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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Pictures At An Exhibition - 35th Anniversary Collectors Edition CD (album) cover

PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION - 35TH ANNIVERSARY COLLECTORS EDITION

Emerson Lake & Palmer

 

Symphonic Prog

3.56 | 86 ratings

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Vibrationbaby
5 stars What the producers have done with this DVD is precisely what I had recommended in my review for the vinyl release of Pictures At An Exhibition. They provided an example of Mussorgsky`s original 1874 compisition showing the way it should be played by including a bonus feature of a performance by the National Symphony of the Ukraine ( the piece was actually initially composed for piano ). For comparison purposes I still highly recomend that the listener check this out before witnessing 3 young English gentlemen hack the piece into oblivion. Emerson wasn`t understating in his brief introduction that " this is a descriptive piece of music set in an art gallery where some of the pictures are ours and some are Mussorgsky`s ".

Originally released as a short feature film for presentation in movie theatres, this December 1970 performance was rejected by the band in favour of a performance a few months later at the Newcastle City Hall for the release of the 1972 LP Pictures An Exhibition. So be fore-warned this is NOT a video of that live album. Unfortunately , perhaps due to the absence of engineer Eddie Offord, some technical flaws pop up every now and again with unbalanced bass / keyboard sound, parts of Emerson`s keyboard array cutting out etc. etc. However before bickering about the technical shortcomings of the day one must bear in mind that this is a timetrip back to 1970 and we should be thanking our lucky stars that with existing 21st century technology it was possible to make considerable improvements over the original. The musical performance is quite similar to the original with minor differences, particularily in Emerson`s Moog synthesizer effects which really demonstrate the overwhelming power and futuristic sound of that instrument in 1970.

For those familiar with the original 1972 live album the the most stunning part of this package is the visual aspect. As this is written in April 2007 it`s still hard to believe that only three guys pulled this musical triumph off. The compactness of the stage area combined with the restricted space of the venue lends more to the enormity of the ELP sound at the time. The definite highlights are, of course, Emerson`s keyboard acrobatics he originated while with the Nice, particularily the organ spinning and the suggestive motions with the detatched keyboard ribbon which are not apparent on audio. The video also certainly captures the passion of Greg Lake`s classically derived "The Sage" with more mood and intensity. His pristine recital is only marred a bit courtesy of Emerson who over anxiously cuts in too early with his synths at the beginning of "The Old Castle". A very young Carl Palmer also seems to be having a ball and effortlessly holds all the madness together with infinite precision albeit on a much more cut down drum kit than seen in later ELP shows, a testimony tto why he was one of the top rock drummers of the period. Each individual band member recieves roughly equal camera attention and due to area restrictions full band shots are shown from wierd angles from stage left.

Post production visual treatments are featured during the heavier instrumental blowouts which would lead one to believe that the director was tripping out on too much LSD. The regular psychedelic `60s spiralling colour designs over negative film reversals seem to drag out at times but are inserted appropriately. Bear in mind there was no light show at this early ELP concert. Included in these hallucinogenic freakouts is a bombardment of stills of Marvel Comics characters including Dr. Strange, The Fantastic Four and Spiderman. I think that the drugged out director was trying to convey a metaphor between the adventurous music of ELP and the adventures of the action heros and their creators. If you could sit through the Jupiter sequence at the end of 2001: A Space Odessey then you should have no problem having your mind blown with these effects.

In case anyone is wondering why a grand piano shows up on the instrument credits it`s there but it`s buried somewhere beneath Emerson`s keyboard array and he does play it on the Barbarian during the same concert which shows up on a Japanese laser disc of the complete show along with other early ELP compositions. The only thing missing from this DVD package would be some contemporary interview footage of the band/fans but otherwise a precious glimpse into the past through a progressive rock time portal.

Vibrationbaby | 5/5 |

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