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  EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER TRIPLE RE-RELEASE SERVES AS A VERY FITTING MEMORIAL TO KEITH EMERSON
'Emerson, Lake & Palmer', 'Tarkus' and 'Pictures At An Exhibition' all out on 29th July 2016 via BMG


Joe Geesin

joe geesin


emerson lake and palmer

Prog rock legends pretty much ruled the roost, if not the airwaves, in the 70s and several years before Canadian band Rush cut their debut, ELP, as they are often affectionately known, set the trio template.

And these remasters, the band's first three albums, come coincidently just a few months after the sad death of pianist Keith Emerson. Keith was one of the most talented players and flamboyant performers and he influenced many through progressive rock and beyond.

Like bassist Greg Lake and drummer Carl Palmer he had pedigree, talent and a background that mixed rock music with jazz and classical. One of the first and foremost pioneers and exponents of the Moog - a hefty piece of kit with more wires than a Cold War spy team - he was also famed for using an authentic Nazi dagger to hold down keys as part of his stage show. That dagger was given to him by one Lemmy Kilmister, then a roadie for both Emerson's pre ELP band The Nice and Jimi Hendrix in the late 60s.

Having seen Emerson solo live and speaking with him on a number of occasions I can testify just what a lovey person he was, passionate about his fans and people in general and music. No wonder he kept working outside of ELP, whether solo, with other people or on film soundtracks. It also made the apparent suicide all the more surprising as well as shocking. A sudden and sad loss to the music industry.

Article continues below...

Article continues below...



Emerson Lake & Palmer's catalogue has been reissued many times (the catalogue is a bit of a minefield) and many of the mixes here have been previously available but these, the first three albums including a 2012 remaster in each case, are now again available in truly magnificent form.

With their keyboard, bass/vocals and drums set-up, ELP were huge in the early 70s, but by the end of the decade were considered dinosaurs and much derided by the burgeoning punk scene. Ironic then that when keyboard player Keith Emerson moved to California he became a neighbour and friend of Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon.

By the end of the 70s the band had split and reformed several times, including as Emerson, Lake & Powell and Three.

Originally formed in 1970, the members had already notable pedigree having achieved success with a number of projects. Pianist Emerson had played with The VIPs and The Nice who were originally a backing band for PP Arnold and as The Nice were credited with releasing the first ever prog rock album in 1967. Bassist/vocalist Greg Lake had recorded two albums with King Crimson, whose debut is often cited as the greatest ever prog rock album, while drummer Carl Palmer had played with The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown and Atomic Rooster.

ELP came to the world's attention playing at the Isle Of White festival in August 1970 and their eponymous debut was released in November that year.

Originally released on the Island label, it's influences took in classical, blues and jazz with some pieces being almost solo as much as fully collaborative. The opening track, 'Barbarian', a reworking of a 1911 Bela Bartok number, kicks off with some powerful drumming, fed back guitar and rich organ sounds. Emerson, an early fan of the Moog, takes it to the fore here and his swirling piano takes the lead in the latter part of the song.

emerson lake and palmer

The twelve minute 'Take A Pebble' sees Greg Lake take a jazz arrangement with both his bass and acoustic guitar. The guitar and keyboards take their turns, supported by some quite jazzy drumming, before the song develops into a big sweeping number. This three way virtuoso affair is a little self-indulgent but thoroughly enjoyable.

With both Lake and Emerson battling, 'Knife Edge' features elements of both Leos Janacek's 1926 piece Sinfonietta and Bach's French Suite in D Minor with the keyboards and bass both full on and quite powerful here.

'The Three Fates', running to nearly eight minutes, is a pseudo suite with more classical infusions and a segment recorded on the Royal Albert Hall's massive pipe organ and with interjections from both Lake and Emerson the six minute 'Tank' is a vehicle for Carl Palmer, showcasing both melody and rhythms through his drums. The album closes with the acoustic ballad 'Lucky Man', which still manages to be a big number and features the Moog to boot.

Disc two features an alternate mix and sees some tracks extended and some alternate takes too.

1971s 'Tarkus', with the now famous Armadillo Tank cover, is widely seen as a masterpiece and rightfully so. It opens with the twenty minute title track that took in all of side one on the original LP and again it's a big and sweeping number but with all three members playing at times furiously, the segments feature a range of intensities and is a wonderful progressive hard rock track. Lyrics aside, the music itself tells a story.

