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


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

3.86 | 894 ratings

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4 stars Since gramophone and radio castings were created erudite or classical musical works have always served as inspiration for popular composers - in many cases, the latter copied parts or the totality of famed pieces and pasted them into their songs. Less common (in fact, very rare), in the realm of popular music, was the complete transcription of the old masters' output, at least until the 70s. This issue was taboo then, 'cause the common wisdom was that these covers were doomed to failure.

EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER, the power-prog-trio, solved band's identity problem performing live, in 1971, a 10-piece piano suite, released in 1874, by Russian innovative composer Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881), named Pictures At An Exhibition. Also the band got the acknowledgement of the immense possibilities of transcribing ipsis litteris (well, more or less) the great works of real valuable classic composers.

EL&P opted to follow the original score, adding lyrics, here and there, and spreading touches of rock/jazz/folk, providing what we all know as "progressive". Final result was fair. Anyway, the suite was later reenacted a bunch of times by EL&P and those reenactments show variations from the original release, due to acoustics matters and instrumental different approaches. The original album was recorded with the support of a vintage pipe organ installed at the city of Newcastle, England where the live performance was registered.

All along the tracks, band members exude fine musicianship and joy of gigging; in fact, they were approaching their peaks as performers. 'Promenade', the opener, provides the tunes for the following pieces. The song is repeated twice along the album, being the first, a ballad-like with additional lyrics and the second, a thunderous extravaganza. Album core shows a series of "pictures" being visited by EL&P, plenty of keyboards raids alternating with bucolic passages, like the melodic 'The Sage', one of the highest points of the album. 'Baba Yaga' epopee brings some pleasant moments and stressing, sometimes boring, punches.

'The great gates of Kiev', the original suite ender, is another album peak. Lake's voice is superb and band instrumentation is awesome. Album final track, the encore 'Nutrocker' (in fact, a Tchaikovsky piece), although not original, is amusing and agreeable.

Pictures At An Exhibition is an important feature to understand why classical music permeates since birth the Progressive scene. Consequently, this album is a fine and compulsory addition to any music collection. Final rating: 4.

Atkingani | 4/5 |


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