(4 / 5)
After I sold my entire vinyl record collection a few years ago, I began to regret the loss of some of it instantly. I have managed to replace a good deal it on CD format. But some have either never been released in another format or are hard to get hold of without selling a body part.
Luckily for me, and for many other music collectors out there, more and more record labels and even artists and bands themselves are digging into their back catalogue and the vaults to re-issue and re-master retrospective work from the original masters.
ELP drop three of their classic albums on re-mastered CD format; two of which I used to own in vinyl. So, I grinned from ear to ear when these little beauties were popped through my letter box.
“Works Volume 1” and “Works Volume 2”, plus “Love Beach” are part of a comprehensive re-issue programme by BMG that started in early 2016 to spotlight ELP’s legacy of nine studio albums, as well as their various live recordings, and the compilations. They are released on CD, vinyl and download.
Keith Emerson, Greg Lake and Carl Palmer as ELP was one of the most successful British groups of the 1970s, revered as one of the most important of the Prog’ rock bands. Blending rock and classical, a smattering of jazz and stunning individual and collective musicianship, they formed in 1970 and made their debut at the famed Isle of Wight Festival, where their wild stage act stole the show.
They sold more than 40 million records, and had hit singles with “Lucky Man” and a single I bought and wore out, “Fanfare For The Common Man,” based on Aaron Copeland’s classical piece. They had many sold-out stadium tours and their first seven albums were big hits in the UK and USA.
Their first three albums were re-issued by BMG a year ago, in June 2016. “Emerson, Lake & Palmer,” (1970), “Tarkus” (1971) and the live and often criticised album “Pictures At An Exhibition.” BMG followed up their re-issue schedule with three more in September 2016. “Trilogy” (1972), “Brain Salad Surgery” (1973) and “Welcome Back, My Friends, To The Show That Never Ends” (1974).
Respected studio engineer Andy Pearce has re-mastered the tracks on all the ELP re-issues. At the special request of the late Greg Lake, the vinyl LPs are presented on 140 gm vinyl. The CD booklets have liner notes, rare photos and new band interviews by rock writer Chris Welch.
Works Volume 1 & Volume 2 are both double-disc offerings. Volume 1 offers all the material first released as a double vinyl album in 1977, the 14 tracks include songs and instrumental composed, arranged and recorded by the individual members of the group.
These solo efforts were showcased on three sides of the original LP, and the fourth side had two joint ELP compositions. Disc one of the CD set presents Keith’s “Piano Concerto No. 1”, performed with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and then five of Greg’s most melodic material, including “C’Est La Vie,” with lyrics by Pete Sinfield.
The second disc of the “Works Volume 1” set kicks off with six from Carl Palmer, all instrumentals in a variety of styles, with guest musicians including James Gang/Eagles guitar hero Joe Walsh. Jazz composer Harry South also present. There’s a superb version of “Tank”, first heard on the band’s debut album.
The final two cuts on the second CD here, are major ELP works, including the full version of their hit single, “Fanfare For The Common Man” and an extended version of the concept piece “Pirates”. “Works Volume 2”, is a compilation first released in November 1977, and offers 19 tracks on disc one and eight on disc two, with track five split up into seven pieces. We get Emerson’s piano songs “Barrelhouse Shake-Down” and single hit “Honky Tonk Train Blues” which bookend Greg Lake’s timeless seasonal hit “I Believe In Father Christmas” and Carl Palmer’s “The Enemy God Dances With The Back Sprits,” a highlight of the seven live tracks on disc one.
On the second CD, “Works Live (2017 Remaster) continued”, is one of eight more live cuts, recorded during the group’s concert at the Olympic Stadium, Montreal in Canada in August 1977. It opens with “Fanfare For The Common Man”, and then “Knife Edge” and we also get “Pictures At An Exhbition”, and the third movement (“Toccata Con Fuoco”) of Keith Emerson’s “Piano Concerto”.
The third in this latest triple re-issue batch, “Love Beach”, is a single CD of the group’s seventh studio album. 2017 re-mastered versions of all seven tracks from the original 1978 LP. Tracks such as “All I Want Is You”, the title cut and “The Gambler” aimed to refresh ELP’s sound for the era. Some fans did not get it. The four part, 20 minute concept piece , “Memoirs Of An Officer And A Gentleman” written by Keith Emerson and Pete Sinfield, closes the original album.
On this re-issue are alternate mixes and rehearsal out-takes. Five cuts from previously unreleased 1978 alternate takes of “All I Want Is You”, “Taste Of My Love” “The Gambler”, “For You” and “Honourable Company (A March), the latter track is from “Memoirs Of An Officer And A Gentleman”.
The three previously unreleased takes from a 1978 rehearsal: “Canario”, from “Fantasia Para Un Gentilhombre”, “Letters From The Front”, “Prologue/The Education Of A Gentleman”, the latter two from ““Memoirs Of An Officer And A Gentleman”.
Greg talks about the significance of the album, in what was his last ever interview before he died in December 2016, for the liner notes. The re-issues are dedicated to the memories of Greg Lake and Keith Emerson, who died in March 2016. Carl Palmer says: “Hope you enjoy the great new ‘Works’ and ‘Love Beach’ re-issues, the remasters sound amazing and they bring back some very happy ELP memories for me”. He is still grieving the loss of his two pals. He issued this statement in December 2016, after the death of Greg Lake:
“It is with great sadness that I must now say goodbye to my friend and fellow band-mate, Greg Lake. Greg’s soaring voice and skill as a musician will be remembered by all who knew his music and recordings he made with ELP and King Crimson. I have fond memories of those great years we had in the 1970s and many memorable shows we performed together. Having lost Keith this year as well, has made this particularly hard for all of us. As Greg sang at the end of ‘Pictures At An Exhibition’, “death is life”. His music can now live forever in the hearts of all who loved him”. R.I.P. Keith and Greg.
By Simon Redley
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’