Artist: Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Album: Live at Montreaux 1997
Label: Eagle Rock Entertainment
Release Date: 09/15/2015
Brain Salad Surgery-slingers and overall prog-rock champions Emerson, Lake & Palmer infuse raw rock vocals and drums with electrifying keyboard opuses that define their groundbreaking sound. Emerson’s superpowers are definitely a highlight in their up-tempo live show at Montreaux, a stop on their 1997 world tour. The concert is just now being released as a double-disc audio compilation in 2015, and has some particular nuances and improvisations that make it an interesting listen. Emerson even gives a shout out to his mother before “Honky Tonk Train Blues.”
While the show features familiar classics, like “Karn Evil 9,” “Hoedown” and “Lucky Man,” some songs have never before graced an ELP studio album—like “Touch and Go,” “Creole Dance” and “Carmina Burana,” the latter of which is part of a 19-minute medley featured on the second disc (following the 20.5 minute medley that precedes it).
Out of these new to the studio tunes, “Touch and Go” is defined by regal Hammond organ blasts in conjunction with UFO Moog synth bravados to create something both majestic and out-of-this-world. Meanwhile, “Creole Dance” shows off Emerson’s incredible speed in a raw way, with missed-key blunders and all. The impressive instrumental drive improvises into an unbelievably fast crescendo before imploding. Then, “Carmina Burana” hits right before an energetic drum solo by Palmer, which is riled on by the impassioned audience. Cymbals shatter, drumbeats fly and concertgoers are likely left barely standing. Especially if they got to witness Emerson’s famed spinning piano that made its spectacular debut in the ’70s.
– Kalyn Oyer