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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Then And Now

Review by G. W. Hill

This two disc set is a live album featuring performances from two different ELP eras, "then" and "now". The "then" material is from Cal Jam `74, and the "now" is from shows on the most recent tour. This is a good chronicle for fans of the band.

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
Cal Jam `74
Toccata
Opening with a dramatic percussion segment, this piece takes on hard edged, jazzy tones as the number builds. Electronic meanderings and near chaos erupt at points in this brief song.
Take A Pebble Excerpts
Still...You Turn Me On
A lovely guitar based ELP standard, this ballad has a lot of emotion.
Lucky Man
Another balladic ELP classic, this is a strong entry, as well. The arrangement here is quite sparse (focusing on just acoustic guitar and vocals), but works well.
Piano Improvisations
Starting with a piano solo that combines elements of rock, classical and jazz with silent movie era cinematic soundtracks, after a time, the rest of the band come in for a rousing old-fashioned jazz segment that really rocks. This leads to snippets of other ELP tunes.
Take A Pebble
The jazzy and dramatic cut Take A Pebble comes around to finish out this extended piece. It is a powerful prog number, and a satisfying conclusion to the medley.
Karn Evil 9 First Impression Part 2/Third Impression
Probably the most trademark ELP number, this rendition is quite energetic. A very impressive drum solo makes an appearance, before the band drops back into the song proper to end the piece.
Now Tour `97/98
A Time And A Place:
A strong rocking prog tune, this one features nice instrumental work, arrangements and twists.
Piano Concerto No. 1
A jazzy piano solo, this one also includes delicately beautiful passages as well.
From The Beginning
This lovely guitar based rocker is another ELP classic. At times this one feels a bit like old Doobie Brothers, but with prog leanings. Lake`s vocals seem deeper than on the original.
Disc 2
Karn Evil 9 First Impression Part 2
This is another solid performance of a piece that also made an appearance on the first disc of this set.
Tiger In A Spotlight
Always a fun rocker, Tiger comes across quite well here.
Hoe Down
An instrumental rock and roll song, the performance here is fun, and includes lots of instrumental mayhem.
Touch And Go
One of the newer songs from the band`s repertoire, this one has a more mainstream approach, but does include some progish elements.
Knife Edge
Another dramatic ELP piece, this song holds up quite well.
Bitches Crystal
Piano starts off this jazzy prog piece, another strong number.
Honky Tonk Train Blues
Just as the title suggests, this is a honky tonk bluesy piano solo, with accompaniment as the song progresses.
Take A Pebble
Another track that makes a repeat performance, the jazzy and dramatic Take A Pebble works quite well here, too.
Lucky Man
The last returning favorite, this is a strong entry, more true to the original in arrangement, than the earlier rendition. Lake`s voice here, however seems lower than on the studio version of this cut. Later segments of the piece take on an almost bluesish texture at times.
Fanfare For The Common Man/Blue Rondo A La Turk
Always a dramatic ELP favorite, the instrumental Fanfare is quite effective here. The number merges with a drum solo that shows the power of Carl Palmer and a jazzy sort of rocker with elements of very early Yes and Hendrix` Third Stone. The piece includes musical quotes of many compositions and is quite entertaining.
21st Century Schizoid Man/America
A solid version of Schizoid, this one loses a little of the charm of the original by the lack of processing on the vocals. Bernstein/Sondheim`s America is performed with enthusiasm and talent to end the piece.
 
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