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Emerson Lake & Palmer - In The Hot Seat  CD (album) cover

IN THE HOT SEAT

Emerson Lake & Palmer

Symphonic Prog


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rar@aol.com
1 stars Awful. Sad. Who's "In The Hot Seat". Who buys it? The Band? That's a good discussion for the worst ELP record. Actually, I seriously doubt there ever was such a musical decadence in any other progressive band. The day I listened to this CD I got really depressed. How could ELP have an album like this? Yeah, ELP... That band which played Ginastera's music and was praised by himself once... That band which recorded "Brain Salad Surgery". The track "Hand of Truth" from "In The Hot Seat" is an average track, but if you compare it to the others from this album, it just seems to be "Karn Evil 9". The band lost totally its north, its style, its magic and energy. In this album, it's not a progressive band anymore and it's not a pop band, either. It is inbetween worlds. So the old fans got anger and the new generations didn't care for it. Apparently, Lake can't compose a good plain song anymore (does he want to?), Emerson stuck on the "King of Rock Keyboards" flattery and forgot he was once a truly serious musician with truly great compositional talent. In the '70s, Keith was able to do some aggressive stuff, but that happened to be also GREAT music. But "In the Hot Seat" he kept only the noise and those brass patches that are a weak shadow of the GX-1 Keyboard. Palmer, well, he is the only one who is as good (or perhaps better) as in the crazy '70s. Really, I would have preferred they just got together for the gigs and never stepped in the studio together. I say this especially because I love the old ELP. But it's over. Whatever the magic was, it seems unavailable even to themselves.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#14631)
Posted Monday, December 29, 2003 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars A sorry end

Oh dear!

The band were clearly struggling to put an album together by this point. The reunion which had created the credible "Black moon" album quickly ran out of steam, leaving these dregs of tracks to be cobbled together to form a disappointing and incoherent album. Gone are the long prog compositions, to be replaced by second rate songs with little to differentiate them from the many other bands who write similar compositions.

The only thing I can recommend here is the superb "bonus track". This is a shortened studio version of "Pictures at an exhibition", recorded in Dolby surround sound. This was the first time ELP had released a studio version of "Pictures..", the original album of that name being a live recording. In hindsight, they should have made the whole "Hot Seat" album up of a studio version of Pictures!

Even the sleeve suffers from the "Love Beach" dearth of inspiration, the photo of the band being taken from the "Black moon" sessions.

A sorry ending (in terms of studio albums) for a once great band.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#14632)
Posted Thursday, March 04, 2004 | Review Permalink
richardh
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars I would be loathe to give any album 0 star although this comes as close as any.Truly depressing FM radio chasing record from this once great band.To be fair there were circumstances why this turned out so bad.One major reason was that the record company Victory Music were close to bankruptcy and desperately needed a hit album.They drafted in noted 'radio friendly' producer Keith Olsen and the result was almost just too easy to predict.It didn't help either that Emerson could barely play a keyboard having just recovered from an operation on his hand.Still it does have the one interesting legacy and that is -which ELP track only includes one member playing on it? Answer - 'Gone Too Soon' which only has Greg Lake on it ,the drums and keyboards being done by session players! Nuff said really.

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Send comments to richardh (BETA) | Report this review (#14636)
Posted Friday, June 04, 2004 | Review Permalink
kirklott@comc
1 stars A very sad swan song for one of prog rock's greatest bands. Whereas ELP's best albums brought cool and intelligence to prog, this is just AOR drivel like Foreigner, Styx and Loverboy. Indeed ELP was forced by its record label Victory (teetering on bankruptcy) to create the most commercial album possible to save the label. Victory forbade any Emerson keyboard excursions, Lake solo acoustic pieces, or any long songs. The lead track Hand of Truth is fun prog pop, but the rest of the album is just terrible, simplistic AOR. The album stiffed, Victory went bankrupt, and ELP broke up. This album was an embarrassment that neither ELP nor its fans should have to suffer through.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#14637)
Posted Thursday, June 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars It's true that it's not a real ELP album but there are 3 tracks that are listenable as typical ELP work. The first song and 'Daddy' are excellent but the rest is poor fm stuff with no real creativity. Nevertheless, the remix of 'Pictures at an exhibition' is excellent!!!! It's more powerful than the original like 'the gnome' which is just terrific!

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Send comments to fairyliar (BETA) | Report this review (#14641)
Posted Wednesday, March 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
jetledorze@ho
3 stars It's true that this come back is no big success but there are some very good moments like the two first tracks, above all "Daddy" which is a very strong, moving song. But the final version of "Pictures..." is just terrific, really different from the original, more powerful, just amazing! A dolby 5.1 version of this would be really welcome: imagine with stereo it just take you to the stomache, so in 5.1 it should give you heart attack!

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#14643)
Posted Sunday, April 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
Zitro
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars This is just a disaster and an embarrasment. I cannot believe the band would actually compose such horrible music.

The album starts with 'Hand of Truth' which is easily the best song in the album, but it is nothing more than an average ELP track. Daddy follows as the second best from the album which is mellow and tragic ... the rest is unmemorable garbage of poor songwriting, and terrible synth usage of Keith. the only good thing about this album is the modern 'picture of exhibition' version.

