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Emerson Lake & Palmer

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Emerson Lake & Palmer Works Live  album cover
3.33 | 157 ratings | 11 reviews | 18% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Live, released in 1993

Songs / Tracks Listing

Disc 1 (41:13)
1. Introductory Fanfare (0:53)
2. Peter Gunn {Henry Mancini} (3:34)
3. Tiger In A Spotlight (4:09)
4. C'est La Vie (4:15)
5. Watching Over You (3:59)
6. Maple Leaf Rag {Scott Joplin} (1:14)
7. The Enemy God Dances With The Black Spirits (Excerpt from "The Scythian Suite" 2nd Movement) {Prokofiev} (2:47)
8. Fanfare For The Common Man {Aaron Copland, arranged by Emerson} (10:56)
9. Knife Edge {adapted from Janacek's "Sinfonietta" by Emerson/Lake/Fraser} (5:03)
10. Show Me The Way To Go Home {Irving King} (4:21)
Disc 2 (46:38)
1. Abaddon's Bolero (6:04)
2. Pictures At An Exhibition {Mussorgsky / Emerson / Lake / Palmer} (15:43)
3. Closer To Believing (5:29)
4. Piano Concerto No. 1 (Third Movement: Toccata Con Fuoco)(6:42)
5. Tank (12:38)

Total Time: 87:51

Line-up / Musicians

- Keith Emerson / keyboards
- Greg Lake / vocals, bass, guitar
- Carl Palmer / drums, percussion

- Diane Duguay, Jacques Lareau, Jeffrey Meyer, Claudette Roy, Yves Saint-Amant, Marjorie Sparks / singers
- Bruce Dukoff / concert master
- Godfrey Salmon / orchestra conductor

Releases information

Victory Music / PolyGram Records 484003-2; 1996 on Rhino {USA / Canada}

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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EMERSON LAKE & PALMER Works Live ratings distribution

(157 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(18%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(34%)
Good, but non-essential (38%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

EMERSON LAKE & PALMER Works Live reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by ZowieZiggy

ELP sets the table again. Not only did they release two disgusting studios albums (a double as well as a single one) around the theme "Works". They are striking again with this live album now. I usually do my reviews chronologically, but when I started with the infect "Works One" I could not believe what I heard so I went on with "Works Two" which was the same nightmare (but half in lenght, which shortened the supplice).

So, what to expect form this "Live" one ? Well, honestly nothing. Even if it starts like "Welcome Back My Friend" in terms of public announcement.

One of the only average moment will be "Peter Gunn". It was an unreleased TV theme song with a catchy beat. The least awful songs will be the Greg ones. At least we won't have to suffer the noisy band. But don't get me wrong. These acoustic and dull numbers are rather weak. If a song like "C'est La Vie" is the least boring number of a live ELP album, you can imagine how much the audience suffered.

Even the pompous & useless ELP pieces will not gain anything in this live rendition. The "Fanfare" stuff will remain as boring as the studio one. I really need a break now. This is too much crap in so short a time ! Time for dinner...

Welcome back from dinner my friends, I just hope that this show will shortly ends.

Nothing as boring numbers till what I had anticipated to be the only great moment of this live album.

But, unfortunately, ELP will also completely screwed a suite that I have loved since 1973. This rendition of "Pictures At An Exhibition" is extremely poor. Only Greg will save this track with his superb vocals. For the rest, it is as crappy as the other songs of this live album and ends up this awful "Trilogy" as it has been started.

And I can tell you, this part of the album is the least horrible one, so be prepared for the worst live ELP ever (but I guess you knew this beforehand already). I really wonder how the audience could clap in their hands after each song. They should have thrown anything possible to get the band back to their dressing room. At least we might have avoided to suffer such an experience !

ELP was a band that I have appreciated almost since their early days (I discovered them in 1971). This awful "Works" trilogy won't provide you with any good feeling about them. Boredom, boredom. All the way through.

Again (and you know that I do not usually criticized colleagues opinions) I can hardly understand that this "Works" can be rated with five stars as if it were a masterpiece. This whole is just of piece of S H I T ! (sorry to be that rude, it is not in my habit, just my honest opinion).

I just ask my fellow prog reviewer to vote real low for this work (although I fully understand that they are reluctant to do so). Seeing that it reached 3.76 (before my review) is simply unfair.

