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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends CD (album) cover

WELCOME BACK MY FRIENDS TO THE SHOW THAT NEVER ENDS

Emerson Lake & Palmer

 

Symphonic Prog

4.24 | 544 ratings

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Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars I remember when I was a kid that there was no day in which I didn't dream of owning this excellent album, but living in a country where Prog' vinyls were almost impossible to buy, I had to wait for somebody who traveled to USA and it was too hard to find a person willing to spend a morning looking for it (It wasn't too to find easy in the States either) and even harder to afford it with my modest allowance.

Years passed and CD's came into the market, I was still very young but had a work to help me pay the university so I could afford to buy this triple (Now only double) album even if the price I had to pay was a month with a very small budget for fun expenses, never cared and bought it but was partially disappointed at a first moment, later this opinion has changed because there are more than one perspectives from which appreciate the album.

From a first perspective a live album should include not only the most famous tracks, but also some rarities that the band saved only for concerts, like Happy the Man or Twilight Alehouse in the case of Genesis Archives I, if not it's only more of the same, specially in the case of ELP who's live acts where very similar to the studio versions, of course there are some longer Emerson solos, but the essence of the tracks seems almost unaltered.

Different is the situation of Yessongs for example in which Yes improves most of the studio versions, creating a whole new experience. Welcome Back my Friends offers almost nothing new, except maybe the medley of the softer Lake tracks and Piano Improvisations by Keith Emerson which IMHO is much better than the confusing and lack of inspiration Piano Concerto N 1, seems to me that Keith was born to play great composers music (in this case Gulda an Sullivan) instead of trying to create an original Classic suite like the one in Side A of Works I, a musical piece that has nothing original.

But from a different perspective, if a band can reproduce faithfully on stage without the help of countless gadgets available on studio what they have done on a safe environment where mistakes can be corrected, we're in front of really talented musicians, and this is the case of ELP in Welcome Back my Friends..

But lets go to the album, Disk I is full of excellent tracks from Tarkus, Trilogy and Brain Salad Surgery, good choice to start a live album with something most of the fans know and love. Maybe the only substantial difference with the studio versions can be found in Tarkus, which is played in a faster speed for the purpose of keeping the audience interested in a track that's a masterpiece but maybe a bit complex and demanding for hall full of fans that want to enjoy music but also to have fun without giving the attention required to understand something as demanding as Tarkus.

Disk two is IMO much better, the acoustic Lake medley Take a Pebble, Still You Turn Me On and Lucky Man is a highlight, Greg's voice was at it's peak and the three are very interesting songs, totally different to his later stuff which IMO is absolutely boring.

Piano Improvisations as I mentioned before is a great track where Keith shows his skills as performer and making arrangements to different classical musicians, absolutely great musical piece. Disk two ends with an interesting medley of Jeremy Bender and The Sheriff, two underrated tracks that act as a comedy relief always necessary, because Progressive Rock as any other genre needs a bit of humor.

Disk Three is probably the one I like more, always wanted to listen Karn Evil 9 as it was composed, a whole 29 minutes epic, not in parts as in BSS where I believe due to the limitations of the vinyl format had to played separated, and with this release I had the chance (even when this version is longer, lasts 35 minutes) don't ask me where the extra 6 minutes of the song are inserted, because I don't think I could answer that question, and this is another prove of the quality of ELP who could adapt several minutes to a live version without making evident is almost 20% longer than the original. Excellent way to close an album,

Now comes the tough part: How to rate it? If you want a live album with different versions and some rarities, Welcome Back my Friends . is not for you, but if as I hope all progheads want to listen ELP on stage at the peak of heir creativity, you can't afford to let it go.

I believe four stars is the perfect rating for this great live album.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 4/5 |

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