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


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

3.86 | 928 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'Pictures at an Exhibition' is one of the more important live prog albums

It is important, of course, because it's not a regular live album. This album doesn't sport live versions of studio tracks - at least the original version didn't - but instead, as it's name suggests, is a recording of ELP's reimagining of Mussorgsky's 'Pictures at an Exhibition'. Having listened to the classical version a couple of times, I must admit that the band do an impressive job of updating it to a more progressive format. You do not have to have heard the original to enjoy this, but for those of you who are familiar with the original, you will be in for a treat.

In fact, I believe this is the most consistent ELP album. Whilst other albums from this legendary trio contain more straightforward songs, this album has an understandably cohesive feel to it, since the entire thing belongs to the same suite.

While most of the album is drowned in the quintessentially ELP sound, the main exception is The Sage which is an acoustic track mainly written by Lake. The rest of the album has the zappy keyboards, the breakneck drumming, and the thunderous bass you've come to love from this band. At various points, there are lyrical sections, which Lake himself wrote. It must be difficult to write lyrics to a tune that's never had lyrics before, but the result is quite pleasing, especially on The Great Gates Of Kiev.

There are a few dull or unmemorable moments on this album, but they are outweighed by the good moments. Promenade by itself is an excellent theme, and is repeated three times in different formats here. The Hut Of Baba Yaga is a brilliant short instrumental with some of the wildest drumming in prog. The best track of course is the closer The Great Gates Of Kiev, which ends the suite in a truly symphonic style. There's even a great little encore track, Nutrocker, which is a fun progressive reinterpretation of Tchaikovsky's classic piece The Nutcracker.

Funnily enough, I believe that this is actually my favourite ELP album. While I think the Tarkus suite trumps the music on this album, the rest of the tracks on there pull it down somewhat, and in fact, I could say this about many of the ELP albums. It's sheer consistency that makes this a really good album. The sound quality isn't always perfect - Palmer's drums sound a little faded at times, and there's just a bit too much audience in the mix - but one should be lenient here. If you're collecting ELP music, then this album is simply essential!

baz91 | 4/5 |


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