The Manticore Special was originally broadcast on television in the U.K. and Canada near the end of 1973, and then on U.S. television in 1974. Since that time the documentary has existed in various bootleg formats, but this is the first time it has been officially released to the public. Bearing in mind that the special was resurrected from the BBC a mere 25 years later, the sound and video quality can be excused if it is not state of the art and, in this case, that is not important anyway. What we have here is a rare, behind the scenes look at Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, and Carl Palmer as they were in 1973. At the time, Emerson, Lake & Palmer were touring while writing and recording material that would become the landmark Brain Salad Surgery album. Most ELP fans would consider this the most fertile time in the band's creative history, and certainly there is ample evidence of that here. The concert footage shows ELP at their most daring and flamboyant, with a show that was second to none. Greg Lake has often said that their '70s productions would pale in comparison to concerts of a later era but, for its day, this was state of the art stuff on a scale previously unseen. As for the rest of the documentary, we get a candid and up-close look at the life of a rock & roll band, including the agony of a singer who -- due to a bad cold -- can't sing in the middle of a tour. There is some memorable stuff here, and fans of the band or the period will enjoy this rare glimpse behind the scenes.
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