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


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

3.86 | 957 ratings

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Prog Metal Team
3 stars I hadn't listened to this album for years and I was kind of expecting the worst. But see, a pleasant re-discovery it turned out to be.

Aeons ago, I used to be quite fond of this album and it kicked off a year of intensive listening to Mussorgsky operas and other heavy romanticists, which was kind of a geeky thing when you're 15 and all your classmates are raving about U2, the Cure, Sisters of Mercy, Talk Talk and other stuff that I then considered as stupid pop. Still, they thought my Bonnek-goes-classic was quite an improvement over the overdose of Yes and Rush that preceded it :-)

So ELP goes classic. Nothing new, Emerson had been doing that rock take on classic right from the start of his career. Generally their adaptations are gruesome to listen to. They are examples of pure kitsch: bad taste mixed with a fixation on self-indulgent bragging that has no concern at all for delivering something with any sense or substance.

However, on Pictures at an Exhibition most of what they try turns out for the good. The opening Promenade works quite well for organ, and so does the 2nd Promenade with Lake's vocals. In between sits the first gem. On The Gnome Carl Palmer shows what an excellent drummer he is. He boosts the band through this piece and while maintaining some of the basic melodies, they achieve something that is entirely ELP.

The Sage has nothing to do with Mussorgsky but is one of Lake's best ballads. The Old Castle is a nice moog solo propelled by an excellent Palmer again. Blues Variation is a forgettable piece of honky tonk that has been stripped from any kind of emotion and bluesy feel that you would expect from that music. Wears thin after less then 30 seconds.

The Hut of Baba Yaga is more to my liking. Mussorgsky's melodies lend themselves quite well to rock as it turns out. Unfortunately, that can not be said from the Great Gates of Kiev which is a dreadful experience. The music is powerless and Lake is downright annoying. So fares the next piece Nutrocker. Horror.

A little math proves that this leaves me with hardly 20 minutes of enjoyable music. That is a bit poor overall, but since this album introduced me to the wonderful world of Mussorgsky it has been absolutely essential for me and I will feel kindly towards it.

Bonnek | 3/5 |


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