My Grade : A Big Fat 'F'

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Send comments to Zitro (BETA) | Report this review (#39282)
Posted Tuesday, July 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
scottandpenny
1 stars Really, zero stars. One of the worst albums of all time, by any group. For ELP, worse than "Love Beach." No redeeming value whatsoever. Not even a decent keyboard fill to point to. A twinkie is a four-course meal compared to the musical value of this album. Embarassingly vapid, devoid of content, let alone inspiration. It's as if three zombies put it out. Guess they shot their wad on "Black Moon," which was a nice comeback album. They're totally bankrupt of ideas on this ... well, I won't call it an "effort," because there is a decided lack of it here.

Only the hardest of hard-core ELP fans should buy it, hopefully dirt cheaply, and let it gather dust on the shelf simply to fill the ELP collection.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#40794)
Posted Friday, July 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
tothmpsn@yaho
1 stars Wow.

I'm about as open-minded as any prog rock fan can be (heck, l enjoy many of the releases that are often blasted, such as Yes' "90125", anything by Starcastle, and ELP's "Love Beach"), but this album is a sad denoument to a truly influential career by these three amazing musicians.

The opening track "Hand Of Truth" has some parts that gave me hope that this would at least be as good at Black Moon was, but it's pretty much all downhill from there. Greg Lake's voice sounds terrible on this album; the key is still as low as it was on Black Moon, but the production or effects must be different. The keyboard parts could be played by any college keyboard player, and certainly do not do a true legend of the instrument credit. The same can be said for Palmer's drums--or lack of drums! All of those programmed instruments and loops from a guy who can do a five minute snare drum solo live that will keep guitarists interested!

There are only two reasons that you would want to get this album:

1. You're a completist.

2. You want to hear the updated version of "Pictures." This is pretty good. Even with Lake's changed voice this works very well. It's also on the "Return Of The Manticore" box set, so if you have that avoid this.

This is easily one of the five worst albums by prog rock artists that I've ever heard. "Love Beach" might as well be "Trilogy" next to this.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#41360)
Posted Tuesday, August 02, 2005 | Review Permalink
Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Prog Specialist
3 stars As any normal proghead, every time I travel out of my country I have to return to Lima with at least a couple of Prog' albums which are very hard to find at our local stores. In 1997 I had to go 4 days to Santiago de Chile for business, but as usual I finished my work in the first 24 hours, so I had 3 days for me and paid by the Company (I had a meeting the fourth day, so I had to stay).

In those years I didn't use Internet very much and there were very few Prog web sites, so I wasn't as informed about the new releases as today. After several hours of search during my last afternoon in the beautiful Chilean city, I found a small store with some Prog' music owned by a gentle Peruvian proghead, so I decided to buy every Prog' album I didn't had and even some I didn't knew but were released by good bands.

I got a couple of excellent albums (not very rare though) and In the Hot Seat, from which I had no information at all, contrary to what you may believe, I don't regret buying it, even when the new material is not worth to be reviewed.

First I have to say that as Love Beach, In the Hot Seat was recorded in a wrong moment, when Carl had required surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome, Keith had problems with his right arm and for the wrong reason, because they had a contractual obligation with Polygram and we know for previous experience how ELP responds in this forced situations (Love Beach).

The only previously unreleased song that's worth a comment is the opener Hand of Truth (The only one I heard in the store) because they still show some of the sound that made ELP one of the major Prog' bands, but the rest new material is awful.

You may ask why I don't regret or if I'm some kind of masochist who finds some pervert pleasure in buying bad music, but the answer is very simple, In the Hot Seat has a good short studio version of Pictures at an Exhibition.

Those 15:29 seconds of pure Progressive and pompous Rock are worth the whole album, for the first time some of us had an idea of how this great work sounds in a controlled environment and with an excellent production, the result couldn't be better despite the fact that's a reduced version.

Now how to rate the album? It's not a masterpieces , not even good (as a whole), but the studio version of Pictures at an Exhibition is a must have, If you want great new material, run away, but if you're a Proghead searching for different versions of classics, it's worth buying it for those 15:29 minutes.

Only for this reason I will rate In The Hot Seat with 3 stars.

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Send comments to Ivan_Melgar_M (BETA) | Report this review (#42632)
Posted Friday, August 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
lor68
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars This the classic example regarding a kind of irritating compromise, forced by their producer, in which Greg Lake chose the easier way to increase the sales (otherwise this was their attempt), without reaching this goal. in the period before such a flop, their previous work from the Studio - entitled "Black Moon" - was not a successful album, even though their old fans could have been interested in their reunion after so many years.well by thinking of an instrumental track like "Changing States" as well as the piano solo composed by Emerson (resembling the old times), the enthusiast were so happy. Nevertheless such mentioned remarkable episodes, along with "Romeo and Juliet", had been already used for a movie soundtrack a couple of years before, despite of representing a perfect promotion for the "Black Moon Tour" (even witnessed by three live recordings, taken from their performance in the USA, UK and Poland.); therefore fortunately, in spite of hardly foretelling their return to the early formula of "symphonic rock", this wasn't their last appearance on stage!!

