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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970 CD (album) cover


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

3.44 | 77 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review Nš 200

'Live At The lsle Of Wight Festival 1970' is the seventh live album of Emerson, Lake & Palmer and was released in 1998. The line up on the album is Keith Emerson, Greg Lake and Karl Palmer, as usual.

Emerson, Lake & Palmer was the first super group in the prog rock history. Few groups can look back to a single point in time where they leapt from relative obscurity to fame, announcing the arrival of a new and utterly distinctive sound. Keyboardist Emerson had attracted attention for his staggering technique and theatrical pyrotechnics in the group The Nice. Bassist and vocalist Lake found himself the centre of acclaim with King Crimson's 'In The Court Of the Crimson King'. Palmer had brushed success as drummer with The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown and with Atomic Rooster.

It was in the beginning of their career they were invited to participate in the Isle Of Wight Festival that would become known as the English Woodstock. It lasted five days. Beyond Emerson, Lake & Palmer, also took part on it, names such as Chicago, Procol Harum, The Doors, The Who, Ten Years After, Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix, Joan Baez, Donovan, Leonard Cohen, Moody Blues, and Jethro Tull. Despite it has been recorded in 1970 it was only released twenty eight years later, in 1998. Their debut studio album was also released in the same year but only few months later.

The Festival was almost the beginning of their life because it was only their second live show. They appeared six days earlier in Plymouth. The band hadn't yet released any studio album and they didn't have an extensive catalogue to select for the show. So, nothing could have prepared them for the response for their first live performances. With this release of 1998, fans of the band can finally listening and see, if you bought the DVD, the short sets significance.That festival also marked the last UK appearance of Jimi Hendrix. It seemed that he was tired of his band and wanting to try different ideas and have expressed interest in playing with them. For conflicts in schedules of the musicians that wasn't possible, but the plan was to unite Hendrix with the group, later. Unfortunately, three weeks later he was dead. That fact put a definitive end to the hypothesis of Jimi joined the group and become Hendrix, Emerson, Lake & Palmer (HELP).

Emerson, Lake & Palmer played on Saturday night, between Ten Years After and The Doors. The band opened the show with 'The Barbarian' without wasting a second and rolling through the notes like a steamroller over the audience in an onslaught of distorted bass notes, furious keyboards and scattered drums like roaches in the light, showing this new massive sound. 'Take A Pebble' with the ballad tone of Lake's voice captivates as the song gently walks through the first two and a half minutes before Emerson takes the reign and gives a solid piano solo to a shuffling Palmer drum chant and the bass adds the inflections of root notes. It includes a gorgeous jazz piano melody in the middle. 'Pictures At An Exhibition' is a half-hour long interpretation of Mussorgsky's masterpiece. All prog's recipe is superbly executed here without a fail. The Moog, which was relatively new and revolutionary at the time, several passages between synthesizer and acoustic guitar, making this the pleasure of a dreamy prog of a piece to listen to. The piece is broken in several sections but I prefer to look at it as a single composition. There are no blister solos here but rather a display of masterful flair and precision with a few flubs in a couple of songs but this live version is actually close to the Newcastle performance and just how amazing is it. 'Rondo', an original piece of The Nice, rises from the ashes of what's left from the last presentation, is another onslaught of Moog freak out sounds and a drum solo in spots from Palmer which wasn't his best. It's rather sloppy and shoddy when compared with others on, in their career. 'Nutrocker' completes their set and which was often a encore during their earlier shows to somewhat calm the audience down and relax them from the massive wall of sound they had just tumbled over on to the ears of the people who was watching and listening.

Conclusion: John Peel, a popular BBC music journalist called ELP's performance at the Isle of Wight, 'a tragic waste of time, talent and electricity'. I disagree. I believe this live performance is precursory of their legendary live sets. It's clear when we are listening to the show that the band played with blunt force and deafening volume. The band's Isle of Wight performance displayed the trio in full flight, defined by Palmer's intricate drum work, Lake's sturdy bass and Emerson's wizardry on the Hammond organ, piano and Moog synthesizer. The show circulated for years as a bootleg form and was officially finally released in 1998 as 'Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival'. It's true that the music contained on it has been performed many other times, recorded and released much better on others live sets and the sound isn't as good as it should be, we can here constantly on the recording a persistent and annoying electric noise. However, this is a very important historical document that represents the birth of a great historical group. It's also an important historical live document of that era and particularly it represents an important part of that mythic musical festival too.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |


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