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.