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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Pictures At An Exhibition CD (album) cover


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

3.86 | 898 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Eclectic & C/JRF Prog Team
2 stars Picture out of focus

Sub-genre: Symphonic Progressive (complete with a symphony)
For Fans of: Classic progressive (Yes, Genesis, etc.)
Vocal Style: Male, mid-range
Guitar Style: Acoustic steel string, very little electric
Keyboard Style: Piano, Hammond, moog with lots of portamento and the rest of Keith Emerson's toys
Percussion Style: Rock kit with various orchestral additions (timpani, etc)
Bass Style: Picked electric
Other Instruments: None
You are not likely to enjoy this album if: you consider rock versions of orchestral composers' works to be akin to stealing. Also, you have anything less than a strong stomach for poor quality live recordings.

Summary: I have been one to give the early prog masters the benefit of the doubt when it comes to live recording. Yes, Genesis, King Crimson and ELP have all taken considerable heat for the quality of their initial live productions. I regard these recordings highly for the window they provide into the actual energy of these bands that was easily subdued in the studio. Emerson, Lake and Palmer's Pictures at an Exhibition is the exception to this rule. The reasons are many. One consideration is that ELP always appeared to shed the 'boxed in' sound that plagued early Yes and Genesis studio recordings. ELP's energy seemed to always be there. It is strange to say, but this live recording seems to have its energy sapped by shoddy source and post-production, leaving it shy of the energetic sounds that would come out of the studio on the likes of Knife Edge, Karn Evil #9 and Tarkus. But even a pristine recording would not save this piece. Emerson's keyboard acrobatics are usually an enjoyable staple for the trio. But on Pictures at an Exhibition, they stop being music and start being just plain old sound. And not good sound. Having seen video of this performance, the entertainment increases with the visual element. But purely audio, it just falls flat. The addition of vocals by Greg Lake are trite and at times far too familiar. The acoustic guitar part and vocal theme on The Sage are little too close to Lake's performance on King Crimson's Epitaph. The album closes with a departure to a Nutrocker, an up-tempo, fun little movement from its semi-namesake. But alas, the otherwise enjoyable music is lost in the mud.

Final Score: This is a quirky rendition of Mussorgsky's finest. It has its moments, but really suffers for the weak parts and recording quality. I have the album, I am an ELP fan. I would likewise only recommend this album for fans and collectors as well. 2 stars.

Tapfret | 2/5 |


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