Fan­fare: Emer­son, Lake & Palmer 1970-1997 BMG


This huge box set brings a whole new mean­ing to the term ‘su­per-deluxe’.

As Carl Palmer lim­bers up (you imag­ine he re­ally does lim­ber up – no one that age stays in that kind of shape with­out the oc­ca­sional lunge) to col­lect the 2017 Prog God gong for his life­time’s ded­i­ca­tion to the mu­sic he and his band­mates made and loved, ELP’s la­bel have de­cided to roll out what can best be de­scribed as the big guns.

ELP col­lec­tions are noth­ing new – the earth has been ex­humed and re­worked so many times on their past en­deav­ours that even Love Beach man­aged to ac­crue some kind of leg­end, and not just for what Keith Emer­son was wear­ing on the cover. It would, you’d imag­ine, be go­ing some to get peo­ple to dip their hands into their pock­ets for yet another reimag­in­ing of the work that Emer­son, Lake & Palmer did up to and into the 90s, when, quite frankly, the wheels had come off with an alarm­ing clat­ter.

That said, the only thing you can imag­ine that might be miss­ing from this col­lec­tion is one of Keith Emer­son’s Ham­mond-stab­bing blades. You get the orig­i­nal 11 al­bums, nat­u­rally, but from there on in, all bets are off. There are the Steven Wil­son and Jakko Jak­szyk sur­round sound mixes, which were rev­e­la­tory enough when first re­leased, but when you fall into the ELP-shaped hole of the un­re­leased triple live al­bum of a Mi­lan show in May 1973, you won­der how three men made all that glo­ri­ous racket.

This will all be noth­ing new to the boot­leg­gers, but there’s much to en­joy in the Andy Pearce and Matt Wortham re-en­gi­neered live disc, not least a show from Po­cono In­ter­na­tional Race­way (no, we’ve no rec­ol­lec­tion of it as a venue ei­ther) in July 1972, where the band kick off with Hoe­down and then Tarkus be­fore set­tling into Take A Peb­ble, pre­sum­ably so ev­ery­one can catch their breath.

Per­son­ally speak­ing, it’s the On The BBC disc that kept call­ing me back, with the band fly­ing through a show from the Works tour at some enor­mod­ome in Mem­phis, with some added Bob Har­ris in­ter­views to hold your at­ten­tion. In ad­di­tion to all that there are orig­i­nal promo posters, the Lucky Man sin­gle, a hard­back book and even a badge.

It may just be yet another ELP ex­huma­tion, but it feels like a labour of real love.

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