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IN THE HOT SEAT

Emerson Lake & Palmer

Symphonic Prog


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Emerson Lake & Palmer In The Hot Seat album cover
1.79 | 435 ratings | 34 reviews | 4% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1994

Songs / Tracks Listing


1. Hand Of Truth (5:23)
2. Daddy (4:42)
3. One By One (5:08)
4. Heart On Ice (4:19)
5. Thin Line (4:46)
6. Man In The Long Black Coat {Bob Dylan, arranged by Emerson} (4:12)
7. Change (4:44)
8. Give Me A Reason To Stay {Steve Diamond / Sam Lorber} (4:15)
9. Gone Too Soon {Lake / Bill Wray / Keith Wechsler} (4:11)
10. Street War

Bonus track on Victory Music CD

11. Pictures At An Exhibition {Mussorgsky / Emerson / Lake / Palmer} (15:29)
- a) Promenade {Mussorgsky} (1:45)
- b) The Gnome {Mussorgsky / Palmer} (2:07)
- c) Promenade {Mussorgsky / Lake} (1:45)
- d) The Sage {Lake} (3:10)
- e) The Hut Of Baba Yaga {Mussorgsky} (1:15)
- f) The Great Gates Of Kiev {Mussorgsky / Lake} (5:23)

Total Time: 61:34

Bonus tracks on BMG 2CD edition (2017) Now Tour '97-'98

12. A Time And A Place
13. Piano Concert N?. 1: Third Movement: Toccata Con Fuoco

Disc 2:

1. From The Beginning
2. Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression Part 2
3. Tiger In A Spotlight
4. Hoedown
5. Touch And Go
6. Knife Edge
7. Bitches Crystal
8. Honky Tonk Train Blues
9. Take A Pebble
10. Lucky Man
11. Fanfare For The Common Man / Rondo
12. 21st Century Schizoid Man / America

Line-up / Musicians


- Greg Lake / vocals, bass, guitar
- Keith Emerson / keyboards, programming, arrangements (6)
- Carl Palmer / drums, percussion

With:
- Kristen Olsen / addit. vocals (2)
- Bill Wray / backing vocals
- Paula Mattioli / backing vocals
- Fred White / chorus vocals (11)
- Ricky Nelson / chorus vocals (11)
- Lynn B. Davis / chorus vocals (11)
- Linda McCrary / chorus vocals (11)
- Keith Wechsler / keyboards & drums programming
- Brian Foraker / keyboards programming
- Richard Baker / keyboards programming

Releases information


CD Victory Music - 828 554-2 (1994, Europe)
2CD BMG (2017)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to SouthSideoftheSky for the last updates
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EMERSON LAKE & PALMER In The Hot Seat ratings distribution


1.79
(435 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(4%)
4%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(4%)
4%
Good, but non-essential (17%)
17%
Collectors/fans only (33%)
33%
Poor. Only for completionists (42%)
42%

EMERSON LAKE & PALMER In The Hot Seat reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by 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.

Review by 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.
Review by 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'

Review by 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.

Review by 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

Review by 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.

Review by 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

Review by 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 ...

Review by progaardvark
COLLABORATOR Crossover/Symphonic Teams
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.

Review by 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!

Review by 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.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury 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.

Review by 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'.

Review by 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...

Review by 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.
Review by Guillermo
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I remember that in late 1995 I read in a Rock Magazine that Keith Emerson received surgery in one of his hands due to problems caused by carpal tunnel syndrome. Years later I also read that Carl Palmer also had similar problems with carpal tunnel syndrome. It seems that these health problems were in progress during the recording of this "In the Hot Seat" (1994) album, their second and last studio album which they recorded after the reunion of ELP in the early nineties. There also were some personal problems mainly between Emerson and Lake during the recording of this album, another album on which Lake didn't act as their producer. A thing that finally brought even more problems when the band was planning the recording of a new album in 1998, and which finally caused the split of the band again, with Lake wanting to be the producer of their albums again, a thing on which Emerson and Palmer didn't agree with Lake.

