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Emerson Lake & Palmer

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Emerson Lake & Palmer Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends album cover
4.27 | 636 ratings | 62 reviews | 52% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music

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Live, released in 1974

Songs / Tracks Listing

LP 1 (31:52)
1. Hoedown (4:55)
2. Jerusalem (2:51)
3. Toccata (7:24)
4. Tarkus (16:42) :
- a. Eruption
- b. Stones of Years
- c. Iconoclast
- d. Mass
- e. Manticore
- f. Battlefield (incl. "Epitaph")

LP 2 (42:21)
1. Tarkus (conclusion) (10:42) :
- g. Aquatarkus
2. Take a Pebble (incl. "Still... You Turn Me On" {Lake} and "Lucky Man" {Lake}) (11:07)
3. Piano Improvisations {Emerson} (incl. "Fugue" {Friedrich Gulda} and "Little Rock Getaway" {Joe Sullivan}) (11:53)
4. Take a Pebble (conclusion) {Lake} (3:33)
5. Jeremy Bender / The Sheriff (medley) {Emerson / Lake} (5:06)

LP 3 (35:19)
1. Karn Evil 9 (35:19) :
- a. 1st Impression (incl. percussion solo (Con Brio))
- b. 2nd Impression
- c. 3rd Impression

Total Time 109:32

Line-up / Musicians

- Keith Emerson / keyboards, vocals on "Karn Evil 9 - 1st Impression"
- Greg Lake / vocals, bass, electric & acoustic guitars
- Carl Palmer / drums, percussion

Releases information

3LP Manticore - K 63500 (1974, UK)
3LP Atlantic Records (1974)

2CD Shout Factory 826663-10539 (2007) Double-disc Remaster

Numerous LP and CD reissues

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to NotAProghead for the last updates
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EMERSON LAKE & PALMER Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends ratings distribution

(636 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(52%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(36%)
Good, but non-essential (10%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

EMERSON LAKE & PALMER Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by maani
4 stars Prog-rock has produced three of perhaps the top five or six live albums ever recorded: Seconds Out (Genesis), Playing the Fool (Gentle Giant), and Welcome Back My Friends (ELP). Not only is Welcome Back My Friends one of the most cleanly recorded live albums, it is also unarguably the most exciting, as it has a "closeness" that the others lack (especially with headphones, which is the only way to truly assess the quality of a live album). Indeed, the live version of Tarkus is arguably the single greatest, most exciting live prog-rock recording of all time (with the sole possible exception of Cinema Show on Seconds Out). It veritably jumps out of the album, sending chills up your spine. Karn Evil 9 is the other stand-out here. This is the only live album that made my personal DID list when I first created it.
Review by Sean Trane
3 stars Actually this is the second live album as Pictures was also a live one.

This one is unfortunately holding too much of Brain Salad Surgery , which is by far the album that I prefer least in their classic period. Let's take vinyl side by vinyl side.

Disc1 side 1 reminds me too much of BSS and offer nothing particularly new to the studio versions. Side2 has one of my fave ELP track and because of that I am of couse leniant , but it is fun to compare the live and studio versions. I do get pissed off at the track being cut in two and on top of it on two different discs.

Disc 2 is by far my favorite because it is the one holding all of the interest. Take A Pebble is another fave of mine and transforming it into meddleys mainly showcasing Lake's voice is a major plus. Side 2 starts with good improv from Emerson but he is his usual bombastic self. The end of Pebble (I really am pissed off at the way they did the tracks selection - they could've cheated a bit) and then the Ragtime meddleys is of limited interest but seems to work well live.

Disc 3 is entirely taken up by Karn Evil 9 and I thought it was too long on the studio album (29 min) but here they add another six minutes (actually I never cared to find out where they did) to The Tune That Never Ends .

Not a bad live album at all but too bad they did so much of their previous album as it did not much for me. Too bad that two albums are greatly ignored: Pictures (no tracks) and Trilogy (Hoedown and the forgettable Sheriff).

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars "Come inside the shows about to start, guaranteed to blow your head apart"

An early live album from the band, originally sprawled over 3 LPs.

There is plenty of improvisation and expansion of the original tracks, to the extent that "Tarkus" and "Take a pebble" no longer fit on one side of an LP. The extension of "take a pebble" is through the inclusion of "Piano improvisations", and a general digression away from the original piece. Personally, I found the whole thing rather tedious, the original track already being rather spoilt by the bloated middle section. "Tarkus" on the other hand benefits from an extended "Aquatarkus" section, plus the inclusion of an extract from King Crimson's "Epitaph" (which Greg Lake sang on originally of course).

A pretty faithful rendition of "Karn Evil 9" completes the trio of long pieces which dominate the album.

The quality of the recording, and the performance itself are, as would be expected of ELP, of a high standard. In all though, while the album is a good reminder of the band's live prowess, I find the original studio albums, with their enhanced production and tighter arrangements, preferable.

Review by daveconn
4 stars The cherry atop ELP's self-indulgent sundae, this three-record set might be the quintessential prog rock release: ambitious, overblown, and full of wonder. Yes, you could make a case that YESsongs is the best of the behemoths, but "Welcome.." is closer to the heart of prog, an Icarus of an album package that seeks to soar by reproducing the band's longest, most difficult works. And for the most part, ELP succeeds at replicating these gargantuan structures on stage, Keith Emerson's keyboards dazzling like a diamond in the sun, Carl Palmer's drums up for any challenge (the solo on "Karn Evil 9" is a feast for his fans), and Greg Lake's voice in top form (though his bass is woefully undermiked most of the time). Because ELP's music is superlative by design, the studio recordings are the best way to hear this music the first time; that said, the trio does an amazing job of resurrecting the magic in a live setting.

At some point midway through, Emerson's fingers should have fallen off; instead, he captivates from beginning to end, and neither Palmer nor Lake lag far behind. Concert highlights include "Karn Evil 9" and "Tarkus", plus new "Piano Improvisations" from Emerson. The combination of "Jeremy Bender" and "The Sheriff" is a cute idea, but they both get the bum's rush here (better to stick with the originals). I may not listen to "Welcome..." as much as "Tarkus" or "Trilogy", but only because of the substantial investment in time it requires. When I do make the effort, I'm always rewarded for my troubles (which for elpee owners will include frequent trips to the turntable). Pound for pound their studio albums contained more magic, but no ELP release has left a deeper impression than this.

