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Emerson, Lake and Palmer - Pictures At An Exhibition
Label: Rhino Records
Release: 1971

The Gnome
The Sage
The Old Castle
Blues Variation
The Hut of Baba Yaga
The Curse of Baba Yaga
The Hut of Baba Yaga
The Great Gates of Kiev
Pictures At An Exhibition - Emerson, Lake and Palmer
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This uber-pompous recording, taken in Newcastle in 1971, is a full re-working of the Mussorgsky classical piece, "PicturesAt An Exhibition", as done by Keith himself, with a few new parts stuck in for good measure. It's often brutally put downby critics and fans alike, consigned to hell along with nightmares like "Love Beach". However, it's definitely not as bad as everyone makes it out to be.

The faults of this album are pretty much obvious - Emerson was always going to use the piece as a vehicle for plenty of keyboard wanking, and this does work sometimes - "The Old Castle" and "Curse of Baba Yaga" parts probably ranking amongsthis best showcases. Other times it's either utterly offensive - Keith nearly fucks up the whole thing by interrupting "TheGreat Gates of Kiev", an otherwise fine finale, to rape his organ for 3 minutes straight. The sight of Emerson sticking knives into his organ, throwing it around etc. is great in video, but in audio, it's horrible to listen to. And at othertimes, Emerson can be a bit dull - "Blues Variation" is pretty out of place, and comes in for a bit of criticism here - it's a pretty formulaic Emerson solo.

This performance works best, though, when Lake takes centre stage. His "The Sage" is perfectly placed, and is also outstanding - one of the best things Lake penned with an acoustic guitar. Of course, the lyrics aren't exactly great (thatpretty much goes for the whole piece), but Lake's acoustic backing and singing is masterful. And he stops the whole thing 2verses in to deliver a stunning acoustic solo - top-drawer, that one. One of the best Lake moments in the whole of the ELP catalogue.

As for the instrumental sections, well...Emerson is on top form, as usual, showcasing unbelievable dexterity on both keys andmoog, with perhaps the best example being "The Old Castle", an outstanding solo. And Carl Palmer is naturally fantastic onthe drums - never misses a beat, and just can't be faulted - some outstanding rolls on the opening "Promenade/Gnome" sections. Lake himself also pins everything down perfectly with his bass - great work all-around for him.

And it all ends, naturally, with a completely overblown ending in "The Great Gates of Kiev" - although really, it couldn'tend any other way. Emerson is happy to play Mussorgsky's original parts tastefully (well, bar the aforementioned organ rape)and it all ends with a naturally huge shout of "DEAATTTHHH IS LIFE!!!!!". Needless to say, people who dislike superoverblown power in music need not apply. Oh yeah, and at the end, you also get a pretty poor version of Tchiakovsky's "Nutcracker", cunningly titled "Nutrocker". A pretty useless piece of throwaway - would have been better if everything ended after "Pictures".

At the end of the day, i'll give this album a high 7. There's definitely faults, but it's not as terrible as it's made outto be. Although of course, that's my point of view - if you aren't a fan of incessant musical wankery, then you'll more thanlikely agree with the critics, as Emerson takes up a rather huge chunk of this record. But still, i'll slap on the 7, and i'll be happy with that.

Reviewer Rating of CD :

a live "adaptation" of the classical piece, pictures at an exhibition, it's actually little more than a chance for EMERSON to show off his chops on synths. it's a synth HELL or heaven depending on whether or not you like synths.

it's actually interesting ear candy. ask me to remember one song and i'll laugh in your face. i'll listen to this album again.

i have never heard the original song that this is based on, but i'm PRETTY sure it sounds nothing like this at all. i'm pretty sure emerson just quoted the piece a few times, and said "hey, that's our adaptation!" heh. ELP is a dork band.

i'm pretty sure they released this cuz they didn't really know where else to go, but they did get a bit better later.

Reviewer Rating of CD :


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