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Emerson Lake & Palmer - In The Hot Seat  CD (album) cover

IN THE HOT SEAT

Emerson Lake & Palmer

 

Symphonic Prog

1.71 | 247 ratings

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Epignosis
Special Collaborator
Eclectic Prog Team
1 stars This is a poor album with one gigantic asterisk. Ultimately, it's a strange case of trying too hard for a radio hit, coming across as something like an unsuccessful teacher in an urban high school who one day enters his class with a boom box, sunglasses, a do-rag, and a gold chain around his neck, sputtering off Ebonics and talking about the hood in a pathetic attempt to connect to his audience. Greg Lake sounds aged, much deeper vocally than he has ever sounded. In many ways, he no longer sounds like himself (to me, he sounds a bit like a deeper version of Bruce Hornsby). Keith Emerson's keyboard is still strong, with some occasional synthesizer solos reminiscent of the band's glory days, and several segments generous with electronic piano runs. Carl Parlmer is the weakest member, due in no small part to the 1980s and early 1990s drum sounds (which it seems all the greats were into around the time). The listener is treated to something interesting only occasionally, and really, while not utterly dreadful, it isn't something worth recommending either.

"Hand Of Truth" Lake's vocals are rugged and mature, as previously mentioned, which strangely adds to the sound as much as it takes something away (what all that is, I cannot really put my finger on). This isn't a bad song at all, but it is surely shocking in terms of sound- immediately the listener is informed that this is not at all anything like the Emerson, Lake & Palmer of yesteryear, not in the least, despite some exquisite keyboard work.

"Daddy" This is a dark and dismal track about a murdered little girl with plenty of phony-sounding instrumentation.

"One By One" With out-of-place and cheesy horn synthesizer and orchestra hits, this is still a weirdly generic song. The vocal melodies sound hackneyed in almost every way, but overall, it's an okay track, despite a number of flaws.

"Heart On Ice" Here is a simple, pleasing adult contemporary song. Nothing fancy, but nothing that isn't inoffensively delightful.

"Thin Line" The electronic drums are cringe-inducing, which lay down a 1980s hip-hop beat under the strange menagerie of Lake's vocals, unfitting backup singing, plinking organ, light synthesizers, and synthetic-sounding bass.

"Man In The Long Black Coat" This classic Bob Dylan song receives an okay facelift, even if the charm is lost through bland instrumentation.

"Change" Although a slightly hokey song, this one does have some interesting instrumentation and a pretty good groove. The vocals are fairly bad, mainly because Lake doesn't have much enthusiasm.

"Give Me A Reason To Stay" This is a boring attempt at another adult contemporary song (riddled with clichés), which they probably should have gotten Sting to sing.

"Gone Too Soon" ELP injects a bit of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in this one, for better or for worse. For me, it's the latter.

"Street War" A surprisingly fast-paced song with some decent organ lingering in the background, this song again fits the problem of trying to relate with the times and still coming across as ridiculous. Actually, this one sounds just like a catchy little jingle advertising an edgy yet colorful toy for boys aged six to ten years old.

Here is the big fat asterisk: This rather shoddy album has a stereo version of "Pictures at an Exhibition." The first time I heard ELP's rendition of Mussorgsky's classic, it was the studio version on this record (which I did not own at the time, but heard from someone else). When I eventually went out and bought Pictures at an Exhibition, I was absolutely dismayed that it was a live album (I had had no idea). To my ears, which were accustomed to this abridged interpretation, the live version was very weak and not as robust. In some ways, I still feel that way, even though I would definitely say that the live version is superior in many respects. This one here is a heartier, symphonic treatment, and ELP fans should not be disappointed.

Epignosis | 1/5 |

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