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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Beyond The Beginning CD (album) cover


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

3.83 | 74 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

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5 stars This 2-DVD set, with a total of circa 250 minutes of video, is a must-have for fans of the band. I would also recommend it to any progressive rock fan interested in the genre's history, and to those who do not realise (or who doubt) how popular the band was. I'm not going to reel off all the facts and statistics mentioned, but by the time you've watched the documentary and the excerpts from the various concerts you will realise that this band was huge back in the 1970s, and real innovators.

To newcomers to the band or genre, and to those sitting on the fence, I would strongly recommend watching Disc 2 first: there is an hour-long, informative documentary including interviews with the band members, their past and present managers, the band's publicist and even the well-known promoter Harvey Goldsmith ("When they got on stage they were mind-blowing").

You can select sub-titles in English, French, Italian, German and Spanish.

Apart from the documentary, Disc 2 has 44 minutes from the California Jam festival in 1974, where the band headlined with Deep Purple to an audience of 350,000 people. I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed watching the footage of this concert, especially Keith Emerson's lengthy piano solo (no, I'm not talking about the famous - and brief - piano stunt, which is also shown but was only a gimmick).

After watching Disc 2, you can put in Disc 1 and watch 18 performances over the band's life, ranging from TV studio appearances to videos and concerts, plus a performance of each member of ELP in a previous band. A couple of the very early recordings are historically interesting albeit annoying because TV producers and cameramen in those days felt that it was not sufficient to just show the band playing: it was important to zoom in and out constantly, change shot constantly, superimpose coloured boxes and strips, invert the image, and mess around in other senseless ways. So much so that you cannot see what the band is doing half the time. Thirty-seven years down the line, precisely what is important is to see the band performing, as they were, not stupid visual effects. OK, rant over: there is still plenty of good footage on Disc 1, so do not let me put you off.

The list of ELP tracks is historically diverse (although some are only excerpts): 'Take A Pebble' (German TV, 1970); 'Knife Edge' (Brussels concert, 1971); 'Rondo'/'Pictures at an Exhibition' (snippets from Isle of Wight festival, 1970), 'Rondo' (Brussels concert, 1971); 'Tarkus, Eruption' (snippets from Tokyo concert, 1972); 'Hoedown' (Milan concert, 1973); 'Tank' (snippet from Milan concert, 1973); 'Lucky Man' (California Jam, 1974); 'Karn Evil 9, Third Impression' (California Jam, 1974); 'Toccata' (Aquarius TV show, 1974) [Palmer only, and very good]; 'I Believe In Father Christmas' (Greg Lake's excellent 1975 video); 'Honky Tonk Train Blues' (Oscar Peterson's Piano Party on TV, 1976); 'Fanfare For The Common Man' (1977 video); 'Pirates' (Montreal concert, 1977) [not a piece I like, but it sounds and looks great live with a full orchestra accompanying, making the whole thing very slick]; 'Tiger In A Spotlight' (Pop Rock TV show, 1977); 'Watching Over You' (Memphis concert, 1978); 'Tarkus' (Royal Albert Hall concert, 1992) [boy, the guys look old in this one, and I don't enjoy much the way they turn the piece into a slow, funky, jazzed up number part way through]; 'Touch And Go' (Budapest concert, 1997).

Disc 1 also has "bonus footage": mostly-B&W footage of the band rehearsing in 1973, which is initially boring but then becomes interesting; a short documentary about the album covers, with interviews; a B&W film of the band racing saloon cars with other celebrities at Brands Hatch in 1973; "How It All Began", a new interview with Bob Moog, which I found very interesting (and further proof of how innovatory the band was). And, if that is not enough, three more B&W tracks: 'Fire', performed by THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN (1968 TV performance, suffering from gratuitous, very dated and hugely irritating camera effects) with Carl Palmer; 'America', performed by THE NICE (1968 TV performance, also suffering from the same very dated and irritating camera effects) with Keith Emerson; a snippet of Greg Lake in KING CRIMSON performing '21st Century Schizoid Man' in Hyde Park in 1969 (the sound is superimposed, but the sync with Lake's lips is perfect and the snippet is interesting).

Oh, and there's a 24-page booklet with some nice photos and background information.

The track list for Disc 1 on the back of the DVD case is wrong; the list above is in the correct order (as it is in the booklet) and one track less than stated on the case.

The sound quality is good. The video quality is generally good too; some of the early stuff is grainy, as you'd expect, but overall the image quality is very acceptable. The tracks look and sound great on my large TV set.

Well, what are you waiting for? Grab a few beers and some snacks, kick everyone who is not a progressive rock fan out of the room, and settle down for 250 minutes of rock history. And don't forget: watch Disc 2 first!

Fitzcarraldo | 5/5 |


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