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ELP’s Keith Emerson Goes To The Movies With Box Set

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Keith Emerson at the MoviesIn the midst of the usual catalogue activity for Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Cherry Red’s Esoteric Recordings imprint has a new treasure for fans of keyboardist Keith Emerson. The 3-CD box set Keith Emerson at the Movies collects Emerson’s scores for seven motion pictures originally released between 1980’s Inferno and 2004’s Godzilla: Final Wars.  The set was originally released in 2005 on the Castle label, but has since gone out-of-print.  This version features the same tracks, but adds new packaging and a fresh remastering.

Following the (first) break-up of Emerson, Lake and Palmer in 1979, Keith Emerson made his solo debut with the soundtrack to the Italian film Inferno, and the transition into the world of film scoring wasn’t much of a stretch for Emerson.  With ELP, he had already been working on a widescreen canvas as a musical storyteller, incorporating orchestral and conceptual elements into the group’s brand of progressive rock.  In Malcolm Dome’s fine essay accompanying At the Movies, Emerson recalls his first exposure to the power of the cinema, when his parents took him as a youngster to see Walt Disney’s Bambi. Then The Magnificent Seven, so memorably scored by Elmer Bernstein, opened his eyes (and ears) to the power of music on the big screen.  Certain ELP compositions – such as “Tank” and “The Three Fates,” both from the group’s 1970 debut – were even conceived by Emerson as having “a very soundtrack type of appeal.”

After nearly landing assignments for such high-profile pictures as Chariots of Fire (he turned it down) and The Elephant Man (he “didn’t get the gig,” in his own words), Emerson landed his first scoring gig for Inferno.  For the Dario Argento-directed horror film, Emerson enlisted conductor-arranger Godfrey Salmon who had worked with ELP on their 1977 American orchestral tour.  The presentation here adds a track of “Inferno Extras.”  Soon, he was able to bring his talents to American cinema, as well, nabbing the composer slot for the Sylvester Stallone/Rutger Hauer action film Nighthawks in 1981.  He even performed a cover of The Spencer Davis Group’s “I’m a Man” at the request of his record label, taking lead vocals himself!  This edition replicates the sequence of the long out-of-print LP version of the Nighthawks soundtrack.  For the 1984 movie Best Revenge starring John Heard and The Band’s Levon Helm, Emerson provided a title song featuring Helm on vocals and Helm’s Band-mate, Garth Hudson, on accordion.  Alas, the LP’s Levon Helm showcase track, “Straight Between the Eyes”, has been replaced here by “For Those Who Win.”

In addition to those pictures, Keith Emerson at the Movies also features his scores to two more Italian horror flicks – 1984’s Murderock and 1989’s La Chiesa (The Church) – and two Japanese films: 1983’s animated Harmagedon and 2004’s Godzilla: Final Wars..  Ben Wiseman has remastered all of the scores contained in this set produced by Mark Powell for Esoteric.  Each disc is housed in the clamshell box in a paper sleeve.

After the jump, we have more, including the complete track listing and links to order! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 26, 2014 at 10:11

Razor and Tie Revisits Emerson Lake and Palmer’s “Brain Salad Surgery” For 40th Anniversary

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Brain Salad SurgeryFor Emerson, Lake and Palmer, the fourth time was the charm.

Keyboardist Keith Emerson, vocalist/bassist/guitarist Greg Lake and drummer/percussionist Carl Palmer were innovators in the progressive rock genre, fusing classical, jazz and heavy rock on a regular basis since their 1970 self-titled debut album. ELP was an answer both to the compact, three-minute pop songs that dominated the airwaves and to the blues-rock genre epitomized by the likes of Led Zeppelin, and the group pursued a refinement of their sound via their second and third albums, Tarkus and Trilogy. Yet the best expression of what made Emerson, Lake and Palmer so distinctive and so excitingly experimental can be heard on their fourth studio long-player (and fifth album overall), 1973’s Brain Salad Surgery. The mission statement for the album was simple – to follow up the dense production of Trilogy with an album that the “power trio” could play live – but the results were anything but. Razor and Tie has recently issued a new edition of Brain Salad as a 2-CD/1-DVD-A set to belatedly celebrate the landmark release’s fortieth anniversary.

