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


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

3.86 | 901 ratings

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Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer
3 stars This much praised live album exemplifies everything which people love and hate about classic prog, and ELP especially: an unapologetic demonstration of talent and experimentation, whether or not the listener want it. However, Pictures at an Exhibition looses some of its edge in the decades that have passes since its release, the result is an enjoyable but not overwhelming listen.

The first half is essentially organ and guitar noodling that takes its sweet time to get moving. The "Promenades" are little but hammond pomp which seems more obligatory than anything, though there are some nice vocals by Lake to enjoy. For the most part though, PIcutres at an Exhibition will probably loose the majority of non-prog listeners before the 10-minute mark, and even those of us who like this stuff may find ourselves waiting for somethng to happen, luckily it does in a pretty big way on the second side.

The "Baba Yaga" suite is the highlight of the album for me. The band plays shockingly aggressive here, giving us lots of sound effects, crushing heaviness, and lightning fast intensity. This is what classic prog is all about: rapid time changes, dramatic melodies, and an enthusiasm for the artistic-- and ELP does it better than just about anyone in some places here. I thoroughly enjoyed the second half, and would probably put the "Baba Yaga" songs on an ELP 'best of". However, I think that "Nutrocker" is best left stricken from the record.

As far as live albums go, there's little here to even suggest that Pictures was recorded in front of an audience except for the introduction and final applause. In a way I suppose that's a compliment, because it means that the band is really nailing their performances, but there isn't any "live-energy" to speak of. The result is a bit of ELP-style mediocrity as well as excellence, making this album a worthy listen for fans but not a masterpiece.

Setlist 3 Instrumental Performances 4 Stage Energy 3 Live Experience 2

Prog Leviathan | 3/5 |


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