Live at the Royal Albert Hall

Emerson, Lake & Palmer

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Live at the Royal Albert Hall Review

by Mike DeGagne

Known for their on-stage energy and full-force musical prowess, Live at the Royal Albert Hall is the farthest from disappointment a live album can get. Each member of ELP exhibits his individual talents on this astonishing audio spectacle that doesn't let up at any point. Spearheading the 11 songs on the album that runs almost 70 minutes is keyboardist Keith Emerson, whose earsplitting synthesizer rumbles and squeals with devastating vigor. His playing is loose and freewheeling, characterizing his devil-may-care style, and bursting with emotion. Equally forceful is Carl Palmer behind the drums, especially on "Lucky Man" and "Karn Evil No. 9" where he showcases both his subtle mechanics and his frantic arm swirling. On guitar, Greg Lake fills in with some stellar bass work, whose impact can be felt even above the grandiose of the other two. The songs that work best live from ELP are all included, amassing all the ardor and extravagance surrounding this threesome. In front of their home audience in England, they really steal the show with a nine-minute outpouring of "Tarkus," as the combination of all their talents are fused together in instrumental wonderment. Even better is the grand finale, a 14-minute medley of "Fanfare for the Common Man," "America," and "Rondo." A truly volcanic display of keyboard driving from Keith Emerson sends this intense montage into a frenzy, ending the album on a fierce high. Live at the Royal Albert Hall has the grandfathers of progressive rock sounding like sonically intoxicated teenagers.

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