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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Live at the Mar Y Sol Festival '72 CD (album) cover


Emerson Lake & Palmer

Symphonic Prog

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4 stars 1972, Prog was just blasting away at unheard levels of innovation and energetic live performances, and that's exactly what you get here. Put simply, this is the best live recording of ELP's classic period (I don't count the Works era as a classic period). In terms of sound quality, I would rank this one only second to the Newcastle recording on the Pictures album. Unlike the poorly mixed Welcome Back album, Keith, Greg and Carl are right up front in your face in good balance with these newly found multi-track tapes.

As for the performance, what can you say? You're getting them at a time when they actually gave a rat's ass about their performance. Not like the "one-hand-in-their-pocket" performances they've done on the reunions for the past 20 years! Highlights are a full rendition of Tarkus with Keith doing some further off-the-cuff explorations with his Moog. Take A Pebble is pretty much the as on Welcome Back with Greg doing Lucky Man in mid- section. What surprises me with this. is this is a full band rendition of the song complete with Moog unlike the strictly Greg-on-a-stool-solo bit done on the BSS tour. Then Keith goes into his piano improvisation with a nice jazz trio segment (why the hell they don't do this kind of stuff anymore?) The rest is pretty much predictable but with so of the much the gusto they were known for during this time.

Shout Factory! has been somewhat lackluster in terms of re-releasing ELP's back catalog, Welcome Back still sounds lousy and needs a serious re-mixing. But here they have pulled off a real winner with these lost archival recordings. Definitely a must have for ELP fans.

4 stars for performance, 5 stars for sound quality 'nuff said

Report this review (#585362)
Posted Friday, December 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars It's hard not to award this CD an enthusiastic five stars: had it been released a little less belatedly it night be recognized today as arguably the best live album ever recorded by ELP. The set list is more concise than in the sprawling "Welcome Back My Friends..." package; the sound is better than anything since the original "Pictures at an Exhibition" LP (it's hardly pristine, but more immediately vital); and the playing shows the band in their early prime between the "Tarkus" and "Trilogy" albums, when they were still very much in sync with each other and firing on all cylinders.

Even better, it's a complete performance from introduction to encore, recorded in sunny Puerto Rico at the April 1972 Mar Y Sol Festival, a sort of Caribbean Woodstock without the counterculture vibe. A quick digression: imagine attending a weekend music festival featuring everyone from Alice Cooper to Dave Brubeck to Roberta Flack to Black Sabbath...nineteen acts including Emerson Lake & Palmer, and all for a single admission price of only fifteen dollars!

The show begins, not unexpectedly, with Aaron Copeland's "Hoedown", introduced here three months before its studio appearance on the "Trilogy" album. It's a thrilling performance, and unlike later concert versions is played at the correct tempo (clearly this was before Keith Emerson's acknowledged cocaine habit kicked into high gear: another plus for this particular gig).

The live rendition of "Tarkus" was, at this stage in its evolution, still a work in progress. It doesn't fully measure up to the definitive performance heard on the 'Welcome Back My Friends..." disc, but the extended "Aquatarkus" jam offers some interesting variations, notably an interpolation (not entirely successful, in retrospect) of Edvard Grieg's "In Hall of the Mountain King" theme from his "Peer Gynt" suite.

And the piano improvisation in the second half of "Take a Pebble" features an attractive unplugged jazziness rarely heard elsewhere in ELP's concert history: a throwback to Emerson's waning days in THE NICE. Astute fans will notice a preview of the song "Tiger in a Spotlight", years before its (sadly degraded) studio debut on the album "Works, Volume II".

But the "Pictures at an Exhibition" climax to the set is the real revelation here. This fifteen- plus minute abbreviation (not just another medley, please note, but actually the entire second half of the suite) rocks harder than even the Newcastle gig committed to vinyl the previous year. "The Curse of Baba Yaga" segment in particular generates real thermodynamic heat, unlike the strictly rote encores of the piece that would surface on later concert recordings.

All that plus a performance of "Rondo" that sounds like Emerson pumped his Hammond C3 full of steroids and then had to wrestle it into submission. The eighteen-plus minute length of the encore is misleading, however: it includes an almost nine-minute Carl Palmer drum solo, fortunately one of his best, even involving the festival crowd in a little percussive call-and-response.

