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Greg Lake

London 81

Review by Gary Hill

For the sake of full disclosure, with the exception of the closing piece, this album was previously released as “Live on the King Biscuit Flower Hour.” That final track is from a different show and of definite bootleg quality. This live performance isn’t always prog, but it’s pretty much always entertaining. Gary Moore really adds a lot here.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Fanfare for the Common Man

This instrumental opens the set in style. I’ve always loved ELP’s arrangement on this one. This particular take has a bit more of a hard blues based rock sound built into it.

Karn Evil 9
This rocker is listed as part of the first track, but it’s actually attached to track number two. They do a cool excerpt.
Nuclear Attack
The second part of the second track, this is a mainstream stomper. It’s a more metallic anthem than it is prog rock. Whatever you call it, though, it’s a hot piece.
The Lie
A bit more of a mainstream rocker, there is still prog in the mix here. I guess you’d have to call it AOR prog really.
Retribution Drive
Much less a prog rocker, this is more pure hard rock jam. It’s quite cool, too. The mid-section, though, works out to something more like fusion.
Lucky Man
Here we get a slow version of the ELP classic. I’ve always loved this song. I don’t like this version as much as I do the original recording, but it’s solid. I dig the rocking guitar solo, though. There are some cool prog rock bits of jamming, though.
Parisienne Walkways
This time around, they turn their attention to one of Gary Moore’s killer blues tunes.  It’s definitely a change to hear it sung by Greg Lake. The instrumental section features some smoking hot soloing.
You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me

Here’s another blues rocking kind of song.  This time, though, they’ve turned to Smokey Robinson for material. I like this one pretty well, but it’s not at the same level as the original. I do like the killer guitar solo a lot, though. The multi-layered vocal arrangement is cool.

Love You Too Much
Another hard rocking tune, this really screams. It’s not prog, but it’s great.
21st Century Schizoid Man
The first of two nods to Lake’s time as the lead singer for King Crimson, this gets a cool treatment. It really does feel a lot like Emerson Lake and Palmer. I really like this version. It’s got the flavor and prog intensity of the original, while feeling fresh and different. They make some cool changes to the instrumental section, too.
The Court of the Crimson King
Here’s the other King Crimson tune presented in this set. This is more of a faithful rendition. It does get hit with a blast of feedback mid-track, though. There are some changes to the instrumental section, too.
C est La Vie
I’ve always loved this ELP song. At first, the recording feels really distant here, though. It’s obvious they went from a board recording to an audience one. Where the rest of the set has had a great sound, this feels like a bootleg. That said, this is from a different concert, so it might be an audience boot. As a boot it sounds good, but it’s a let down from the quality of the rest. The song is performed well, and the arrangement is quite pretty. When the guitar solo fires out into a harder rocking section, it definitely rises above the crowd noise. The cut gains intensity and passion going forward from there.
 
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