With this album being recorded under these circunstances, and with the record label wanting a more commercial album, maybe it reflected all these problems. New producer Keith Olsen also had some co-writing credits with the members on the band in some songs, and they also had some external co-writers for some songs. The sound of this album is even more Pop Rock in sound than their previous album ("Black Moon") in mid nineties terms. It's not a totally bad album, but the external influences over their music are more apparent, with it sounding mostly like a Pop Rock album from the nineties. Maybe this album in the end became another "contractual obligation album" for them, like their "Love Beach" album from 1978. Or it is even more related in some ways to "To the Power of Three" (1988) album from the band called 3 (from Emerson and Palmer with Robert Berry replacing Lake). Anyway, this "In the Hot Seat" album really shows a band doing their jobs the best they could under the previously mentioned circunstances to fill a recording contract. In particular, the song called "Give Me a Reason to Stay" is a song written only by external songwriters. It maybe was given to them by the producer and / or the record label to have a song to be played in the radio. Unfortunately It doesn't sound as ELP. So, maybe some of the bad criticism given in some reviews to this album is justified in some way by this song and by the musical content of the album as a whole. Even the inclusion as a CD Bonus Track of a studio recording of their arrangement to Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" musical piece didn't help the album to be a better album. Their live versions of this musical piece from the seventies are much better than this studio recording with new arrangements from the nineties.

Review by Mirakaze
COLLABORATOR Eclectic Prog Team
2 stars Yeah, this still isn't much better, unfortunately. Well okay, I should give it this much credit: It sounds like the boys at least tried to steer more away from the generic pop rock format and model most songs on here more after ELP's classic period, but... they're just not really that good at it anymore.

Alright alright, I'll give them a little more credit: unlike Black Moon, which was mostly consistent in its badness, I can point to at least three songs on this album that I can call relative successes, even though they by no means stand out in ELP's wider catalog. "Hand Of Truth" has an odd time signature, an interesting buildup towards the vocal part, and a really cool portamento-rich synth solo. Everything one would want! Well, almost. The chorus and the lyrics are pretty generic but still, this is a respectable effort. It can actually be called progressive rock. "One By One" is not quite as memorable for the most part but distinguishes itself at least somewhat through its menacing (by the standards of this album) coda. Finally, there's a haunting, gloomy cover of Bob Dylan's "Man In The Long Black Coat" which is quite atmospheric and would probably rank as my favourite track on here if it had been produced better (more on that later). It doesn't help either of course that Lake's voice is somehow slightly worse on this album than last time: throughout many tracks he sounds tired and hoarse, but my expectations were already lowered significantly after Black Moon so I can mostly forgive this.

What I cannot forgive however is that the production has gone completely down the drain. The production style on this album is so disgustingly 90s that it makes my skin itch. While it's especially noticeable on the ballads, pretty much all of the arrangements on this album, with their generic synth sound, dumb backing vocals and electronically processed guitars and drums, seem to draw influence from the worst of 90s electronica and adult contemporary, with the worst example being the sickeningly melodramatic "Daddy", which takes the top spot among the stinkers by considerable margin. Sounds like something Phil Collins might have produced on a really bad day after listening to too many Haddaway records in a row. To put out trash like that and call it Emerson, Lake & Palmer should be illegal. The band did try to add some diversity in the instrumentation, with the army of digital synthesizers being broken up occasionally by pianos and organs, but these somehow still sound fake, because there's too much reverb on them and they're covered in a slight layer of kitschy string synths. Everything just sounds a little too slick. The amount of drum machines gets on my nerves as well, but at least Carl Palmer had an excuse this time, as he was hindered by carpal tunnel syndrome during the recording sessions. But the worst part is just how damn quiet and scaled down everything sounds. The opening to "Hand Of Truth" for example, while solid from a compositional perspective, really just consists of high-register keys and some basic bass notes and ends up sounding quite flat. This is not a wall of sound: there's little of the meticulous overdubbing we saw on earlier releases, and the few melodic ornaments that do get sprinkled across certain tracks are not mixed very well. As a result, no track on here even manages to recreate the epic, bombastic feel that could be found on pretty much every other ELP record up until now.

There's really no other song on the album that I particularly want to listen to again. 'Rocking' tracks like "Gone Too Soon" are at least less lethargic than on the last album, but are still painfully forgettable and dull. Elsewhere you get dreck like "Give Me A Reason To Stay" and "Heart On Ice"; just some more fake-sentimental power pop/gospel stuff, something that was never ELP's forte and which they don't cover convincingly or interestingly on this album either.

