-year break, Emerson, Lake & Palmer released Works Volume 1 (1977) and Works Volume 2 (1977) which began their decline in popularity. After Love Beach (1978), the group disbanded in 1979.
Now during 2016 and 2017, the band’s musical legacy will be celebrated by BMG with an important and comprehensive re-issue program that will put the spotlight on ELP’s nine studio albums as well as their ‘live’ recordings and compilations.
And so up first we have the group’s first three albums - the aforementioned trio of the self-titled Emerson, Lake & Palmer (1970), Tarkus (1971), and Pictures at an Exhibition (1972) - alongside a new 39-track, three-CD Anthology with material approved by all three band members. All are scheduled for re-release on August 12th, 2016 with The Anthology being presented in special ‘casebound’ book packaging with detailed sleeve notes by Chris Welch, illustrated with rare band photographs.
The songs on The Anthology have been chosen from a vast selection of all the ELP albums, including the three mentioned here today, along with other such as, but not limited to Brain Salad Surgery, Welcome Back My Friends To the Show That Never Ends, Love Beach, Live At Nassau Coliseum ‘78, and both In The Hot Seat and Live At The Royal Albert Hall 1993, etc.
Among the highlights are the band’s performance of Copland’s "Hoedown", and their version of "Jerusalem" by William Blake and Hubert Parry. The third CD of the brand new collection includes the stirring "Fanfare For The Common Man", Keith Emerson’s hit rendition of the famed "Honky Tonk Train Blues", Greg Lake’s 1975 solo hit "I Believe In Father Christmas" and the group’s menacing interpretation of the TV theme "Peter Gunn". Other highlights include the live cut "Tiger In A Spotlight" which was recorded at the group’s comeback show at the Royal Albert Hall in 1993.
1. The Barbarian
2. Take a Pebble
4. Lucky Man
7. Bitches Crystal
8. The Only Way (Hymn)
9. Infinite Space (Conclusion)
10. A Time and a Place
1. The Sage (Live at Newcastle City Hall, 1971)
2. The Great Gates of Kiev (Live at Newcastle City Hall, 1971)
3. Nut Rocker
4. The Endless Enigma (Part 1)
5. From the Beginning
6. The Sheriff
8. Abbadon’s Bolero
11. Still…You Turn Me On
12. Karn Evil 9 – 1st Impression (Part 1)
13. Karn Evil 9 – 1st Impression (Part 2)
14. Toccata (Live in Anaheim, 1974)
1. Piano Concerto No. 1 (First Movement)
2. Fanfare for the Common Man
3. Brain Salad Surgery
4. I Believe in Father Christmas – Greg Lake
5. Honky Tonk Train Blues – Keith Emerson
6. Peter Gunn (Live 1977/1978)
7. C’est La Vie (Live at Olympic Stadium, Montreal 1977)
8. Love Beach
10. Pirates (Live in Nassau, 1978)
11. Affairs of the Heart
12. Romeo and Juliet
13. Hand of Truth
14. Paper Blood
15. Tiger in a Spotlight (Live – Now Tour, 1997/1998)
Emerson, Lake and Palmer's self-titled debut album (which peaked at #18 on the Billboard 200, at #4 on the UK Albums Chart, and its single "Lucky Man" reaching #48 on the Billboard Hot 100) takes a group who hadn't been together long and throws everything and every listener for a musical loop. Who knew three artists could produce such a wonderful sounds? There's Keith Emerson, Greg Lake and Carl Palmer, three young talented English gents with the chops from who knows where. Emerson, a classically trained keyboards player; Lake, the guitar/bass guitar & vocals; and Palmer the percussionist. How quickly they gelled, how ably they played.
I mean, what can I say about this album that hasn't already been said a hundred times before? The recording is just, well, perfect. Just listening to it for the thousandth time now on this remastered edition (even though it was actually remastered from the original 1970 album back in just 2012) and I realized that this is an absolute gem of an album. Again, a simply perfect example of a band at the height of their powers. If you don't own this album, you don't know Emerson Lake and Palmer. Everything is perfect here. Keith is amazing. Palmer is on fire behind the skins (I mean, come on now, the drum solo of "Tank" is out of this bloody world!) and even though Lake is accused of writing sappy lyrics now and again, he is clearly writing some of the best work of his career here.
