Emerson, Lake and Palmer - Pictures At An Exhibition - Review
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critics' view

In 1971. progressive rock supergroup Emerson Lake & Palmer took to the stage at Newcastle City Hall to perform Mussorgsky's acclaimed work Pictures at an Exhibition, originally a piano suite and now turned into a full-on symphonic rock extravaganza from the popular trio. Following their self-titled debut the prior year, the band were eager to get another album out into the hands of the public, and this live concert recording seemed like the logical choice. BMG has lavishly reissued this classic album in a dual digipack, complete with a bonus CD containing another performance from ELP a few months prior in late 1970 in London, where they also performed the suite along with a few choice cuts from their debut, as well as a live medley of the suite performed in Puerto Rico in 1972.

This new 2016 remaster of Pictures at an Exhibition sounds fantastic, giving this symphonic rock masterpiece the clarity it always deserved. Hearing the 1-2 punch of "Promenade" and "The Gnome" just burst out of your speakers is a thing of beauty, and Keith Emerson especially in all his glory with his array of synths, Hammond organ, and piano. Greg Lake's gorgeous vocals and deft acoustic guitar gently takes the listener through "The Sage", and the wild bombast of Emerson's Moog & Carl Palmer's intricate drum work on "The Old Castle" is pure prog rock bliss. Keith struts his legendary skills on the Hammond throughout "Blues Variation" alongside some acrobatic bass lines from Lake, while the three-part "Baba Yaga" section again displays just how ferocious this band truly was.

The bonus live tracks are all great, with the abbreviated Puerto Rico medley taking the meat of the suite and condensing into a showcase for the bands virtuosity, and the seemingly full show from the Lyceum a masterful display of the full Pictures at an Exhibition as well as the dramatic "Knife Edge", "The Barbarian", and "Rondo". Complete with a great booklet explaining all the info behind the recording and the history of the original suite itself, full artwork, and live photos, this is a must own version of the classic ELP album.

Pete Pardo
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