Pictures at an Exhibition is one of the great progressive rock classic albums. It is also one of the greatest live albums released in the early 1970s. The three progressive rock pioneers, Keith Emerson, Greg Lake and Carl Palmer were at their prime. They recorded this live album in 1971 in Newcastle (UK).
Rock and classical music are brilliantly combined in Pictures at an Exhibition, which is a progressive rock tribute to the music of Russian composer Mussorgsky. The three trailblazers transform the classical compositions by injecting early synthesizers, wild electric organ blues progressions, energetic rock drums and Greg Lake’s melodic sensibility on vocals and guitars, although he also joins his two bands mates during their most energetic moments on electric bass.
The Deluxe Edition is a real treat for ELP fans. Disc 1 includes a remastered version of the original album along with a Pictures at an Exhibition Medley bonus track recorded live at the Mar y Sol Festival in Puerto Rico in 1972.
Disc 2 includes another live performance of Pictures at an Exhibition; this time in London. I love these different live recordings because many of the solos vary. The remarkable organ improvisation in “Blues Variations” varied from concert to concert. Additionally, Disc 2 contains live versions of earlier material, such as The Barbarian, Knife-Edge and Rondo.
In summary, Pictures at an Exhibition, Deluxe Edition is a fabulous recording that showcases the mastery of three talented musicians who broke new ground by fusing classical music and cutting edge rock.
One of the greatest progressive rock bands of all time, Emerson Lake & Palmer is back in the spotlight with new editions of its recordings. BMG Music has signed an agreement with the band to release Emerson Lake & Palmer’s remastered recordings. In addition, the label has released this 3-CD collection, titled The Anthology.
The compendium includes musical pieces from Emerson Lake & Palmer’s entire career. Disc 1 focuses on the trio’s first two albums: Emerson Lake & Palmer (1970) and Tarkus (1971). With their first two recordings, Emerson Lake & Palmer demonstrated that they were truly one of rock’s first super bands, incorporating musicians from some of the UK’s most iconic acts: King Crimson, The Nice and Atomic Rooster.
The material from Emerson Lake & Palmer and Tarkus highlights the mix of instrumental virtuosity by the late Keith Emerson, a keyboard wizard and innovator; and the spectacular drumming of Carl Palmer; along with Greg Lake’s vocal and songwriting skills.
Emerson Lake & Palmer were deeply influenced by classical music and jazz and combined it masterfully with rock. On Disc 1 you’ll find two of Emerson Lake & Palmer’s most memorable songs, “Lucky Man” and “Take a Pebble.”
Disc 2 focuses on the 1971 live album Pictures at an Exhibition; two iconic studio albums, Trilogy (1972) and Brain Salad Surgery (1973); and one track from one of the first triple live rock albums released in the early 1970s, “Welcome Back my Friends to the Show that Never Ends” (!973).
Pictures at an Exhibition features spectacular improvisations. For this anthology, however, the tracks selected are the most accessible and structured. Trilogy was one of the best albums released in 1972 and you’ll get to enjoy gems like “From the Beginning” that mix acoustic sensibility with exquisite guitar and synth solos. The other selections form this album are masterful keyboard-fueled instrumentals rooted in classical music. There is also the humorous “The Sheriff.” Keith Emerson liked to include an occasional ragtime tune, using an old piano.
The pieces from Brain Salad Surgery on The Anthology are once more epic instrumentals featuring loads of cutting edge keyboards and creative drumming. As in other albums, Emerson Lake & Palmer included unforgettable classic rock songs. In this case it’s “Still…You Turn Me On.”
The last piece on Disc 2 is the dazzling “Toccata” from “Welcome Back my Friends to the Show that Never Ends.”
Up until the end of Disc 2, Emerson Lake & Palmer was a solidly progressive rock band. Disc 3 shows the transition from prog rock to AOR and melodic pop/rock.
The first selections on Disc 3 are tracks from Works, Volume I and II (1977). These recordings were once more deeply inspired by classical music, including a symphony orchestra, featuring a mix of full band performances and solo works. One of the most excellent performances by Emerson Lake & Palmer was their rendition of “Fanfare for the Common Man.” The trio turned it into a progressive rock masterpiece. It was also one of the most fun pieces to listen to live because Keith Emerson inserted improvisations and well known tunes.
