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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends CD (album) cover


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

4.24 | 519 ratings

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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars What is a treat about these performances is how real they are and the combustion Carl Palmer, Greg Lake and Keith Emerson could generate live, not to mention send through the crowd. Captured at a time when rock musicians still *played* their instruments rather than just worked them, when the warmth of a Fender cabinet, grind of a Hammond organ, earthy hum of a tube amp, and almost sensual give and take between band and audience generated part of the magic. And a dusty Persian rug flopped on to the stage didn't hurt either. The Mussorgsky was an amazing accomplishment but if had my choice, I'd wanna see this tour.

Copland's 'Hoedown' is a stirring opener, the group sounding like they'd been playing together their whole lives. The pace is a bit rushed but only adds to the excitement and awe created by that unshakable feeling the players you're hearing are so good that you can barely make sense of it, struggling to get your brain around what your witnessing. 'Jerusalem' fills the hall with its majesty next, Greg Lake doing a great job on voice and bass (his pure choirboy sound serving well), Emerson's seemingly six-handed feats and Palmer's firm-but-loose anchor, and 'Tocatta' extends outward with military campaigns and war drums. The Armadillo is presented in full and all its glory, revealing many of its secrets, loyal to the original but dotted with neat improvs from all three... thrilling, a must-hear. And the whole thing comes crashing down after 27 minutes. It is moments like this that remind just how friggin good they were, the mistakes and imperfections simply icing on the cake. A five-star performance on its own and worth the price of admission to this show that never ends. Disc One concludes with a Take a Pebble/Still You../Lucky Man medley featuring a magnificent solo from Keith that shows his genius, and Lake's gift for songwriting is nothing to sneeze at either.

Getting down to business, though, is Keith Emerson's extended solo which rivals anything by anyone at any time, a tour de force of invention, musicality, fire, fun and plenty of jazz. Oh yeah... give it to me Keith, you rock. And the man's timing, don't get me started. The band rejoins the party, a surprisingly good bop follows and as it dawns on you that they don't make rock groups like this anymore, Mr. Bender and the Sheriff pay a visit. When you throw in one of the best pieces of prog on the planet, 'Karn Evil 9'... well, you get the picture, and they play the crap out of it, giving it its due rather than the half-assed stuff typical of many legendary acts that were great in the studio but fatally flawed in concert, and this version is packed with some mad jazz skirmishes as well.

Mandatory, and but for a few tiresome moments, a fantastic document. Four and-a-half big shiny stars, easy.

Atavachron | 4/5 |


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