Review by richardh
4 stars Sprawling double CD set that's an important document of ELP's early seventies live shows.The highlight for me is an extended Tarkus that includes some impressive synth impovs from Keith Emerson.Most of the rest of the album is taken up with reproducing the classic Brain Salad Surgery album which they succeed in doing well enough if not exactly adding anything new to it.But a mark has to be deducted for the self indulgent Piano Improvisations that's does nothing for the flow or continuity of the performance.However if you prefer live albums generally then this is the best one of ELP to get.
Review by Garion81
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Something to remember about this tour. First, it was the first time I saw this amazing band. I had dabbled with piano up to that point (being all of 16). This concert was the first time I really understood how a keyboard could fit into modern music. The second is for those who critize the sound quality of this. ELP always were on the edge not only musically but with technology. This tour was presented in QUAD! BSS was recorded and released both in stereo and quad so they tried to reproduce that on tour. I think the sound quality fails while mixing down to stereo, (Hence the panning effect as someone else stated) I remember the concert was very full sounding. The songs are played well although ELP was never perfect in concert you excused that because they were so good in other areas and lets face it, who could be perfect every night playing nearly a three hour set at the frenzy at which they played. So those who critize CP for missing beats or the occasional laspe by Emerson or Lake its just sour grapes. You would kill to have a chance to do what they did. This is a good album and good presence of the time, 1973.
Review by Jim Garten
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Retired Admin & Razor Guru
4 stars Welcome Back My Friends was the first I ever heard of ELP back in the early 1980s, via a scratchy original vinyl release bought for £2.00 second hand (and I only bought that, because I was going through a 'must buy live albums' period at the time). A lot has been said of this album over the years, from 'throwaway contractual obligation' to 'overblown pomp' to 'essential listening' - personally, I come down on the 'essential listening' side of the argument for the sheer quality of musicianship & clarity of recording (rare in early '70s live albums). WBMFTHSTNE (how's that for an acronym!) opens with a storming version of Hoedown, to Jerusalem (where Lake's voice lets him down a little for the only time on this album), then to a masterful Toccata..... but they're only just beginning. Tarkus is played in its entirety, faster than the studio version, but not overly so, with Emerson especially coming out on top form - an inspired exerpt from KC's 'Epitaph' leading to one of the finest Moog solos ever put down on tape, and finally to a franky astonishingly powerful conclusion. The stage is then left to Lake for 'ballad time' - as a central feature, these songs always played a major part in pacing the show, and whilst they may not be my favorite songs of all time, are an essential part of ELP's live dynamic. Emerson is a masterful keyboard player, and this comes to the fore during the piano improvisations (especially considering that on this tour, he was regularly winched from the stage, piano and all, and spun end over end whilst playing! Show off? Emerson?) . After all this, most bands would be content to finish off the show with a shorter track, followed by a quick encore - ELP played the whole epic Karn Evil 9! Lake's vocal talents shine well here, as does Emerson's playing (as usual) but the show is initially stolen by Palmer, contributing that most rare of beasts, the interesting drum solo (I kid you not). 2nd impression comes to a suitably grand finale, then they're straight into the strange beast that is 3rd impression, with Emerson showcasing his talents as a jazz pianist - it is during the 2nd half of 3rd impression I tend to find my attention wandering, as even in the studio,I found the writing flagged a little here, and became frankly a bit preposterous at the end (but hey! this was the 1970's, after all). In my opinion, ELP never again scaled the heights reached on the Brain Salad Surgery tour, with interpersonal relationships crumbling, the ever popular "musical differences" raising their ugly heads, and creative ennui creeping in, Welcome Back My Friends..... was the final powerful roar of one of the great prog rock dinosaurs - highly, highly recommended
Review by Guillermo
4 stars This live album is one of the best examples of Prog Rock excess, at least for some people. I was interested in this album in 1982 because I liked very much the "Tarkus" and "Brain Salad Surgery" albums. The album starts with "Hoedown", played at an amazing "high speed", more than the original version. A great start for a concert. Emerson`s fingers are on "fire". He is one of the "high speed" keyboard players. Maybe this was the reason he had problems with his hands in the 90s, having to receive surgery to keep playing with ELP. "Jerusalem" is an emotive performance. "Toccata" is played good, but it is not very interesting for me, since it has a lot of 70s synthesizer sound effects or "noises". "Tarkus" is a great version, more "dynamic" and "heavy" than the studio version. It also has some space for long solos. In this song, the "Battlefield" section has a lead guitar by Lake, with Emerson playing the bass parts in one of his keyboards. Also in "Tarkus", the "Aquatarkus" section is too long for me, with a lot of space for Emerson`s solos. Lake`s songs, "Take a peeble" (played by the trio), " turn me on" and "Lucky man", the last two played by Lake alone with an acoustic guitar, are good, and they give the listener a rest for the ears (and maybe to Emerson`s fingers, too, in the last two songs). Emerson returns for his "Piano Improvisations", which also includes a Jazz piece played by the trio, showing their talent for playing different styles. It shows that Emerson is, first, a very good piano player, and also a very good organ/synthesizers player. This part of the concert ends with the trio returning to "Take a peeble". The "Jeremy Bender/The Sheriff" medley is very good, showing also a bit of humour in the end of the medley. Both songs were played with Emerson`s piano sounding like a "piano from the old west" pictures. "Karn Evil" is the next piece of music, which in the original 3 record set was in Sides Five and Six. This song has 3 sections ("1st Impression", "2nd Impression", "3rd Impression"), very different in structure, and it took me sometime to really consider these 3 parts as parts of the same song. I think that the "1st Impression" section is sung by Emerson (as in the studio version). His voice is similar as Lake`s. There is also a guitar solo, with Emerson again playing the bass parts in one of his keyboards. Carl Palmer`s Percussion solo ("Con Brio" as the cover says) is amazing. A very good demostration of his skills and technique, one of the best drums and percussion solos that I have heard. The "2nd Impression" part is instrumental, more "quiet" than the first. The "3rd Impression" part is sung by Lake, and it is also sometimes "heavy", ending "Karn Evil" with Emerson`s "strange synthesizer sounds" (I don`t know if in 1974 there were programmable keyboards ,as the keyboard has increasing speed). This is a very good live album, and like "Yesshows", the recording is not very good, in my opinion. In some songs there are a lot of echoes.
Review by Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Besides 'Pictures at an Exhibition', this massive triple LP set was ELP's only live document released in their best period (1970-1974) and overall one hell of a trip through some of their most appreciated songs, including the whole "Karn Evil 9" suite from their 'Brain Salad Surgery' album. Hearing this stuff live is enjoyable and entertaining throughout, with my only complains being the slightly muddy sound quality and that some of the songs are a bit flawed performance-wise. Tracks like "Hoedown" and "Jeremy Bender/The Sheriff" are played way too fast and the beginning of 2nd Impression from KE9 sounds very slow and unprofessional compared to the studio version. Otherwise, this is a great live album that captures ELP's live performances during their glory days extremely well.
Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by Yanns
4 stars I debated in my mind for a little bit whether this was a 3- or 4-star album, taking into consideration what each one means. I was originally leaning towards a 3, but I realized that any real ELP fan must have this. It is essential for ELP fans. Bam, it becomes an excellent addition to any prog music collection.

Now, this is one of the great live albums of the era. For me, the greatest live album ever is probably Yessongs, but this stands up fairly well. The songs have an energy that isn't found on the studio tracks. That being said, I still prefer most of the studio cuts of these songs, but that's just my tastes. I believe that Jerusalem and Toccata are better live, but that's about it. I also find that it is almost pointless to review a live album song by song. All there is to say is that Hoedown is about 5000 times faster than the studio version, and while unnecessary, it's still pretty good. And, as I said, Jerusalem and Toccata are better here than on Brain Salad Surgery.

I've also seen reviews saying that the live version of Tarkus is better than the studio version. Hmmm, I don't think so. I don't think anything can beat the Tarkus studio version. The same goes for Karn Evil 9.