This new reissue follows the label’s 2012 sets for ELP and Tarkus and follows a similar format: the original album in remastered form on Disc One, a different album presentation with an array of outtakes, alternates and early mixes on Disc Two, and new, high-resolution mixes on Disc Three, a DVD-Audio disc. Much has changed since 2012, however, not least of all the parting of the ways between the band and producer Steven Wilson. Prog hero Wilson has recently remixed albums from King Crimson, Yes, Gentle Giant and Jethro Tull, and it was anticipated that he would continue his association with ELP for Brain Salad. He’s been replaced by producer Jakko M. Jakszyk, currently of King Crimson, who is responsible for the new stereo mix available here in lossless 24/96 Advanced Resolution and 24/96 LPCM Stereo on the DVD-Audio disc. A key component of those earlier deluxe editions is missing, however: the new 5.1 surround mix which is only available on an import Super Deluxe box set.

Brain Salad Surgery –its title derived from a Dr. John lyric referencing fellatio – remains the most ambitious entry in the ELP catalogue. Produced by Lake, it proved an amalgam of the styles that propelled the group to success – and also was their loudest and most aggressive release. In addition, it marked ELP’s heaviest and most skillfully integrated use of electronic sounds and voices to that point. Nobody could accuse the supergroup of resting on its laurels. In attempting to get back to basics, ELP continued to push the envelope with impeccable musicianship and brainy bombast.

Certainly it was a brave move to open a hotly-anticipated album with an adaptation of a Hubert Parry (1848-1918) hymn with lyrics adapted from a William Blake poem (1757-1827) but that’s precisely what ELP did with “Jerusalem.” It was banned upon its release by the BBC on the grounds of its desecration of the classic hymn. It’s all rather stately, though, and a bold affirmation of the group’s English heritage – not to mention a grandiose and unexpected way to open a so-called rock album. “Toccata” also found ELP serving as adapters. Keith Emerson arranged the Fourth Movement of Alberto Ginastera’s First Piano Concerto for the group, with the piece a showcase for not only his dexterous, cosmic synth explorations but for Palmer’s furious drumming. Ginastera, an acclaimed figure in 20th century classical music and in the music of his home country of Argentina, approved of Emerson’s radical transformation complete with its groundbreaking electronic drum solo.

The eclectic variety of sounds continued with the haunting baroque ballad “Still…You Turn Me On,” a pretty Lake ballad in the vein of “Lucky Man.” Its psychedelic flourishes and touches of funk retained the element of the unexpected, but the track was an oasis of accessibility on the album’s first side. In the liner notes for this reissue, Lake still laments his bandmates’ reluctance to issue the song as a single when it could have followed in the footsteps of “Lucky Man” to expose the group to a broader audience. “Benny the Bouncer,” an electronic-infused music hall pastiche with a cheerfully violent storyline, was written by Emerson, Lake and King Crimson’s Peter Sinfield, and features Emerson’s best barroom boogie-woogie piano licks. Lake’s exaggerated vocals are aptly described by Emerson as in the style of Stanley Holloway, the great British actor who originated the role of Alfred P. Doolittle in My Fair Lady.

The first four tracks on Brain Salad Surgery, however, served as prelude to the lengthy suite “Karn Evil 9” (a play on the word “carnival”). The nearly 30-minute track, beginning on Side One of the original vinyl and occupying the complete second side, as well was split into three movements (or Impressions) with two parts to the first movement. Like the epic title track that opened Tarkus, “Karn Evil” excitingly shifted moods, tempi and style, with standout moments for all three members. (Emerson and Lake shared writing credit along with lyricist Sinfield.)

Lake comfortably adopted the role of the carnival barker in the sci-fi fantasia which told of a futuristic world where “all manner of evil and decadence had been banished.” The “Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends…” – the second part of the 1st Impression – likely remains ELP’s single most famous piece of music, but it’s surrounded by one of their most creative and sprawling sonic explorations. The 2nd Impression is the most jazz-oriented, a piano/bass/drums workout (with offbeat synthesized steel drums) that’s refreshingly straightforward in its instrumentation but varied in its execution. The 3rd Impression ratchets up the rock quotient, setting to alternately defiant and triumphant music a dialogue between man and computer, pitted against one another for supremacy.