Instead the present disappointing work represented the last episode before their definitive break-up, even accelerated by a terrible accident which occurred to Emerson, being unable to use both his hands in the execution of the songs.ok this made their job more complicated, but anyway I cannot understand their choice concerning for example a song by Bob Dylan; while the old stunning style by Emerson was a bit emerging during the play of "Hand of truth" (this title is clear!!), even though that's not enough to save a work characterized by a number of tepid pop songs!!

Nowadays the band doesn't exist anymore; however They are prosecuting on their own way, each one with his own ensemble and sometimes also touring all over Europe. well the unique exception is represented by the unlucky moment concerning the life of Emerson, being recovered once again after another medical operation (this time at a cardiologic surgery): in fact, cause of a urgent operation on his main aorta, He will stopped, as long as He will be able to sustain the strong efforts of his job.however forget this album and think of the new bands created by three die-hard musicians, always fond of their job and fighting against the difficult moment of the music market. they play in the European small clubs, often at a few local gigs, as They liked to enter the circuit of the "underground" progressive.so long live the unknown "Prog" gigs and Festivals all over the world, as long as We need to hear exciting music, on stage at least!!

First evaluation: a "1 star" score

Second one: a "2 stars" superior score as for my encouragement only, after the accident occurred to Emerson

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Send comments to lor68 (BETA) | Report this review (#46090)
Posted Friday, September 09, 2005 | Review Permalink
1 stars I just watched the "live at Montreux" video from 1997 by ELP. I was surprised at the obvious lack of ...practice, skill? by Emerson to play the notes right. I am not a musician myself but it was very evident he was not playing the notes any near as clean and clear as in the albums. Every note seemed to be played in chuncks. I think he even played the wrong keys too. I couldn´t believe he couldn´t do it right after 24 years of playing the same "tarkus" notes. After listening to this album from 1994, now that image of Emerson is not any surprising anymore.

This album could easily be the musical theme for a third rate event anywhere in the desert. It could easily be that kind of music people never stop to listen at, nor pay a bit of attention. It really is so conventional and ordinary that could be played as background music at a supermarket or at an "everything for 1 DLL" store.

After listening to this, I have a harder time trying to understand people bashing Genesis for making POP after 1981. This album is not prog whatsoever...Well, it´s not even entertaining, nor fresh, nor original music in any sense.

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Send comments to El Morula (BETA) | Report this review (#53600)
Posted Thursday, October 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars As a hardcore, and I mean hardcore ELP fan I would rather do many things then give one of their albums 2 stars but...The opening track is decent...most of the rest just plain suck. There are a few decent moments on some of the others, not enough to make them good. Cmon...please ELP, you produced AMAZING MUSIC. This is backshelf pop. On the other hand, I really do think the new "pictures" is quite good, Gnomus in particular, that track is better then the original. The Hut of Baba Yaga has a little double kick and kinda reminds me of Metallica...lol. Its good though. Where is Keiths awesome playing? Gregs voice is nowhere close to his absolutely incredible velvet voice on "Works Volume 1" And even good old dependable Carl has opted for bad sounding drums and doesnt play the good precision laden patterns he once played. If not for "Pictures" this album would have no value at all. If you are a fan, it might be a good idea to pick this one up to complete your collection, not that you'll listen to it much. If your just a non serious fan, dont even think about it. Comparing this to Love Beach is like comparing N'sync to Brain Salad Surgery. Its too bad really...

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Send comments to endlessepic (BETA) | Report this review (#97486)
Posted Monday, November 06, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars One of the best albums of a great band. Starting from amazing "Hand Of Truth" with fantastic Emerson's solo, it continues with very sensitive and wonderful Lake's ballad "Daddy". I think that "Thin Line", "Heart On Ice" and "Give Me A Reason To Stay" are very important compositions to understand a marvellous ELP sound that remains up-to-dated until the end of their brilliant career. Emerson's arranging of "Man In The Long Black Coat" is really strong and adequate as well as the most underestimated song of this album "Street War". In my opinion, dolby surround studio version of "Pictures At An Exhibition" is more powerful, more exact, more "concentrated" and "more Russian" than the previous concert one - believe me as a Mussorgsky's fellow countryman.

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Send comments to genie (BETA) | Report this review (#101027)
Posted Wednesday, November 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
Neu!mann
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars The last time I saw ELP in concert, on what must have been their final US tour, was outdoors at a Six Flags amusement park in upstate New York: quite a comedown for a band once accustomed to selling out the largest arenas on Earth. And to add further insult to already injured egos, they weren't even the headline act that evening.

I'll admit it was fun, hearing old chestnuts like "Hoedown" and "Tarkus" again. But at the same time there was a discouraging sense of a group lingering too long past its prime, like a tub of cottage cheese at the back of the fridge. This wasn't how I wanted to remember my childhood heroes, and I was uncomfortably reminded of that disappointment when I heard their final studio album not long afterward.

That was more than ten years ago. So why make an effort now to kick a long dead horse, especially when the corpse has been so thoroughly eviscerated elsewhere on these pages? I can only say it's out of respect for the memory of their earlier classics, which should never have been forced to withstand any comparison with this lame collection of tired AOR clichés.

This is an album even hardcore ELP partisans can't easily defend: another desperate attempt (after the Love Beach debacle) to fashion FM-friendly music for an audience that simply didn't exist. There isn't a memorable hook within earshot, and the instrumental dexterity that had always defined the classic ELP sound is conspicuously absent, even from the fan-pleasing bonus tracks: a 15-minute abbreviation of Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition", revisited in the studio some 22 years after their earlier live album of the same name.

