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Live at Montreux 1997 by Emerson, Lake & Palmer

In the early 1970’s, Emerson, Lake & Palmer helped accelerate the burgeoning progressive-rock movement with dazzling technical acumen and a distinct convergence of classical, jazz and fundamental rock basics. They sold millions of LPs, although their elaborate and showy stage antics, at times diminished the band’s relevance. Ultimately, the world took notice and the trio developed a huge following. However, prog and fusion took a downturn in the early 80s to new forms of rock and a prismatic (for better or worse) turn in the often adaptive and cyclical music industry. But ELP’s stunning interplay and genre-morphing attributes, translated into a multifarious sound and scope of attack, evidenced by the balladry of “Lucky Man,” contrasting some of their epic pieces, dappled with intricately arranged takes on rhythmic structure. Moreover, keyboardist Keith Emerson’s whirling dervish maneuvers and now historic use of analog synths is ingrained in the annals of rock history. This 2010 issued Blu-Ray disc recorded at the 1997 Montreux Jazz Festival highlights the musicians’ veracity and synergistic communion of musical spirits

The camera angles work well and the crew pans and zooms, yet primarily focuses on the players at key moments. On the rollicking “Tiger in The Spotlight,” we find Emerson adjusting his synth knobs and dishing out harmonically attractive single note lines, where he often improvises around the primary themes. And Greg Lake’s majestic and full-bodied vocals shine on the ethereal ballad “Take a Pebble,” as the band ventures into its song list via jazz improvisation, jazz quotes, blistering crescendos and more.

The magnum opus occurs towards the end of the program, which is a medley that includes “Fanfare for the Common Man, ”Rondo,” Carmina Burana” and Palmer’s mind-boggling drum solo, featuring his all-world double bass-drum prowess; Buddy Rich-like rolls and textural cymbal hits. Otherwise, the trio makes the audience work for the encore “Toccata in D Minor.”

Sure enough, ELP fans should revel in delight with the advent of this flick that transfers to disc rather seamlessly. The band soared onto the scene like a cosmic big-bang and set down a prolific legacy, serving as a fertile platform for prog-rockers and creative souls along the way.

Running time: 91 minutes approx.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Emerson, Lake & Palmer
  • CD Title: Live at Montreux 1997
  • Genre: Progressive
  • Year Released: 2010
  • Record Label: Eagle Rock Entertainment
  • Rating: Five Stars
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