Review by ExittheLemming
3 stars Synchronised Drowning Becomes an Olympic Event

Although this suffers from the stigma of 'contractual obligation' album notoriety in most quarters, there is plenty on Works Live that is unjustly overlooked by many ELP aficionados and perhaps deserving of some re-appraisal. The album started life as a single only release called In Concert but was later expanded by the inclusion of more material from the Montreal Olympic Stadium concert with the hand picked (and ruinously expensive) ELP Orchestra. Keith Emerson has stated that the band did not consider this additional material to be of a sufficiently high sound quality to be included on the original record. He even just mailed the finished album to the record company on completion of his production duties, and this will give you some idea what sort of ebb ELP had sunk to at this time.

Their erstwhile paymasters, Atlantic Records, had no such qualms about these shortcomings and cobbled together this 'bigger/faster/brighter/louder/more expensive' version with which to empty our threadbare pockets and swell their already bulging coffers.

'Introductory Fanfare' - Rather a stilted and cheesy little curtain raiser penned by Palmer and Emerson to get us on our way which is pleasant enough until an MC who makes Ashley Holt seem comparatively 'urban' intones the 'ladies & gentlemen' tagline. Reach for the bucket....

'Peter Gunn' - ELP do a great job with Henry Mancini's 60's spy music which is all the more remarkable without the obligatory twangy electric guitar of the original. Keith's brass sounds are suitably tacky via the Yamaha GX1 and although hardly a grand musical opus, it is great fun and played with just the right amount of tongue in cheek bravura. For those of you with sufficiently strong stomachs, there is a 'dance/house' version of this track by someone/thing called 'Bassment Jaxx' which proves if nothing else, that even God has a slops tray.

'Tiger in a Spotlight' - A much leaner and earthier version of this tune which I much prefer to the rather boggy studio version that continually crops up on 'best of(s)' and compilations (Dunno?) Keith dials up a hybrid organ/piano timbre here on the GX1 which I have always loved to bits and the bass and drum dialogue between Lake and Palmer has a sinewy tautness that lends this simple shuffle blues a real excitement and energy. Both of Emerson's solos are a thrilling treat and display his continuing ability to assimilate the vocabulary and techniques of boogie piano into the electronic realm of rock.

'C'est la Vie' - I have never been a keen advocate of this gushingly wet Lake song but can report that this live rendition is at least a damn sight more robust that its studio equivalent on Works Volume 1. Keith displays his impressive versatility by playing a note perfect version of the session player's accordion solo (but No, he does not stab the squeezebox with knives in case you're wondering, or the author alas)

'Watching Over You' - This really should have been included on Greg's side of Works Vol 1 and although it's a very lightweight solo lullaby it still completely dwarfs most of the songs he did include on that record. Mr L was always at his most enjoyable when tackling simple acoustic songs like this.

'Maple Leaf Rag' - apart from the purpose of ingratiating themselves to a Canadian audience (Pourquoi?)

'The Enemy God Dances With The Black Spirits' - This is a sparkling little jewel in a rather sombre tiara, a band only version of the Orchestral adaptation of Prokofiev's music that appeared on Carl's slice of Works Vol 1. I certainly loved the latter but this is possibly even better and Emerson has done a fantastic job of arranging the very complex orchestral parts for just his two hands on Hammond and synth. There is some great playing by all the trio here on what is a fiendishly difficult piece to replicate. The organ sound throughout this album is mouth wateringly yummy and combines a real ballsy grunt with some crystalline detail.

'Fanfare for the Common Man' - This reeks of some clumsy tape splicing methinks, as there appears to be a very discernible tuning 'lurch' where one version mutates very clumsily into another. Given that the GX1 synth was an analogue creature prone to 'tuning drift' from temperature and humidity, there may have been instances when it suffered some 'excitable temperament' effects and you can hear evidence of this on this track. The playing as ever, is top notch and the inclusion of Freddie King's Hideaway during the lengthy synth improvisation is a nice touch. There are however, far superior versions of this live ELP staple available elsewhere. They end this Copland adaptation with some rather ragged quotations from the 2nd Movement of the composer's 3rd Symphony but didn't see fit to acknowledge same (maybe they baulked at paying out double royalties to an avowed left winger?)