'Jeremy Bender' is a short ditty with music hall piano and 'Bitches Crystal' is a harsher sounding rock track that is in bursts almost angular. 'The Only Way' is a hymn with a big church organ while 'Infinite Space' nods back to the title track. Closer 'Are You Ready Eddy' is a real rock n' roll blast with all three band members really letting loose.

There are a number of bonus tracks alongside the Steven Wilson stereo mix on disc two which fans will enjoy.

Released later in 1971, 'Pictures At An Exhibition' is a live album recorded at Newcastle City Hall and originally intended to be the band's second but it was postponed due to label and management issues. Largely based on the Mussorgsky suite of the same name, and before the idea of a classical music live album gets you moving on, remember this was a time that ELP could do no wrong and when you listen to this you'll realise why.

'Promenade' opens, using the venue's pipe organ, before 'The Gnome' which features a heavy bass riff mixed with the keyboards. The keyboard and bass work mid-song is just impossible not to enjoy, no matter how self-indulgent. A revisit of 'Promenade' sees Lake's vocals nod back to the gentler moments of Crimson's first album and then 'The Sage' is a moody and atmospheric number with the heavier or soft acoustic moments. 'The Old Castle' is a heavy and blistering full band take on the theme and again the interplay here is magnificent with the opening squeaky keyboard effects leading into a nodding bass rhythm that leads into a twelve bar blues variation. The album continues with many variations on a theme and is something to enjoy from beginning to end.

emerson lake and palmer

And as an encore, there's a reworking of the Tchaikovsky/Fowly 'Nut Rocker' which is just amazing fun.

Bonus tracks on disc 1 and disc 2 feature another live show of the same work at a different venue that was filmed for VHS and a planned later DVD release. It's fantastic to have the audio and this also features a version of the Nice classic 'Rondo'. The video material would have been good here; proof that Emerson rocked his keyboard as frantically as anyone with his blistering energy shadowing that of Jon Lord.

It's all wonderfully presented with extensive notes from Chris Welch, including new interview material.

This is an era looked upon fondly by many and bar the scope for further live material (Isle Of Wight?) or a third DVD disc in each case, this is really the final and best word on the matter.

Got to look forward to the next in the series, which would encompass the hit single 'Fanfare For The Common Man'.



'Emerson, Lake & Palmer'
Disc 1 Original Album 2012 Remaster
The Barbarian
Take A Pebble
Knife Edge
The Three Fates
Tank
Lucky Man

Disc 2
Alternate Album Mix
The Barbarian
Take A Pebble
Knife Edge
Pomenade
The Three Fates
Rave Up
Drum Solo
Lucky Man

Bonus tracks
Take A Pebble (alternate take)
Knife Edge (alternate take)
Lucky Man (alternate take)
Lucky Man (alternate take)

'Tarkus'
Disc 1 Original Album 2012 Remaster
Tarkus
Jeremy Bender
Bitches Crystal
The Only Way (Hymn)
Infinite space (Conclusion)
A Time And A Place
Are you Ready Eddy?

Disc 2
Alternate Album Mix
Tarkus
Jeremy Bender
Bitches Crystal
The Only Way (Hymn)
Infinite space (Conclusion)
A Time And A Place
Are You Ready Eddy?
Oh My Father
Unknown Ballad
Mass (Alternate Take)

'Pictures From An Exhibition'
Disc 1 Original Album 2012 Remaster
Promenade
The Gnome
Promenade
The Sage
The Old Castle
Blues Variation
Promenade
The Hut Of Baba Yaga
The Curse Of Baba Yaga
The Hut Of Baba Yaga
The Great Gates Of Kiev
Nut Rocker

Bonus Tracks
Live in Puerto Rico 1972
Pictures At An Exhibition Medley

Disc 2 Live At The Lyceum Theatre London December 1970
Promenade
The Gnome
Promenade
The Sage
The Old Castle
Blues Variation
Promenade
The Hut Of Baba Yaga
The Curse Of Baba Yaga
The Hut Of Baba Yaga
The Great Gates Of Kiev
The Barbarian
Knife Edge
Rondo
Nut Rocker


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