Basically, ELP fans must have this. If you are not an ELP fan, then, obviously don't buy it. But if you're looking to get into them, I don't think that this would be a bad place to start. It gives a good view of early ELP, and it gives you a taste of every album (excluding Pictures, of course).

And oh yeah, the ending to The Sheriff is amazing.

4/5 stars.

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Like Seconds Out is the essential Genesis live outing, this is the essential ELP live outing. Recorded during the Brain Salad Surgery tour, this album features their best live offerings. Opening with the Aaron Copland track Hoedown, from the beginning the listener is taken on a bombastic journey of sound. This album features the two seminal ELP epics, Tarkus and Karn Evil 9, each extended with great jams in the middle (the latter featuring a great Palmer percussion solo).

The highlights beside these two behemoths are Take a Pebble parts one and two, the first part featuring excerpts from Lucky Man and Still... You Turn me On. The frightening, exaggerated cacaphony of Tocatta, and their rendition of Jerusalem. All of those are played with precision (although at times it sounds like Keith is playing with boxing gloves) and are excellent adaptations of their studio counterparts.

The only things I dislike on the album are the sound quality, which is sub-par, and the Piano Improvisations gets boring in the middle. Otherwise, this is a good live album that no ELP fan should be without. 3.5/5.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars If you were there when this live album was released, you would never forget the great memories this triple LPs album has brought in your walks of life. Yes, it was the time when rock music was the music of that era and ELP was one of the icons that we kept waiting "what's nexy?" every day. At that time I was not actually favoring live record due to sound quality. I t became worse because I could only afford to purchase the cassette version - so you can imagine, buying a cassette of live album from a complex music like ELP. But, I did enjoy this album by ELP very much for mainly two reasons: first the live vibes - not through the crowd's applaud by the host who opened the show "Ladies and gentlemen .. Welcome Back My Friends To the Show That Never Ends . Emerson Lake and Palmer!" oh . what a rocking intro man! Second, I like the music performed live especially my all-time favorite and the best song by ELP: "Karn Evil 9".

Right after that rocking intro by the host, the band kicks the show with an energetic "Hoedown" followed with melancholic yet wonderful "Jerusalem" followed with the band's earthshaking and explorative track "Toccata". Oh man .. at that time I cannot imagine how other bands would compete against ELP in terms of experimentation with a song like "Toccata"? It's gonna be very hard. It's experimental, it's dynamic, complex but it's so excellent in composition especially the sound exploration. I like the "boiling water" sounds produsced by Keith's keyboard. "Tarkus" is another excellent track performed dynamically with Greg Lake powerful vocal.

As I mentioned above, one of the reasons that I like this live album is the inclusion of my all-time ELP favorite track: "Karn Evil 9". Performed its entirety, this track consumes approx 35 minutes duration featuring : a) 1st Impression (Includes Percussion Solo (Con Brio), b) 2nd Impression, c) 3rd Impression. I enjoy the energy and passion projected by the band through this live performance especially this track. Despite the poor audio quality, this track is performed much better, more lively, more dynamic compared to the studio version.

Overall, it's a highly recommended classic live album if you are not a fanatic audiophile - because the audio quality of this album is poor. I don't mind. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Raff
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Overblown, bombastic, self-indulgent.... That's the ELP we all know and love, and we wouldn't have them any other way. This double (triple on vinyl) live album captures the band at their heyday, before they descended into creative stagnation and even outright cheesiness. It is indeed one of the top live albums of the Seventies and a must-have for any self-respecting prog fan, though - as in the case of the majority of ELP releases - it is by no means perfect . When it is good, however, it is nothing short of magnificent, as in the case of the killer version of "Tarkus" that graces the first CD.

Disc One starts in style with the dynamic, rousing strains of Aaron Copland's "Hoedown", easily one of the definitive showcases of Emerson's talent on the Hammond organ. Solemn "Jerusalem" (a great Lake vocal showcase) and manic, supercharged "Toccata" follow, the latter allowing Carl Palmer to go over the top with his impressive array of percussions. As said above, however, the breathtaking rendition of the "Tarkus" suite is the undisputed highlight of the album. Faster and somewhat longer than the original, it veers from the energetic strains of "Eruption" to the calmer mood of "Stones of Years", picking up speed again with"Iconoclast", "Mass" and "Manticore" to slip into "Battlefield" 's melancholy, reflective atmosphere, and finally climaxing with an utterly stunning, elongated version of "Aquatarkus" - an absolute must for all Moog fans.

Next comes the wistful, lovely Lake tour de force "Take a Pebble", unfortunately split over two CDs, including acoustic ballads "Still...You Turn Me On" (a much better version than the studio one) and "Lucky Man", as well as an excerpt from KC's immortal "Epitaph" sung without any musical accompaniment. Emerson's "Piano Improvisations", while an excellent example of Keith's dexterity on the ivories, go on a bit too long and end up feeling slightly boring for those who are not keyboard players themselves. After the bookend of the second part of "Take a Pebble", things get a little more upbeat and light-hearted with the "Jeremy Bender/The Sheriff" medley - the latter a much more musically interesting song than it usually gets credit for - preparing the ground for the ultimate exercise in OTT grandiosity that is "Karn Evil 9".

The 30-minute-plus epic - a real rollercoaster ride comprising majestic, intense organ parts, the rousing "Welcome Back My Friends..." episode, wistful piano interludes, a masterful Carl Palmer solo spot and all sort of electronic craziness towards the end - while it contains less improvisation than "Tarkus", and does not therefore sound extremely different from the studio version, is nevertheless the best possible way to bring everything to a close with a real bang.

This live album isn't obviously likely to convert any ELP sceptics, but all open-minded proggers should think seriously about adding it to their collection. Dinosaur rock it might be, but who can deny the enduring fascination of those lumbering, long-extinct giants?

Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars This recording has a very special flavour for me. The supporting tour for "Brain Salad Surgery" did pass in Brussels in 1974 (although I could not find the precise date any longer - I think it was in May, but I do not have the ticket any longer). Anyway, I remember that I bought the cheapest category of tickets for their show at Forest National. Bizarrely, there were two (or maybe even three) price categories which was not the use in those days at FN for a rock concert.

So, with my cheap ticket (150 BEF, almost 4 ? !) I expected to sit far away from the stage. But I gave it a try and went through the doors from below and nobody was controlling...So I rushed as close as possible from the stage and ended up maybe ten to fifteen meters from there. I sat down on the cement and waited to see my first prog concert. And what an experience it was for a fifteen years-old kid !

The live record was of course not issued and I discovered for the first time, the words :"Welcome Back My friends To The Show That Never Ends, Emerson, Lake and Palmer" and here we go for a really lenghty concert.

The songs recorded for this (short) triple album (it could have fit on a double one actually) were only a part of the whole. I remember that the concert finished rather late that night even if no support act was playing (fortunately). The concert hall was far from being full, maybe 4,000 people out of a 7,000 capacity (but I am not even sure we were so many).

I do not remember which were the encores (sorry guys but it is a very long time ago, but we probably got "Pictures" partially or even in full). It was the time for Keith to perform all his excesses with the old organ devoted to this: jumping on it, playing with knifes, shaking it up and down like crazy. For sure, it was an integrant part of the show and the audience was very enthusiastic during these moments.