It's the best thing here by far, but the overdue update is only a pale reflection of the band's rough-and-tumble 1971 performance. And, like everything else on the new album, it's all but smothered under a glutinous mass of rich digital syrup, perhaps a necessary crutch for the diminished keyboard agility of the aging Keith Emerson (not to mention Greg Lake's once-golden but now irretrievably tarnished voice).

The Hot Seat? Heck it was hardly lukewarm at the time, and has only cooled even further since. It's a sad fact when the only positive thing about the album is that it makes the underachievement of "Works, Vol. II" sound good.

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Send comments to Neu!mann (BETA) | Report this review (#105171)
Posted Monday, January 01, 2007 | Review Permalink
1800iareyay
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars After the semi-comeback Black Moon, ELP decided to take the shred of credibility they regained and put it in a blender. In the Hot Seat is one of the most appropriate album titles ever, becasue listening to it is akin to torture. The opener Hands of Truth cruelly leads you to believe that the band is nearing their former style, Emerson even plays a solo. This is soon followed by crap after crap. Emerson apparently sold his Moogs in a garage sale and found a cheap beginner's keyboard to play on. Carl Palmer essentially sits behind the kit while his parts are looped and programmed. To top it off, the band decides to record a studio version of Pictures At an Exhibition. Intriguing certainly, buit any hope of a bombastic interpretation is shattered by the shortened and less energetic performance.

It seems that Love Beach set a precedant for horrible albums, and the band decided to break its own record. In the Hot Seat makes Love Beach look like the debut. It's insipid and it's very clear the band is running on fumes at this point. This album should be packaged with Love Beach and sold to suicide cults to prove to its members that the world is evil. Thankfully, there were no sharp instruments near me when I listened to it so my wrists were spared. A sad end to a once mighty band. If you really want to spend money, send the cash to me 'cause I could sure use it. Stick to the first four albums for your own safety.

Grade: F

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Send comments to 1800iareyay (BETA) | Report this review (#113213)
Posted Thursday, February 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars WORKS III

What a great complement to Works I and II !

I guess that Emerson, Lake & Plamer couldn't have done better. Fully in-line with these previous two efforts.

Second great deception : so far, no live version for this "Works III" has been announced. What a pity ! We'll have to make it with the studio album only. How "great" would those songs have sounded like on stage ? We'll never know I'm afraid. We could have organized a contest on PA to determine the best versions of these "songs" : studio or live ones. Big fun, I tell you...

But no such contest, unfortunately. It is very difficult to say which track is the best one. I might be biased. I believe it would be wiser to start a poll with this question. But who's going to participate in such a useless poll ?

OK, I'll do it. One of the very few bearable track might well be "Man In The Long Black Coat". Sounds at times as "Dire Straits" though. To know which ones are the poorer is far much easier. Get all the other ones. Still, a special mention for "Thin Line" absolutely awful.

The most AOR-ish one ? "Hand Of Truth" or "Change" probably. The most syrupous ones ? "Daddy" and "Give Me A Reason To Stay" (well-named while you are listening to this "jewel"). The silliest rocking ones ? "Gone Too Soon" on par with "Street War". What a great duo to close the album !

Well, almost close it since ELP had the bright idea to record a bonus track. A studio version of "Pictures..." originally released as a live effort in 1972. I thought that studio versions came first, but who knows. Anyway, they should not really have bothered. This edulcorate version won't be able to compete with the old one. By no means. Lake's vocals are terrible. Poor Greg. Poor Mussorgsky.

Difficult time of rating now comes. I would say that this album is between the quality of Works I and Works II. Since I have rated both of them with one star ...

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#132172)
Posted Tuesday, August 07, 2007 | Review Permalink
progaardvark
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars In the Hot Seat is apparently the last studio album by ELP (as of 2008) and like so much of the potential wasted all those years ago, this album is just a shadow of the mediocrity the band had been chugging out since 1973. And again, the ego clashing between Emerson and Lake resurfaced causing this effort of pop rock fodder to be even more disjointed than Black Moon. Furthermore, to add more to the fall of this band, Emerson had nerve problems in his right hand, making it almost impossible for him to play the keys.

For all intents and purposes, this album probably should have never been done considering the situation the band found itself in. In the end, it represented an album that reeked of filler. Oddly enough, the only star (though dimly at that) on the album was the bonus track, an almost 15-minute studio version of Pictures at an Exhibition. It's much shorter than the original live version the band released back in 1971 and somehow lacks the energy and performance of that live version. Flat would be a good word to describe it.

If it weren't for the bonus track, this album would be a certain one-star affair. Two stars. For collectors and fans only. Newcomers should avoid and start with any album prior to Works Vol. I.

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Send comments to progaardvark (BETA) | Report this review (#180983)
Posted Thursday, August 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
2 stars While Black Moon had been a great return to form for the band and an excellent album in its own right, In The Hot Seat is quite a disappointment. It is not the worst ELP album in my opinion, neither is it as truly awful as many people say. But it is surely not a great album!

