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THE RETURN OF THE MANTICORE

Emerson Lake & Palmer

Symphonic Prog


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Emerson Lake & Palmer The Return Of The Manticore album cover
3.47 | 56 ratings | 13 reviews | 35% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Boxset/Compilation, released in 1993

Songs / Tracks Listing


Disc 1 (69:58)

1. Touch And Go (3:02)
2. Hang On To A Dream (4:28)
3. 21st Century Schizoid Man (3:08)
4. Fire (3:26)
5. Pictures At An Exhibition (15:35)
a) Promenade (1:46) b) The Gnome (2:07)
c) Promenade (1:44) d) The Sage (3:10)
e) The Hut Of Baba Yaga (1:16)
f) The Great Gates Of Kiev (5:30)
6. I Believe In Father Christmas (3:38)
7. Introductory Fanfare / Peter Gunn {Henry Mancini} (4:29)
8. Tiger In A Spotlight (4:26)
9. Toccata (7:22)
10. Trilogy (8:54)
11. Tank (6:50)
12. Lucky Man (4:38)

Disc 2 (75:39)

1. Tarkus (20:42)
a) Eruption (2:43) b) Stones Of Years (3:44)
c) Iconoclast (1:15) d) Mass (3:11) e) Manticore (1:52) f) Battlefield (3:51) g) Aquatarkus (3:59)
2. From The Beginning (4:16)
3. Take A Pebble (live version) (22:51)
4. Knife Edge (5:05)
5. Paper Blood (4:29)
6. Hoedown (Taken from Rodeo) (3:46)
7. Rondo {Brubeck} (14:28)

Disc 3 (74:02)

1. The Barbarian (4:29)
2. Still... You Turn Me On (2:56)
3. The Endless Enigma (10:41)
a) The Endless Enigma Part 1 (6:41) b) Fugue (1:56) c) The Endless Enigma Part 2 (2:00)
4. C'est La Vie (4:19)
5. The Enemy God Dances With The Black Spirit (3:24)
6. Bo Diddley (5:07)
7. Bitches Crystal (3:58)
8. A Time And A Place (3:00)
9. Living Sin (3:15)
10. Karn Evil 9 (29:41)
a) 1st Impression (13:23) b) 2nd Impression (7:07) c) 3rd Impression (9:07)
11. Honky Tonk Train Blues (3:10)

Disc 4 (75:24)

1. Jerusalem (2:45)
2. Fanfare For The Common Man (9:42)
3. Black Moon (6:59)
4. Watching Over You (3:55)
5. Piano Concerto No. 1 (Third Movement: Toccata Con Fuoco) (6:50)
6. For You (4:29)
7. Prelude And Fugue {Gulda} (3:17)
8. Memoirs Of An Officer And A Gentleman (20:16)
a) Prologue / The Education Of A Gentleman (5:34)
b) Love At First Sight (5:36) c) Letters From The Front (5:18) d) Honourable Company (A March) (3:46)
9. Pirates (13:22)
10. Affairs Of The Heart (3:47)

Total Time: 295:03

Lyrics

Search EMERSON LAKE & PALMER The Return Of The Manticore lyrics

Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians


- Keith Emerson / keyboards
- Greg Lake / vocals, acoustic & electric guitars, bass
- Carl Palmer / drums, percussion

Each CD have cover with only the logo of ELP in the center and with different color:
- The first one is orange-red, two: Black, Three: Green and four is Red.



Releases information

Victory Music / PolyGram Records 484004-2; re-released 1996 on Rhino {USA / Canada}

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to SouthSideoftheSky for the last updates
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EMERSON LAKE & PALMER The Return Of The Manticore ratings distribution


3.47
(56 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(35%)
35%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
42%
Good, but non-essential (18%)
18%
Collectors/fans only (2%)
2%
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)
4%

EMERSON LAKE & PALMER The Return Of The Manticore reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars A box of delights

A superb 4 CD collection of ELP tracks spanning their entire career up tot he point of release. This box set is a good mix of obvious tracks, plus a creditable number usually omitted from other ELP compilations.

Disc one opens with re-workings of tracks from the band members individual pasts, such as "21st century schizoid man" (Lake), "Rondo" (Emerson), and "Fire" (Palmer). Other than providing historical references, these tracks don't really add to or improve upon the originals, not does the reworking of Emerson Lake and Powell's "Touch and Go."