After the jump: what sets this edition apart from the rest? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 31, 2014 at 09:33

Release Round-Up: Week of July 1

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Legend 30 packshotBob Marley,  Legend: 30th Anniversary Edition (Tuff Gong/Island/UMe)

The best-selling reggae album of all time is back with two unreleased studio rarities and, on Blu-ray, a new 5.1 surround mix.

CD/BD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Division Bell BoxPink Floyd, The Division Bell: 20th Anniversary Edition (Parlophone)

The 20th anniversary of the last Pink Floyd album means an Immersion-level box set with a new 5.1 surround sound mix on Blu-ray and bonus vinyl pieces.

CD (2011 Discovery Edition): Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
CD/BD/Vinyl box set: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Bon Jovi Super DeluxeBon Jovi, New Jersey: Deluxe Edition (Mercury/UMe)

The New Jersey rockers celebrate the 25th anniversary of their fourth album (and their 30th anniversary as a band) with an expanded edition of the record that gave us “Bad Medicine,” “I’ll Be There for You” and others. Rarities include a bonus disc of demos and a DVD of rare video content.

1CD remaster: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2CD Deluxe Edition: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2CD/1DVD Super Deluxe Edition: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Audio with a GFrankie Valli and The Four Seasons, The Classic Albums Box / Frankie Valli, Selected Solo Works / Various Artists, Audio with a G: Sounds of a Jersey Boy – The Music of Bob Gaudio (Rhino)

Following up the release of the soundtrack to the Jersey Boys film last week, Rhino is releasing two box sets of The Four Seasons’ complete albums and most of Valli’s solo efforts (his Motown works are omitted), plus a compilation of the best of Four Seasons member/co-writer Bob Gaudio’s lengthy discography.

The Four Seasons: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Frankie Valli: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Bob Gaudio: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Jayhawks SmileThe Jayhawks, Sound of Lies Smile Rainy Day Music: Expanded Editions (American Recordings/UMe)

The alt-country group’s full studio discography from 1997 to 2003 is remastered and expanded on CD with rare and unreleased bonus tracks.

Sound of LiesAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
SmileAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Rainy Day MusicAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Jethro Tull - Passion Play ContentsJethro Tull, A Passion Play: An Extended Performance (Chrysalis/Rhino)

Jethro Tull’s sixth album, released in 1973, get the deluxe treatment with new stereo and surround mixes from Steven Wilson plus unreleased sessions and video content.

2CD/2DVD box set: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
LP (Wilson stereo mix of original album): Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Lulu AtcoSpanky & Our Gang, The Complete Mercury Singles / Lulu, The Atco Sessions 1969-1972 / Gal Costa, Gal Costa / Ronnie Dove, The Complete Original Chart Hits 1964-1969 / X, More Fun in the New World: Expanded & Remastered Edition / The New York Community Choir, Make Every Day Count: Expanded Edition / Grateful Dead, Dick’s Picks Vol. 17 — Boston Garden 9/25/91 (Real Gone Music)

The latest Real Gone slate features a little something for everyone, from harmonic ’60s pop (Spanky & Our Gang) to ’70s R&B (The New York Community Choir) to ’80s punk (X) – and some Grateful Dead, for good measure.

Spanky & Our Gang: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Lulu: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Gal Costa: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Ronnie Dove: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
X: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
The New York Community Choir: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
The Grateful Dead: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Soul Mining 30The The, Soul Mining: 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Legacy)

The The’s breakthrough 1983 album plus seven bonus tracks, pressed on 180-gram vinyl. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Brain Salad SurgeryEmerson, Lake & Palmer, Brain Salad Surgery: 40th Anniversary Edition (U.S. Release) (Razor and Tie)

Reissued some time ago in the U.K., ELP’s show that never ends is a three-disc affair featuring the remastered album in stereo, and alternate album assembly plus a DVD of old and new stereo mixes. (Amazon U.S.)

