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

PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION

Emerson Lake & Palmer

 

Symphonic Prog

3.86 | 874 ratings

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Progfan97402
4 stars I started buying vinyl way back in 1991, during the beginning of the dark days of vinyl. Back in those days it was frequently easy to find almost the entire back catalogs of such groups as King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Yes, Led Zeppelin ELP, and many more and on the cheap (but this was before I was aware of obscure prog bands). Then I bought a copy of Picture at an Exhibition, already owning a copy of Tarkus (on vinyl), Trilogy (also on vinyl) and Brain Salad Surgery (on cassette). This copy of Picture at an Exhibition was the American copy on Cotillion. At that time I pretty much dismissed it as a lame interpretation of Mussorgsky's work with plenty of creative liberties from the band.

I revisited this album years later, this time an upgraded vinyl copy, an original UK Island copy (strange that this one bore a black label with the pink "i", turns out it was Island's brief budget subsidiary, as the album would have been released on the palm tree label if it were a standard release). I find it a rather hilarious take on Mussorgsky. Obviously they took many creative routes that would obviously make classical purists cringe. I understand only four of the ten songs are used here, the rest the band doing their own thing. The "Promenade" theme revisits itself several times, which makes since, there's an acoustic passage with Greg Lake singing, but what really cracks me up is some of the synth passages. What didn't dawn on my 19 year old self back late in 1991 was Emerson's Moog was going haywire (right where "Blues Variations" starts), all this shrieking noise, it's nice to see he finally got the thing to properly behave. I didn't realize how much intense moments on this album, probably because my younger self didn't care for the slow parts of the album. Regardless, it's almost entirely agreed the album's big mistake is the cover of Kim Fowley's "Nut Rocker", which was originally recorded by B. Bumble & the Stingers back in 1962 (probably the first pop/rock adaptation of classical, but that still hardly constituted as prog, unlike what the Nice, Trace, ELP, or dare I say, Ekseption). The ELP version is pretty lame, but even if they did a more straight take on Tchaikovsky, it'll still end up cheesy.

So this album actually grew on me big time after years of not listening to it. It's pretty ridiculous, if you ask me. It's not perfect, "Nut Rocker" could have been easily jettisoned.

Progfan97402 | 4/5 |

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