Popular history, as well as the onstage compeer, join this CD in insisting that ELP made their first live appearance at the 1970 Isle of Wight festival, propping up a bill which has since passed into rock legend. In fact, the newly formed trio played their debut show a couple of nights earlier, in Plymouth; the festival show was simply their first major gig. It would not, of course, be their last. Elements from this performance have already leaked out in the past, most notably the rousing version of the Nice's "Rondo," and an excerpt from ELP's own newly adapted showstopper, Mussourgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition," which turn up on the official IOW compilation. Debut, however, is far more impressive, serving up the group's entire hour-plus set, from the lengthy previews of two songs from their then-forthcoming debut album, "The Barbarian" (five minutes) and "Take a Pebble" (nearly 12 minutes) through to a fabulous "Pictures at an Exhibition," "Rondo," and the closing "Nutrocker." There is some mild buzzing audible between tracks, and the opening moments of "Pictures" sound strangely like they were taken from vinyl -- strangely, because the official release proves that a high quality recording does exist. Overlook these faults, however, and even if one doesn't care about the album's overwhelming historical importance, a truly phenomenal performance establishes Debut among the most powerful ELP bootlegs on the market.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Thompson