Release Round-Up: Week of November 11/12

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Beatles - On AirThe Beatles, Live At The BBC / On Air: Live At The BBC Volume 2 (Capitol)

What’s better than a remaster of The Fab Four’s 1994 double-disc set of live BBC sessions? How about another two-disc set of those sessions?

Live At The BBC (2CD): Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Live At The BBC (3LP): Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
On Air: Live At The BBC Volume 2 (2CD): Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
On Air: Live At The BBC Volume 2 (3LP): Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Live At The BBC: The Collection (4CD): Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Hathaway Never My LoveDonny Hathaway, Never My Love: The Anthology (ATCO/Rhino)

A fine-looking four-disc anthology for the late, great soul singer, featuring his greatest hits and rare singles, a disc of unreleased studio outtakes, an unissued live performance at New York’s Bitter End in 1971, and his complete duets with Roberta Flack. Beautiful, beautiful stuff here. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Miles Davis - Original Mono RecordingsMiles Davis, The Original Mono Recordings (Columbia/Legacy)

A nine-disc set featuring a crash course in jazz education in glorious monaural sound! Classics ‘Round About Midnight (1957), Miles Ahead (1957), Milestones (1958), Porgy and Bess (1959), Kind of Blue (1959), Sketches of Spain (1960) and Someday My Prince Will Come (1961) are joined by two rare, out-of-print LPs: 1959’s Jazz Track (featuring a side of quintet recordings for a French soundtrack and a side of rarities from the sextet that cut Kind of Blue) and Miles & Monk At Newport (1964), featuring two live sets recorded five years apart at the Newport Jazz Festival. (Look for several of these albums on LP once again for Record Store Day’s Black Friday event!) (Amazon U.S. /Amazon U.K.)

Herbie packshotHerbie Hancock, The Complete Columbia Album Collection 1972-1988 (Columbia/Legacy)

This 34-disc set features every one of the jazz pianist’s albums for Columbia/CBS, including 11 which have never been on CD in the U.S. before (eight of these albums were only released in Japan). (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Tommy SDEThe Who, Tommy: Deluxe Editions (Geffen/UMe)

Another expanded version of The Who’s magnum opus features the original album with an unissued spread of demos, outtakes and live bootlegs.

2CD Deluxe Edition: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
3CD/1BD Super Deluxe Edition: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
1CD Remaster: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2LP Remaster: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Disney ClassicsVarious Artists, Disney Classics (Walt Disney Records)

A neat new four-disc box set spanning the entire Disney gamut (film, television and theme parks) in celebration of 90(!) years of musical magic. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Fisherman's BoxThe Waterboys, Fisherman’s Box: The Complete Fisherman’s Blues Sessions 1986-1988 (Parlophone)

After some delays, the six-disc version of this mammoth box (sans “influences” bonus disc or vinyl LP) is available this week. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

CCR Box 2013Creedence Clearwater Revival, Creedence Clearwater Revival (Box Set) (Fantasy)

A reissue of the band’s career-spanning six-disc 2001 box, featuring all nine of their studio and live albums and a disc of pre-CCR single sides, is now available in a new package not made of wood. (Amazon U.S.)

Ry Cooder boxRy Cooder, 1970-1987 (Rhino)

All 11 of the famed guitarist’s Warner-Reprise albums in one box. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Direct HitsThe Killers, Direct Hits (Island)

The Vegas modern-day New Wavers release their first compilation, with new single “Shot At the Night.” A deluxe edition adds a few more bonus tracks, including the original demo for hit single “Mr. Brightside.”

Standard: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Deluxe: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Super Deluxe CD/10″ edition: Amazon U.K.

KeaneKeane, The Best of Keane (Island)

Another Island act from the ’00s (albeit one from England), Keane too release a compilation in a variety of formats.

Standard 1CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Deluxe 2CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Super Deluxe 2CD/DVD (Amazon exclusive): Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

P Montreal 1977Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Live in Montreal 1977 (Shout! Factory)

Welcome back, my friends, to a complete show in support of Works Volume 1 on two discs. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Lamb of God As The Palaces BurnLamb of God, As the Palaces Burn: 10th Anniversary Edition (Razor & Tie)

The thrash/groove quartet’s breakthrough 2000 album is remixed, remastered and expanded with three demos and a DVD documentary.