The first four tracks are quite good, but after that the album drifts off into average territory. The keyboards often sound like a brass section! And that gives the poppier tracks something of a Phil Collins sound. There are two covers on the album, The Man In The Long Black Coat and Give Me A Reason To Stay, the former by Bob Dylan (and recently recorded by Steve Hackett).

The CD has a studio recording of Pictures At An Exhibition as a bonus track. This is the best version of that piece that I have heard, and it is worth getting this CD for this alone.

Not awful, but bland.

Only for fans!

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#198348)
Posted Saturday, January 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Eclectic Prog Team
1 stars This is a poor album with one gigantic asterisk. Ultimately, it's a strange case of trying too hard for a radio hit, coming across as something like an unsuccessful teacher in an urban high school who one day enters his class with a boom box, sunglasses, a do-rag, and a gold chain around his neck, sputtering off Ebonics and talking about the hood in a pathetic attempt to connect to his audience. Greg Lake sounds aged, much deeper vocally than he has ever sounded. In many ways, he no longer sounds like himself (to me, he sounds a bit like a deeper version of Bruce Hornsby). Keith Emerson's keyboard is still strong, with some occasional synthesizer solos reminiscent of the band's glory days, and several segments generous with electronic piano runs. Carl Parlmer is the weakest member, due in no small part to the 1980s and early 1990s drum sounds (which it seems all the greats were into around the time). The listener is treated to something interesting only occasionally, and really, while not utterly dreadful, it isn't something worth recommending either.

"Hand Of Truth" Lake's vocals are rugged and mature, as previously mentioned, which strangely adds to the sound as much as it takes something away (what all that is, I cannot really put my finger on). This isn't a bad song at all, but it is surely shocking in terms of sound- immediately the listener is informed that this is not at all anything like the Emerson, Lake & Palmer of yesteryear, not in the least, despite some exquisite keyboard work.

"Daddy" This is a dark and dismal track about a murdered little girl with plenty of phony-sounding instrumentation.

"One By One" With out-of-place and cheesy horn synthesizer and orchestra hits, this is still a weirdly generic song. The vocal melodies sound hackneyed in almost every way, but overall, it's an okay track, despite a number of flaws.

"Heart On Ice" Here is a simple, pleasing adult contemporary song. Nothing fancy, but nothing that isn't inoffensively delightful.

"Thin Line" The electronic drums are cringe-inducing, which lay down a 1980s hip-hop beat under the strange menagerie of Lake's vocals, unfitting backup singing, plinking organ, light synthesizers, and synthetic-sounding bass.

"Man In The Long Black Coat" This classic Bob Dylan song receives an okay facelift, even if the charm is lost through bland instrumentation.

"Change" Although a slightly hokey song, this one does have some interesting instrumentation and a pretty good groove. The vocals are fairly bad, mainly because Lake doesn't have much enthusiasm.

"Give Me A Reason To Stay" This is a boring attempt at another adult contemporary song (riddled with clichés), which they probably should have gotten Sting to sing.

"Gone Too Soon" ELP injects a bit of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in this one, for better or for worse. For me, it's the latter.

"Street War" A surprisingly fast-paced song with some decent organ lingering in the background, this song again fits the problem of trying to relate with the times and still coming across as ridiculous. Actually, this one sounds just like a catchy little jingle advertising an edgy yet colorful toy for boys aged six to ten years old.

Here is the big fat asterisk: This rather shoddy album has a stereo version of "Pictures at an Exhibition." The first time I heard ELP's rendition of Mussorgsky's classic, it was the studio version on this record (which I did not own at the time, but heard from someone else). When I eventually went out and bought Pictures at an Exhibition, I was absolutely dismayed that it was a live album (I had had no idea). To my ears, which were accustomed to this abridged interpretation, the live version was very weak and not as robust. In some ways, I still feel that way, even though I would definitely say that the live version is superior in many respects. This one here is a heartier, symphonic treatment, and ELP fans should not be disappointed.

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Send comments to Epignosis (BETA) | Report this review (#234912)
Posted Monday, August 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
2 stars I sooooo wanted to give this album one star. I listened all the way through this album, with Lake's voice sounding as pinched off as it did on Black Moon, Palmer acting as nothing more than a simplistic drum machine, and Emerson, the great Keith Emerson playing background keyboards on an album of simplistic AOR mixed with lame arena rock. Sure there are a few hints that it's actually Emerson playing, but they are very few, and very fleeting.

Even the well intentioned "Daddy Charity" (all proceeds from the song Daddy went to a fund to help the families of missing children - what did it raise? $5?) doesn't warrant raising the rating up.

So what is the saving grace? Yet another recording, with orchestra, of Mussorgsky's Pictures At An Exhibition. This one is not bad, mostly because of a fine orchestral arrangement. But it only raises it to the level of "collector's only". If you're not a huge ELP, or especially Pictures fan, run away fast from this album.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#242053)
Posted Tuesday, September 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
1 stars Well, ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to the show that never ends, yet should have ended with Black Moon. At least that has some great tracks that are worthy of ELP's repertoire.

There's a saying in Rock, to quote Neil Young - "It's better to burn out, cos rust never sleeps." The rust from this album will fester for years as the last in ELP's catalogue - and what a way to go out - not with a bang but with a whimper.