Emerson, Lake & Palmer: Deluxe Edition
Disc: 1 The Original 1970 Album [2012 Remaster]
1. The Barbarian
2. Take a Pebble
4. The Three Fates
6. Lucky Man
Disc: 2 The Alternative Album [2012 Steve Wilson Stereo Mix]
1. The Barbarian (2012 Stereo Mix)
2. Take a Pebble (2012 Stereo Mix)
3. Knife-Edge (With Extended Outro; 2012 Stereo Mix)
4. Promenade (2012 Stereo Mix)
5. The Three Fates: Atropos (2012 Stereo Mix)
6. Rave Up (2012 Stereo Mix)
7. Drum Solo (2012 Stereo Mix)
8. Lucky Man (2012 Stereo Mix)
9. Take a Pebble (Alternate Take; 2012 Stereo Mix)
10. Knife-Edge (Alternate Take; 2012 Stereo Mix)
11. Lucky Man (First Greg Lake Solo Version; 2012 Stereo Mix)
12. Lucky Man (Alternate Version; 2012 Stereo Mix)
Tarkus is a great album. Hey, what did you expect. I'm a fan and I'm writing this article! The first time I heard this album was on vinyl. In truth, still today that's the only way to listen to it, as all you other audiophiles can readily attest to. Throughout the years I have bought different editions on CD though, of course, but I was never quite satisfied with any of those CDs, in truth.
However, this time around I can say that they hit the nail on the head with this Tarkus 2CD set remastered in 2012. Wow, it sounds, simply put, fan-bloody-tastic! It was a quite brilliant idea to have Steven Wilson for the remasters and remixes. He's done a wonderful job. Indeed, Tarkus is probably one of the best albums of the progressive era, save for their self-titled debut. I'm glad BMG is giving the same remaster treatment to all their other albums too; especially those that belong to the best live moments of ELP - let alone to the progressive rock era, as a whole.
Funnily enough, the band's March 1971 live recording, Pictures at an Exhibition (reviewed below), an interpretation of Modest Mussorgsky's work of the same name, was to be released as the band's second album. But, due to management conflicts, the recording was not released until after Tarkus.
Why? Well, the record company was reluctant to release a classical suite as an album, and insisted it be released on their classical music label instead. Fearing that this would lead to poor sales, ELP instead decided to shelve the work. However, after the success of Tarkus (with its cover artwork having been commissioned from the painter and graphic designer William Neal), the label agreed to release Pictures as a budget live album.
Tarkus (an armadillo, if you weren't aware) is such a clean album, with nice bass response, spacious rear activity, and much more detail than ever before. Once again, the keyboards, and drums and percussion have to be heard to be believed. Here and now on this 2012 remaster brought out again here in 2016, you will never hear Tarkus sound better. It is a beautiful listening experience, of that there is no doubt.
Tarkus (Deluxe Edition)
Disc: 1 The Original 1971 Album [2012 Remaster]
2. Jeremy Bender
3. Bitches Crystal
4. The Only Way (Hymn)
5. Infinite Space (Conclusion)
6. A Time and a Place
7. Are You Ready Eddy?
Disc: 2 The Alternative Album [2012 Steve Wilson Stereo Mix]
1. Tarkus (I. Eruption, II. Stones of Years, III. Iconoclast, IV. Mass, V. Manticore, VI. Battlefield
2. Jeremy Bender (2012 Stereo Mix)
3. Bitches Crystal (2012 Stereo Mix)
4. The Only Way (Hymn) [2012 Stereo Mix]
5. Infinite Space (Conclusion) [2012 Stereo Mix]
6. A Time and a Place (2012 Stereo Mix)
7. Are You Ready Eddy? (2012 Stereo Mix)
8. Oh, My Father (2012 Stereo Mix)
9. Unknown Ballad (2012 Stereo Mix)
10. Mass (Alternate Take; 2012 Stereo Mix)
Pictures At An Exhibition (which reached #3 in the UK and #10 in the Billboard Album Chart) was the first major live-in-concert stage work ever performed by erstwhile global supergroup ELP: as aforementioned above, an imaginative re-work of Modest Mussorgsky's `Pictures at an Exhibition'. In the first two years of the group's life, it was the centerpiece of their stage show.
The original recording is from Newcastle-on-Tyne City Hall in March 1971, released as a budget LP after the band's first two studio albums had established a sizeable fan base (as mentioned, the record company wanted to release it on their classical music label, but relented under pressure from the band).
The opening sequence features Keith Emerson playing Mussorgsky's "Promenade" on the huge Harrison pipe organ installed as a permanent fixture at the Newcastle venue, so it sounds like no other recorded performance of this piece. ELP base their version on Ravel's popular orchestration of the original piano score, but add to it in several places, introducing vocal sections with Greg Lake singing unaccompanied and also playing acoustic guitar (one of the highlights, in my humble opinion) and a full-on, even danceable rock number "Blues Variation." The gig rounds off with a rocking rendition of Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker" which the band actually re-title "Nutrocker!
