7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 23 September 2011
There was a time when Emerson Lake & Palmer was THE band to see live. At the cutting edge of the '70s Prog Rock movement they did the business and others usually followed. They were incredible live, amazing how 3 musicians could produce such a symphonic sound on stage. Emerson was a keyboard master, Lake's voice like velvet, his bass playing matching Carl Palmer's supercharged drumming.
They couldn't lose with this marvelous album. It came out at a budget price with a wonderful cover and became a sort of benchmark for every live album that followed. If Ravel had put Mussorgsky's little known work on the classical music map then ELP made it a household name.
So popular was the album that their fan's demanded a studio version to put alongside the live version. Sadly, that didn't come about yet the live album is a lasting fragment of their fantastic stage performances.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 16 March 2011
It has become fashionable to mock prog rock, with its potential for self-indulgent, pompous, bombastic music. The problem with the genre is that when it was dire, it was very, very dire. However when, as often happened, it was good, it was very, very good indeed. Emerson,Lake & Palmer probably epitomised what was worst and best about prog, but I would submit that this was one of their better moments.
What motivated most prog rock musicians, was a desire to take rock music and elevate it to the level enjoyed by the classical genre. What better than to create a rock version of Mussorgsky's piano suite, Pictures at an Exhibition, which the band took on the road in 1971. This was by no means the first time that a new interpretation of the work had appeared, the original piano pice had been orchestrated by a number of composers, the most famous and lasting version by Ravel.
It is the musicianship that makes this such a strong piece, showcasing the technical skills of three very talent players, not least Emerson's prowess on the Hammond organ. The fact that it was recorded live also adds to the listening experience. This is one of the few albums where a rock band devoted the whole record to a classical work and it actually made the top 10 album charts in both the UK and the US. When it was originally released it was at a low price, £1.49 if I remember rightly, when other albums of the time were a £1 dearer.
I think this stands as a fine example of what rock music can do and it is certainly a good place to start for those who want to know what prog rock was all about.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
There is no getting away from it ... this is one of the best live recordings ever issued by a rock band.
Based on the classical work of the same name, this record shows three musicians at the top of their game (and sometimes you'll wonder that only three could produce such a broad sound). The instrumentals at the centre of the piece are driving rock tracks - some of the most rocking rock music ever committed to record.
And it's live! In an age when so many bands were manufactured in the studios, this was a real live performance, note-perfect and complete with audience feedback. You don't have to like 'prog rock' to admire it.
As a bonus, 'Nutrocker': great fun.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 28 August 2008
Every ELP album is half brilliance and half disappointment except for this. This is thunderous throughout. All the members allow each other to gel within the unit. Emerson plays manic keyboard with a flash of pomp and jazz thrown in. He also experiments in electronic sounds that few outside Hawkwind were making at the time. Lake is powerful. No wet lyrics here and the guitar thumps along. Palmer is controlled and forms a solid foundation. The original album released as an L.P.(Oh, how dated that sounds now) was cheaper than the studio albums (just like Relics-Pink Floyd and Earthbound-King Crimson, etc.)and became a real treat for fans. Having said this the original finished on Nutrocker. The extra, later, bonus track of Pictures detracts from it in my opinion so ignore it and breathe in the original album. Fantastic!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This was the first major live-in-concert stage work ever performed by erstwhile global supergroup ELP: an imaginative re-work of Modest Mussorgsky's `Pictures at an Exhibition'. In the first two years of the group's life, it was the centrepiece of their stage show.
The original recording is from Newcastle-on-Tyne City Hall in March 1971, released as a budget LP after the band's first two studio albums had established a sizeable fan base (the record company wanted to release it on their classical music label but relented under pressure from the band).
The opening sequence features Keith Emerson playing Mussorgsky's `Promenade' on the huge Harrison pipe organ installed as a permanent fixture at the Newcastle venue, so it sounds like no other recorded performance of this piece. ELP base their version on Ravel's popular orchestration of the original piano score but add to it in several places, introducing vocal sections with Greg Lake singing unaccompanied and also playing acoustic guitar (one of the highlights) and a full-on danceable rock number `Blues Variation.' The gig rounds off with a rocking rendition of Tchaikovsky's `Nutcracker' - which the band title `Nutrocker'.
The analogue recording quality and production is pretty darned good considering the state of technology in this pre-digital age, and the roaring enthusiasm of the appreciative audience is worthy of a cup final victory. There have been several updates and re-releases including a studio recording of the work, a `deluxe' edition with a lot of extra material and even a filmed performance at the London Lyceum. The original 1971 recording from Newcastle, however, is hard to beat.
A classic from the 1970s in every sense of the word, this recording demonstrates `progressive rock' at its bombastic and self-important best. If you've never heard the music of this fine band, this would be a great place to start.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 17 October 2001
I have read reviews in the past in which people have criticised the quality of this recording. I don't know why - I think that 'Pictures' is one of the most outstanding live albums of all time. ELP were just about the only band with the skill (and audacity) to attempt a live stage performance of a classical work this complex, and make a success of it, especially given the technology available back in 1971 when the original recording was made.
This remastered CD manages to improve on something that was pretty excellent to start with (if that's possible). Certainly, any 40'Something progressive rock fan should add this CD to their collection.
ELP's interpretation of Mussorgsky may not be to the taste of every classical purist, but IMHO, this CD is a mind blowing experience, right from the intro: 'Were gonna give you Pictures at an Exhibition!' through to the 'Nutrocker' finale (which is based on Tchaikovsky, if you didn't know already).
