In addition to being a surprisingly effective and successful showcase for art rock Christmas music, this holiday EP is also well-representative of Emerson, Lake & Palmer's sound across several decades. Opening with the original Greg Lake single "I Believe in Father Christmas," featuring a full orchestral backing, it then jumps ahead 20 years to Troika (from Prokofiev's Lieutenant Kije Suite), as done by Keith Emerson -- utilizing the same musical source that Lake and Peter Sinfield appropriated for "I Believe in Father Christmas" (and which, in turn, is familiar to millions of filmgoers for its use in Ronald Neame's The Horse's Mouth and Woody Allen's Love and Death), the music becomes a showcase for Emerson's nimble-fingered keyboard work. Then comes "Humbug," a suitably good-humored instrumental -- highlighted by some virtuoso clarinet -- that was the B-side of the Lake single. The 1977 ELP version of "I Believe in Father Christmas" from Works, Vol. 2 follows, leaner and less opulent than Lake's solo version and featuring Emerson and Carl Palmer's playing. And the entire disc ends with ELP's version of Kim Fowley's "Nutrocker" from Pictures at an Exhibition, a flashy rendering of a part of the Tchaikovsky Nutcracker Suite, which leaves one with a pleasant progressive rock take on the holiday, surprisingly without too much pretentiousness.
I Believe in Father Christmas Review
by Bruce Eder
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