'Knife Edge' - ELP's perennial warhorse pulls up lame here due in no small measure to Greg's impossibly tinny and twangy bass line on this track. Why you would embark on a tune that relies on a deep and guttural bass tone by instead employing the timbre of an eight string soprano ukulele is beyond me. What was Lake thinking about? Shame really as the remainder is very good and the inclusion of the orchestra on the Bach Italian Concerto quotation towards the end is very powerful and effective.

'Show Me The Way to Go Home' - Certainly a fitting standard to cover on ELP's swansong, this is again good fun and the live version is considerably more gutsy and rockier that that on Works Volume 2. As you would expect, they usually closed the shows with this one which makes the next track's running order all the more galling.....

'Abaddon's Bolero' - I think they usually opened with this on the concerts with the orchestra during that ill fated tour. Can't say that either of the orchestrated versions from Keith or ELP even come close to matching the brio and excitement of the Trilogy incarnation. Despite the multitude of gradually building layers of counterpoint (which Keith couldn't hope to replicate on his own), maybe this wasn't ever meant to be played by an orchestra in the first place? Keith listen, I know you're a stubborn bugger, but enough already. It ain't never gonna work....

'Pictures at an Exhibition' - Or 'Polaroids of Hemorrhoids' Comes across as a 7 course meal we are supposed to gulp down as if it were a microwaved TV dinner. Indigestion and/or diarrhea invariably result from such fast foods and there is audible and pungent evidence of this to suggest band and orchestra were embroiled in an indecent scramble to see who would get to the toilet first during this sprint through 'Pictures'. Once again we encounter Lake's wretched 6 string bass tone which makes his parts sound like they are being performed by George Formby via a small transistor radio. Imagine Shakespeare's 'Hamlet' played by Sylvester Stallone and condensed down to 'To be or what...?'

'Closer to Believing' - Similarly to C'est la Vie this is a much better version than that heard on Works Volume 1 and we do get to hear what is a very good song once the overwrought arrangement has been suitably deflated to illuminate some of the finer detail. I just wish that Lake had given us a band only version of this tune, as it certainly has a melodic strength to warrant a much more sympathetic and robust accompaniment without the sentimental treacle.

'Piano Concerto #1 3rd Movement' - A real highlight of the set where Emerson's piano and the orchestra lock horns in an unflinching battle to see who is the last man standing. Although all the orchestral players are amplified, it was done by fixing a specially designed pickup to the acoustic instruments that would preserve the rich sonic palette and subtle nuances of timbre obtained from these sources at the much higher volumes they needed to be heard along with the electronic band. The results here are very authentic indeed and this is perhaps one of the few instances where orchestral sources sound 'untarnished' by amplification. It's just a pity that they didn't include the 1st and 2nd movements also and dispensed with some of the weaker material on Works Live instead.

'Tank' - I know a lot of ELP fans who wax lyrical about this version of Tank but I can't say I share their unreserved passion for this rather perfunctory lope through an overripe chestnut. Again, this might be another instance of an Emerson composition that is insufficiently malleable to withstand being shoehorned into these jazzy slippers. (You shall NOT go to the ball)

What's remarkable about this audio recording is that the quality is a good as it is despite the misfortune that beset the FOH engineers just 15 minutes before showtime.. The second 24 track mixing desk dedicated to the orchestra went 'teats skyward' necessitating the 'stealing' of 4 channels from ELPs mixer run as two stereo pairs serving as the entire orchestral mix. The separation available for any of the individual sections was thus precisely zero.

Yep, it's very patchy with some really brilliant moments followed by large swathes of mediocrity and the odd lurking pile of poo. The track listing might lure some ELP newbies into buying this first, but they would be better to purchase either one of the many fine compilations that are around or start at the 1970 debut, reach Brain Salad Surgery then STOP. GO BACK. DETOUR AHEAD. GIVE WAY TO INFIRM DINOSAURS.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
2 stars If you really really like the Works albums, then I recommend that you buy this one, too. It's main reason for existence is for the live recorings of songs from those albums. For what that is worth.

This is an expanded version of the concert album lnown as In Concert. Here you get everything on that album, plus Watching Over You, Fanfare For The Common Man, Show Me The Way To Go Home, Abbadon's Bolero, Closer To Believing and Tank. The only tracks there worth owning are Fanfare, which features Emerson playing Bach's Toccata & Fugue In D Minor from the reverse side of his Hammond, and the new arrangement of Tank.