The studio version of a shortened "Pictures at an exhibition" (which also appears on "In the hot seat"), is however excellent.

If you're looking for a quick way to investigate the music of ELP and happen to spot this set at a reasonable price, this is well worth the investment. The downside is that you will probably end up buying the original albums anyway!

As is customary with box sets of this nature, the package contains a well presented book, with track details and a band history.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#14622) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, March 04, 2004

Review by loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Four Solid packed CD's featuring the greatest moments from EMERSON LAKE & PALMER. This 4 CD set explores in depth "Brain Salad Surgery", "Trilogy", "Works Live" (Vol 1 & 2), "Tarkus", ELP, "Love Beach" & even "Black Moon". Along the way we are also treated to some great new recordings by ELP such as the new version of "Pictures At An Exhibition" and "21st Century Schizoid Man". This 4 CD set does a great job in covering the best years of ELP and is a great retro-spective on their musical contributions. I am not really a big fan of the box sets to be honest and generally prefer the individual albums, but "Return Of The Manticore" does such a great job that it works very well for me. A great collection and coverage.

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Send comments to loserboy (BETA) | Report this review (#14623) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, March 15, 2004

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars When this box set was released I worked for a modest salary, and paying US$85.00 for this compilation was the difference between paying all my bills or being forced to avoid some superfluous expenses as the telephone bill (which I didn't payed that month), but I never regretted the decision of buying "The Return of the Manticore".

A good box set must have the best possible versions of their classics, some great Live tracks, a couple of rarities, a couple of covers from other bands and previously unreleased versions of their best tracks; The Return of the Manticore" has all of them, IMHO one of the best box sets ever released.

Disk One:

Starts with the average Touch and Go (from "Emerson Lake and Powell") but is followed by three excellent cover tracks from the ELP pre-history, Hang on to a Dream by "The Nice" with Emerson, 21st Century Schizoid Man by "King Crimson" with Lake and Fire by the legendary "Arthur Brown" with Carl Palmer, it's important to mention that one ELP member played in the original release of each track.

The cover versions are excellent but the most important track in this disk is the first 100% studio version of Pictures at an Exhibition which is enhanced by the new technology available in the 90's and the chance to record the track "in a controlled situation" (as Carl Palmer says), great track.

Strictly speaking every track up to this point is a cover including Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgsky, so their own material starts with "I Believe in Father Christmas" which is probably the highlight of the weak "Works II", and in this album sounds even better with the support of a Gospel choir.

The last tracks of Disk One are Introductory Fanfare/Peter Gunn from "Works Live", Tiger in a Spotlight from "Works II" plus the always classics Toccata, Trilogy, Tank and Lucky Man all versions recorded from their original albums. This Disk deserves 5 stars, but we have to rate all the Box Set.

Disk Two:

Starts with the excellent 20 minutes Epic Tarkus and From The Beginning, two tracks that must be present in every ELP compilation.

If there is a Live version that had to be included is "Take a Pebble" from the triple album "Welcome Back My Friends ." which also features an acoustic version of Lucky Man (with the famous "be crazy" shout by a fan) and Piano Improvisations including Gulda's Fugue and Joe Sullivan's Little Rock Getaway one of the best medleys I ever heard in my life, Keith is magical with the piano, Greg with his powerful voice and Carl precise as always.

The disk continues with Knife Edge (Adapted from Janacek's Sinfonietta) an excellent track from their debut album, a strong song that works excellent after the softer medley and isn't affected by the weak Paper Blood from "Black Moon" that follows.

The Album ends with the well known Hoedown and a previously unreleased cover of Rondo by "The Nice", can't believe they never included this track before, it's simply frantic and brilliant.

Another 5 stars disk, but still have to wait for the other two.

Disk Three:

There's nothing to say about The Barbarian, Still You Turn Me On, The Endless Enigma, A Time and a Place, Bitches Crystal, Living Sin, and their greatest achievement Karn Evil 9 (the three impressions together as they should have been recorded in "Brain Salad Surgery") because all are well known tracks and most of them masterpieces.

But not everything is good in this disk Ces't La Vie is a weak ballad from "Works I", the previously unreleased Bo Diddley is a filler and Honky Tonk Train Blues not bad neither great, just an average song.

