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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

4.26 | 573 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars One of the best prog live albums out there.

ELP are of course, pretentious. You only need to look at the lenghty title of this super-duluxe-mega-triple-LP to realise that. But on stage, they have a right to be, because their playing is beyond virtuosic, their inter-personal tightness and rhythm is perfect, and their stage presence is aurally breath-taking (even better visually, I imagine). And this pompous chunk of live favourites captures such things in the most effective way possible, delivering a killer experience for any fan of the first four albums.

'Hoedown' seems to be obligatory, but it's just a fun here as on 'Trilogy', if anything with even more lively interplay. 'Jerusalem' isn't neccesary and Lake's singing is slightly worrying at times. 'Toccata' is the first really good song; it's less busy than the album version, and much more intimate as a result, working in it's favour. Palmer's synthesised percussion is wonderful here, and the whole feel of the song is reduced from confusing in the studio, to enjoyable on stage. Then it's 'Tarkus', the band's best song, which is even better in a live setting. The first 6 sections are all a bit faster and more fun than on the original album, and the closing section 'Aquatarkus' has to be heard to be appreciated. It's potentially the best lengthy prog jam you will find on a live album. 'Take A Pebble' is split over the two discs because it's so extended! The song starts in it's normal fashion but soon becomes a vehicle for much of Emerson's best piano improvisations and a couple a acoustic favourites from Lake, which provide a very neccesary period of more relaxed music before the HUGE 'Karn Evil 9' suite. Also, a quirky rendition of 'Jeremy Bender' and 'The Sheriff' are included for some comic relief.

The first impression of 'KE9' is pretty much as it is on 'BSS', only with a famously cosmic drum solo from Palmer. The second impression is more dynamic live and I love hearing it. The third (which never bothered me that much on 'BSS') is equally improved but not quite up there with the better two impressions. The fact that these sections are included as one single 35 minute track makes the whole suite seem more cohesive and epic than before.

The only minor issues with this album is that perhaps some of 'Brain Salad Surgery' could have been replaced by more of 'Trilogy', which is ill represented (although it's probably quite hard to replicate some of those tracks on stage, with all the overdubbing). Other than that, this album has everything an ELP fan could wish for, especially within the three larger scale pieces. Four stars in general, but an extra one for the mind-blowing 'Aquatarkus'.

thehallway | 5/5 |


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