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Emerson Lake & Palmer - In The Hot Seat  CD (album) cover

IN THE HOT SEAT

Emerson Lake & Palmer

 

Symphonic Prog

1.70 | 246 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
1 stars The last time I saw ELP in concert, on what must have been their final US tour, was outdoors at a Six Flags amusement park in upstate New York: quite a comedown for a band once accustomed to selling out the largest arenas on Earth. And to add further insult to already injured egos, they weren't even the headline act that evening.

I'll admit it was fun, hearing old chestnuts like "Hoedown" and "Tarkus" again. But at the same time there was a discouraging sense of a group lingering too long past its prime, like a tub of cottage cheese at the back of the fridge. This wasn't how I wanted to remember my childhood heroes, and I was uncomfortably reminded of that disappointment when I heard their final studio album not long afterward.

That was more than ten years ago. So why make an effort now to kick a long dead horse, especially when the corpse has been so thoroughly eviscerated elsewhere on these pages? I can only say it's out of respect for the memory of their earlier classics, which should never have been forced to withstand any comparison with this lame collection of tired AOR clichés.

This is an album even hardcore ELP partisans can't easily defend: another desperate attempt (after the Love Beach debacle) to fashion FM-friendly music for an audience that simply didn't exist. There isn't a memorable hook within earshot, and the instrumental dexterity that had always defined the classic ELP sound is conspicuously absent, even from the fan-pleasing bonus tracks: a 15-minute abbreviation of Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition", revisited in the studio some 22 years after their earlier live album of the same name.

It's the best thing here by far, but the overdue update is only a pale reflection of the band's rough-and-tumble 1971 performance. And, like everything else on the new album, it's all but smothered under a glutinous mass of rich digital syrup, perhaps a necessary crutch for the diminished keyboard agility of the aging Keith Emerson (not to mention Greg Lake's once-golden but now irretrievably tarnished voice).

The Hot Seat? Heck it was hardly lukewarm at the time, and has only cooled even further since. It's a sad fact when the only positive thing about the album is that it makes the underachievement of "Works, Vol. II" sound good.

Neu!mann | 1/5 |

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