You know, in those days very little footage of rock bands were shown on the national Belgian TV (although we had a wonderful programme called Pop Shop where the greatest one will come and play in studio (Genesis, Supertramp and many, many others).

So, even if the fame of ELP shows had been described in the press, people were curious to check whether or not these stories were true. And believe me, they were. Nowadays, we can get this confirmed with the abundant ELP footage released on DVD.

As far as this live release is concerned, there will be some great (a lot), some good (a lot) and some very poor ones (the suite "Jeremy Bender & The Sheriff" of course). The whole of Brain Salad Surgery will be played. "Karn Evil" being even a bit extended (!) to thirty-five minutes. Actually, there was a Carl solo not featured on the studio album that is the cause of this.

As far as great moments are concerned, IMO "Jerusalem", "Tarkus" (the track in its entirety with a nice wink to "Epitaph" around minute fifteen), "Karn Evil One & Three" are the best numbers of this album. "Take A Pebble" is another very good moment as well. A bit behind maybe.

I mentioned in my review for "Brain..." that "Tocatta" works better live. I believe it is clearly demonstrated here. The same applies to "Karn Evil II" which I did not like to much in its original form.

I have a more mixed feeling about the "Piano Improvisations" and I really believe that "Hoedown" was not the best choice to open an ELP show (I would have preferred to get the classic "Barbarian" instead but since they have used it a lot in their early days, it was time to get another one (but still...). But all in all this is a very good live album with a pretty good sound as well.

All in all, it was a great prog debut concert for me. The next one would be in April 1975 (on the twelve, same hall), to watch "The Lamb". But this is another story.

Four stars for this one.

Review by clarke2001
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I challenge you all to call me a fanboy - I can't see any collabs/reviewers five star rating for this beast. Fine. Let me be first.

First of all, the full title of this issue is "Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends; Ladies And Gentlemen, Emerson, Lake And Palmer"! Let it be shown in all of it's pompousness!

It's a pompous, lengthy record, and great one at that.

Okay. If the best genre of music is progressive rock, and ELP are the best band within the genre and if we cherry-pick some of the band's best songs in a greatest live version from the band's catalogue, how would you rate it?

Don't spare the superlatives! Obviously, I'm a fanboy. But childish defense aside, ELP were the core of the symphonic progressive rock movement. They had egos bigger than galaxies, alright, but they verified that quite successfully with their records.

Maybe I should start describing song by song, otherwise I will never stop saying how this thing great is.

The songs are SAVAGE, yet controlled. I admit, it's possible to trace Keith's sloppier keyboard playing here and there. That had the same reaction on me as cold shower; not because I was convinced that Mr. Emerson is imperfect (well..ehm, I was) but because that reminded me that I'm actually listening to something made by humans, from this planet. Which is not so easy to believe.

The sound is great. I'm not about perfect, 64-bit digitally remastered, hissless digital wizardry here, I'm talking about raw but clear, furious but defined sound. Greg's guitars and bass sound warmer, more vivid and colorful then on studio recordings. Drums are beyond description. That electronic steel drums (or whatever they are) on Karn Evil 9 sound shocking - I was shocked indeed when I heard them for the first time. Keith keyboards are great too, Hammond is furious as it should be, Moog is apocalyptic. Keith is adding an extra touch of melody or long and slow glides, taking the role of bass when necessary (when Lake is playing guitar). It's hard to believe that all the time only three individuals are playing all that! Greg's voice is angelic when necessary, raw when necessary. He went out of tune for a moment or two though, in a same way (and quantity) as Keith's playing went sloppy.

That is the sound, the atmosphere,the performances, my impressions in general. What about the substances?

I won't repeat myself. Please check my reviews of other ELP records. They're all justifying each other, including this one.

Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars What is a treat about these performances is how real they are and the combustion Carl Palmer, Greg Lake and Keith Emerson could generate live, not to mention send through the crowd. Captured at a time when rock musicians still *played* their instruments rather than just worked them, when the warmth of a Fender cabinet, grind of a Hammond organ, earthy hum of a tube amp, and almost sensual give and take between band and audience generated part of the magic. And a dusty Persian rug flopped on to the stage didn't hurt either. The Mussorgsky was an amazing accomplishment but if had my choice, I'd wanna see this tour.

Copland's 'Hoedown' is a stirring opener, the group sounding like they'd been playing together their whole lives. The pace is a bit rushed but only adds to the excitement and awe created by that unshakable feeling the players you're hearing are so good that you can barely make sense of it, struggling to get your brain around what your witnessing. 'Jerusalem' fills the hall with its majesty next, Greg Lake doing a great job on voice and bass (his pure choirboy sound serving well), Emerson's seemingly six-handed feats and Palmer's firm-but-loose anchor, and 'Tocatta' extends outward with military campaigns and war drums. The Armadillo is presented in full and all its glory, revealing many of its secrets, loyal to the original but dotted with neat improvs from all three... thrilling, a must-hear. And the whole thing comes crashing down after 27 minutes. It is moments like this that remind just how friggin good they were, the mistakes and imperfections simply icing on the cake. A five-star performance on its own and worth the price of admission to this show that never ends. Disc One concludes with a Take a Pebble/Still You../Lucky Man medley featuring a magnificent solo from Keith that shows his genius, and Lake's gift for songwriting is nothing to sneeze at either.

Getting down to business, though, is Keith Emerson's extended solo which rivals anything by anyone at any time, a tour de force of invention, musicality, fire, fun and plenty of jazz. Oh yeah... give it to me Keith, you rock. And the man's timing, don't get me started. The band rejoins the party, a surprisingly good bop follows and as it dawns on you that they don't make rock groups like this anymore, Mr. Bender and the Sheriff pay a visit. When you throw in one of the best pieces of prog on the planet, 'Karn Evil 9'... well, you get the picture, and they play the crap out of it, giving it its due rather than the half-assed stuff typical of many legendary acts that were great in the studio but fatally flawed in concert, and this version is packed with some mad jazz skirmishes as well.

Mandatory, and but for a few tiresome moments, a fantastic document. Four and-a-half big shiny stars, easy.

Review by progaardvark
COLLABORATOR Crossover/Symphonic/RPI Teams
4 stars From what I understand, ELP's Welcome Back My Friends... live album was made up of representative material recorded during the groups Someone Get Me a Ladder tour of 1973-74. Originally released on 3 vinyl records (later as a 2-CD set), this is ELP's answer to Yes' Yessongs. Though not anywhere in Yes' league, this is probably the best live recording ever released by ELP, so much so that the album charted higher than any other ELP offering on the musical charts of the day.

The most important reason for getting this album is the stunning performances of ELP's two biggest prog epics: Tarkus and Karn Evil 9. Both time in at extraordinary long lengths, 27:24 and 35:21 respectively (proof that the 30-minute long song existed before the Flower Kings). The unfortunate result of this was that the songs were split up on the original vinyl releases. I have yet to acquire this on CD and hope to someday assuming these songs are in their entirety as is suggested on the track listing.

Other than a couple bad selections, like Jerusalem and Jeremy Bender/The Sheriff, this is a really fantastic collection documenting ELP during its peak years. Highly recommended and a must-have for ELP fans. Easily four stars, maybe slightly more.

