I will always associate Greg Lake with the two bands of which he was a member: the popular Emerson, Lake & Palmer and (for a short spell) the artistic and creative King Crimson. ELP have separated and reunited several times and Lake toured with Keith Emerson during 2010.
Last year he toured solo on what he called his Songs of a Lifetime tour. He has used that tour name for his new album release.
It is a somewhat eclectic album. The songs are taken from all periods of his career, plus a few odd inclusions such as a Beatles and Elvis tribute. There is a lot of talk and stories and in many ways they share the stage with the music. He also performs solo and uses tapes to provide the backing. This approach has both positive and negative effects. On the positive side, the music is instantly recognizable and places Lake in his comfort zone. On the negative side, there is little room for improvisation, which can enhance an artist’s music when presented live.
The album was assembled from a number of shows. I have always favored live albums that are taken from one complete concert as they give a true flavor of the music and have a real live feel. His piecemeal effect is most apparent in the vocals which are stronger in some places.
The most interesting tracks are the early King Crimson material. “21st Century Schizoid Man,” “I Talk to the Wind,” and “Epitaph/The Court of the Crimson King” represents about 75 percent of the classic King Crimson album, In the Court of the Crimson King.
There are a number of ELP tracks as well as some solo material. Songs such as “Lucky Man” and “Karn Evil 9 1st Impression Part 2” share the stage with “C’est Le Vie” and a surprisingly good version of “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away.” The only real omission was his “I Believe in Father Christmas.”
Songs Of A Lifetime comes across as a very personal album. Lake is now in his mid-60s and it is a recognition of his contributions to the music industry. His voice may not be as strong as 30 years ago, but the passion remains. That fact, combined with the music, makes the album a worthy release.