Emerson Lake & Palmer – Black Moon / In The Hot Seat (via BMG)

Emerson Lake & Palmer – Black Moon / In The Hot Seat (via BMG)

Renowned progressive rock trip ELP scaled the heights in the 70s, with the hit cover of Fanfare For The Common Man’ and classic albums like Tarkus, Trilogy and ground breaking Brain Salad Surgery.

Sadly we lost pianist / keyboard player Keith Emerson (formerly of The Nice) and guitarist / bassist / vocalist Greg Lake (ex King Crimson) in 2016, leaving only drummer Carl Palmer (ex Atomic Rooster).

During the 70s Emerson Lake & Palmer matched success in albums sales with grandiousity on stage, and their pinnacle in 1974 with the triple live LP ‘Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends….’. After forays into solo work (Keith Emerson with Honky Tonk Train Blues and Greg Lake with I Believe In Father Christmas), the band split in 1978 after the (by comparison) lacklustre Love Beach.

After solo work in the 80s (Keith Emerson also scored several film soundtracks, Greg Lake recorded with Gary Moore and Carl Palmer joined Asia), and albums by Three (Emerson, Palmer and Berry) and Emerson, Lake & (Cozy) Powell, the band reunited in the early 90s and their two reformation studio sets complete the BMG reissue campaign here.

1992’s Black Moon is a much more modern affair, with much shorter tracks than the early days; bar the seven minute title track and one other touching six, the rest are in the 4 to 5 minute (give or take) range. And while there are the some whimsical touches, they don’t extend to the singer/songwriter direction that some tracks did on, say, their eponymous debut.

The opening track ‘Black Moon’ is a wonderful number, an atmospheric start, some classical piano rumbles from Emerson before a solid number comes in. Greg’s vocals are as distinctive as ever and the rhythms rock too. ‘Paper Blood’ has a great melody, a catchy mid-paced track. The closest the band got to a single at the time. ‘Affairs Of The Heart’ is more acoustic, a track written by Lake and Geoff Downes three years earlier. Emerson’s classical influences were always present and there’s a neat, solid if short cover of Prokofiev’s ‘Romeo And Juliet’. Slightly more plodding than earlier classical covers bit the melody stands out and is a definite highlight. Some great tracks beginning to end and a wonderful listen throughout. The album had mixed reviews at the time, but it does try hard to mix classic ELP with the Zeitgeist. Some tracks do nod to the same direction Eloy had taken the same year.

There some single edits tacked on, and the second disc is the Live At The Royal Albert Hall album, originally issued at the time on CD and recorded on the Black Moon tour. I had intended to go to this concert but it had quickly sold out. A rapturous crowd love the mix of new and old tracks, often extended and it is just classic prog rock live.

1994’s In The Hot Seat was recorded in Florida, and was the band’s ninth and final studio album. Recording was made difficult by Emerson’s health issues, requiring surgery on nerves in his right hand during the recording process, and tensions between Emerson and Lake had resurfaced (these had previously affected ELP and Emerson Lake & Powell).

While the album is better than 1978’s Love Beach, the band were at a similar point in their career. That said, opener Hand Of Truth has a great melody, I’d forgotten how enjoyable it is, although it is  a step away from classic ELP in terms of both style and cohesion. Keith’s piano is as sprawling and fantastic as ever, but the orchestration does sound produced rather than band/orchestra collaboration.

Second track Daddy was written for charity to raise awareness of missing children. A good track but a strong hint of 80s pop/rock.

The production by Keith Olsen bolsters a lot, probably too much, and he even co-wrote a couple of tracks, probably an attempt to stoke the band’s creativity.

The processed drums don’t help the sound much but the rhythms are as good and varied as ever.  Lots of fantastic melody throughout – not one bad one on the album. What the album lacks is the identity and cohesion of before.

The first bonus is the studio recording of the previously live only Pictures At An Exhibition (here previously released on the Return Of The Manticore box); 15 minutes of sheer and utter joy.

Sadly the track Hammer It Out is omitted, the original Rhino and Victor Japan bonus track.

The rest of Disc 1 and whole of Disc 2 are live tracks recorded on the Now tour 1997/8, and originally released on the Then And Now 2CD some years back and now out of print. Sadly not the whole 2CD but the relevant / period piece and it does go well with the studio album, perfect if you don’t already have it. A varied set that concentrated more on earlier work, a stand out being Touch And Go, from the ELPowell album. Emerson’s solo Honky Tonk Train Blues gets a blast, as do America (The Nice) and 21st Century Schizoid Man (King Crimson). Really (that’s REALLY) essential listening is the 22 minute medley of Fanfare For The Common Man / Rondo, with solos and rocking that encapsulate and rock you from every angle.

I personally enjoyed both albums and they are essential parts of the catalogue. The new remastered sound is excellent too.

I’m sure that the bonus material will cause debate; on the plus it’s essential listening, timely, relevant, and the original releases aren’t common, while on the down it is previously released and one track is not included.

But then, the live side of Emerson Lake And Palmer is whole minefield in its own right.

Both albums 7.5/10

Joe Geesin

 

Emerson Lake & Palmer

Keith Emerson – keyboards, Hammond organ, Yamaha GX-1, Modular Moog, mini-moog, Classical piano, upright piano, electric piano, clavinet, Moog Lyra, Moog Apollo

Greg Lake – bass, electric and acoustic guitars, double-neck Zemaitis guitar 4 & 6 strings, vocals

Carl Palmer – drums, electronic percussions, gongs, tubular bells

 

BLACK MOON

Disc 1 2017 Remaster

  1. Black Moon
  2. Paper Blood
  3. Affairs Of The Heart
  4. Romeo And Heart
  5. Farewell To Arms
  6. Changing States
  7. Burning Bridges
  8. Close To Home
  9. Better Days
  10. Footprints In The Snow
  11. Bonus – Black Moon (single edit)
  12. Bonus – Affairs Of The Heart (edit)
  13. Bonus – Paper Blood (edit)
  14. Bonus – Romeo And Juliet (edit)

Disc 2 Live At The Royal Albert Hall 2017 Remaster

  1. Karn Evil 9 1st Impression Part 2
  2. Tarkus
  3. Knife Edge
  4. Paper Blood
  5. Romeo And Juliet
  6. Creole Dance
  7. Still You Turn Me On
  8. Lucky Man
  9. Black Moon
  10. Pirates
  11. Finale – Fanfare For The Common Man / America / Rondo
  12.  

In The Hot Seat

Disc 1 Original album 2017 remaster

  1. Hand Of Truth
  2. Daddy
  3. One By One
  4. Heart On Ice
  5. Thin Line
  6. Man In The Long Black Coat
  7. Change
  8. Give Me A Reason To Stay
  9. Gone Too Soon
  10. Street War
  11. BONUS – Pictures At An Exhibition

Now Tour 97/98 2017 Remaster

  1. A Time And A Place
  2. Piano Concerto No 1

Disc 2 Now Tour 97/98 2017 Remaster continued

  1. From The Beginning
  2. Karn Evil 9 1st Impression Part 2
  3. Tiger In A Spotlight
  4. Hoedown
  5. Touch And Go
  6. Knife Edge
  7. Bitches Crystal
  8. Honky Tonk Train Blues
  9. Take A Pebble
  10. Lucky Man
  11. Fanfare For The Common Man / Rondo

21st Century Schizoid Man / America

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Emerson Lake & Palmer – Black Moon / In The Hot Seat (via BMG)