I have a special weakness for The Enemy God Dances with the Black Spirits, an excellent Carl Palmer adaptation from The Scythian Suite by Serge Prokofiev, one of the best songs from "Works I", strong and ultra complex, captures the essence of the early Modern Classical era.

This album IMHO deserves only 4 stars because of the bad balance between masterpieces and boring ballads.

Disk 4:

The weakest disk from the set, even when it starts very strong with Jerusalem, another masterpiece from "Brain Salad Surgery".

Fanfare for the Common Man is probably one of the most controversial songs from the ELP catalogue, some fans define it as a masterpiece others as pompous crap, I wouldn't go to extremes, IMO is a good adaptation of Aaron Copland done 5 years before by Styx (just a curiosity).

Black Moon seems strong but lacks of direction, an uneven track from a good album released when ELP's peak of creativity was already in the past. The next song Watching Over You, is a cute ballad but nothing else.

The turn comes for Piano Concerto N 1 (Third Movement Toccata con Fuoco), even the name is pompous, not what a real fan can expect from a talented keyboardist and composer as Keith Emerson, various influences, complex changes but completely lacks of head and feet.

The real problems start at this point, For You is a horrible track from a horrible album like Love Beach as bad as the pompous but infamous Memoirs from a Officer and a Gentleman. ELP detractors, the fans and even the members of the band know that Love Beach was a mistake, why don't they bury this album and forget everything about it?

There are three tracks left to comment, the previously unreleased Prelude and Fugue (adapted from Gulda) which sounds excellent being between the two Love Beach tracks, Pirates, a great and emotive song probably too long and Affairs from the Heart, a good ballad from Black Moon with a nice piano section, good closer.

My rating for this Disk is three stars.

Could "The Return of the Manticore" have been better? I believe the answer is yes, they have enough great studio and live material to replace the few weak tracks, specially those from Works II (Except I Believe in Father Christmas) and the two from Love Beach.

But nothing is perfect in this life and our favorite bands are not the exception, a great box set that every ELP fan must own. Solid 4 stars.

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Send comments to Ivan_Melgar_M (BETA) | Report this review (#14624) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Review by Slartibartfast
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars ELP have been real slackers about remastering their best albums and have instead made a really bad habit doing compilations that include their crappier stuff mixed in with their classic stuff instead. I'm not entirely sure why, maybe the record company is to blame.

This four disc set does have the advantage of being released in 1993, so it has more of their best stuff from the '70's and less of the material from their drift into the commercial music area.

It gets off to a fairly bad start with Touch and Go in a new recording (why? god why?). Hang on to a Dream, is of course a Nice song, and a good version, and starts to make up for the first one. I could do without the remake of 21st Century Schizoid Man, but it still beats TaG. Next comes a nice version of Fire, which was a song from The Crazy World of Arthur Brown album. It's here because Carl Palmer toured with Arthur Brown's band in their heyday. A new version of ELP's version of Mussorgsky's Pictures At An Exhibition follows, which is the highlight of the entire collection. The last new recording is I Believe In Father Christmas, which is as unremarkable as the first track, but hey, if you need something kind of progressive to play during that season, why not?

The rest of the set is a really nice collection of the best of ELP from a progressive standpoint, which altogether spans four CDs. It has a nice box and booklet and is out of print, probably permanently. They should re-release the new recordings from it though.

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Posted Thursday, June 07, 2007

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars ELP released a great compilation in 1992. A two CD set called "The Atlantic Years" and featuring most of their legendary tracks. So, what's the heck of putting this one on the market ?

Some historical tracks are interesting : the covers from their previous respective bands. Although I didn't know "Hang On To A Dream" from "The Nice" (Keith's previous band), this is a very good song. I have to say that the version of "Schizoid" is average. A full keyboards oriented version. It's a bit a pity that it only lasts for about three minutes though. Drumming are not so wild than Bruford's ones The beat being less rhythmy, heavier. I guess that KC purists won't find this one very interesting.

My fave of these is "Fire". Of course, it reminds me my youth... I remember the special video clip released for the TV promotion. A "crazy" moment (but with Arthur Brown would you really imagine something normal ?).