The original analogue recording quality and production is pretty darned good considering the state of technology in this pre-digital age, and the roaring enthusiasm of the appreciative audience is worthy of a cup final victory. There have been several updates and re-releases including a studio recording of the work, a `deluxe' edition with a lot of extra material and even a filmed performance at the London Lyceum, but this 2016 Remaster is the bees knees, as they say. That said, on vinyl, the original 1971 recording from Newcastle, however, is still hard to beat.
A classic from the 1970's in every sense of the word, this recording demonstrates progressive rock at its bombastic and self-important classical blend best. It even comes with some Bonus tracks in the form of a medley of "Pictures At An Exhibition" recorded live at the Mar Y Sol Festival, Puerto Rico, on December 4th, 1972.
Also included on this 2CD set is ELP's Live at The Lyceum Theatre, London, UK, 9.12.70 gig. Yet another incredible show-and-tell performance of sonic brilliance, it hasn't been remastered in any way. Ergo, its original analogue recording quality and production values are still slightly raw, but fantastic, as with the other gig, given the era it was recorded.
Pictures At An Exhibition (Deluxe Edition)
Disc: 1 The Original 1971 Album, Live at Newcastle City Hall, 26.3.71 [2016 Remaster]
1. Promenade (Pt. 1;Live at Newcastle City Hall, 26.3.71; 2016 - Remaster)
2. The Gnome (Live at Newcastle City Hall, 26.3.71; 2016 - Remaster)
3. Promenade (Pt. 2;Live at Newcastle City Hall, 26.3.71; 2016 - Remaster)
4. The Sage (Pt. 3;Live at Newcastle City Hall, 26.3.71; 2016 - Remaster)
5. The Old Castle (Live at Newcastle City Hall, 26.3.71; 2016 - Remaster)
6. Blues Variation (Live at Newcastle City Hall, 26.3.71; 2016 - Remaster)
7. Promenade (Pt. 3;Live at Newcastle City Hall, 26.3.71; 2016 - Remaster)
8. The Hut of Baba Yaga (Pt. 1;Live at Newcastle City Hall, 26.3.71; 2016 - Remaster)
9. The Curse of Baba Yaga (Live at Newcastle City Hall, 26.3.71; 2016 - Remaster)
10. The Hut of Baba Yaga (Pt. 2;Live at Newcastle City Hall, 26.3.71; 2016 - Remaster)
11. The Great Gates of Kiev (Live at Newcastle City Hall, 26.3.71; 2016 - Remaster)
12. Nutrocker (Live at Newcastle City Hall, 26.3.71; 2016 - Remaster)
13. Pictures at An Exhibition (Medley; I. Promenade, II. the Hut of Baba Yaga, III. the Curse of Baba Ya
Disc: 2 Live at The Lyceum Theatre, London, UK, 9.12.70
1. Promenade (Pt. 1;Live at the Lyceum Theatre, London, UK, 09/12/70)
2. The Gnome (Live at the Lyceum Theatre, London, UK, 09/12/70)
3. Promenade (Pt. 2;Live at the Lyceum Theatre, London, UK, 09/12/70)
4. The Sage (Live at the Lyceum Theatre, London, UK, 09/12/70)
5. The Old Castle (Live at the Lyceum Theatre, London, UK, 09/12/70)
6. Blues Variation (Live at the Lyceum Theatre, London, UK, 09/12/70)
7. Promenade (Pt. 3;Live at the Lyceum Theatre, London, UK, 09/12/70)
8. The Hut of Baba Yaga (Pt. 1;Live at the Lyceum Theatre, London, UK, 09/12/70)
9. The Curse of Baba Yaga (Live at the Lyceum Theatre, London, UK, 09/12/70)
10. The Hut of Baba Yaga (Pt. 2;Live at the Lyceum Theatre, London, UK, 09/12/70)
11. The Great Gates of Kiev (Live at the Lyceum Theatre, London, UK, 09/12/70)
12. The Barbarian (Live at the Lyceum Theatre, London, UK, 09/12/70)
13. Knife-Edge (Live at the Lyceum Theatre, London, UK, 09/12/70)
14. Rondo (Pt. 3;Live at the Lyceum Theatre, London, UK, 09/12/70)
15. Nut Rocker (Live at the Lyceum Theatre, London, UK, 09/12/70)
ELP's remarkable style, combining original compositions with rock, jazz, folk and classical influences, was always performed with passion and integrity by its founder members throughout their collective career. The albums will be reissued across different formats, including CD and newly cut vinyl LPs and HD digital downloads.