To explain, but not justify this scathing review, I love the band and hail their achievements from their debut to Trilogy, and the reunion which brought us a great album with Black Moon. But what have we here? To be honest, I can't for the life of me remember a single song from 'In the Hot Seat'. I think the first track showed some promise, as I recall, with some good melodies and a nice keyboard fill, but, as I have played this album a grand total of two times, the rest is an absolute blur. I remember groaning during 'Daddy' and hoping it wouldn't all be like this. It wasn't - it was worse. It actually gets worse as the album moves on. Prog? What freakin' prog - there is not a sceric of it in this jumbled mess.

The bonus track, a 15-minute abbreviation of Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition", revisited in the studio 22 years later, was a revelation. Not hearing it live for the first time was very strange but somehow therapeutic after hearing the rest of the sugar coated pop squeezed out of the speakers.

This album could be as bad as Love Beach in some respects as there is nothing redeeming apart frrm a bonus track. Without this bonus, I may well have turned the CD upside down and used it as a coffee coaster. Love Beach at least had the Emerson-penned instrumental to lift it from the mire. Black Moon was a great return to at least some semblance of what we love about the power trio but, after Works Live was put out there for the masses in 1993, this follow up studio release is quite a pathetic attempt. It fails miserably in every department, even the album cover is weak, and the booklet is hopeless. I hate the sell out of this band that brought us epic brilliance in the form of Tarkus and Karn Evil 9. What are they doing to themselves? Do they really sincerely believe fans are going to buy into this drivel? Somebody sure does, as they keep churning out this garbage.

ELP usually emit incredible power when they get together but this release does'nt have enough power to knock the fluff off a peanut!

Steer well clear of 'In the Hot Seat'.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#242054)
Posted Tuesday, September 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
ExittheLemming
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars Vacating the Throne in the Smallest Room in the House

Most of the tales that surround the making of this grubby and tatty little album carry an uncanny resemblance to the sorts of excuses trotted out by beleaguered soccer franchise owners when their team is on a 10 match losing streak:

Injuries to key players

(Emerson had not long undergone arm surgery for nerve entrapment and his pliancy in agreeing to press ahead and overdub his parts individually with his one remaining good hand beggars belief)

Confidence and morale have taken a dent, the fans need to get behind us and encourage the team

(Hiring Disney composers and Sony hit writers to contribute to a document featuring three of the most indelible talents to ever grace rock music might just contribute to the faithful streaming towards the exits)

The coach has my complete trust and he can and will turn this around

(Producer Keith Olsen forbade any conceptual pieces or classical adaptations and therefore conspired to abort a version of the Karelia Suite by Sibelius with Allan Holdsworth on guitar appearing on the album, although by way of self-serving recompense, we do get to hear his own daughter speaking on one track)

We can't blame Olsen entirely for this debacle, but he has become tantamount to the midwife of choice for the soulless, having delivered to the expectant world the air-brushed platinum blonde diaper burritos of Fleetwood Mac, Whitesnake, the Scorpions, Saga, Starship, Rick Springfield, Pat Benetar and Emmanuel (Who? a Mexican hair-gel counterfeiter, that Interpol are probably still looking for)

Hand of Truth - In contrast to the horrors that lie in wait this is as good as it gets. Even a compound proggy meter is involved for the opening piano motif plus a subsequent tempo change into an impressive slower section but compared to an unimpeachable past, it is distinctly humdrum for ELP. Keith perks things up with some signature squealing Moog and Greg's vocal is at least a damn sight more robust than his prose:

I hear the cry of freedom, We have the power to change the world

I doubt if Olsen would have even let the trio change their socks unsupervised.

Daddy - a very attractive chiming guitar arpeggio certainly, but it just never goes anywhere. The treatment of a serious subject (child abduction) just comes across as mawkishly trite due to Greg's bathetic delivery and despite some tasteful piano textures from Emerson, Daddy smacks of an effective intro being stretched into a pseudo song. The aforementioned Olsen fille gabbles the title and I have to confess, such shallow manipulation and emotional bankruptcy means I've never yet made it through to the end of this shameful tear-jerker (pun intended) I could swear Palmer's entire drum part consists of just a sole thwack of the snare on the 4th beat of every bar.

One By One - Don't be deceived by the contrapuntal and fugue like intro as it just degenerates thereafter into stolid US rawk keech*. (*The latter being a Scottish pejorative which the rest of you should not find hard to orient to your own vernacular. Tip: use your sense of smell) Keith presumably was the last person in the navigable universe to be told that orchestral stabs were considered passée at least 10 years prior. The chorus is memorable in the sense that inoculation shots leave an indelible mark on their recipients but Emerson's descent into sub Asia cliche sus 4th chord resolutions on a polysynth patch reeks of desperation.Greg's lyrics alas, just reek:

Out of the cocoon reaching for the moon

There is a lovely cathedral organ segment but it's over far too soon and similarly the instrumental section to the fade is entertaining but gets buried beneath those wince inducing orchestral stabs. Enough already.