But frankly, even if it is nice to listen to these versions, one can hardly say that they are essential. As the syrupous and edulcorate studio version for "Pictures...". It was already available on the disgusting "In The Hot Seat". I prefer the shortened version available on "The Atlantic Years". But again, this song reminds me too many souvenirs while I was thirteen. It was the first ELP album I purchased and I am always keener in listening to the live original version than to anything else.

The real problem with this four CD compilation, is that too many poor to average tracks are featured. "I Believe In Father Christmas" starts the long, very long list of those. If you have read my individual review for the sh..y "Works" (whatever version), it is obvious that none of "Peter Gunn", "Tiger...", "The Enemy God Dances", "Honky Tonk Train Blues", or " Piano Concerto" are not appreciated at all. Since "Pirates" was not as weak as the rest, it is bearable to have it featured on this compilation work.

To feature "Bo Diddley", "Bitches Crystal" (on the B-side of "Tarkus" - I guess that you know what it means), " Affairs Of The Heart", or "Black Moon" was probably not the best idea either.

Of course, there are memorable moments as well, but most of them were them were featured on "Atlantic". "Tarkus" the greatest, as well as "Karn Evil 9" the great. The more discutable "Memoirs Of An Officer And A Gentleman" is also featured which means that their four epics (even if "Pictures" has been emasculated) are sitting here.

Still my recommendation is to stick to the great "Atlantic Years" compilation. This one holds too many fillers. Three stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#135699) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, September 01, 2007

Review by Garion81
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Others have written a disk by disk breakdown on this so I will just offer a few things about the set. It contains most of what is great about ELP without having to buy all the CDS. The bonus tracks include a re- recording of the EL Powell song Touch and Go with Carl taking on the drums. A new recording of a song from each of the groups roots including The Nice, King Crimson and The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. Also included is a 15 minute surround sound version of Pictures at An Exhibition with the London Symphony Orchestra. Of these the latter is really good and the surround sound is stellar, the others are novelties for the most part. It is amusing to hear Greg Lake singing Fire though. The box set contains a very nice booklet and it is well designed.

As I stated earlier it would be a very good introduction to ELP if you have the money and don't want to purchase all the CDs. If you already have all the CDs and are a fan of the band then you might want it for the bonus tracks and the booklet. All in all a pretty good collection. 3 stars

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Posted Thursday, May 15, 2008

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
4 stars This collection is not bad for a career retrospective boxed set. And at least it came out before the atrocious In The Hot Seat. This set contains just about every sing I would have used, and a few that I suppose they had to include. The only real fault is the lack of good unreleased tracks.

The first disk begins with a new recording of Touch And Go, the single from the Emerson Lake & Powell album. The next three tracks are ELP playing a song from each member's previous band, The Nice, King Crimson and Atomic Rooster. These songs are okay, but it's very disappointing that they chose to not play the amazing instrumental section of 21st Century Schizoid Man.

The remixes on this collection sound great. And I like that they chose to include multipart epics like Tarkus and Karn Evil 9 as single tracks, making them easier to play in entirety on my MP3 player.

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Posted Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Review by Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The other night I happened to catch a broadcast of Emerson, Lake and Palmer's 40th anniversary reunion concert filmed in 2011 and was so delighted to hear how good this trio still is I decided to finally review their retrospective behemoth, "The Return of the Manticore." I'd been putting it off for years because such an endeavor is daunting to a lazy-boned mammal like me but, being inspired by the vitality they displayed in that show, I decided it was high time to get to it. Most likely due to the 90s being the final decade of the 20th century, almost every band and/or artist that had made even a small ripple in rock music history emptied their vaults and put out elaborately-packaged, steeply-priced box sets of their careers. If you had a fanatic in your family and extra lettuce on hand, birthday and Christmas presents could be covered by gifting them with one or more of these collections and the demand for them seemed to be endless. In fall of '93, just in time for the holidays, ELP released this comprehensive overview of their collaborations and it's one of the better ones you'll come across. To keep this essay from becoming a weighty tome that would be a chore to peruse I propose this. If a given song is described in a posted review of mine (all of the initial six LPs) I'll offer only a one-sentence summary. That way if you're interested in a more wordy dissection of the tune you'll have that option and I will thus avoid the bane of all writers, redundancy. Keep in mind that there are four full CDs here. I didn't say it wouldn't be lengthy but this ploy should keep it reasonable and, hopefully, entertaining.