CD/DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Grizzly Bear ShiledsGrizzly Bear, Shields: Expanded (Warp)

The Brooklyn band’s 2012 album, now with a bonus disc of demos and remixes.

Shields: Expanded (2CD): Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Shields: B-Sides (LP): Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

ELP “Works” Hard on Vintage Live Set from Shout! Factory, “Boys Club” Set Makes CD Debut

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P Montreal 1977Fans of Emerson, Lake & Palmer – not to mention fans of Keith Emerson’s live work with Marc Bonilla and Deep Purple’s Glenn Hughes – have got two new sets to look forward to this season.

Shout! Factory will release Live in Montreal 1977 on November 12. Recorded in support of Works Volume 1 – a double album which featured Emerson, Greg Lake and Carl Palmer each taking the reins on writing and production on three sides and two lengthy tracks (“Fanfare for the Common Man,” “Pirates”) on the fourth – Live in Montreal 1977 features tracks from all sides of that set, plus a healthy selection of prog-oriented fan favorites from the band’s discography up to that point (“Karn Evil 9,” “Pictures At an Exhibition,” “Nutrocker”). This tour (and possibly this date), which also featured an intricate but costly orchestral accompaniment, has been represented on record before as 1979’s In Concert album, released after the band’s ill-received Love Beach (1978) and subsequent breakup, and by Castle in the U.K. as the double-disc Works Live in 1993.

Emerson Hughes BonillaRecently, Varese Sarabande has also taken to releasing a live show featuring one of the ELP members. At San Francisco’s Maritime Hall on May 15, 1998, Keith Emerson took the stage with Glenn Hughes, former bassist/vocalist for the Mk. III and Mk. IV lineups of Deep Purple (the pair first met when Deep Purple and ELP co-headlined the California Jam in 1974), and guitarist Marc Bonilla (who would later join Emerson’s backing band). The trio tackled tunes popularized by ELP (“Tarkus,” “Fanfare for the Common Man”), solo tracks by Bonilla (“Afterburner,” “White Noise”) and a Hughes-led rendition of Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” Released on CD by a U.K. label in 2009, Varese’s release marks the premiere release of the full show across two discs.

Boys Club Live in California is available now; you can order it (and pre-order ELP’s Live in Montreal 1977) after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

September 26, 2013 at 16:35

The Year in Reissues: The 2012 Gold Bonus Disc Awards

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Gold CDWow!  Was it just over a year ago when a rather dubious report began circulating (that, shockingly, was picked up by many otherwise-reputable publications) that proclaimed the death of the CD was secretly scheduled by the major labels for 2012?  Well, 2012 has come and (almost) gone, and it might have been the most super-sized year in recent memory for reissues, deluxe and otherwise, from labels new and old.  Here at the Second Disc, we consider our annual Gold Bonus Disc Awards a companion piece to Mike’s own round-up over at Popdose, and we endeavor to recognize as many of the year’s most amazing reissues as possible – over 80 worthy, unique titles.  We also hope to celebrate those labels, producers and artists who have raised the bar for great music throughout 2012. As we’re literally deluged with news around these parts, these ladies and gentlemen prove, week after week, the strength and health of the catalogue corner of the music world.  We dedicate The Gold Bonus Disc Awards to them, and to you, the readers.  After all, your interest is ultimately what keeps great music of the past alive and well.

With that in mind, don’t forget to share your own thoughts and comments below. What made your must-have list in 2012? Without further ado, let’s celebrate 2012′s best of the best. Welcome to the Gold Bonus Disc Awards!

Which releases take home the gold this year? Hit the jump below to find out! Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Emerson, Lake and Palmer, “Emerson, Lake and Palmer” and “Tarkus” Expanded Editions

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Ooh, what a lucky man I am!  Chances are you will be, too, if you’ve been anticipating the just-launched series of deluxe reissues from Emerson, Lake & Palmer, available now from Razor and Tie in the U.S. and Sony Music internationally.  It’s back to the very beginning for the progressive rock supergroup, with 1970’s eponymous debut and 1971’s Tarkus both having been revisited in 2-CD/1-DVD editions as you’ve never heard them before.