Review by crimson87
5 stars Everyone knows rock attained perfection in 1974 , it's a scientifical fact.

Homer Jay Simpson

Well I don't have the slightiest idea if Homer was an ELP freak but he was damm right with this statement. From this moment on it became hell for prog groups , we all know the story.

Based on the Brain Salad Surgery album , this ELP live release is known as one of the best live recordings of all time outside the prog world sharing legendary status with records as Live in Leeds Made in Japan , The song remains the same , Frampton comes alive or Yessongs. Issued as a triple LP in the 70's , now a double CD Welcome Back shows three musicians at the peak of their powers during more than an hour and a half. As a disgression I would like to add that this is the album that got me into ELP getting me used to Keith's keyboards sounds and classical piano.

An uptempo version of Hoedown starts the show , besides the speed there is nothing new to this song. In this review I will focus in the songs that are different from the studio versions. The higlights in this record are said to be the longer versions of both Tarkus and Karn Evil 9. The first one features a break in the middle in which Lake sings a verse of King Crimson Epitaph , that moment I thought: It can't get any better that this. Luckily for me , it did get better since the Aquatarkus section is longer and more complex than the studio version. Karn Evil 9 it's LONG , probably too long for the newcomers to ELP clocking at 35 minutes it features Carl Palmer with a drum solo in the first impression and Keith delivers some extra keyboard work during the third Impression.

Personally , I think that despite those two epics are the greatest songs ELP ever did and they are delivered in full regalia , the higlight in the album comes in between those numbers with Keith's classic piano in Take a pebble and Piano Improvisations.Certanly this 25 minute break was a wise choice concerning the track selection.

Suming up , if you are a newcomer to ELP and are short of money getting Welcome Back is the best you can do since it features their most known numbers and shows the band in an exellent performance. However this record has two minor flaws you´ll have to bear with:

1- Like almost every live release from the 70's it sounds a little bit raw and muddy. This is a matter of taste.

2- It does end.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Welcome to one of the greatest live recordings in rock history!

As soon as you put this 109 prog feast on, you are instantly transported in to the bombastic, virtuoso world of ELP. Hoedown rips through the speakers with a frenetic pace and time signatures are off the scale throughout.

Jerusalem slows things down a bit to prepare for an absolutely wonderful version of Toccata, with Hammond stabs and screeching sounds that strike at the heart of mainstream pop. It is alienating but so captivating.

There is nothing mainstream here and the average pop fan would have been frightened off by now. Then a blistering version of bonafide classic Tarkus clocking in at just under 17 minutes cruises along effortlessly. This is so huge it requires a second CD to finish it.

Also on CD2 we have one of the greatest ELP tracks. Take A Pebble is superb as usual and I love Lake's vocals here, the instrumental is decidedly different and blends in to Still... You Turn Me On and Lucky Man effectively. I could listen to this all day. Emerson has a chance to shine and show his virtuoso musicianship in Piano Improvisations, all 11 minutes of it feature incredible piano playing and includes Friedrich Gulda's Fugue and Joe Sullivan's Little Rock Getaway. Awesome is the word that comes to mind. Jeremy Bender / The Sheriff (Medley) is next and though I have never taken to these its a nice interlude in between 2 masterfully executed classics.

One CD left and it is full with a 35 minute epic, the quintessential ELP track, Karn Evil 9. I had never heard it played so well live since. Every moment of it sizzles with accomplished musicianship and Lake's vocals are incredible throughout.

Virtually every moment of Karn Evil 9, this multi-movement suite, is awe inspiring. Rarely have a band been so precise, so in sync, so brilliant than this track. It moves through a series of impressions in the same way as a classical piece is structured. Like the astounding 'Tarkus', it is a long, highly complex example of virtuoso playing and showcases in particular Emerson's incredible talents. It's frenetic pace transfixes from beginning to end of the first impressions. It slows in the 2nd impression so that we have room to breathe within the wall of sound that is at times suffocating, but then picks up the pace again in the 3rd impression with Lake's vocals dominating. I love the huge finale with the robot voice that seems to explode.

The booklet is informative and features some good photos. 3 CDs packed with the best of progenitors of prog ELP is irresistible.

I cannot recommend this more highly. It's a masterpiece of rock, a masterpiece of live music, a masterpiece of prog.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars Forget what people say about pretention and pomposity, this is simply one of the best live albums ever recorded. The tour that this live album was taken from was when prog was king. ELP, Yes, Jethro Tull were some of the top touring acts in the world, and the record companies sat up and took notice.

This album, originally on three vinyl LPs was a monster. It contained many (but by no means all) of the best songs in ELP's repertoire. You ger the epics (Tarkus, Karn Evil 9, the classical reinterpretations Hoedown, Toccata, Jerusalem the ballads Lucky Man, Take A Pebble, and even a medley of Jeremy Bender and The Sheriff.

The band was in fantastic form for this tour. Every song here is a gem. It's just too bad that the group imploded shortly after this great tour.

Review by Prog Leviathan
5 stars A monstrous live album from one of the all-time monsters of prog, "Welcome Back My Friends" is as essential as a live recording can be, offering what may be definitive versions of songs from the band's celebrated catalogue, and show ELP at the heighth of their game.

What makes this ELP record so good? It's ENERGY! "Welcome Back My Friends" is a tour de force of showmanship and instrumental mastery. The group absolutely nails these songs, performing them with reckless enthusiasm. Emerson keyboards destroy expectations, sounding like he has grown extra hands. Given the concert's speed and complexity, his tireless intensity really impresses. Lake and Palmer stun as well, their solos and presence felt throughout. Vocals are clear and powerful, and Palmer's dazzling trapwork is boundless (very underrated!)

Second, is the "experience" of the recording, the extended solos, unique blending of songs, and live ambiance really transplanting the listener back to 1974 (when prog ruled!). Impressively, much of the band's unique sonic experimentation comes through very nicely as well.

If you like anything about ELP, this is the album to get; you'll almost certainly reach for it before any of their studio albums.

Setlist 4 Instrumental Performances 5 Stage Energy 5 Live Experience 5

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
5 stars Rest assured you'll get your money's worth: The greatest show in Heaven, Hell or Earth!

Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends was recorded right at the peak of Emerson Lake & Palmer's career and features live versions of songs that originally appeared on the group's first four studio albums. Highlights include an amazing version of Tarkus that sounds better here than the studio original and all three impressions of the out of this world Karn Evil 9. Also from Brain Salad Surgery comes Toccata and Jerusalem and from the self-titled debut comes Take A Pebble which included snippets of some other tunes as well as a long piano improvisation. Only Trilogy is sold a little short with Hoedown and The Sheriff being the only inclusions from that album.

It is of course debatable whether in each case the best songs have been chosen from every album, but what is here is of outstanding quality and showcases the band at its best in live performance. This is nothing short of a live masterpiece and one of the essential live records of the genre.

Review by thehallway
5 stars One of the best prog live albums out there.

ELP are of course, pretentious. You only need to look at the lenghty title of this super-duluxe-mega-triple-LP to realise that. But on stage, they have a right to be, because their playing is beyond virtuosic, their inter-personal tightness and rhythm is perfect, and their stage presence is aurally breath-taking (even better visually, I imagine). And this pompous chunk of live favourites captures such things in the most effective way possible, delivering a killer experience for any fan of the first four albums.