I suppose it's nice to actually hear Emerson Lake & Palmer play the songs that were released under their names, but played by the members individually. But otherwise it's a mostly lifeless set.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars Yeah, it actually works better live!

Works Vol. 1 is in my opinion the weakest of ELP's studio albums (yes, I prefer Love Beach and In The Hot Seat and even Works Vol. 2 over it!). The main problem with it is that it is wildly incoherent with each member having his own vinyl side and only one proper band side. It is really three half solo albums and one half ELP album masquerading as a double album. Works Vol. 2 is unsatisfactory in its own way by virtually being a compilation album of B-sides and tracks that didn't make it onto previous albums. The best songs from both Works albums could have made up one good single album, but it was a mistake to release three whole LP's (the double Vol. 1 followed by Works Vol. 2). This live album, featuring material primarily from the Works albums, has a much better flow than the Works studio albums. It must however be added that the absence of Pirates (by far the best track from Works Vol. 1) is a disappointment. (Though, thankfully, that very good number got a well deserved appearance on the band's next official live record Live At The Royal Albert Hall.)

Originally released in 1979 under the name In Concert, Works Live is the expanded CD reissue of that third official ELP live album. As I said, the set list features primarily songs taken from the Works albums and this period in the band's career was one of decline. While it is very clear that it is inferior to the previous live album Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends, I nonetheless find Works Live a decent live album in its own right that I generally prefer over both of the Works studio albums.

Discounting the brief Introductory Fanfare (which appears on both albums), In Concert featured seven tracks. Works Live is expanded with another seven tracks making the album into a double album. Peter Gunn, Tiger In A Spotlight, C'est La Vie, The Enemy God Dances With The Black Spirits, Knife Edge, Piano Concerto No. 1 (Third Movement: Toccata Con Fuoco), and Pictures At An Exhibition remain, with Watching Over You, Maple Leaf Rag, Fanfare For The Common Man, Show Me The Way To Go Home, Abaddon's Bolero, Closer To Believing, and Tank being added. Not all of these songs are strong additions, but overall it was a nice idea to expand the album making it truer to the actual show.

The band is supported here by a symphony orchestra emphasising the bombastic nature of the music. In general I find this unnecessary and it also ruined the band financially contributing to their breakup. While hardly their best live record, it is a worthy addition to an ELP collection.

Review by Guillermo
4 stars Maybe the hard work that ELP had between 1970 and 1974 was too much for them that they needed a rest. So, they took some rest between the last half of 1974 and 1976, before going to the recording studio to record their "Works 1" album. Maybe many fans were waiting for another album that could be as "energetic" as "Brain Salad Surgery" from 1973, or as their live album from 1974 titled "Welcome Back My Friends to the Show that Never Ends- Ladies and Gentlemen: ELP". I think that both albums represented in a way the peak of the band musically. By 1973-74 they had a lot of success. So, when "Works 1" was finally released in early 1977, many fans did not like it very much and became disappointed, because the band with that album (and also with "Works 2" which was released in late 1977) changed their energetic music for a much relaxed music very influenced by Classical Music and using an orchestra and a choir a lot. By 1978, with the release of their last studio album from the seventies titled "Love Beach" (which in fact was recorded and released only as a contractual obligation for their record labels) many fans could have been even more disappointed, because that album was more oriented to Pop Rock ballads with some references to their old Prog Rock style in a few songs. By 1979 ELP had split, but they still had another contractual obligation album to be released titled "In Concert", with most of it recorded at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal in August 1977, during their "Works Tour", and with the appearance of an orchestra and a choir in several songs. Again, many fans maybe were disappointed, because most of the material of that album reflected the music from their "Works" albums. I listened for the first time to the "In Concert" album in mid 1980, when I bought it, and I liked it.