Keith Emerson (organ/synthesizer/piano), Greg Lake (bass/guitars/vocals) and Carl Palmer (drums/percussion) were all young music veterans when they joined forces.  Emerson was a founding member of The Nice, Lake an integral part of King Crimson, and Palmer an alumnus of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown and Chris Farlowe and the Thunderbirds.  ELP wasn’t the first time these musicians had desired to push the envelope in popular music, but the marshaled powers of all three created a legacy that places them at the vanguard of progressive rock.  The genre itself was an answer to the compact pop song that dominated the United Kingdom charts.  The so-called prog-rockers found expression via classically and psychedelically inspired forays into longer song forms, symphonic instrumentation, and “heavy” sounds.  For their mighty debut together, Emerson, Lake and Palmer combined classical (the grandeur of each composition), jazz (the free-form melodic explorations) and rock (the raw, primal power of just the trio).

These new editions are set apart from past reissues as they offer numerous ways to approach each album.  Both ELP and Tarkus offer three distinct versions of the album: the original LP, in freshly remastered form; a 2012 Alternate Version in stereo (on both CD and DVD-A); and a new 5.1 mix.  Each set contains the original vinyl mix on CD 1, remastered by Andy Pearce and Matt Wortham.  CD 2 is dedicated to an all-new Alternate album.  Producer Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree (also the man behind the impressive, recent series of King Crimson CD/DVD-A sets) was given carte blanche to re-envision these seminal albums originally produced by Greg Lake, and the Alternate Versions of both ELP and Tarkus include bonus tracks.  But in the case of ELP, Wilson was forced to leave some material from the original LP off, as original multi-track masters no longer exist, precluding a remix being created.  The third disc is in the DVD-Audio format, and contains a brand-new 5.1 mix of all available album tracks by Wilson, plus the Alternate Version in high-resolution stereo.  (See below for complete track listings for each version.)

Of course, in any version, these albums, both produced by Lake (and “arranged and directed” by Emerson, Lake & Palmer) remain stone-cold classics of the genre.  Of the original LP mix and the 2012 Alternate, which will you prefer?  It will largely depend on your familiarity with the original, and your willingness or desire to see it approached from a different angle.  One thing is clear, however: Wilson has remixed these albums with utmost respect for the material.

1970’s ELP planted the seeds for the continued growth of the group’s sounds, a mélange of classical, jazz and heavy rock sounds.  It’s primarily instrumental, though not without sung fragments and fully developed songs.  Though album-opening “The Barbarian” (adapted from music by influential 20th century classical composer Béla Bartók) isn’t conventionally melodic, it’s wholly stirring in ELP’s hands, rhythmically pulsating and majestic; a jazz interlude only adds to its grand ambition.  Yet, for all its unflinching tension, anchored by Lake’s furious bass, Emerson’s charged piano and Palmer’s lightning-speed drums, it’s ultimately a curtain-raiser.  “Take a Pebble,” the band’s first original song to be written and rehearsed, was developed by Lake and Emerson from a pre-ELP song Lake had written, and has the feel of a folk ballad altered into something much bigger: “Just take a pebble and cast it to the sea/Then watch the ripples that come float into me…”  Emerson, Lake and Palmer would continue to take a transformative approach to compositions of varying origins.    Clocking in at over twelve minutes’ length, it’s an exercise in theme and variations that compels the listener to pay close attention.

“Knife-Edge” was arranged by Emerson from music by Leoš Janáček and J. S. Bach, with lyrics by Emerson and Robert Fraser, bringing a recognizably rock dimension on the organ to this classical piece.  Emerson’s “The Three Fates” might be the album’s pièce de résistance, a three-part suite.  The first section, “Clotho,” features the virtuoso on an organ recorded at London’s Royal Festival Hall, while his gorgeous piano reigns on “Lachesis.”  The third segment, “Atropos,” features pianos and percussion locked into a percolating Latin groove.  Another pre-ELP song to be given a new life was “Lucky Man,” according to legend written by Lake when he was just twelve years of age.  Regardless of its origin, it’s a stunning pop achievement, complete with vocal harmonies.  The gentle acoustic ballad was given the ELP touch with its far-out Moog solo.  It’s one of the two shortest tracks on the original LP and perhaps the band’s best known song, even though it sounds altogether unlike the rest of the album.  No matter, though; its shimmering folk balladry capped off a diverse debut.  (And “Lucky Man” was extracted from the album to become a successful single.)

