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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Live at Montreux 1997

Review by Gary Hill

This live album features a strong performance from Emerson, Lake and Palmer. I’m sure some folks probably prefer the 1970s shows, but there is plenty to like here. The sound quality is exceptional, and the set list covers a lot of their catalog. There is perhaps a bit less of a technical framework during this show and a bit more of a groove than at some shows. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1

   
Karn Evil 9 First Impression Part II

It’s tough to imagine ELP opening with anything else. This is really just made to be an opening cut. They put in a cool version. It gets some different flavors and textures at times, while remaining faithful at others.  This is bombastic, proggy and quite tasty.

Tiger In A Spotlight
This bouncy ELP rocker gets a pretty faithful telling. It’s high energy and fun.
Hoedown
This energized ELP classic really gives Emerson a chance to shine. The arrangement is pretty faithful and it works well. That said, some of the keyboard work gets a bit “out there.” It still jams, though.
Touch And Go
Coming from the Emerson, Lake and Powell album, I know this isn’t a favorite for a lot of ELP fans. It is for me, though. I like this version better than the studio version. It’s a great rocker that works quite well here.
From The Beginning
Another of my favorite ELP songs, Greg Lake gets to shine on this one. It’s great live rendition of a strong tune.
Knife Edge
Another classic, this gets augmented with some audience clapping. The arrangement seems a bit more keyboard driven than the studio version to me. Greg Lake’s vocals really shine, though. This is very effective.
Bitches Crystal
Emerson certainly shines on this classic. It’s energetic and powerful.
Creole Dance
This is a keyboard solo that’s fast paced and complex. It’s also dynamic and impressive.
Honky Tonk Train Blues
An energized stomper, this is fun stuff for sure. It’s built around the piano work and really showcases it well.
Take a Pebble
Here’s another of my favorite ELP songs. While the sound does get some variants, it’s actually more faithful than not. It’s also one of the most effective performances here. It’s highly recommended.
Disc 2
         
Lucky Man

It might be an obvious choice, but this is another of my favorite ELP tracks. There is a short acoustic guitar solo at the start. They launch into the cut from there and deliver a fine rendition. Although I prefer the original studio version, this is quite a good live take.

Tarkus / Pictures at an Exhibition
They lead this medley off with a cool rendition of “Tarkus,” the keyboards leading the way. Weighing in around twenty minutes (and with half of that or so devoted to “Tarkus” and an extensive section of applause at the end), this obviously doesn’t include all of “Pictures…,” but it’s a nice excerpt.
Medley: Fanfare For The Common Man / Carmina Burana / Drum Solo / Rondo / Toccata And Fugue In D Minor
They close things with a killer medley that starts with one of my favorite ELP tracks and follows it with one of my favorite classical music pieces. To me some sections of this extensive piece are more effective than others, but the whole thing works pretty well. I will say that I’m not a huge fan of drum solos, but Palmer is no ordinary drummer. It gets into some pretty crazed stuff after that solo, too. Overall, this is a dramatic and powerful instrumental that makes for a solid conclusion to the show and live album.

 

 
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