Every time I listen to this album I cannot help but imagine the beetle-browed Olsen sat in the producer's chair peering through the control room window with that reproachful look on his face that says:

If just one of you guys tries any of that fancy dan progressive flashy [&*!#] with me, I'm nuking the critter

Heart on Ice - Imagine a collaboration between Elgar and the Scorpions on a '3am in the morning' ballad written specially for those forbidden from staying up beyond 7pm. Lake once again double underlines his credentials to be the undisputed James Joyce of prog:

We just flicker like a candle in the cathedral of our dreams

Thin Line - Palmer's shuffle is about as stiff as the inhabitants of a Mosh pit at a Brahms recital while Keith does at least get to contribute some guttural Hammond but the faux jazzy Steely Dan harmonies and female backing vocals in the chorus are but a gentle slap on the bottie off deserving of a firm kick in the backside for all concerned.

Man in the Long Black Coat - Possibly the best/least wretched track on the album and there is finally some mood building atmosphere invoked on this Dylan song. Carl Palmer has claimed that this was the centrepiece of a 20 minute Emerson conceptual piece ditched by producer Olsen, although it's hard to see how even Keith could have expanded such a modest musical seed as this to epic status. If nothing else, it was capable of getting me to seek out the original and all things considered, Dylan has served Emerson well over the years. (see My Back Pages, Country Pie, She Belongs to Me)

Change - Borderline endearing but it just doesn't suit an Englishman like Lake's voice. Vaguely redolent of something that might have popped up of the To The Power of Three album with Robert Berry. One of those 'unfinished' songs that most people leave unreleased because they couldn't come up with even a mediocre verse melody for the rather ordinary chorus.

Give Me a Reason To Stay - A royalties cheque? Joking aside, this is decent MOR penned by the aforementioned Disney and Sony hacks Steve Diamond and Sam Lorber respectively (sic). Nice chord progression and a well crafted development but it ain't even remotely an ELP song. Someone like Neil Diamond or (gulp) Tom Jones could make this very good indeed. (Hey I'm trying to accentuate the positives here OK?)

Gone Too Soon - Depending on whose version of events you believe, Emerson and Palmer don't even play on this critter. Yes, there's audible clockwork synth and metronomic drums but these were allegedly provided by session-men. Both certainly sound like stock 'off the shelf' parts without a vestige of personality to betray their origins. Pat Benatar astride a Jefferson Skateboard and never was a track so inappropriately named.

Street War - Like Euro synth pop from the mean streets of Hampshire as if parodied by an English REO Speedwagon tribute band, but possibly even less gritty than that. Keith's inspired chromatic descending organ lick is kinda cool but once again this just ain't right for Greg's limey tonsils and he sounds about as credible as my Dad tackling an Ice-T medley.

It saddened everyone who wasted their ill-gotten gains buying this album that our favourite prog band of all had been reduced to the malleable puppets of their corporate paymasters. There was no tour and precious little marketing that I can recall after its release and in hindsight such a diplomatic withdrawal was probably a blessing. I do however still hold out a strand of hope that the aborted Crossing the Rubycon project will one day be completed and released. By all accounts this shelved album was a fully fledged progressive beastie that even if it were the final 'hurrah', would prove a much more elegant exit than this ignominious whimper.

BTW You can get the utterly fab and groovy bonus Dolby Surround version of Pictures At an Exhibition via other ELP reissues. I'll let you do the maths.

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Send comments to ExittheLemming (BETA) | Report this review (#265705)
Posted Friday, February 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
ProgressiveAttic
COLLABORATOR
Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars This, for me, is one of the most underrated albums in prog... OK, its not ELP's finest far from it but, in my opinion, not as bad as most people puts it.

During the recording of this album there were some tensions among members of the band (Emerson and Lake specifically) and Keith had some medical problems with his right hand. This produced a similar situation to Yes' recording of Union but, in my opinion, this one turned out to be better accomplished.

Hand of Truth is a good prog piece with a well performed instrumental section and Lake with his changed voice shows that he is still a great singer. This is my favorite piece of the album. 3.75

Daddy is another nice song, not as proggy but has some interesting piano and guitar ideas and that is about it. 2.75

One by One has a great intro ala classic ELP, Lake sings powerfully and the keys are pretty decent (some times sounding like arena rock...). 3.00

Heart on Ice is a forgettable ballad with some nice piano playing and decent vocals (I am not talking about lyrics here). 2.25

Thin Line is another of my favorites of this album with good keyboard work reminiscent of early ELP and fairly decent vocals. 3.25

Man In the Long Black coat is Emerson's first Bob Dylan adaptation since the days with The Nice (My Back Pages, Country Pie, She Belongs To Me) and its pretty good, it has a nice dark mood and Lake's vocals are the highlight. 3.25

Change is a bit catchy with some interesting ideas but not really well accomplished. 2.75

Give Me a Reason to Stay is a song I never imagined ELP would play (or even think playing)... this isn't really a prog song (or something close to prog) is more like a nice pop ballad. 2.25

Gone Too Soon is a Lake solo song because neither Emerson and Palmer play here. The style is closer to the ELP sound than Give Me a Reason to Stay but it is still far from it leaning more to AOR than to prog. 2.50

Street War is a synth-pop catchy fast paced song. It is fun to listen but rather forgettable 2.75

At the end this is just a good but rather forgettable album and a bit more than for collectors only. I was totally disappointed by Palmer's participation here, Emerson has his moments and Lake showed that although his voice changed he still is a very talented singer although I disliked most of the lyrics.Total: 2.85

But I have to consider the bonus track: an outstanding studio version of Pictures at an Exhibition with a choir, which is one of the best versions of this prog classic ever recorded. This makes me wonder if Emerson could do this with his wounded hand and Palmer performed so well on this...Why the hell didn't they play like this on the rest of the album?!!!!!!

