Emerson, Lake & Palmer's In the Hot Seat is an album, not unlike their 1978 album Love Beach, which was made for the wrong reasons, at a bad time, and probably shouldn't have been made at all. Speculation is that ELP was contractually obligated to record the third of a three-album deal at a time when Carl Palmer had required minor surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome and Keith Emerson had required major surgery for performance-induced damage to his right arm. Clearly, the band's head was not in the game and it shows. To call this a horrible album would be a bit unfair, many could only dream of playing like ELP on their bad days, but it does suffer from a lack of direction, heart, and perhaps most noticeably, a lack of production. Most of ELP's great albums were produced by Greg Lake but, for whatever reasons, this one was not. Producer Keith Olsen does not seem to have a feel for the ELP sound and the album lacks that big ELP sound. A track such as "Hand of Truth" might have worked with bigger production but it is halted by its own smallness. There are brief glimpses of the band's brilliance, and the track "Daddy," recorded about the disappearance of a young girl in upstate New York, will rip the heart out of any parent, but this album falls short on so many levels that not even the talents of three phenomenal musicians can save it.
AllMusic Review by Marc Loren