(Incidentally, I have an orchestral version of Pictures at an Exhibition by the Cleveland Orchestra on CD, so I consider myself qualified to pass judgement on ELP's approach to the work).
I have one minor gripe, in that I would have liked more of the original Mussorgsky to have appeared, although back in the days of vinyl, they only had 45 minutes to play with - and I can understand them making room for the acoustic track 'The Sage' which is Greg Lake on his best form.
I should point out that the track ELP call 'The Old Castle' would be better titled 'Keith Emerson demonstrates the versatility of the Moog Synthesiser', whilst 'Blues Variation' actually uses the theme from the 'real' version of The Old Castle to create a piece of virtuoso Hammond R&B that blows the Ravel orchestration out of the water. 'The Great Gates of Kiev' captures the mood of the original work brilliantly. (Correct me if I'm wrong, but the creaking gate hinge effects on this track are not done on synthesiser - as many people think - but by messing with the innards of the Hammond C3. If you don't believe me - check out the noises on 'Intermezzo' from the live CD 'Five Bridges' by Emerson's previous band, The Nice).
What more can I say, other than you should not try to copy Keith Emerson's pyrotechnics on your keyboard at home without an adult supervising, otherwise you may get electrocuted!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
All bands are different, but Emerson Lake and Palmer are differently different. Unlike any band before or since their musical compositions are several levels of sophistication and virtuosity above those any other rock band, even now 40 years on. No band has ever divided opinion quite like ELP, it's a cliché but people do either love them or hate them; in truth more hate them than love them; even John Peel (who loved some quite terrible bands) described them as a waste of talent and electricity.
Pictures at an Exhibition is in every important respect a remarkable album. Base upon Modest Mussorsky's work it contains recognisable pieces (Pictures) from the original (Promenade, Gnomus, the Hut of Baby Yaga and the Great Gates of Kiev) and some that are wholly those of Keith Emerson (Sage, Old Castle, Blues Variation). Mussorsky's piece was originally written for piano and so lends itself to Keith Emerson's keyboard led interpretation.
Recorded at Newcastle City Hall in 1970, this is a raw, exciting and unvarnished adventure into ELP's world of classical prog-rock. Later live ELP albums were to be rather over-produced and sanitised in my opinion but this one is raw, bum notes, missed cues and all.
Imagine just how brave this album was when it was released. This was the first of many versions of Pictures that ELP were to produce, so the Newcastle audience were to be subjected to a previously unheard 35 minutes of classical based rock for the very first time, their ecstatic reaction at the end is unambiguous.
ELP were later to become more sophisticated and embrace the new synthesiser and influences from Ginastera and Copland, but here we get a real glimpse into the soul of the band and into just how very good they are live. There is some synthesiser work on this, but it's a rather old modular monophonic model. But to underline just how cutting edge this was, ELP were the first ever band to tour with a synthesiser and this is the very first live recording using one.
ELP's Pictures at an Exhibition was a catalyst and largely responsible for triggering my later love of classical music, and that was no bad thing. This album has remained on my play list ever since I first heard it, and how many albums could I say that about - not many.
I'm going to give this one 5 stars, it's so inexpensive and yet has given me so very many hours of enjoyment, how could I give it anything less? ELP will remain one of my guilty pleasures.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 1 January 2003
Of course part of the sheer audacity of Emerson, Lake & Palmer's performance of Modest Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" was that they did in live at Newcastle City Hall, March 26, 1971. But while I appreciate the raw vitality of the performance I always wonder what the lads could have done if they had gone into the studio and polished this one up a bit like they did on some of their later albums with works by Aaron Copeland. Of course, Mussorgsky originally wrote the piece for the piano, before Ravel turned it into an orchestral piece, so it is pretty much an ideal choice for Keith Emerson to do on the piano, synthesizer, and every other key board instrument in the known universe that he could get his fast little fingers on. Emerson did the overall arranging but each of the premier progressive rock trio have a hand in adapting certain segments to their particular fortes (e.g., drummer Carl Palmer on "The Gnome"). Greg Lake even manages to find a few places for some lyrics. The evening is capped off by the "Nutrocker," one of the group's favorite encore pieces (but by a different Russian composer than Mussorgsky). Ultimately, "Pictures at an Exhibition" does not stand up against the group's own efforts such as the Tarkus suite, "Karn Evil No. 9," or "Pirates." This is the ELP album I listen to the least, but every once in a while there comes a time when you need to listen to a little "Pictures at an Exhibition.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 August 2012
I bought this album when it first came out and would like to advise that it was originally brought out on a cheap record label.(Recorded Live) it was a one off and Live at newcastle was the first time it was played live in this format.
saying all that keith's keyboard playing was fantastic.Greg's vocals were surblime and Carl's drumming was second to none.Well on their way to being one of the best bands ever.
Don't forget that music it self was very experimental and the moog had just been invented.
Keith Emerson was the first to get his grubby mits on it.(They rented it from Robert Moog until they could afford to buy one.
Hope this all helps.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 6 June 2001
A stunning new remaster from 2001 of ELP live at the beginning of their career - fresh, young and aspiring. And succeeding on this album to show why they were so controversial in their days. No other rock group dared to rearrange and play the classics in such a virtuosic way, fast and furious though still with long, beautifull and quiet moments, interweaving Mussorgsky's music with their own compositions, lyrics and solos. They were so good - and knew it - and played so different than other rock bands, that they were either loved or hated, no middle gorund.
This albums manage to raise the same emotions, more than 30 years later. Listen and discover how bold rock musicians may be!