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Emerson, Lake and Palmer

The Birth of a Band: Isle of Wight Festival DVD

Review by Steve Alspach

The Isle of Wight Festival, is sometimes known as the "Kill the Messenger" festival for the hostility towards many of the performers (boy, that Joni Mitchell is a sensitive sort, isn't she?). It had at least one highlight - the "first debut performance" (um, how many debut performances can you have?) of The Supergroup (in caps) of the 1970s - Keith Emerson, Greg Lake and Carl Palmer. As the liner notes say, there was a "warmup" gig in front of some 3,000 people a few days prior.) One has to believe that the audience must have been caught off-guard by this three-man army, complete with cannons.

This DVD has some interesting moments. There are some interviews with Greg Lake and Carl Palmer and even some moments with Keith Emerson who usually shuns the interview spotlight. You get to see Emerson with the giant Moog synthesizer that, back in the 70s, had to be seen to be believed. The concert footage, however, leaves a bit to be desired. "Rondo" is the only song that shows the band during the entirety of the song (including Palmer's "strip to the waist during the drum solo" that was the envy of lots of drummers back then). "Take a Pebble" shows people swimming in various states of beach attire (or lack of), and for some strange reason "The Sage" shows a camera at shin-height perusing the garbage left behind on the grounds. As it turns out, the interviews prove to be almost more interesting than the concert footage.For more complete coverage of the specific songs, check out the review of the corresponding CD - ed.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 3 at

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