There are two tracks from “Works Live” an album that originally came out as In Concert (1979). One of them is the melancholic “C’est la Vie”. The other piece is the band’s knockout version of Henry Mancini’s “Peter Gunn.”
The album “Love Beach” shocked many fans. Like other progressive rock bands, Emerson Lake & Palmer had endured the vicious criticism of the British and American pop media. Additionally, there was strong pressure from record labels to deliver shorter FM-friendly songs, so the trio released “Love Beach,” an album that moved away from progressive rock. Nevertheless, the group didn’t forget its symphonic rock roots and included an instrumental version of Rodrigo’s “Canario” featured in this collection.
Disc 3 contains a version of “The Pirates” extracted from “Live at Nassau Coliseum.”
“Black Moon” (1992) continued in the pop direction. The first track selected from this album is Greg Lake’s ballad “Affairs of the Heart.” The arrangements here are definitely sappier than earlier ballads. The other track chosen from this album is a symphonic rock version of Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” with Palmer monotonously pounding the drums.
There is only track from “In the Hot Seat” (1994) and that’s a good thing because the piece, “Hand of Truth,” features the unvaried heavy drums of the era.
Disc 3 contains one track from “Live At the Royal Albert Hall.” It’s the live version of an AOR song from Black Moon. If you are a progressive rock fan, I recommend “Live At the Royal Albert Hall” because it has spectacular keyboard performances by Emerson with interesting variations and a mix of classic and modern keyboards.
The last track is one I’ve never before. It’s a live version of the rock and roll song “Tiger In a Spotlight” from the album “Then and Now.”
The Anthology comes beautifully packaged in a hard cover book that contains significant photos, an extensive biography and interviews with the musicians. All this at a great price so if you are curious about one of the best rock bands from the 1970s, this compilation is a great way to get started.
In 1970, English pioneering symphonic progressive rock group The Nice disbanded and its keyboardist, Keith Emerson formed the legendary act, Emerson, Lake and Palmer (ELP) along with King Crimson bassist and vocalist Greg Lake and Atomic Rooster drummer Carl Palmer. This was in effect the first progressive rock superband. Emerson Lake and Palmer achieved instant fame with their debut at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970.
The 1971 debut album, Emerson Lake and Palmer went platinum. It was produced by Greg Lake and featured a song that Lake had written while still in school: “Lucky Man.” This song, performed on acoustic guitar, was their first single. It ended with an unconventional new sound, the lead Moog synthesizer solo. This futuristic sound fascinated thousands of music fans. “Lucky Man,” became an iconic song for the band and a popular classic on FM radio.
Like other progressive rock groups in the late 1970s, ELP headed in a commercial direction after Works Volume 2 (1977). Love Beach, released in 1978 contained a couple of pieces that recalled ELP’s former glory, but the rest of the album leaned towards short pop songs and, additionally, the unappealing disco-like album cover was disliked by many fans. The final two studio albums, “Black Moon” (1992) and “In the Hot Seat” (1994) continued the direction towards radio friendly AOR and melodic rock.
Emerson, Lake and Palmer disbanded several times so its members could pursue solo careers. One line-up featured the late Cozy Powell on drums, together with Emerson and Lake. Each time the band re-united on stage, fans showed up by the thousands to see them.
In 2010, Shout! Factory released Emerson Lake & Palmer “A Time and A Place”, a 4-CD boxed set of remastered live rarities and bootlegs. The collection includes material from 1970 to 1998.
On Sunday, July 25th, 2010, Emerson, Lake and Palmer reformed for the first time since 1998 to headline the High Voltage Festival in London. The music from this performance appeared on the Emerson, Lake & Palmer “40th Anniversary Reunion Concert” DVD. This release contains many of ELP’s most beloved compositions.
In 2012, British musician and engineer Steven Wilson (Porcupine tree) remixed ELP’s debut album Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Tarkus into 5.1 and high resolution stereo.
The Brain Salad Surgery and Trilogy remixes were made by King Crimson’s guitarist Jakko Jakszyk in 2013.