For the dedicated follower of Keith, Greg and Carl Disc 1 has more "new stuff" than the other three. Ironically, they open with a fresh rendition of "Touch and Go," a song penned by Emerson and Lake but hails from the largely-ignored "Emerson, Lake and Powell" album in '86. I, along with billions of others, didn't buy that record but it's a well-written, melodic rocker with Palmer improving it via a stronger rhythm track so I'm glad it got a second chance to be heard. Its spirit harkens back to their early days and sports a concise, to-the-point arrangement. To market extravaganzas like these those involved would try to toss their devotees a bone or two. ELP's clever idea was to resurrect cuts from each of the 60s outfits they'd been with prior to forming their supergroup and give them an update. Therefore you get a cover of a Tim Hardin tune, "Hang on to a Dream." Once recorded by The Nice, it's a beautiful number with a great depth of field surrounding it. Greg's voice has matured and deepened but it still packs a wallop of emotion. That song fares well but the following two don't. Lake was a huge part of King Crimson's fabulous debut but "21st Century Schizoid Man" was never meant to be a three-minute ditty. What you'll find here is a Karaoke-worthy recap of a prog icon that's been over-sanitized and cruelly gutted of the indomitable power the original owned, helping that band shake the planet in '69. To a lesser extent, their cover of "Fire" (Carl played with The Crazy World of Arthur Brown) is also anemic. The tune isn't held in the same esteem as the one that preceded it but that doesn't excuse them for removing all the heat from it. I can't help but be embarrassed for Lake as he tries to make his voice sound evil and maniacal here. He no longer has it in him.

A brand new studio recording of "Pictures at an Exhibition" ensues and it's a treat. They pared the Mussorgsky epic down to under 16 minutes while Keith utilized the vast improvements in keyboard technology to pump fresh blood into the piece. I have no doubt that many purists will swear by the '71 version but I find this presentation makes up for a lot of the excesses that characterized the original live taping while retaining all of the best parts, especially the final movement, "The Great Gates of Kiev." In stark contrast, they next offer up a new rendition of Greg's only solo hit from '74, "I Believe in Father Christmas." It's a nicely-textured update that includes a chorale but it doesn't add much to his charming ode to crass commercialism. "Introductory Fanfare/Peter Gunn" from the '79 "ELP in Concert" album showcases their raw energy and undeniable spunk. Emerson in particular takes the number to places that composer Henry Mancini never dreamed it would go. I'd never heard "Tiger in a Spotlight" from "Works Vol. II" (I'd disowned them after wasting hard-earned money on "Works Vol. I") and I still wish I'd never heard it. It's the turd in the punchbowl and it reminds me of how they completely lost their mojo after "Brain Salad Surgery." Speaking of that landmark LP, "Toccata" follows. It's a very good arrangement of Ginastera's abstract Piano Concerto but Palmer's drum solo and Emerson's noisy synth-noodling mar it ever so slightly. The brilliant "Trilogy" from the album of the same name is next and all I can say is that when ELP delivered masterpieces like this one no one could top them. "Tank," from their stunning debut, was the least remarkable number on that disc due to Carl's unnecessary solo but Keith's clavinet and Moog work intrigue to this day. They wisely conclude with "Lucky Man." This simple tune is significant in prog history because it brought the misunderstood synthesizer center stage and gave the trio instant credibility.

Disc 2 begins with the greatness that is "Tarkus," one of the most concise and complex progressive rock suites ever produced. Next is "From the Beginning," one of the more unusual Top 40 singles but also one that wouldn't be denied due to Lake's irresistible voice. A live performance of "Take a Pebble," culled from the "Welcome Back My Friends..." set provides a flashback to when these guys were unstoppable. Emerson in particular astounds on the piano but the injection of a stripped-down run-through of "Lucky Man" must've been a disappointment to many in the crowd who craved to hear that "weird thing" at the end but methinks they had nowhere else to stick their obligatory hit. The main number's heavy jazz element probably bored many in attendance but it surely astounded those who were listening. "Knife Edge" from the first record utterly satisfied the rock monster living in my soul at the time and the meltdown ending is still orgasmic. "Paper Blood," a cut on 92's "Black Moon," is an edgy rocker in which Emerson's Hammond and Lake's harp make a good pair and it's reassuring to hear that they still harbor a raucous attitude when called for. Their impeccable rendition of Aaron Copland's "Hoedown" that appeared on "Trilogy" follows and it goes without saying that Keith's proficient work on the mighty B3 does the great composer's spirited piece full justice. I'd looked forward to having a copy of their unreleased interpretation of Dave Brubeck's "Rondo" but it fails to thrill. Their wild opening leads to a "normalized" time signature foundation rocking under the central theme that drains it of its magic. It turns out to be an organ-led melee/noise fest that bores me to tears. 'Tis a pity.

