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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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Prog Reviewer
4 stars This was the first ELP album I purchased, back in 1973. If my memory serves me right, I liked this album a lot. I spun it endless times and was quite impressed by their music. Since I was not really into classic music (and still don't) I was not aware of the original piece, so I can not judge whether or not it is a good adaptation or a brilliant interpretation of it (I would go for the later, though).

The band recorded this version of "Pictures At An Exhibition" on December 9, 1970. It was filmed as well and will be released as a video much, much later. This record was released only in 1972. Surprisingly enough, their US label, Atlantic, refused to release it.

Excerpts from ELP's web-site : "The label told the band it was a piece of s h i t, and would damage their careers" remembers manager, Stewart Young. "We felt otherwise, and had released it in Europe, where it was a huge hit.

The British import started to filter to US shops and eventually sold 50,000 copies.The next thing I know is that the label is on the phone telling me they'd like to put the album out. I told them to go to hell. Three days later the President of the label flew to London to try to get us to change our mind. Eventually, we put the deal together and the album came out. Ultimately, it was a multi-platinum hit."

The album reached the thrird spot in England, and when it was available and in the US, it reached number ten on the Billboard charts. Not too bad for "a piece of s h i t, right ?

The work is divided into several little pieces,not all been equalled in quality.

"The Promenade" ones will be the recurrent theme of this work. These will be peaceful parts, contrasting with some wild and weird ones (like "The Old Castle"). I am not too found either of "Blues variation". It features great bass and drum playing, but its bluesy taste has not my favours.

"Baba Yaga" parts will be the ideal showcase for each musician (especially Keith and Carl, actually). Both "Huts" are brilliant while "The Curse" is a bit noisy and structureless. It gets real wild as soon as Gregg enters the scene with his vocal part. We are far from the subtlety of "Kiev". Brilliant.

The light and subtle ELP side is highlighted during "The Sage" and its spanish classical guitar sound and a so sweet Lake on the vocals as well as in "The Great Gates Of Kiev". This part sounds so brilliant, no beautiful, so emotional, so...

When ELP produces moments like these, I believe they are absolutely marvelous.

Such a piece, confirms that ELP was a band able to switch instantly from style. We'll get this confirmed instantly with the closing section of this track during which Keith is "playing" with his organ and gets very strange sounds out of it (his keyboard I mean) for a while (but not too long, fortunately). "Kiev" is a passionate section. And I am a passionate man. And boy ! What a great and emotional finale during "The End" !

Since the suite "Pictures" was a bit short to be released as such, ELP will add another interpretation of a grand piece of classic music. I just can tell that it is one of my favorite on the album, but I confess my ignorance of the original. I just like this rocking and wild number as such.

If you had asked me to rate this album when I bought it, no doubt that five stars would have been my answer. Today, considering that some parts are a bit weaker I would go for four stars.

ZowieZiggy | 4/5 |


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