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Emerson, Palmer & Berry - Rockin' The Ritz NYC 1988 (double vinyl set)

Review by Gary Hill

3 was essentially a variant on Emerson, Lake and Palmer, but it was its own band, too. The group played ELP music, but also their own stuff that leaned a little more on the mainstream rock sound. This live recording from 1988 captures both sides of the act. For me, the instrumental stuff works the best. I think that's mainly because Keith Emerson really got more of a chance to shine there. This was an important performance, and it's an important release. I should say that the package is pretty bare-bones. It's just the two records in a sleeve, not a gatefold. It does include a little poster that's just the album cover at full size.

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Track by Track Review
Side 1:
Fanfare For the Common Man

I have always been a big fan of this piece of music. The cut comes in with a lot of pomp and symphonic magic. Drums pound out, and then they launch into the full treatment from there. They put in a real powerhouse live performance of this classic.

Desde La Vida
This is a classy song. It has some mainstream hard rocking parts to it, but is also decidedly ELP-like and prog-based. There are some killer extended instrumental sections. There is some smoking hot piano work at times on this thing. They really pound with a rocking classical bent in sections of the track.
Side 2:
Band Introductions

This is just what it says it is.

Here we get another classic ELP tune. They put in another killer performance of this instrumental.
You Do Or You Don't
This is much more of a mainstream AOR rocker. It has some killer guitar soloing. All that said, there are some proggy twists and turns at times.
Talkin' 'Bout
While more of a mainstream rock sound is present here, this is more in line with the Emerson, Lake and Powell sound along with something like Love Beach era. It does manage some interesting changes and killer keyboard work.
Dream Runner
Here we get an awesome Emerson keyboard solo. This is all prog and also all class. It is such a cool piece of music.
Side 3:
Creole Dance

Emerson's keyboards dance and prance and paint killer lines of melody here. It is trademark Emerson, too. At times it's focused more on synthesizer. At other points, it is more piano based. It's all amazing.

On My Way Home
Piano is in the driver's seat as this gets underway. This is a decidedly classically based number that still manages more mainstream rock vocal sections. It is very much the kind of prog one expects from ELP. It's dramatic and powerful. Again, Emerson shows his skills on both synthesizers and piano here.
Standing In the Shadows Of Love
This thing has a great combination of powerhouse mainstream rocker and prog instrumental excursion. It's a classy tune that provides plenty of opportunity for musical fireworks and Emerson magic.
Side 4:
America/Blue Rondo A La Turk/Palmer Drum Solo/Fugue In D Minor

This time around we get a medley. This starts with some dramatic and dark sounding keyboard work. It shifts after a time to more of a powerhouse Emerson jam that manages to rock out. This turns seriously classical in fast-paced organ jamming. The keyboards seem to get faded out, and then Palmer's drums take over in a solo section. You probably got that from the title, though, right? From there we get a return to more band treatment for more classically oriented ELP styled instrumental work to take the track out.

Eight Miles High/Peter Gunn
Apparently this was the encore to the show. They bring a cool rocking jam that is still proggy to get this going. Then they take that into the Peter Gunn theme song. They modulate that to an intriguing interpretation of the Byrds classic. We get a smoking hot bass solo in the midst of this thing. They turn in quite a cool instrumental performance from there. It's decidedly ELP magic. That then works back out to the Peter Gunn theme, and they do their version with style and charm. They bring the Byrds tune back again, too. They seem to use this piece as a spring board to come in and out of the two titled tracks and generally do some pretty intense jamming. Some other familiar melodies show up here and there, too. It's quite the tour-de-force, if a bit insane.
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