VC2 0018 Pictures At An Exhibition
Produced by Greg Lake
Released on November 1971
UK CHART POSITION #2 . . .
US CHART POSITION #10 . . . GOLD RECORD
Find it at GEMM
VC2 0018 cover  

R ecorded live at Newcastle City Hall on March 26, 1971, this performance of Pictures At An Exhibition actually pre-dates Tarkus. It’s typically indulgent fare, replete with synthesizer solos and splattered sounds, a perversion of Modest Mussorgsky’s original as seen through ELP’s idiomatic eyes and excessive appetite. It does however speak to the heart of progressive rock, which has never been afraid to challenge the accepted masters in its pursuit of meaningful musical art. Of course it’s sillier than it has to be, poking fun at their own ambitions with a caricature of classical rock on the closing “Nutrocker,” which had some short-lived success as a single backed by the far-superior “The Great Gates of Kiev.” The lyrics are few, but swollen with their own significance save for the pastoral interlude provided by “The Sage.” Keith Emerson’s keyboards are clearly in control, and the audience wouldn’t have it any other way, feeding the keyboardist’s egomaniacal fingers even after the ultimately insubstantial solos that constitute “The Old Castle” and “Blues Variations.” Pictures At An Exhibition is not the first ELP album you need to own, or the second, or the third. Their best work (Tarkus, Trilogy, Brain Salad Surgery) strikes a better balance between the contributions of all three members. By comparison, Pictures is focused mainly on Emerson, who always seemed a stone’s throw from stealing the show anyway. If you enjoy over-the-top classical rock, then maybe you’ll agree with some that this is a work of art. Honestly, I’ve never enjoyed Emerson’s classical adaptations on the same level as I have their strictly original work. Using Mussorgsky’s masterpiece as a launching point for instrumental jamming is more license than I care to accord ELP, or any rock group for that matter. Had they improved, enhanced or simply shown a soulful understanding of the original work, this might have been an important album. Instead, it’s an impish trick played out by some remarkably talented young men whose youthful ambition gets the better of them and their audience.

VC2 0018 booklet gatefold VC2 0018 booklet back cover
VC2 0018 booklet gatefold VC2 0018 booklet back cover

TRACK LISTING

  1. PROMENADE    (Modest Mussorgsky)    1:56
  2. THE GNOME    (Modest Mussorgsky/Carl Palmer)    4:16
  3. PROMENADE    (Modest Mussorgsky/Greg Lake)    1:23
  4. THE SAGE    (Greg Lake)    4:40
  5. THE OLD CASTLE    (Modest Mussorgsky/Keith Emerson)    2:31
  6. BLUES VARIATIONS    (Keith Emerson/Greg Lake/Carl Palmer)    4:14
  7. PROMENADE    (Modest Mussorgsky)    1:28
  8. THE HUT OF BABA YAGA    (Modest Mussorgsky)    1:06
  9. THE CURSE OF BABA YAGA    (Keith Emerson/Greg Lake/Carl Palmer)    4:09
  10. THE HUT OF BABA YAGA    (Modest Mussorgsky)    1:06
  11. THE GREAT GATES OF KIEV    (Modest Mussorgsky/Greg Lake)    6:27
  12. NUTROCKER    (Kim Fowley)    4:33

    Arranged by Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Lyrics by Lake/Fraser.

CREDITS

KEITH EMERSON -- keyboards
GREG LAKE -- vocals, bass, guitar
CARL PALMER -- drums, percussion
Eddy Offord -- engineer
William Neal -- cover & paintings

return to EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK November 1971 Island LP HELP1 gatefold cover
US January 1972 Cotillion LP/8T ELP 66666 gatefold cover
JPN 1972 Atlantic LP P-8200A gatefold cover, lyric insert
GER/NET   Island LP 85804XT gatefold cover
UK 1974 Manticore LP K35501 gatefold cover
GER   Manticore LP 87 226ET gatefold cover
US 1980 Mobile Fidelity LP MFSL-1-031 original master recording
RUS 1981 Melodia LP C90163834 unique cover
US   Atlantic CD/CS SD 19122  
US Nov/Dec 1993 Victory CD/CS VC2 0018 digital remaster
UK 1996 Essential CD ESMCD 342  
US May 21, 1996 Rhino CD 72225  
EUR 2001 Castle CDX CMRCD167 digital remaster w. bonus track

 

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