The entire show is a welcome blast from the past, capturing the genuine energy of ELP in concert before the trio began merely going through the motions. I can only hope the band has other such gems in the archive waiting to be rediscovered.

Report this review (#602664)
Posted Tuesday, January 3, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars If there ever was a live ELP album to get , this is the one.

Excellent sound quality and an extremely upbeat performance (we can hear Greg's enthusiasm quite often) AND his bass sound like never before or after... Here is the WHOLE performance (part of which was included in the long deleted "Mar y Sol" LP) remixed to its full glory.

In spite of being recorded in February 1972 , before "Trilogy"'s recording, we can hear an almost perfect rendition of "Hoedown"-the only thing being that the Moog intro upwards sweep is absent , maybe it was because it was incorporated later or there were technical difficulties-which was one of the rumours...

As for the other songs included, the fellow reviewers have done a great job describing them.

Report this review (#831992)
Posted Tuesday, October 2, 2012 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars The Mar Y Sol Festival took place in Puerto Rico in April of 1972. The accounts of the media who were there suggest that this festival was not a success pointing to several accidental deaths along with a murder. Also the promoter had to sneak out of the country before the festival was over with the police looking for him. BLACK SABBATH was cancelled due to the fact they couldn't get them to the venue on time due to the traffic. Along with ELP the festival boasted Alice Cooper, The Faces, The Allman Brothers, Osibisa, Mahavishnu Orchestra along with many other bands taking part. We get the whole performance here from ELP, so just under 80 minutes of great live music with good sound quality.

I have to mention here that ELP has never been a band I appreciated a whole lot although I love their debut. So imagine my surprise at how much I like this album. There's not the silliness here and the playing is incredible to say the least, but I just love how this sounds. Listening to this recording feels like a meeting with an old friend which again completely surprised me. And I really like how prominant the bass is but then all three guys were at the top of their game here.

The recording starts with a passionate announcement of the band "Here they are, from England, Emerson...Lake...and Palmer!" to a huge ovation. The crowd was really into this and one man who was there suggests that they were the highlight of the festival. They start with "Hoedown" but without the country vibe(thankyou). That familiar organ sound kicks it off with a full sound in tow. Check out the bass after 2 minutes. The synths replace the organ but not for long. An excellent uptempo instrumental. "Tarkus" opens with Keith I believe announcing "Okay we'd like to play something your probably familiar with, there's a picture of an armadillo and this is called "Tarkus", thankyou." This is my favourite track on here and it clocks in at just under 23 minutes. Just a killer song with Emerson leading the way. Vocals before 2 1/2 minutes as it settles down. So good! Love the instrumental section starting around 6 minutes then the vocals return a minute later. An interesting vocal section starting before 13 minutes with guitar. They change gears before 17 minutes as the crowd cheers. Keyboards galore follow along with upfront bass.

"Take A Pebble" is a change of pace after the furious ending of "Tarkus". With Lake singing I did think of KING CRIMSON. Nice piano solo around 3 minutes. It doesn't take long for the crowd to recognize that the next song is "Lucky Man". Up next is "Piano Improvisation" and it's just that for close to 10 minutes. I like when it turns jazzy before 4 minutes. Vocals actually arrive just before it ends.

"Pictures At An Exhibition" is good but my least favourite tune on here. They do kick some ass early on before a clam arrives before 3 minutes. Vocals 2 minutes later as it kicks back in. An interesting instrumental section starts before 11 minutes and it's actually experimental at times(gasp). Vocals return a couple of minutes later and this track ends their performance until we get the ovation that brings them back out to play the almost 19 minute "Rondo" to end it in style. Train sounds can be heard with lots of clashing cymbals. It's picking up speed, then we get this extended drum solo starting before 6 minutes. The crowd gets involved before 12 minutes and when the drum solo ends after 13 minutes we get a huge ovation. He's not quite done though(haha) then the bass joins in. Outstanding! Train sounds return followed by Emerson. Great sound!

So yes I highly recommend this fantastic live release and if your a big ELP fan you need this.

Report this review (#1283035)
Posted Tuesday, September 23, 2014 | Review Permalink

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