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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Live At The Royal Albert Hall CD (album) cover


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

2.94 | 161 ratings

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3 stars ELP are back with the curse on their backs. The curse so typical for all reunions: if you change the sound, everybody will say that it isn't good, and if you keep the old sound people will say that you're stuck in the past. Well, they've changed the sound and it sounds crap. Instead of Hammond tapestries we have brass ensembles and string pads, instead of Moog solos we have digital buzzing hollow sounds.

Concert opens with "Karn Evil 9", where I faced two disappointments: years of smoking took their toll on Greg's voice, and whole "Karn Evil 9" is less than two minutes long. Opening trick, really, nothing else. "Tarkus" is somewhat better (Keith utilises old Hammond in it's full glorious raw sound) but the problem is that this is just an nine-minute excerpt, neither here nor there. The following track, "Knife Edge" is got a nice atmosphere, darkish, as it should be, although wrapped in that digital-sounding package. Actually, this is almost the only old song that sounds decent played on digital equipment. Paper Blood was the new song, surprisingly, played mostly on overdriven organ. Nice mainstream rock tune, but nothing to die for. ELP couldn't resist to adopt some classical piece in their catalogue every here and there, and this concert is no exception: Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet" is included, originally from their "Black Moon" album. Nice performance, in fact the first song that showed some passion. Keith's piano solo improvisation is a logical follower, and "Creole Dance" is cute, dynamic and complex. But again, the sound is awful. Too clear, clean, crystal with some unnecessary string pads here and there. Two most known Greg's acoustic ballads also faced dramatic changes in sound. "Lucky Man" is just awful beyond description, but "Still...You Turn Me on" is nice, Greg's voice is accompanied only with acoustic guitar which sounds lovely (almost like a harpsichord). For the first time in history, guys decided to keep it simple.

After the acoustic intermezzo, the band is back with the "Black Moon", and it sounds good. Probably because it's fresh and it was recorded with digital equipment similar to their stage setup. On the other hands "Pirates" are just boring and uninspiring. The "Finale" is worth mentioning because medley contains extended version of "Fanfare For The Common Man" (I was always wondering what it would be like after the fade-out of the studio version), a brief but nice piece of THE NICE's "America", and the "Rondo" with Hammond organ being raped...

At the end of the day, this is a nice try but overall rating is not so high. My biggest complaint is about the sound in general. I am not fan of digital, but with the digital equipment nice work could be done. This is not the case. Songs sound artificial and hollow. Drums are annoying all the time (their sound and Palmer's performance too). Please note that this is only the case of the old songs in their modern incarnation, new songs sounds quite well. However, this concert contains few highlights, but overall sound, choice of the songs and their length prevent me for rating this CD with more than 3 stars. There are better ELP concerts around, both old and new.

clarke2001 | 3/5 |


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