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


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

3.87 | 984 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars As with the more comprehensive (and original) 'Welcome Back My Friends...' live album, this ELP release sounds very good for its day. The performance is energetic and fun all the way through, if a little samey (it basically uses the "loud-quiet-loud" technique for the duration). Crazy hammond-bashing, furious drumming and angular bass lines are abrupt and random, occasionally stopped for some plaintive lyrics or yet another reprise of the main 'Promenade' theme. In this sense, and whether it is the fault of Mussorgsky or not, the band fails to keep a rock listener interested for the entire piece.

However, the individual moments are mostly good. Moog synth is used sparingly but with great taste, as was the case in 1971 with most bands, who were still not totally trusting of the strange new instrument! And Lake's obligatory acoustic section is rather nice too, although he was too lazy to disguise the blatant King Crimson chords he stole for it; maybe they let him in return for playing on 'Poseidon'.... The best parts of this album actually come at the end of each side; the blues exercise borrowing Palmer's drum rhythm from 'Tank', and the clavinet re-working of B Bumble's 'Nutrocker', which keeps to the theme of 'spiced up' classical music.

It was uncommon for a band so new to release a live album yet, but I guess it kept them going and kept the fans happy, buying them time to actually write some music of their own for 'Tarkus'. I must say though, that if it weren't for my addiction to Keith Emerson's organ-grinding, I would prefer whole-heartedly Ravel's arrangement of the 'Pictures...' suite. Such varying music requires all the tone-colour of an orchestra, and would maybe succeed more for ELP had they got to grips with the synths and added some piano, guitar..... mellotron even, the missing instrument from Emo's cannon!

This album is flawed in a few ways, but the composition remains flawless; a three-star arrangement.

thehallway | 3/5 |


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