There’s not much left unsaid about Emerson Lake and Palmer. Keith Emerson’s suicide by gunshot in 2016 might be something recently added, and perhaps Greg Lake’s death in the same year. But when there’s a huge back catalogue of seriously good material, as in this case, the band in question is reborn, year after year.
It might be stating the obvious to suggest that compilations like this, at minimum, should be representative of a band’s sound. To that end, this anthology scores high. Particularly in delineating the “best” material from the early years. With basically a side each of carefully curated picks from ELP, Tarkus, Trilogy, Pictures At An Exhibition (ok, a personal favourite), and so forth. Only when we reach the nineties do we get selections from more than one album per slab of coloured vinyl.
Of course it’s the early stuff that stands to benefit most from remastering, and the label’s PR makes big play out of that. Vinyl buffs and audiophiles are the target audience. So, is this an exercise in money making, or a genuine attempt to right the wrongs of previous abortive attempts at remastering the original material? In recent years, across the board, so many remasters have turned out to be poorly received by discerning fans. Is this release any different?
Well, yes, it is. The remastering has been done at half speed. A similar (but much simpler process), as the fabrication of digitally interpolated frames to create high quality slow motion visuals in film. No question, it works. There’s just enough friction in that transfer from vinyl to needle to create an extra frisson of excitement in our auditory perception. . . our analogue brains do all the heavy lifting. The label’s tech guys have done just enough to allow us to hear what we want to hear.
And the remastering reveals so much. It’s a tragedy that Emerson is not still around to hear the detail that was always there, buried deep, now being revealed thanks to today’s technology – the darkly classical, exhilarating art rock elements of Tarkus, the baroque synth routines in Trilogy, the bluesy stitch up of Copeland’s ‘Fanfare For The Common Man’ from Works Vol 1 all now sound 3 dimensional, cinematic, larger than life…the way they were meant to be. Many fans got a rather pretentious kick out of seeing names like Bartok, Bach and Sibelius alongside E, L &P in the credits…we should remind them that ELP, Tarkus, Trilogy, Brain Salad Surgery (mostly) and and and were all written by Emerson Lake and Palmer. Their violent but entertaining reduction of the classics came later…. see Pictures At An Exhibition, Works 1 & 2 for details.
This colourful, quality vinyl “Galaxy Effect” set of 4 LPs comes as a weighty boxset and might just rebalance the scales of sensory integrity for fans.
Side 1 (tracks taken from Emerson Lake & Palmer, 1971):
- The Barbarian
- Take A Pebble
- Knife Edge
- Lucky Man
Side 2 (tracks taken from Tarkus, 1971):
- Stones Of Years
- Bitches Crystal
- A Time And Place
Side 3 (tracks taken from Pictures At An Exhibition, 1971):
- Promenade Part 1
- The Gnome
- Promenade Part 2
- The Hut Of Baba Yaga
- The Curse Of Baba Yaga
- The Hut Of Baba Yaga (pt2)
- The Great Gates Of Kiev
Side 4 (tracks taken from Trilogy, 1972):
- The Endless Enigma (Part 1)
- From The Beginning
- Living Sin
- Abaddon’s Bolero
Side 5 (tracks 1-4 taken from Brain Salad Surgery. Track 5 from Welcome Back My Friends…):
- Still… You Turn Me On
- Karn Evil 9 First Impression (part 1)
- Karn Evil 9 First Impression (part 2)
Side 6 (taken from Works Vol 1, 1977):
- Fanfare For The Common Man
Side 7 (tracks 1-3 taken from Works Live, 1993. 4&5 from Works Vol 2, 1977 and 6&7 from Love Beach, 1978):
- Peter Gunn Theme
- C’est La Vie
- Watching Over You
- I Believe In Father Christmas
- Honky Tonk Train Blues
- For You
Side 8 (track 1-3 taken from Black Moon, 1992. 4&5 from In The Hot Seat, 1994 and 6 from Then&Now, 1998):
- Farewell To Arms
- Affairs Of The Heart
- Romeo & Juliet
- Hand Of Truth
- Tiger In A Spotlight