Total including bonus track(which had less weight than the rest of the tracks because of its bonus nature): 3.25

At the end it is worth buying because of the nice songs and the superb Pictures at an Exhibition.... I might have been a bit biased because this was one of my first prog albums and it has some sentimental value for me but I tried to be as objective as possible...

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Send comments to ProgressiveAttic (BETA) | Report this review (#266289)
Posted Sunday, February 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
1 stars ELP has always been pretty much hit or miss with me. Their best albums had some great stuff on them but I have never found what I consider to be a "complete" ELP great album. THe closest would be Tarkus and Brain Salad Surgey, but even they had low points. But this effort DOES NOT come close to being even a somewhat acceptable ELP album. THis is almost impossible to listen to at times. I have tried it 5 times and then I traded the CD back in. ENough was enough! Was this simply a cobbled together bunch of things that were not even good enough for Black Moon? I wonder. Only "Hand of Truth" and the bonus track of "Pictures at an Exhibition" are of any worth IMHO. There just doesn't seem to be any "soul" to these tracks otherwise. So...I guess I have to give a final star rating to this so how about a 1? Good enough. Can't wait to review Brain Salad Surgery, Trilogy, and Tarkus.

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Send comments to mohaveman (BETA) | Report this review (#273561)
Posted Monday, March 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
colorofmoney91
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars In the Hot Seat is the last album by ELP, and that's probably for the best. This album consists entirely of uninspired contemporary adult radio rock. The only tracks here that I enjoyed at all were "Hand of Truth" and "One By One", which also seem like the most progressive, even if just a small amount so. I never considered ELP to be a great band, but this really takes the cake for their worst album. Not so pretentious as much as it is just unenjoyable and boring. I wouldn't recommend this album to anyone unless they happened to be a serious collector of ELP albums.

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Send comments to colorofmoney91 (BETA) | Report this review (#431146)
Posted Monday, April 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
1 stars The wrong album at the wrong time. Recorded under personal difficulties, Emerson, Lake and Palmer's 94 In The Hot Seat is the worst. They tried to bore me with Love Beach and Black Moon, but I liked both (3/5 stars for me). But now... It have nothing, nothing to do with their early material. The first track, Hand of Truth, is the only track that I can stand. I can't imagine Keith Emerson, Carl Palmer and Greg Lake together listening to their own album In The Hot Seat, or even alone. And to finish the quest, the Pictures At An Exhibition version doesn't fit as the original one.

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Send comments to VOTOMS (BETA) | Report this review (#946109)
Posted Thursday, April 18, 2013 | Review Permalink
2 stars Moo Moo

There's only so far you can go in milking a concept or previous work. This it seems was made to appeal to their old fans who were in rocking chairs with old Duke at their feet watching the sun retreat below the horizon, not hot seats. There's some thoughtful material on here such as Daddy which seems to address the plight of missing children but it just doesn't fit in with the ELP concepts of the early seventies and this certainly would have not attracted new fans unless they had exhausted their back catalogue and Black Moon wasn't enough final punishment. Lake even sounds like a burnt out Ian Anderson on tracks like One By One. He even sounds like a burnt out Greg Lake. Street War sounds like something that was rejected from a rejected Greg Lake solo album.

The CD bonus tracks lifted from previous compilations /live recordings are by far more interesting. I dunno what to say here.Buy the thing for the bonus tracks if you don't have the CDs that they were hijacked from. I mean Enerson could barely play in 1994 because of medical problems with the tendons in his hands and you can't really fault him for that. It's your money. Be my guest. I'll give this milking a generous 2 stars.

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Send comments to Vibrationbaby (BETA) | Report this review (#1017270)
Posted Monday, August 12, 2013 | Review Permalink
2 stars In the hot seat is Emerson, Lake & Palmer's tenth and last studio album. Perhaps they'll reunite and do something more. I'm not sure I want that, at least if they can't make anything better than this, cause this wasn't enough. The cover picture shows a train approaching with the "ELP"-sign in the top and it's not wrong to compare Emerson, Lake & Palmer with a train. This record sounds like the band just follows a staked out trail where nothing unexpected happens.

I guess it's possible to find short passages where the former glory is present, but as a whole the songs are just average and in the best case a bit good. I also find the sound of the record noticeably fatigue. In the 70s, these three guys could fill the air with their three instruments. Twenty years later, they unfortunately couldn't. As as some other's have stated, in one way it's sad they produced these last mediocre releases instead of ending with a partially lovely bit as "Love Beach".

Even if this record wasn't so interesting, we must remember how important ELP is for the creation and development of the prog rock. For an inspiring and pleasant journey through their production I recommend you to begin with "Emerson, Lake & Palmer" and continue with "Tarkus", "Trilogy", "Brain Salad Surgery" and "Works Vol. 1-2". I think that will be enough. Two stars!

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Send comments to DrömmarenAdrian (BETA) | Report this review (#1172813)
Posted Friday, May 09, 2014 | Review Permalink

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