The new Alternate Version of ELP offers numerous distinctions even beyond the crisp mix, which provides clear, equal emphasis on all instruments.  But only the third section of “The Three Fates,” entitled “Atropos,” is present.  “Tank,” with a solo drum showcase for Palmer, has also been removed from the sequence.  “Knife-Edge” features an extended outro.  A previously unreleased version of Mussorgsky’s “Promenade” recorded during the album sessions has been restored; the song, of course, was later recut for 1971’s “live” Pictures at an Exhibition.  Perhaps to replace “Tank,” “Rave-Up” and “Drum Solo” have also been added.  These seamless pieces are fast, furious and in your face, with aggressive playing.  Palmer’s drums come on like machine guns in the former, while Lake wails and Emerson provides accents.  At just under three minutes, Palmer’s solo doesn’t threaten to wear out its welcome.  Four bonus tracks round out this reshuffled new version: alternates of “Take a Pebble,” “Knife-Edge” and “Lucky Man” plus Greg Lake’s first solo take of “Lucky Man,” as well.  “Take a Pebble” shows off Emerson’s fluid, dexterous piano and “Knife-Edge” is likewise an instrumental, with impassioned interplay.  Lake’s solo “Lucky Man” is tender and reflective, and the group version lacks the Moog solo but makes up for it, particularly via even more fiercely resonant playing from Lake.  Does the alternate assembly of tracks improve on the original?  It’s doubtful, but that was never Wilson’s intention.  He succeeds mightily in allowing this album to be discovered anew with unheard material that should be sure to whet the appetite of any longtime ELP fan.

Six tracks on the debut album have been mixed into 5.1 for the DVD-A: “The Barbarian,” “Take a Pebble,” “Knife-Edge,” “The Three Fates: Atropos,” “Rave Up” and “Lucky Man.”  From the very first notes of “The Barbarian,” sound is swirling all around you in this incredibly immersive, yet sonically tasteful, new conception.  For those equipped with 5.1 capabilities, this might just become your go-to for ELP.  Even though “Tank” and the remaining sections of “The Fates” are missed, the remaining tracks sound bold and beautiful in surround.  The high-resolution stereo presentation brings out even more nuance in Wilson’s mix than is audible on the CD.

After the jump: on to Tarkus! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 13, 2012 at 10:02

Release Round-Up: Week of September 11

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Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Emerson, Lake & Palmer Tarkus: Deluxe Editions (Razor & Tie)

Full review coming soon, but you should know that these are 2-CD/1-DVD sets featuring unreleased alternate takes and 5.1 surround mixes for these two classic prog-rock LPs.

Dio, Singles Box Set (UMC)

A U.K.-made collectible box replicating all of Dio’s Vertigo 12″ singles, plus the Intermission live EP and a DVD of music videos.

The English Beat, Live at The US Festival ’82 & ’83 (Shout! Factory)

Initially available as a pre-order bonus with Shout! Factory’s Complete Beat box, this CD/DVD set (featuring audio highlights from the group’s two US Festival sets and the complete shows on video) is the last piece of what’s been a great year for The Beat’s catalogue.

The Knack, Rock and Roll is Good for You: The Fieger/Averre Demos (Omnivore)

Sixteen demos spotlighting the songwriting partnership between Doug Fieger and Berton Averre (including an early version of “Good Girls Don’t”) are unleashed on disc.

Various Artists, Broadway in a Box: The Essential Broadway Musicals Collection (Masterworks Broadway)

Need a major musical fix? How about 25 of the best original cast albums ever, including My Fair LadySouth PacificWest Side Story and A Chorus Line, in one box?

The Desert Song: Studio Cast Recording (RCA/Masterworks Broadway)

The premiere CD release of this 1959 studio revival of a classic operetta.