'Hoedown' seems to be obligatory, but it's just a fun here as on 'Trilogy', if anything with even more lively interplay. 'Jerusalem' isn't neccesary and Lake's singing is slightly worrying at times. 'Toccata' is the first really good song; it's less busy than the album version, and much more intimate as a result, working in it's favour. Palmer's synthesised percussion is wonderful here, and the whole feel of the song is reduced from confusing in the studio, to enjoyable on stage. Then it's 'Tarkus', the band's best song, which is even better in a live setting. The first 6 sections are all a bit faster and more fun than on the original album, and the closing section 'Aquatarkus' has to be heard to be appreciated. It's potentially the best lengthy prog jam you will find on a live album. 'Take A Pebble' is split over the two discs because it's so extended! The song starts in it's normal fashion but soon becomes a vehicle for much of Emerson's best piano improvisations and a couple a acoustic favourites from Lake, which provide a very neccesary period of more relaxed music before the HUGE 'Karn Evil 9' suite. Also, a quirky rendition of 'Jeremy Bender' and 'The Sheriff' are included for some comic relief.

The first impression of 'KE9' is pretty much as it is on 'BSS', only with a famously cosmic drum solo from Palmer. The second impression is more dynamic live and I love hearing it. The third (which never bothered me that much on 'BSS') is equally improved but not quite up there with the better two impressions. The fact that these sections are included as one single 35 minute track makes the whole suite seem more cohesive and epic than before.

The only minor issues with this album is that perhaps some of 'Brain Salad Surgery' could have been replaced by more of 'Trilogy', which is ill represented (although it's probably quite hard to replicate some of those tracks on stage, with all the overdubbing). Other than that, this album has everything an ELP fan could wish for, especially within the three larger scale pieces. Four stars in general, but an extra one for the mind-blowing 'Aquatarkus'.

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars One of the best live albums from the 1970s, originally released as a 3-LP set. This was recorded on the tour for Brain Salad Surgery. Unfortunately, the sound quality is not much of an improvement over Pictures At An Exhibition. But the performance is probably better and features mostly songs from their studio albums. My biggest complaint is that they don't include enough songs from Trilogy, which I always thought was their best studio album.

"Hoedown" and "Jerusalem" are not much different to the studio versions. The version of "Toccata" is better than the one on BSS. Some parts of "Tarkus" are better than the album version, but other parts not as good. The 'Battlefield' guitar solo is great. This includes Lake doing Crimson's "Epitaph" on chorused guitar. I like the echoed vocals. The crowd eventually recognizes the song and applauds. 'Aquatarkus' is extended to allow some Moog soloing.

"Take A Peddle" is in two parts. The first part is a great version of the song. After Emerson's piano section, Lake goes into "Still...You Turn Me On" on acoustic guitar. Then he does "Lucky Man" with some echoed vocals. "Piano Improvisations" is not the kind of thing you want to hear every day. Nice but nothing special. Starts off classical but later goes jazzy with Lake and Palmer joining in over halfway through. "Jeremy Bender/The Sheriff" is a nice mix of the two songs. The transition between the two is flawless. "Karn Evil 9" is fairly similar to the studio version. Includes a solo spot for Palmer.

The CD version is preferable because none of the music gets cut off. Apart from missing some key songs from their albums, this would almost be all the ELP most would need. This trio was at a peak here, and they never came close to it again. Great classic live album. 4 stars.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
5 stars The 70´s were the time of the great live albums.Almost all major band of the decade released at least one classic live album during the period. think of bands as diverse as Deep Purple, Yes, Genesis, Thin Lizzy, Almman Brothers, UFO, Wishbone Ash, Rainbow, Scorpions, the list goes on forever. They all released a brilliant live recording that showed them at their height. With prog power trio Emerson, Lake And Palmer it was the same situation. But their Welcome Back My Friends... triple vinyl output not only displayed the group at their very best, but also indicated the style´s (symphonic rock) peak. All could only go down afterwards, and it did. It is quite unbelievable today to thin that that kind of complex music was so popular. Some sources say this record was certified platinium status in less than ten days!

I bought this album onle recently. At the time I had not enough money to buy such expensive LP. I heard it at a friend´s house and I remember two things: they plyed great and the overall production was not good. My double CD copy however, has a great remastering and you can hear everything quite clear (and they still ask me why I rather have CDs than vinyls...). Although the band at the time was quite a good example of rock´s excesses of that era, they had the chops to do so. Overblown, egoccentric, self indulgent and all, ok. But they were able to to handle it and still deliver fine music. I heard the whole 105 minutes of music and didn´t get bored once. Even the piano impovisations were good to my ears. Unfortunatly, these kind of noodling and explicit display of technique became a fashion or a rule at the time, and very few artist had the skills and/or the talent to do such thing without sounding tedious or simply awful. ELP was a rare breed indeed.

Recorded during the tour to promote their Brain Salad Surgery LP, the track selection is great and the band was in its prime, as several parts prove themselves better than their studio counterparts. Even Carl Palmer drum solos are an exemple that should be followed by others: interesting and short. lake´s voice was also very warm and powerful live. Emerson manages to show off as usual, but always with elegance, style and good taste. I´m really glad I bought this CD after all these years. It still sounds fresh and exciting as when it came out, pehaps even more so today.

One of the classic live albums of all time. If you like keyboard driven rock music this is an essential buy.

Five stars.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
5 stars I don't like starting a review from the rating I'm thinking to give to an album, but in this case I'll let my doubts about 4 or 5 stars drive my writing.

The first consideration is that with a bit more of "Trilogy" it would have been perfect, mainly because Trilogy is my favorite ELP album and one of the first prog albums that I have heard when I was a boy. Then if I think to the tracklist I have to say that the period covered by the album includes almost all the possible best. Of course something will be missed.

Now let's see what happens: after few words from the speaker, taken from Brain Salad Surgery and which give the album its name the music starts with an accelerated version of Hoedown. Apart the fact that it's played really much faster it's not different from the studio version if not for the added coda. What I like more is the production which let's me appreciate the "live sound". It's not the same of being in front of the stage but this kind of recording can transmit the good vibrations of an arena.

"Jerusalem", from Brain Salad Surgery follows. Also in this case I don't hear big differences apart of a disturbing high pitched trumpet sound coming from Emerson. Lake's voice is excellent as on the studio version. I have only noticed that on the final of the stanza he goes one octave higher instead of lower, exactly how it is performed by Par Lindh on Live in America.

As on BSS, "Toccata" comes after. Well, this live has been recorded during the promotional tour so it's normal that the songs taken from BSS are almost identical to the studio versions even if especially Emerson can't not add some riffs here and there not being limited (too much) by the vinyl size.

It's good, instead, the way how "Tarkus" starts immediately after almost on the same chords. One couldn't think that they are taken from different albums. The suite on this live version doesn't respect the original lengths of its various parts as the band takes the freedom of elarging and shortening them and this is more than normal in a live performance of this kind.