Disc 3 starts off with "The Barbarian," the 1st cut on the first LP that not only served as an eye-opening intro to ELP but, thanks to the tune's fine piano interlude, announced to us all that we were in the presence of keyboard deity. "Still... You Turn Me On" was the predictable follow-up to their previous radio hit that's dated mostly by Greg's wah-wah guitar work but has managed to keep its peculiar charm intact over the decades. What can I say about "The Endless Enigma" from the outstanding "Trilogy" album? Simply put, it's a marvelous piece of symphonic prog that will never grow old. They then bring the listener back to earth with "C'est La Vie," Lake's overproduced dollop of commercial pop from "Works Vol. I," and then Palmer's "The Enemy God Dances with the Black Spirits" from the same record that only proves Carl could play a marching cadence. The previously unreleased, group-written "Bo Diddley" is next and it's a welcome surprise in that it has a lot of proggy meat on its bones. They give it a tight, imaginative arrangement and Greg's aggressive guitar playing is a plus. "Bitches Crystal" from "Tarkus" is an excellent inclusion because it's a jazzy, piano-heavy stunner containing a passionate, almost furious vocal. "A Time and a Place," also from that album, is a typical ELP tour-de-force that takes no prisoners. "Living Sin," found on the "Trilogy" release is an ordinary rocker and the only so-so track on that exemplary record. The famous "Karn Evil 9" from "BSS" is their most adventurous epic with Impressions 1 & 2 being the most spectacular, leaving the third one to frantically run to keep up. The closer is "Honky Tonk Train Blues" from "Works Vol. II," a boogie-woogie ditty that has a pulse and some punchy synth horns but still seems uninspired and dull.

Disc 4 begins with the majestic "Jerusalem" from "BSS," an awesome rendering of that revered hymn that sounds like something they might've penned themselves. Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man," one of the few bright spots on "Works Vol. I," rocks hard. The title cut of "Black Moon" projects a familiar beat that gives a respectful nod to Queen's universal anthem. However, it's the Genesis-like grandeur enveloping the song that's most appealing even though it's not terribly original. By the early 90s ELP had become followers, not leaders, but that was an affliction that infected many of the former giants of prog so don't judge harshly. "Watching Over You" is lifted from "Works Vol. 2" and, while unremarkable, ain't half bad. It's a sweet, acoustic guitar-based lullaby that doesn't offend. The 3rd movement, "Toccata Con Fucco," of Emerson's "Piano Concerto #1" on "Works Vol. I" is next. His ambitious but flawed classical foray was the high water mark of that album but realistically it would only earn him a C+ in a Composition 101 course. "For You" is only one of two entries from their dubious "Love Beach" fiasco and they could've left it out as far as I'm concerned. It's an under-produced, iron-deficient power ballad that lacks guts. The previously unreleased "Prelude and Fugue" by Gulda is a gem, though. Keith dazzles on this short but complicated solo piano piece, displaying an incredible range of ability. The second contribution from "Love Beach" is their long-winded, four-part "Memoirs of an Officer and a Gentleman." Section A starts out gallantly atop a stately structure but suffers greatly from its unpolished feel. The piano-heavy Section B is quite flowery and even interesting at times but when Carl's drums intrude all panache evacuates the building. Section C is an involved instrumental that's almost intriguing but Greg's singing comes off forced and unnatural. Section D offers no climax, just more of the number's inherently weak musical premise. The pompous "Pirates" from "Works Vol. 1" is, hopefully, an unintended self-parody and a laughable mess that confirmed to me they'd flown south. Thank heavens they end on a positive note. Lake's "Affairs of the Heart" from "Black Moon" shows that he's still capable of writing and singing decent folk-influenced songs because this is no disgrace. Emerson fills out the spaces with classy symphonic flourishes that satisfy.

