“Live At Montreux 1997” [CD] by Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Artist: Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Title: “Live At Montreux 1997”
Label: Eagle Records
Release Date: 9/11/2015
Genre: Progressive Rock
Rating: 4/5

If you’ve owned a video copy of the 1997 concert at Montreux by the legendary Emerson, Lake & Palmer and were wondering when you were going to be able to add these sounds to your music collection, then wonder no more as for the first time ever this concert is being made available on audio CD for all the masses to enjoy. I love the “Live At Montreux” series of audio and video recordings based on their overall diversity and was happy to see this fantastic live set be given a long overdue audio release. Sometimes with Eagle Rock Entertainment releases we find the video part have a companion audio part being released simultaneously but that is not the case here as this CD comes a full eleven years after the standard DVD and five after the Blu-ray edition.

As I am reviewing the audio streaming version of this release I cannot say more than how it features all of the tracks that were initially found on the videos across its two discs which is a very good thing. Sometimes we find a track or two omitted/added when these things hit the shelves. The band sounds on point and one would expect this from the three leaders in Progressive Rock and by the time of this recording in 1997 had already been reunited for a number of years. Sadly as I pen this summation the band seems to have broken up for the final time with its membership actively touring doing sets of these classic numbers. The show starts off with a bang and the classic “Karn Evil 9, 1st Impression, Part 2”, and this is the one you used to hear on the radio all the time. The “Karn Evil” track as a whole is almost fourteen minutes long and worth poking around for if its somehow new to your ears. I grew up on this tune and only wish they had slammed out the whole thing. There are some scattered choices to be found as the group explores their catalog to give you both “Tiger In A Spotlight” and “Hoedown” along with the unexpected “Touch and Go”. This tune was from the short-lived Emerson, Lake and Powell years when they were partnered up with the late great Cozy Powell. Still the tune is relevant as it was played religiously on MTV and not much else from the band ever saw that networks visibility. I liked hearing Carl doing its steady four on the floor drumming but it did make me miss Powell’s presence in music all the more. He was killed in a car crash back in 1998 but I digress.

For me the larger appeal of the ELP works lies in the oldest material which we touch upon with “From The Beginning” and “Knife Edge” but don’t get back to until the close of the first disc where it continues until the concert completes on CD 2. Lake’s voice doesn’t waiver on a single note and the keyboards of Emerson just deliver science fiction level greatness as each tune goes by. As a former drummer I can add that its always an instructional lesson listening to Carl Palmer do anything on the kit with this band and while his kit has diminished in size over the years to a more conventional set, he delivers percussive miracles from beginning to end. With the streaming audio I cannot speak of the booklet if anything of note was a part of the release but I will assume it featured some photos that are similar to what is presented on the video releases from a few years ago.

These releases are probably the closest that any of us are going to come to a full on in person concert by ELP at this stage of the game which is unfortunate. Like the great Canadian band Triumph, there was never a proper farewell tour and I think their fans deserve one while all members are on this plane. Check this release out if you are a fan or just need a solid representation of their repertoire for your collection. I think you will find it more than serves your purpose.

Track Listing:
1. Karn Evil 9 1st Impression, Part 2
2. Tiger In A Spotlight
3. Hoedown
4. Touch And Go
5. From The Beginning
6. Knife Edge
7. Bitches Crystal
8. Creole Dance
9. Honky Tonk Train Blues
10. Take A Pebble
11. Lucky Man
12. Medley: Tarkus/Pictures At An Exhibition
13. Medley: Fanfare For The Common Man / Carmina Burana/Carl Palmer’s Drum Solo / Rondo / Toccata & Fugue In D Minor

Official Website: http://emersonlakepalmer.com/

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