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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Then And Now CD (album) cover


Emerson Lake & Palmer

Symphonic Prog

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2 stars I always preferred the studio albums, 'cause live records -many times- don't reflect all the musical potential. In the case of once great ELP, here we have two cds recorded at different tours of the band history. The first part of the first cd -from 1974, time of ELP apogee- show us pretty decent versions of band's classic themes. Second part and second cd -from the last years of '90 decade- give us noisy moments and the actual and pathetic Lake's voice, with a forgettable version of KC "21st Century Schizoid Man" closing the album. If somebody, rookie in the prog world, ask to me if this double cd can demonstrate what ELP music was, I must say absolutely no. Ok, here we have more than two hours with the authentic Keith, Greg and Carl, their most well known songs, etc., but listening the first trio albums and comparing them with this, the musical and quality difference is notorious.
Report this review (#14654)
Posted Saturday, February 21, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Welcome back, my friends, to the show that ended a long time ago (1974) and the one that just ended (1997/98). The double-disc "Then & Now" combines the two into a single generous helping for the insatiable appetites of ELP fans everywhere, with some tasteful packaging and liner notes by Bruce Pilato that faithfully re-create the unique environs of The California Jam Concert (the venue for the '74 side). Unfortunately, there are two problems with "Then & Now" that may temper your enthusiasm: 1) the "then" side sounds poorly miked much of the time, dampening an otherwise fiery performance, and 2) the "now" side is miked extremely well, which underscores just how froggy Greg Lake's voice has become.

It's not the worst of both worlds, but it ain't the best either. I find myself either wanting to soar with the early show and being pulled back by the grave condition of the recording, or cavorting in the instrumental excellence of the new shows only to be stopped cold in my tracks by Lake's voice. Sometimes, I succeed at enjoying myself despite it all: "Karn Evil 9" from the 1974 show, "A Time And A Place", "Take A Pebble" and the breathtaking "Blue Rondo A La Turk" from the '97 tour. It's a lot to sift through for a handful of nuggets, but fans will hardly count the exercise as work. The historical significance of the early show, combined with the warm feeling that comes from hearing ELP tear through old classics twenty years on like it still matters, is a reward in itself.

Instrumentally, ELP has conceded nothing to age; "Hoedown" and "Bitches Crystal", for example, possess an evergreen ebullience. Keith Emerson's keyboard sounds have changed with the advent of new technology, but what's more noticeable is how little they've changed. The years may have sapped some of Greg Lake's golden voice and a fraction of Emerson's celerity, but it also removed many of the distractions: the elaborate stage sets, the feeding of three separate egos with meandering instrumental passages and acoustic ballads, the strain of constantly trying to exceed expectations. In its place stand three supremely talented musicians who can celebrate the past with the conviction that it still means something today. And it does, although now and then we can use a reminder like this. Caveat emptor: I've seen this set sell for less than ten bucks (in supermarkets, no less) and for four times that amount online, so be penny wise and not pound foolish (or euro'll be sorry).

Report this review (#14656)
Posted Saturday, April 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars I Am a Big fan of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, but when I purchased this album, I was expecting another "Welcome Back My Friends..". This album isn't nearly as good. The 1st Disc is a bootleg from '74 I think, and the quality is terrible, Tape Recorder terrible. The 2nd disc was from 1998 or around there, and the sound is fine, but their playing isn't up to par. Keith Emerson seems to make many mistakes, and Greg Lake sounds strained. This just isn't a very good live Album, but I still Love ELP!
Report this review (#88659)
Posted Friday, September 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Clanking, jangling and The Blues Brothers

"Then and now" is a rather odd combination of live ELP recordings from 1974 and the late 1990's. The tracks from 1974 ("Then") are from ELP's appearance at Cal Jam in Ontario, California. The recording quality is poor, with little if any stereo separation. Given ELP's passion, some would say obsession, with the recording quality of their studio albums, this is something of a disappointment.

In terms of the music, there is little in the Cal Jam recordings which cannot be enjoyed on the infinitely better "Welcome back my friends.." live album. The opening "Toccata" seems needlessly chopped off at the start and finish, while the "Take a pebble" extract begins half way through.

The "Now" section, which is significantly the longer, is far better in terms of recording quality. These recordings come from various performances by the band in 1997 and 1998. By this time, Lake's voice had of course broken, making it immediately apparent which tracks are "Then" and which are "Now". There are some interesting tracks here though. "A time and a place" from "Tarkus" is give a fine workout, the band announcing it is the first time it has been performed live. The song actually suits Lake's new voice well. The Third movement of Emerson's "Piano Concerto" (without the orchestra of course) is also here, sounding rather clanky if truth be told.

"From the beginning" sounds truly superb, Lake's jingle jangle guitar and Emerson's sympathetic orchestration making for one of the high points of this collection. "Tiger in a spotlight" sound like the band have decided to change their name to "The Blues Brothers".

The 22 minute combination of "Fanfare for the common man" and "Blue rondo a la Turk" is a superb excuse for Emerson to take centre stage on synths and organ. If this album is worth seeking out, this is the best reason to do so. If nothing else, it demonstrates that the band could still play the wonderful prog of the early 1970's. The rendition includes a fine variety of classical and modern references. On the downside (for me), it also indicates that Palmer retains his penchant for a lengthy solo workout on the drums. The album closes with a medley of a quick verse of King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid man" and the Nice's interpretation of "America".

In all, a diverse and interesting collection. The newer recordings fare far better than the old ones, primarily because A) they are a of a far better recording quality, and B) because the old recordings can be found on the far superior "Welcome back my friends..".

The Retro Gold re-release omits two tracks, both from the 1997/8 recordings. These are "Karn evil 9, 1st impression part 2" and "Take a pebble", presumably because both have already appeared in the 1974 recording. Nevertheless, as the these tracks are not replaced with other material, it simply makes the CD shorter. It is poorly packaged, with no details of the source of recordings it contains; the 18 page booklet simply offering a few random quotes and an elementary track list. That track list also claims that "Karn evil 9, third impression" features Carl Palmer, whose solo is of course a part of the "Second impression". The lack of attention to detail is symptomatic of the inferior quality of the package, especially when compared to the "Then and now" presentation.

Report this review (#110540)
Posted Saturday, February 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This one is a strange bird but ultimately in the end is a clearing of the shelves to get a few more bucks. While the idea of releasing the CalJam experience on audio seems good the truth is it is strange given that it was TV recording and the audio is horrible. Given that CalJam was ELP's coronation as Rocks biggest band for sure their own personal high water mark by closing out this one day festival with over 500,000 people ELP was as majestic as they were pretentious and none of these recordings give you any glimpse of that at all. They are badly mixed and edited and couldn't even be passed off as bonus tracks. It is much better to purchase the video that makes the show more in context.

The latter material starting with A Time and a Place off disk 1 while well played (although slowed down and lowered) and the sound is good marks the end of Greg Lakes voice. What a tragedy just when this material from Trilogy and other overdubed songs could actually be played because of MIDI Lake is in the tank. On top of that except for 21st Century Schizoid Man and Bitches Crystal it can all be found elsewhere. Really this just for fans and completionists. two stars.

Report this review (#170899)
Posted Tuesday, May 13, 2008 | Review Permalink

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