So there you have it. "Return of the Manticore" has enough of the ELP splendor to make it worth having in your collection. I'm more in favor of anyone new to their music getting copies of their first five albums than relying on an uneven box set to educate one's mind about their progressive rock prowess but if you're an ELP aficionado and you should come across this compilation in a used CD bin somewhere it will be a wise investment that you won't regret shelling out a few bucks for. 3.5 stars.

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Send comments to Chicapah (BETA) | Report this review (#832124) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
2 stars Prelude and Fugue

The Return Of The Manticore is a four disc boxed set celebrating the career of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Personally, I dislike this sort of retrospective collection with a few previously unreleased tracks added because it aims to please both the devoted fan and the absolute beginner at the same time, which is something that simply cannot be done. The fan who invests in this set is thereby forced to pay for lots of material that he already has, and the beginner looking for an introduction to the band will get some tracks that are really only of interest to fans. Of course, I belong to the latter and I do indeed find some interesting tracks here that are not available elsewhere.

The most interesting part of this four disc set is clearly the first half of the first disc which features a number of tracks that are unique to this collection. The first disc opens with some re-recorded versions of songs that were originally recorded by The Nice (Keith Emerson's pre-ELP band), King Crimson (Greg Lake's pre-ELP band), The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown (one of Carl Palmer's pre-ELP bands), and Emerson Lake & Powell (the 80's version of ELP in which Palmer was replaced by Cozy Powell). Some of these songs were milestones in the history of progressive Rock and all of these re-recorded versions are good and very interesting for fans of ELP and the other bands in which Keith, Greg, and Carl were involved. (There is also, at the end of disc two, a previously unreleased live recording of Rondo which also used to be performed by The Nice.)

Next up is a 15 minute studio version of Pictures At An Exhibition which I think is the ultimate version of this suite. Based on original music by Classical composer Mussorgsky, ELP's take on it was first recorded live in the early 70's and released as the band's first live album. For this collection the band recorded the piece for the first time in the studio and this studio version outshines the original live version in my opinion. This is an excellent track and the highlight of this collection, yet its presence here does not make this box set essential because the same studio version of Pictures At An Exhibition has subsequently been made available as a bonus track on both the studio album In The Hot Seat and on the remastered CD version of the original 1972 live album. These later albums are both easier to find and cheaper than The Return Of The Manticore set.

I Believe In Father Christmas is featured here in a re-recorded version which is fairly good but hardly essential. Bo Diddley and Prelude and Fugue are previously unreleased instrumentals that will be of interest primarily to fans. Everything else here is the album versions that you will already have if you have the band's regular studio and live albums making this box set mainly a collectors item with a few interesting gems for the fan.

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#1152296) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, March 22, 2014

Latest members reviews

3 stars I don't like much compilation or boxsets, but this one is really interesting. The Return of the Manticore compiles maybe the best compositions of ELP in four CD's (beautiful pack anyway) which turns into a nice journey through ELP's career. Maybe good for fans who are recently entering into ELP' ... (read more)

Report this review (#143206) | Posted by progadicto | Tuesday, October 09, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is what you get when you jam pack 4 cds with the career of Emerson, Lake and Palmer. In Return of the Manticore, you get four cds spanning the recording career of Emerson, Lake and Palmer from their debut up to when this set was released in the 90's. The first cd has some excellent rewo ... (read more)

Report this review (#139880) | Posted by Tarkus31 | Saturday, September 22, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars A perfunctory best-of set, which outside of the first 5 tracks just rehashes previous material. It's too bad Yes and ELP's box sets can't follow the lead of The Who's "Maximum R&B" box set, which has a plethora of unreleased live versions, B-sides and radio snippets to complement the original alb ... (read more)

Report this review (#40796) | Posted by | Friday, July 29, 2005 | Review Permanlink

1 stars Truly a disrespect with old fans. Collectors were obliged to buy this 4 Cd set to have only a few new tracks. As I said in another review, ELP during the '90s re-released a lot of the old material always inserting one or two (or sometimes more) new releases per CD. Hence, the most loyal fans were ma ... (read more)

Report this review (#14621) | Posted by | Monday, December 29, 2003 | Review Permanlink

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