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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Emerson, Lake and Palmer

King Biscuit

Review by G. W. Hill

A compilation of tracks from two ELP performances are presented here in a double disc set. These performances are from the King Biscuit Flower Hour radio show. The two concerts represented here are shows on 11/22/77 at the Coliseun in Wheeling, WV, and 3/7/74 at the Civic Center, Tulsa, OK. The recordings from 1974 suffer in places from distortion. The second CD also includes some CDrom applications. However, the setup program to run the interactive features of that seem to be missing from my CD. What are present, as far as computer based items, are three videos and several graphics files. The graphics files won`t open on any graphics application on this machine, though.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: The Early Years Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1
Peter Gunn Theme
The Peter Gunn Theme was an ELP live show classic. It was an inspired performance of this movie theme reworking from the 1977 show.
Tiger In A Spotlight
A playful and jazzy keyoard solo is featured in this faithful performance. This prog rock and roller (the original on Works Volume 2) is also from the West Virginia concert.
C`est La Vie
This beautiful rock ballad (first appearing on Works Volume 1) features pretty acoustic guitar work and emotional vocals. The piece performed quite true to the studio version. Also from the 1977 show, this is a fine rendition of an ELP favorite.
Piano Improvisation
This nice acoustic piano solo has a minimal accompaniment, and is well rooted in classical tradition. It does, however, wander through both jazz and rock genres. This entertaining number is both playful and reflective. It is also from the Coliseum show. The track that follows is also from that performance.
Maple Leaf Rag
Maple Leaf Rag was originally released on Works Volume 2. It is a fun number that is set in the mode of silent movie soundtracks and `20`s music. In general, this is a brief section of the piano improvisation that is the cut preceding it.
Drum Solo
The title of the piece indicates what the song is. Carl Palmer is one of a handful of drummers whose work I truly enjoy. To me the drum solo represents a good time to go get a beverage, in most cases. This solo is entertaining, brief and well performed. It serves as the intro to The Enemy God. This performance is from the 1977 show.
The Enemy God
This is a very imaginative progressive rock masterpiece which covers a very large amount of musical ground and textures. This instrumental is brief, but quite good. Since it is drawn directly from the previous track, it is obviously also from the West Virginia concert.
Watching Over You
Watching Over You is another cut originally presented on Works Volume 2, and this performance is also from `77. This ballad is another acoustic guitar based number that is pretty and well performed.
Pirates
This track has never been officially presented as a live performance on CD before. The number is originally from Works Volume 1, and is a very interesting prog piece, based on a dramatic and intriguing mode. Many creative textures are apparent in this solid performance. The recording here is marred by some brief moments of distortion, but is worthy of inclusion due to the rarity of the performance.
Fanfare For the Common Man
This song, which is the ast cut from the 1977 concert, is a solid performance of ELP`s reworking of this Copeland composition. Fanfare originally appears on the Works Volume 1 album, and this has always been another of my favorite ELP songs.
Hoe Down
Originally from Trilogy, Hoe Down is a strong and creative performance of a fun ELP prog rock extravaganza. This instrumental is the first song presented here from the `74 show.
Still You Turn Me On
Still You Turn Me On is a a well peformed love song that first appeared on Brain Salad Surgery. However, this recording suffers severely from distortion and I question its inclusion here on that basis. This is from the OK concert.
Lucky Man
Lucky Man was performed in the 1974 appearance. This is a more bare bones/folky rendition tha the one appearing on Emerson, Lake and Palmer. There is a considerable amount of distortion here.
Piano Improvisation
This is another very solid acoustic piano solo, showing off Emerson`s remarkable instrumental prowess. Although this recording also suffers from the distortion present on most of the recordings from the 1974 show, the problem is not nearly as severe on this track as some of the others.
Disc 2
Karn Evil 9
Considered by many to be the high point of ELP`s career, this epic is originally from Brain Salad Surgery. The performance here is fairly faithful, but does include some surprises. This piece has always encompassed sweeping changes and different textures and moods. It is a considerably strong song, and is high in energy and quite inspired. This is also from the 1974 concert.
 
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