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


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

3.86 | 896 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Picture perfect

It's funny how things tend to get forgotten, and history re-written with the passing of time. The reason this album enjoyed the success it did, was because it was cheap! Island Records released a number of mainly live albums around the same time on a budget label, priced well below the normal cost of a full priced LP (King Crimson's "Earthbound" was another "HELP" release, together with Colosseum's "Valentine Suite"). That is not to say it's not a great album, but the marketing strategy succeeded in introducing many more people to ELP than might otherwise have been prepared to dip their toes in the water.

The album itself is a loose interpretation of Mussorgsky's classical piece of the same name. Whether the composer would recognise much of his composition beyond the distinctive theme of "Promenade" is doubtful, but I'm sure he would have enjoyed ELP's interpretation nonetheless (more so than the rather dull electronic version by Tomita).

The album stands up as a complete piece, with individual sections such as "The Old Castle" and "Blues Variation" sounding great on their own. "The sage" is a beautiful solo section by Greg Lake consisting only of acoustic guitar and vocal. "Blues variation", a band composition, is a rip roaring instrumental piece which allows Emerson to demonstrate his keyboard skills. There are vocal sections at various points in the performance, Greg Lake's lyrics being suitably mystical and profound. They climax with the quasi-religious "there's no end to my life, no beginning to my death, death is life!".

The encore is "Nutrocker", a reworking of an early 60's piano based interpretation of Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker" by B Bumble and the Stingers.

Given how early on in their career as a collective unit this album was put together, it does reflect well their combined talents both for arrangement and performance. This is ELP enjoying themselves, and indeed at their most accessible! (It is also worth listening to the studio version in Dolby Surround of "Pictures.." on the "In the hot seat" album, it sounds great).

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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