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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Works Orchestral Tour/Manticore Special CD (album) cover


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

4.57 | 34 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Don't let the sound and image aspects fool you , this is essential!!...

This is your chance to witness one of prog rock's most defining moments: The Works Tour. This concert was recorded in Montreal Olympic Stadium and is up to this day an attendance record for that venue. This is the most bombastic and pretentious band on earth accompanied nothing more and nothing less than a 70 piece full orchestra!

The show starts with a sudden burst from a cannon and then both band and orchestra start playing The enemy god dances with the black spirits. Unluckily , there is no live footage of Abbadon's bolero as the track list states , there is just a brief introduction with images from the band. Quite a pity since the tune sounds really impressive with the orchestra. Then we have the 1st impression part 2 from Karn Evil 9 (welcome back my friends). Greg Lake's vocals sound as clean as always and in my opinion , much better than in the California Jam concert. This song does not feature strong orchestral arrangements it's more like the typical version you will hear in any record.

Right after that Keith announces: We 're gonna give ya' Pictures of an Exhibition!! And damn right you will. This is a shorter version of Pictures , similar to the one recorded in the 90's , it does not feature The Sage but the orchestra gives an amazing performance specially in The Great gates of Kiev where Greg Lake's highly emotional vocal delivery is complemented by the arragements , simply outstanding. Now , if you know the structure of an ELP album/concert you are very likely to know what comes next. Yes! you guessed right: A Greg Lake ballad , C'est la vie to be more precise. As I stated in my review , I find Lake's side of Works vol 1 to be the weakest side of the album , I also stated that this song was good but nothing impressive to write home about. My thoughts about this number have radically changed , this is the ultimate Lake moment! You see , ELP is not all about technical skill and bombast as many seem to think , they can also write truly beautiful music like this ballad. Here Keith plays the accordion for a brief moment and also the orchestra captures the song's mood with it's wind instruments. Quite an unespected high moment for the show.

After the obligatory Lucky Man , Keith and the orchestra play the 3 rd movement of his Piano Concerto Toccata con fuoco. The song is just as impressive as the Works version , it's a shame they didn't play the whole piece since he had the orchestra right there , it would have been incredible. Next , we have Carl Palmer's solo spot with Tank. I am not a fan of drum solos but Palmer's drumming is energetic and entertaining , and on top of that his kit is impressive. You can deslike lots of aspects from this band but they sure knew how to make your money worth: Big explosions , rolling kits , impressive lightshow. Tank has it all. After the whimsical but uplifting Nutrocker some haunting synths can be heard. This is it , the summum of the show. ELP's most underrated gem of all time: Pirates All I can say is. What a outstanding performance!! This song is what the band has always been about: Bombastic , fun , grandiose and moving. Lake's voice is at it's peak , the lyrics are incredible and the orchestra can be fully appreciated here. The Works tour was a financial disaster for the band , but this show was totally worth the price. Finally the band closes this show with their biggest hit at that time , their own version of Fanfare for the common man including some typical Emerson antics with his Hammond.

In my eyes , this is some of the best material you may get from any progressive rock band from the 70's. It also includes some bonus interviews and tracks but unfortunately , with the exception of Hoedown none of the songs are complete. The sound and image is typical from the era and the camera shots are appropiate enough ( not like Godbluff Live as an example). ELP fans and prog lovers can't go wrong with this release.

crimson87 | 5/5 |


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