Dave Brubeck Quartet, Time Out (Hybrid SACD) (Analogue)

This immortal jazz album, newly reissued by Analogue Productions, includes a brand-new stereo SACD remaster, plus the long out-of-print original Sony multi-channel mix and standard CD stereo layer. Not bad at all!

Duran Duran, The Biggest and The Best! / Yazoo, The Collection (Music Club Deluxe)

A pair of U.K. budget compilations from Demon combine hits, B-sides and album cuts from these two great ’80s bands.

David Guetta, Nothing But the Beat 2.0 (AstralWerks)

The French DJ/producer’s guest-heavy 2011 pop album gets reorganized and expanded.

Written by Mike Duquette

September 11, 2012 at 08:24

Welcome Back, My Friends: ELP Licenses Catalogue to Razor & Tie for New Expansions, Compilation

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Legendary prog-rock supergroup Emerson, Lake & Palmer have signed a new deal with Razor & Tie Records to distribute their catalogue, kicking things off with a new compilation.

One of the early supergroups in rock history, comprised of keyboardist Keith Emerson of The Nice, King Crimson bassist Greg Lake on guitar and vocals and drummer Greg Palmer of Atomic Rooster, ELP were a defining force in progressive rock music, melding traditional rock statements with jazz and classically-inspired arrangements, quoting composers from Bach and Copland to Prokofiev and Mussorgsky.

Though they were never major presences on the charts (save the U.K. No. 2 hit “Fanfare for the Common Man”), their works enjoy constant rotation on classic rock radio, notably “Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression (Part 2),” featuring the iconic opening line that gives this post (as well as a 1974 live album) its name. ELP broke up in 1979, after which Emerson and Lake toured with former Rainbow drummer Cozy Powell in the 1980s; the band reunited from 1991 to 1998 and played a one-off anniversary concert in 2010.

In addition to a new, 14-track compilation, The Best of Emerson, Lake & Palmer: Come and See the Show, which is available today, the label announced remastered, expanded releases of the band’s first six albums (studio albums Emerson, Lake & Palmer (1970), Tarkus (1971), Trilogy (1972) and Brain Salad Surgery (1973) and live albums Pictures at an Exhibition (1971) and Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends…Ladies and Gentlemen, Emerson, Lake & Palmer (1974)) as due this year.

It will not be the first reissue campaign for the band; Rhino remastered and expanded several of the band’s albums in the 1990s, as did Shout! Factory with different bonus material in the last five years.

Hit the jump to check out the new compilation (“currently unavailable” on Amazon) and keep it here for ELP reissue news as it’s reported!

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Written by Mike Duquette

February 21, 2012 at 17:45

Release Round-Up: Week of February 22

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Johnny Cash, Bootleg 2: From Memphis to Hollywood (Columbia/Legacy)

Rarities from the Man in Black, including rare radio performances, demos and single sides. (Official site)

Various Artists, Wall of Sound: The Very Best of Phil Spector / The Ronettes, Be My Baby: The Very Best of the Ronettes / The Crystals, Da Doo Ron Ron: The Very Best of The Crystals / Darlene Love, The Sound of Love: The Very Best of Darlene Love (Phil Spector Records/Legacy)

Legacy finally gets things going with their license of the Philles Records catalogue with four compilations that will take you back to mono. (Reviews will be up later today!) (Amazon: Spector, Ronettes, Crystals, Darlene Love)

Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Live at Nassau Coliseum ’76 (Shout! Factory)

The first-ever release of this widely-bootlegged ELP show. (Shout! Factory)

The Flying Burrito Brothers, Authorized Bootleg: Filmore East, New York, N.Y. – Late Show, November 7, 1970 (A&M/Hip-o Select)

Another live release from a beloved band of the ’70s. There’s no Gram Parsons, but there’s still a pretty good live set herein. (Hip-o Select)

The Monkees, The Monkees / More of The Monkees / Headquarters / Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd. (Rhino) and The Bee Gees, Bee Gees 1st / Horizontal / Idea (Rhino)

Straight reissues of these records from the latest digital remasters. Nothing to see here unless you need a quick fix. (Amazon: Monkees, Bee Gees)