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Emerson Lake & Palmer

Symphonic Prog

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Emerson Lake & Palmer Live in California 1974 album cover
1.40 | 6 ratings | 1 reviews | 17% 5 stars

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Live, released in 2012

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Toccata (3:45)
2. Still...You Turn Me On (3:06)
3. Lucky Man (2:54)
4. Piano Improvisations (9:48)
5. Take a Pebble (2:39)
6. Karn Evil 9, First Impression, Part 2 (9:21)
7. Karn Evil 9, Third Impression (9:58)
8. Pictures at an Exhibition (10:29)

Total Time 52:00

Line-up / Musicians

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

Releases information

Shout! Factory CD 826663-13578
Recorded outdoors at the Ontario Motor Speedway, Ontario, CA
April 6, 1974 (California Jam)

Thanks to Neu!mann for the addition
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EMERSON LAKE & PALMER Live in California 1974 ratings distribution

(6 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(17%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(0%)
Good, but non-essential (50%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (33%)

EMERSON LAKE & PALMER Live in California 1974 reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Neu!mann
1 stars Another archival concert from the Shout! Factory vaults, this one documenting ELP's now legendary appearance at the Cal Jam festival in April, 1974. The performance has long been a favorite of bootleggers, but this official release needs a caveat: it's the same incomplete recording available elsewhere, apparently representing all the surviving audio tracks from the original ABC-TV broadcast.

Clearly this particular show left a strong impression, not least on the trio itself. "The event was of biblical proportions," said Greg Lake, who called it his favorite gig, "...if my life depended on it and I were given no other choice than to select one show as being 'it'. And here's Carl Palmer, likewise quoted in the skimpy CD booklet (and conveniently forgetting the 1970 Isle of Wight spectacle): "The scale of the festival was the biggest we had ever played..."

Maybe so, but you'd never know it from this pitifully butchered facsimile. The CD actually opens well down the setlist, in the middle of "Toccata", which cuts before the ending to Greg Lake singing "Still...You Turn Me On", likewise already in progress. "Lucky Man" (the only truly complete song on the disc) then segues awkwardly into Keith Emerson's "Piano Improvisations" from the extended "Take a Pebble" medley, omitting entirely the opening song.

The epic "Karn Evil 9" suffers more damage, beginning on Part Two of the First Impression and skipping the Second Impression altogether. Even Carl Palmer's drum solo sounds truncated; surely the real thing was longer a mere five minutes?

The Cal Jam concert was staged less than two months after the Anaheim show where the "Welcome Back My Friends" live package was recorded, and presumably included the same material. ELP were the headliners that day, and at least one attendee remembers their set being "at least two hours long", a far cry from the skeletal 52-minute abridgement here.

Even worse: the same tapes were already released as part of the 1998 "Then and Now" compilation. The only change is the inclusion of the "Pictures at an Exhibition" encore, a dynamic rendition but again only an excerpt.

The sound quality is acceptable; the performances are superb: this was ELP at its creative and commercial peak. But the strictly piecemeal arrangement of musical fragments does nothing to validate the claim made by, among others, biographer Edward Macan (in his book "Endless Enigma"), that it "just may be the crowning performance of their career".

I guess you had to have been there.

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