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Music DVD Review: Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Pictures At An Exhibition Special Edition

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Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky published his Pictures At An Exhibition during 1874. It was a ten movement suite for piano that was later adapted for orchestra. I don’t know what Mussorgsky was thinking 136 years ago but I’m sure he could not have imagined what Emerson, Lake & Palmer would ultimately do to his classic composition.

ELP helped to usher in the classical style of progressive rock, with keyboardist Keith Emerson of The Nice, Greg Lake of King Crimson, and Carl Palmer of Atomic Rooster having formed their supergroup in 1970. Over the course of the next decade their seven studio and three live albums would sell millions of copies and consistently climb near the top of the charts in the United States and their native Great Britain.

Shortly after releasing their self titled debut album they recorded Pictures At An Exhibition live. They would add some music of their own but their reinvention of this classical piece was inventive and unique at the time. It would be released as a live album during January of 1972.

The band performed the complete album on December 9, 1970 at the Lyceum Ballroom in London. This concert was released in theaters during 1973 but quickly disappeared. It has now been resurrected as a special edition.

Emerson, Lake & Palmer were always an excellent live band. Palmer would keep the group grounded, Lake would provide the beauty and gentleness, and Emerson the improvisation and power. It was a case of the group being better than the disparate parts.

The sound is excellent for the day plus the camera angles capture the performance well. My only complaint is the original film would cut to psychedelic cartoons of the group members every once in awhile. I know it was the seventies but being its now 2010 I could have done without what is now silliness. The concert draws to a conclusion with “Take A Pebble” and “Knife Edge” from their debut album.

Bonus features include a number of performances from the Belgium television program Pop Shop plus the original film trailer. These performances have been released previously and while nice are not essential as the focus is upon the Pictures concert.

Pictures At An Exhibition Special Edition catches a young Emerson, Lake & Palmer at the height of their powers and this fortieth anniversary edition presents the group at their best.

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