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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends CD (album) cover

WELCOME BACK MY FRIENDS TO THE SHOW THAT NEVER ENDS

Emerson Lake & Palmer

 

Symphonic Prog

4.19 | 399 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Raff
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Overblown, bombastic, self-indulgent.... That's the ELP we all know and love, and we wouldn't have them any other way. This double (triple on vinyl) live album captures the band at their heyday, before they descended into creative stagnation and even outright cheesiness. It is indeed one of the top live albums of the Seventies and a must-have for any self-respecting prog fan, though - as in the case of the majority of ELP releases - it is by no means perfect . When it is good, however, it is nothing short of magnificent, as in the case of the killer version of "Tarkus" that graces the first CD.

Disc One starts in style with the dynamic, rousing strains of Aaron Copland's "Hoedown", easily one of the definitive showcases of Emerson's talent on the Hammond organ. Solemn "Jerusalem" (a great Lake vocal showcase) and manic, supercharged "Toccata" follow, the latter allowing Carl Palmer to go over the top with his impressive array of percussions. As said above, however, the breathtaking rendition of the "Tarkus" suite is the undisputed highlight of the album. Faster and somewhat longer than the original, it veers from the energetic strains of "Eruption" to the calmer mood of "Stones of Years", picking up speed again with"Iconoclast", "Mass" and "Manticore" to slip into "Battlefield" 's melancholy, reflective atmosphere, and finally climaxing with an utterly stunning, elongated version of "Aquatarkus" - an absolute must for all Moog fans.

Next comes the wistful, lovely Lake tour de force "Take a Pebble", unfortunately split over two CDs, including acoustic ballads "Still...You Turn Me On" (a much better version than the studio one) and "Lucky Man", as well as an excerpt from KC's immortal "Epitaph" sung without any musical accompaniment. Emerson's "Piano Improvisations", while an excellent example of Keith's dexterity on the ivories, go on a bit too long and end up feeling slightly boring for those who are not keyboard players themselves. After the bookend of the second part of "Take a Pebble", things get a little more upbeat and light-hearted with the "Jeremy Bender/The Sheriff" medley - the latter a much more musically interesting song than it usually gets credit for - preparing the ground for the ultimate exercise in OTT grandiosity that is "Karn Evil 9".

The 30-minute-plus epic - a real rollercoaster ride comprising majestic, intense organ parts, the rousing "Welcome Back My Friends..." episode, wistful piano interludes, a masterful Carl Palmer solo spot and all sort of electronic craziness towards the end - while it contains less improvisation than "Tarkus", and does not therefore sound extremely different from the studio version, is nevertheless the best possible way to bring everything to a close with a real bang.

This live album isn't obviously likely to convert any ELP sceptics, but all open-minded proggers should think seriously about adding it to their collection. Dinosaur rock it might be, but who can deny the enduring fascination of those lumbering, long-extinct giants?

Raff | 4/5 |

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