Finally, in 1993 they released this live album titled "Works Live", which in fact is an expanded version of their "In Concert" album from 1979, with more songs recorded at their concert at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal in 26- August-77. Despite being a 2 CD set, this expanded version still has not the complete set list they played at that concert, and with the video from the same concert which was released in 2003 (titled "Works Orchestral Tour/Manticore Special", which has some other extra tracks which only were released in the video: "Karn Evil, 1st Impression, Part 2", "Pirates", "Nutrocker" and "Lucky Man", but has other songs previously released in "Works Live: "Abaddon's Bolero", "The Enemy God Dances With The Black Spirits", "Pictures At An Exhibition", "C'Est La Vie", "Piano Concerto No.1- 3rd Movement, Toccata Con Fuoco", and " Tank") maybe the fans could listen to the whole set list played by ELP at that concert. The sound of "Works Live" is better than the sound from the "In Concert" album, being remastered. The songs which were previously released in the "In Concert" album were: "Introductory Fanfare", "Peter Gunn", "Tiger in a Spotlight", "C`est La Vie", "The Enemy God Dances with the Black Spirits", "Knife Edge", "Piano Concerto No. 1 Third Movement: Toccata con Fuoco", and "Pictures at an Exhibition". The extra songs which were released in "Works Live" were: "Watching Over You", "Maple Leaf Rag", "Fanfare for the Common Man", "Show Me the Way to Go Home", "Abbadon`s Bolero", "Closer to Believing", and "Tank". "Peter Gunn" and "Tiger in a Spotlight" apparently were not recorded in Montreal (as i read in some websites), and I also could listen to several differences between the video version of "The Enemy God" (played with orchestra ) and the album version of the same song (played as a trio or mixed without the orchestral parts) so i think that the album version maybe was recorded at another show or was mixed without the orchestra.

Having liked the "In Concert" album from 1979, I really liked very much this "Works Liive" album. It really was a change, maybe too drastic, from the music they released in their previous live album titled "Welcome Back..." from 1974, "Works Live", in comparison, is a more relaxed album, with some ballads written and sung by Greg Lake and played with the orchestra, and with Keith Emerson playing "Maple Leaf Rag", or with the band playing "Show Me The Way To Go Home" in a Blues-Jazz musical style. The orchestra and the choir arrangements are very good but maybe also sometimes very relaxed in some parts, but they work very well particularly in "Pictures at an Exhibition", "Knife Edge", and "Piano Concerto". It doesn`t mean that the band has not some heavy moments in other songs, still playing with a lot of energy. But by 1977 the band changed, But I still like this "Works Live" album very much, an album which maybe shows the band playing in a more "matured" way, playing very well with and without the orchestra. This is maybe the best live album done with a Prog Rock band playing along with an orchestra and a choir. They sound very well rehearsed and integrated.

Latest members reviews

4 stars This was the 1977 tour that ELP had an orchestra accompanying them. While the Works material can't hold a candle to what was presented in Welcome Back My Friends in 1974, this is still a very good live album. The sound quality is great and so is the musicianship. This is an album that needs to ... (read more)

Report this review (#293529) | Posted by The Snowdog | Thursday, August 5, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This is definitely the essential ELP album, but it is quite good performance and the orchestra is included. It is worth a try although it is not a good place to start with ELP. If you want great live album from this group, try Welcome back my friends, Pictures at an exhibition or Live at Isle ... (read more)

Report this review (#99020) | Posted by Hejkal | Thursday, November 16, 2006 | Review Permanlink

2 stars The first LP I bought from ELP were BSS and I was stoned with It for, at least 8 months popping it like vitamins: twice a day minimum. So I tought they were genius playing and I then bought Works Vol. 1 and the deception was as deep as I was high before. What a piece of crap! and I remember thin ... (read more)

Report this review (#85501) | Posted by steelyhead | Wednesday, August 2, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This are a real good album maybe the best in the long history of ELP i think that album are a real essential masterpiece in our collection of progmusic i raly like this album. I hear thius album for first time in 2000 wen i was 11 yers old and in thattime i realy dont apreciate this album, but ... (read more)

Report this review (#80391) | Posted by yesctte | Monday, June 5, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is a great live set. Normaly, I dont get live albums because I dislike purchasing multiple renditions of the same song. This album features about 80% previously unreleased songs. Out of the two discs, only 4 songs were on studio albums. And these songs are redone with orchestral accompani ... (read more)

Report this review (#73208) | Posted by | Sunday, March 26, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars One of the best moments of ELP. Back then those three brave guys were onstage with a full orchestra and conductor. But old fans must be aware this is the old album "In Concert" plus some additional tracks (during the '90s ELP seemed to have had the following strategy: making as much money as possibl ... (read more)

Report this review (#14615) | Posted by | Monday, December 29, 2003 | Review Permanlink

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