Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Pictures At An Exhibition (Cotillion US | November 1971)

Taken from The Strawberry Bricks Guide to Progressive Rock, here is an Album of the Week to enjoy and discuss.
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Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Pictures At An Exhibition (Cotillion US | November 1971)

Post by webmaster » Mon Nov 26, 2018 5:31 pm

Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s first major performance was at the Isle of Wight festival on August 29th, 1970, where they offered their rendition of Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.” It was a grand show, complete with cannon fire and Keith Emerson’s organ-flinging antics, and even filmed for posterity. (Their actual debut was six days earlier at the Plymouth Guildhall.) The album Pictures At An Exhibition, however, was recorded live in March of 1971 at the Newcastle City Hall. It follows Emerson’s “Nice” tradition of adapting classical compositions into a rock context. First written by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky for piano, it was Frenchman Maurice Ravel’s exhaustedly orchestrated version that became best known. The work’s main theme and 10 movements may render it suited for rock interpretation; but whether it needed interpretation, let alone a blues variation and lyrics, is, of course, the question that ELP (and indeed prog rock) would have to answer. As a live performance, it’s a bold statement; Emerson’s Hammond and Moog dominate the powerful, rousing themes. On record, though, it’s a qualified success. “The Sage,” Greg Lake’s acoustic digression, is tepid at best; while the encore of Kim Fowley’s “Nutrocker” is pure folly, perhaps a self-deprecating attempt to deflate the entire proceeding. At over 40 minutes in length, the album seems to go on forever, which is perhaps the album’s greatest sin; ELP would tackle classical interpretations on ensuing albums in far more economical manners. Released mere months after Tarkus, ELP capitalized on the band’s current stature: the album, again adorned by William Neal, rose to No. 3 in the UK while also reaching the US Top 10. ELP would continue to revisit the piece (thankfully, in truncated form) as part of their live repertoire for years to come.

Source: http://strawberrybricks.com/guide/relea ... exhibition
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