Emerson, Lake & Palmer

The Return of the Manticore

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It's hard not to mention progressive rock without bringing up Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Ever since their first major live gig at The Isle of Wight Festival in 1970, they've been a staple in symphonic rock history. The Return of the Manticore is a beautifully packaged four-disc set that gathers essential tracks, covering ELP's best albums and offering up some re-recorded favorites as well. The first disc begins with an alternate version of 1986's "Touch and Go" that emphasizes Carl Palmer's presence. The disc also includes a cover of "Hang on to a Dream," originally by Keith Emerson's former band The Nice, and King Crimson's pièce de résistance "21st Century Schizoid Man." A new recording of the Crazy World of Arthur Brown's "Fire" rounds out Disc 1's novelties. The remaining discs overflow with ELP's greatest creations, pleasing the most avid fan and saturating the curious beginner. A new, extended recording of "Pictures at an Exhibition" is a must-hear, accompanied by a choir and recorded in full surround sound. A stunning unreleased version of "Rondo" and a bizarrely entertaining adaptation of "Bo Diddley" are also highlights. The improved, remastered sound stands out on "Karn Evil 9," "Fanfare for the Common Man," and "Knife Edge." "Prelude And Fugue," previously unreleased, finds Emerson molesting the piano, releasing all its unbridled energy. An excellent collection, Return of the Manticore bridges ELP's symphonic work with their classical work, and unites their dazzling electronic pieces with their ragtime and blues efforts. The band's essence, as well as each member's individual talents, stands out on every song, defining the sole purpose of a box set.

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