What about Keith? Well, the aforementioned solo on "Hand Of Truth" is good, and he has another one on "Street War" which isn't quite as good, but still: can you believe it? Two whole solos! And it's a miracle that we even got that many out of him, because the poor guy was suffering from a severe case of RSI at the time (an ailment that would haunt him until death) and essentially had control over only one arm, meaning he was forced to overdub all the right-hand keyboard parts on this album with his left hand. With all of the boys clearly in poor health, it really makes one wonder why on earth they still decided to record this album at the time instead of waiting for a more opportune moment. Contractual obligation again, perhaps? Ah, well. In any case, it's no wonder really that Emerson, Lake & Palmer never made another album after this, and seeing how two of the band's namesakes are no longer among the living, it's fair to assume that no new ELP record will ever hit the stores again, unless Carl Palmer does a Pink Floyd and starts pumping out some 'from the vaults' release for a quick buck.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Two years after ELP's attempted comeback with "Black Moon", they try again with "In the Hot Seat". Their comeback didn't improve their status with old fans or with new ones, but at least on "Black Moon", their were a couple of slightly heavier tracks among the top 40 style pop songs they were trying to hang their new hat on regardless of their previous reputation of being one of the most talented bands out there. But, it was still a disappointment.

"in the Hot Seat" was the next album in line to be offered, but problems plagued the trio including things that affected their performance health wise and ego wise. This time around, any glimmers of hope would be totally extinguished as every one of the songs on this album were sub-par that even the pop world didn't have time to waste. Not too many old fans were impressed with this album either, and pretty much lost any faith that a even a decent album would come out of their later years.

"Hand of Truth" pretty much picks up where "Black Moon" left off, not that impressive. "Daddy" takes the album down another level with it's attempt at a tear jerker along the lines of "Cats in the Cradle" or something, and after that, the album spirals down the black hole of boredom. This album is always very difficult to get through because there is always that thought in the back of the listener's mind, "What happened to this band? Where did it all go wrong?"

This would end up being the last studio album the trio could do together, and that is the only saving grace here. It's hard to write a review as scathing as this about a group that was so influential, talented and imaginative as this one. It is also hard to say that this is all one can say about this album as none of the songs really stand out one from the other. The material was so bad, even their cover of Bob Dylan's "Man in the Long Black Coat" was shameful, that they would have been better off never attempting a comeback after the already disappointing "Love Beach". At least we now don't have to wonder if they would have been able to really return to the form of their earlier years.

Latest members reviews

1 stars The end. People who blather on about how Love Beach is the worst thing ELP recorded have clearly not heard this absolute monstrosity.Seriously- Love Beach is a Symphonic Prog masterpiece compared to In the Hot Seat.At least the earlier album had some decent playing and a great version of Cana ... (read more)

Report this review (#2695531) | Posted by Lupton | Saturday, February 26, 2022 | Review Permanlink

1 stars If there was a zero star rating , I would gladly utilize that. There is a time when bands should have the sense to hang it up. Why ELP persisted with this mess is beyond me. It's regrettable that this was ELP's last studio statement. Save for 'Hand of Truth'(which hints at the old vigor and p ... (read more)

Report this review (#2636720) | Posted by Roddyboy4270 | Thursday, November 25, 2021 | Review Permanlink

1 stars Absolute horrible, and it's sad to see this was the last album from a once great band. In The Hot Seat is the result of an already-tired band combined with awful restrictions for a radio-friendly album. This wasn't expected to be a success of course, since Yes and Genesis both faced a similar sit ... (read more)

Report this review (#2500564) | Posted by Isaac Peretz | Sunday, January 31, 2021 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#1172813) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Friday, May 9, 2014 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#1017270) | Posted by Vibrationbaby | Monday, August 12, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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 t ... (read more)

Report this review (#273561) | Posted by mohaveman | Monday, March 22, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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: Inju ... (read more)

Report this review (#265705) | Posted by ExittheLemming | Friday, February 12, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 unders ... (read more)

Report this review (#101027) | Posted by genie | Wednesday, November 29, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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 produc ... (read more)

Report this review (#97486) | Posted by endlessepic | Monday, November 6, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#53600) | Posted by El Morula | Thursday, October 27, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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. T ... (read more)

Report this review (#41360) | Posted by | Tuesday, August 2, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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, ... (read more)

Report this review (#40794) | Posted by | Friday, July 29, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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 dolb ... (read more)

Report this review (#14643) | Posted by | Sunday, April 17, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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 th ... (read more)

Report this review (#14641) | Posted by fairyliar | Wednesday, March 23, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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 albu ... (read more)

Report this review (#14637) | Posted by | Thursday, June 17, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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 th ... (read more)

Report this review (#14631) | Posted by | Monday, December 29, 2003 | Review Permanlink

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