A jump back to the past with "Take A Pebble". Also this song is partially rearranged with the finall piano section which sees Emerson in a great shape followed by the actually unreleased "Still...You Turn Me On" which will see the light on Works. Then Lake tunes his 12 strings guitar and the medley is completed by "Lucky Man". I don't like the echo on the chorus and I think that this is a case where the studio version is better, also because this live version misses the final keyboard riff.

Now my favorite track: the Emerson's piano improvisations: 12 minutes of a great piano performance. Nothing to say. Just listen. And if you were wondering about where the final part of Take a Pebble was gone, it comes now. Strange choice splitting it in this way.

"Jeremy Bender" is surely not the best ELP song but the live sound makes it more appreciable. It's grouped with "The Sheriff" that's the best ELP album's filler, I think, but after them be prepared for a 35 minutes epic: that controversial Karn Evil #9 which somebody considers a masterpiece and somebody else thinks it's just too pretentious. Well, I'm on the "masterpiece" side.

So what should my rating be? This is a "must have" album which contains several 5-stars songs, so even though I'm going for the full stars rating I think this is one of the albums for which the half-stars would have been useful. More than just an excellent addition, but not properly essential.

Review by VianaProghead
5 stars Review Nº 7

This is my first review of a live album on this site and it's also my first review of an Emerson, Lake & Palmer's album. I'm sincerely a great fan of "Welcome Back My Friends, To The Show That Never Ends". In the 70's, progressive rock music has produced excellent live albums. However, in my humble opinion, there are probably four live albums that deserve a special mention. Particularly, I'm talking about this album, and also about other three, "Playing The Fool" of Gentle Giant, "Yessongs" of Yes and "Seconds Out" of Genesis.

Usually I prefer studio albums instead live albums. Studio albums are better recorded and produced then the live albums. This is even truer when we are talking about the live albums from the 70's. In those days, recording live concerts with the technical means of the 70's were particularly a very difficult task and the final result wasn't always positive. However, there are some good exceptions and this is certainly one of those cases.

"Welcome Back My Friends, To The Show That Never Ends, Ladies And Gentlemen: Emerson, Lake & Palmer" is, for sure, one of the most extensive names that any album ever had. It was released in 1974, as a three vinyl disk album in a gatefold cover, and the inside of which used the letters E, L and P, as retainers for the individual disks. It reached fourth on the Billboard album chart, making of it, the Emerson, Lake & Palmer's highest charting album in U.S.A.

"Welcome Back My Friends, To The Show That Never Ends" was their last release during almost three years. Before that, they had recorded four more studio albums and another live album. After those releases, the group took an extended break to recover and pursue solo projects until their next common band's project "Works" (Vol. 1 & 2), released in 1977. That break, and the advent of the punk rock movement eventually began with the decline of the group. Unfortunately, it was confirmed with their seventh studio album "Love Beach", released in 1978.

My first contact with this album was in the 70's. In those times, I had a group of friends which occasionally met at the home of one of us. Usually we were playing cards and talking about music. One of my friends, the owner of the house, had bought a new tape recorder, a Dual, and he asked me if I didn't care if he records a copy of my original vinyl discs. I said there was no problem, and after he recorded it, every day that we met at his home, he always put his recorded cassette version. He was a fanatic of the band, especially by this live album. As we frequently gathered in his house, we always listened to the album and talking about the band. The guy was so persistent, that he managed to convince me, to sell him my original vinyl copy. Obviously, now I'm regretful by my act. However, I've already got a new version of the album, but this time on a CD version.

"Welcome Back My Friends, To The Show That Never Ends" has nine tracks. "Hoedown" is from "Trilogy". "Jerusalem" and "Toccata" are from "Brain Salad Surgery". "Tarkus" is from "Tarkus" and includes "Epitaph" from "In The Court Of The Crimson King" of King Crimson. "Take A Pebble" is from "Emerson, Lake & Palmer" and includes "Still?You Turn Me On" from "Brain Salad Surgery" and "Lucky Man" from "Emerson, Lake & Palmer". "Piano Improvisations" is an original track by Emerson with arrangements of different classical pieces of music, which includes Friedrich Gulda's "Fugue" and Joe Sullivan's "Little Rock Getaway". "Jeremy Bender/The Sheriff" is a medley from "Tarkus" and "Trilogy", respectively. "Karn Evil 9" is from "Brain Salad Surgery".

As I wrote above, with this triple live album Emerson, Lake & Palmer finished their best and most creative years. I honestly think that many views about this album changed all over the years. It became an album loved by some and hated by others. Personally, I'm still thinking the live versions are better than the studio. The musical quality of the album is superb, giving us 2 hours of some of the best moments over the progressive rock ever recorded.

Conclusion: This is a fantastic live album with a great sound. The songs on this live album are almost all from the two best studio albums of the band, "Emerson, Lake & Palmer" and "Brain Salad Surgery". The exception is the music suite "Tarkus", which is simply, in my humble opinion, their best piece of music. However, I sincerely regret that "Trilogy" be an album very few represented on this live work. I wanted the three band members had chosen their trilogy piece "The Endless Enigma (Part One)", "Fugue" and "The Endless Enigma (Part Two)" or the title track "Trilogy" instead of "Jeremy Bender/The Sheriff", which I never was a big fan. This is clearly and in my humble opinion their best musical work. Surely isn't very common the best album from a band be a live album. Sincerely, I really think that we are in presence of one of the greatest albums ever.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Review by Warthur
5 stars I'm of the opinion that while ELP cut a number of five-star tracks in their time, they never quite managed to produce the five-star studio album they had the potential to create. Their debut album, though a strong effort and perhaps their most consistent work, still finds their sound in the process of coming together and not quite gelling yet. The first side of Tarkus is their greatest ever work, but the second side had patchier quality control - with their tendency towards throwing in dreadful novelty songs beginning to rear its ugly head.

Trilogy was also marred by the comedy songs, whereas Brain Salad Surgery I regard as a bit of a disaster - individual songs and moments on it have grown on me, but as an album, as a cohesive piece of work, it's a mess, a set which captures the band straining in multiple essentially incompatible directions (including novelty tracks again, ugh) and with a hollow pomposity to proceedings which undermined even the better songs (mostly Jerusalem, Toccata and the first and third impressions of Karn Evil 9). In short, it was an album whose fatal flaw, to my ears, is that it lacks a balance point: the band are either mucking about with awful comedy tracks or taking things entirely too seriously without there being any middle ground.

Then, after that, you have Works - a two-album set where most people can find a few tracks they'll enjoy, but almost nobody would claim is perfection through and through - and then, after that, the nightmare landscape of Love Beach and the reunion albums beyond it. But rewind a little to the Brain Salad Surgery era, because whilst I still find the studio album bad as a studio album (though not unlistenably so - I'll put it on specifically when I want to scratch the very particular itch it scratches), we also have ELP's absolute best work in the form of this triple live album.

Like I said, my big problem with Brain Salad Surgery is that, after Tarkus briefly brought the different musical forces at work in ELP and got them pulling together in a distinctive direction on its title track, Brain Salad Surgery has them going at full speed in all different directions. Conversely, Welcome Back My Friends... manages the difficult task of encompassing all the dimensions of ELP whilst, amazingly, making it all work reasonably well together.

Arguably, the triple album format was essential to this; you need the space provided by the format to really let everything ELP bring to the table breathe. Another thing which helps is that the novelty songs are dialed back - they're represented by a medley of Jeremy Bender/The Sheriff, two of the more tolerable songs ELP did this vein, and at that point in the running order it makes a reasonable enough palette cleanser.

The other thing which makes the album work is that the live versions of the material here are absolute corkers. This is especially true of the two epics represented. Karn Evil 9's first and third impressions have an injection of raucous live energy which makes them feel less stilted and plastic than their studio incarnations; even the second impression makes a bit more sense in context, since the improvisations here go to somewhat darker places than the jazzy tinkling of the studio version, and we're already in the context of a live set where ample time elsewhere is set aside for Emerson to improvise on piano so it's less jarring in context. The version of Tarkus, meanwhile, is greatly expanded on the original, with even a detour into King Crimson's Epitaph partway through the story which actually makes a lot of sense in context.

The main downside of the original set was that the grand version of Tarkus presented there got split into two due to the limitations of vinyl sides - but thankfully, this is something the CD age can heal, so I'd actually recommend the quite decent 2CD remasters of the album over the original vinyl release.

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4 stars Review #113 I say this in almost every review that I write about live albums: I'm not a fan of live records, this is because I feel most of the time the songs are played almost the same that in the studio records and I rather listen to the original versions; only when the performances of the song ... (read more)

Report this review (#2600410) | Posted by Uruk_hai | Friday, October 8, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I am quite undecided about this album and its rating. It is the only live recording by ELP that I own but I heard a couple of them. This is by far the best one, technically and sonically, that ELP offered, at peak of their powers. Emerson proves to be the most proficient keyboard player in the ... (read more)

Report this review (#2457563) | Posted by sgtpepper | Monday, October 19, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends represented the final magical touch at the end of a golden stage of one of the legends of progressive rock. It must be said that after that point, the standard of EL&P never reached the same level. Recorded in California in February 1974, thi ... (read more)

Report this review (#2416670) | Posted by Hector Enrique | Wednesday, July 1, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars "Welcome back, my friends to the show that never ends, ladies and gentlemen" from 1974 is Emerson, Lake & Palmer's second live record, released two years after "Pictures at an Exhibition" another extraordinary live record. To me ELP in many ways was a live band and to listen to this long recor ... (read more)

Report this review (#1141108) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Monday, March 3, 2014 | Review Permanlink

5 stars First of all, I will say that this is an essential album, so guess what I going to rate it at? I think the only thing I didn't like about the record was splitting "Tarkus" up and putting it on 2 different CDs. I didn't like that at all. They didn't do it to "Karn Evil." I guess another thin ... (read more)

Report this review (#278210) | Posted by Keetian | Friday, April 16, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Back in the old days of yes,elp and wnewfm, I was an avid ELP fan. Even to the point where I walked around alot with a jean jacket with the elp logo and even the bird from that 1st album. One of my prize purchases back then was this album, Welcome Back My Friends.... Looking back now with a m ... (read more)

Report this review (#259705) | Posted by drziltox | Thursday, January 7, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars *This* is how live albums should be done. "Welcome Back..." captures ELP at the height of their career, having just released Brain Salad Surgery. Therefore it's not surprise that this album contains an almost perfect ELP set list, without any more recent songs dragging it down. One of the best ... (read more)

Report this review (#256295) | Posted by Staker | Tuesday, December 15, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I just received the Japanese Super High Material version of this recording and wanted to compare it to the re-release of the Shout version that was re-mastered. I think it is a preference matter than any version being better than the other. Overall the Shout version seems to have more bass res ... (read more)

Report this review (#245935) | Posted by t-bear | Friday, October 23, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I don't know why this record is so underrated here at Progarchives. Every band has their best moment and some launched a live album that portrays it for the history. This is ELP's document of their best musical and creative time. Also it has a very emotional meaning for me. I was a teenager and i ... (read more)

Report this review (#226031) | Posted by fmatah | Saturday, July 11, 2009 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Just a few bands had the guts to release a triple vinyl live record. Santana, Yes and ELP did it and they all had some succes by doing so. If ELP had added an extra vinyl to this liverepertoire, they could have recorded their whole studio discography till then! This record contains Tarkus as a whole ... (read more)

Report this review (#186377) | Posted by the philosopher | Sunday, October 19, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The album that probably started the Punk Rock movement. Self-indulgent. Elitist. Snobbish. Overkill. Mad. Fiendish. Eclectic. Call it what you want. There is no doubt this live-albums is one of the pinnacles of the progressive rock movement........... and it's commercial downfall. The mocker ... (read more)

Report this review (#186357) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Sunday, October 19, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This IS Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Welcome Back My Friends..... is the one of the highlights of ELP's recording career. This album shows why ELP was on top of the prog rock scene of the 70's. They set list is almost perfect, each member of the band is featued some how, and the album portrays w ... (read more)

Report this review (#139495) | Posted by Tarkus31 | Friday, September 21, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Question: How do you spell "pretentious"? Answer: ELP! And what could be more prog than pretentiousness? Nothing, that's what :-) This is a truly great live album. I used to have this on cassette, taped from the triple LP (where I was able to duplicate the CD presentation.......before it wa ... (read more)

Report this review (#112218) | Posted by | Thursday, February 15, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars In early 1995, I was in a record store that sold ''used'' records, and I was lucky enough to walk away with this one for $1.00(all 3 records in it). Even today, I can still listen to this from start to finish, and not get bored with it! Side 1 kicks off with a fast version of the Aaron Copelan ... (read more)

Report this review (#108949) | Posted by jasonpw. | Friday, January 26, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Boy do I remember this tour in '74! ELP equipped with a Quadrophonic sound system blasting the roof off the arenas. Keith's Moog would just whizz around the bleachers while Carl's synthesized drums on Toccata would come from all directions! And not to mention the amazing light show with Keith ... (read more)

Report this review (#102684) | Posted by marktheshark | Monday, December 11, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Welcome back my friends is the last really good album from ELP from my point of view. Despite some critics of the sound quality I think it's good enough. Musicianship is great as usual and what's more, songs from Brain salad surgery sounds better due to the live energy of performance. Th ... (read more)

Report this review (#99018) | Posted by Hejkal | Thursday, November 16, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Firstly this record was expensive, which was a major downside at the time. The only other criticism is the live sound of the mix which is pretty good but a little poor by today's standards. This is no live at Leeds in sound quality which is a shame. Otherwise this is an excellent set and a mus ... (read more)

Report this review (#96446) | Posted by burgersoft777 | Wednesday, November 1, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This was the first ELP album I ever bought - a triple set that cost me £4.99. Even in 1975 that was a bloody good bargain, I can tell you. Imagine my delight when I got it home and discovered that it opened out to form a gigantic ELP logo. (ok maybe not gigantic but. . .well, it opened out re ... (read more)

Report this review (#90861) | Posted by The Mentalist | Thursday, September 21, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Ok, The sound is bad, but who cares? The music is amazing! Hoedown: What a start! Played faster than the studio version, if that can really happen... Take your breath away! 5/5 Jerusalem: The beggining of "Brain Salad Surgery" album... This song shows what a singer Greg Lake is! And of cou ... (read more)

Report this review (#88298) | Posted by Luiz Felipe | Monday, August 28, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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