Emerson, Lake and Palmer - Pictures At An Exhibition

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Classic Pictures Entertainment
Catalog Number: DVDP002X
Format: DVD
Total Time: 41:00:00

In 1970, Emerson, Lake and Palmer played at the Lyceum Theatre in London, performing their adaptation of Mussorgsky's Pictures At An Exhibition. This performance was captured on video, but not released until 2001. The sound at first is a little dodgy, a little muddy where Emerson's keys are concerned, but it does improve ... unless you are overly picky, you might not even notice at first ... except I've now drawn your attention to it.

It is not a straight performance video as about halfway through it was decided that colourful, psychedelic patterns were required to "enhance" the performance for viewers... what it does is draw away from the music itself. In fact, at one point, it is a montage of Marvel Comics characters that obscures the performance. But still, things are clear as Emerson manhandles his organ - again, I mean the musical instrument, though here he manages to keep it and himself on stage. Especially challenging, as the space they're set up on is rather narrow, being that space before the stage's curtains. Camera angles give justice to all three and we can see just how intense a drummer Carl Palmer is.

Ah yes, camera angles. As I was doing a little research about this DVD release, I stumbled upon some reviews by others, which reminded me of this one particular aspect that I'll mention, too. At one point Emerson is playing this flat, two-by-four looking thing (and experts will surely tell me what that was) which he was making emit some of the strangest, high pitched sounds (I think it was plugged into the Moog, come to think of it)... all well and fine, I suppose. But in a moment that is both humourous and embarrassing (for Emerson), he then runs the device back and forth between his legs and over his bum (the latter facing the camera) to see what results.

Otherwise, the performance is good, Lake in fine voice. As young as they are here, or at least appear, they are already very good musicians. Emerson is the most animated, but then when your keys are on either side of you, shifting balance from side to side is a must. The way it is filmed, it looks as if it was intended to be broadcast on television, though I don't know if this was meant to be the case. However, subsequent research suggests that it might be (and that this was released in theatres as well). I say this because all the shots are tight shots, no long views from the back of the theatre, no wide angle shots. As an aside, if you ever noticed that folks on TV shows seem to stand unnaturally close to each other when they're talking/interacting (other than in fights, naturally) it's so the camera can keep both actors "in shot," framed for the size (ratio) of your television screen. The visual canvas for theatrical movies is larger, and so actors don't have to stand on each other's toes -- unless the scene calls for it, of course. But, in terms of this DVD release, watching the performers perform - Emerson's fingers dancing over the keys, Palmer's hands flying over the drums and Lake's fingers plucking strings (along with his mouth projecting words) are meant to be the focus.

Having watched this after Welcome Back, the sparse stage setting of 1970 compared with the extensive rigging and lighting of 1992 is quite a contrast. Of course, had ELP arrived enough in 1970 to have the big production? Here, in 1970, I say the focus is EMERSON, Lake and Palmer, whereas in later years it was more Emerson, LAKE, and Palmer, where Lake became the focus.

Anyway, that last bit was just my thoughts/observations, as I was watching, not necessarily a review of the DVD. I was also struck by Lake's acoustic guitar playing during "The Sage" -- the instrument he started out on before joining King Crimson and moving to bass. This because, being a guitarist myself (though a very rusty and not very good one), I'm impressed with anyone who can pluck out a complex sequence of notes and sing at the same time, making each look effortless.

But back to the DVD. The picture is very sharp and bright - except for the decidedly dated costume worn by Emerson and the dated clothing on Lake and Palmer, it very well could have been recorded 22 minutes ago rather than 22 years ago. This gives the DVD an immediacy that is lost once the video effects kick in. The entire performance is just a little over 40 minutes, so this isn't a long DVD. Given the nature of the performance, there is no between piece conversation. In fact, other than Lake's singing, we don't hear any verbage from the band after Emerson introduces the performance and says the thank yous at the end. It is more recital than concert.

There are bonus features with this disk -- a biography of each member, a biography of Mussogrsky, a detailed discography, band history, photo gallery, and an art gallery. This latter features works that aren't related to ELP in any way, but is truly a gallery of art including a piece or two from Van Gogh. Each of the biographies and the history are told with text which is sometimes hard to read - I've a 26" TV and I still found it hard to read. But then, TVs are for images not text. The photos in the photo gallery are nice to see, but should have filled a little more of the screen. The animated menus are nifty though, as clicking on the desired item causes us to move to the next picture frame on the wall. But, the whole visible canvas of each frame isn't used as it should, getting us back to those photos...

As DVD, it's better than average. The 70s video effects hamper the performance itself, but we can't fault this DVD for that, as that was done at the time, not something added for the DVD. Sure, this could have been enhanced a little more with comments from the trio on this performance, maybe a little more background into how this performance came about.

The version I've reviewed is the single disc version in NTSC format for all regions. However, there is also a "Collectors Edition" of this DVD, where the disc itself is two-sided. One side is the DVD, the other an audio CD of the same performance (not to be confused with the 1972 CD Pictures At An Exhibition which was recorded later).

[July 26, 2010: This title will be reissued in a special 40th Anniversary edition on July 27 (days after the reunited band played at UK festival High Voltage) via Eagle Rock Entertainment (EREDV793), with yet new artwork. Plus a bonus of a performance on "Pop Shop," a Belgian show, recorded in 1971. ed.]

Promenade / Gnome / Promenade / The Sage / The Old Castle / Blues Variation / Promenade / The Hut Of Baba Yaga / The Curse Of Baba Yaga / The Hut Of Baba Yaga / The Great Gates Of Kiev / bonus features?

Keith Emerson - organ, electric clavinet and moog*
Greg Lake - bass, acoustic guitar, and vocals
Carl Palmer - drums and percussion

* credits mention grand piano, but there wasn't one on stage that I could tell. There wasn't room!

Emerson Lake and Palmer (1970/1983/1996)
Tarkus (1971)
Pictures At An Exhibition (1972)
Trilogy (1972/198?/1996)
Brain Salad Surgery (1973/1983/1996)
Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends (1974)
Works, Vol. 1 (1977)
Works, Vol. 2 (1977)
Love Beach (1978)
In Concert (1979)
The Best Of Emerson, Lake & Palmer (1980)
Black Moon (1992)
Live At The Royal Albert Hall (1992)
The Atlantic Years (1992)
Works Live (1993)
The Return Of The Manticore (Box set) (1993)
In The Hot Seat (1994)
The Best Of Emerson, Lake and Palmer (1994)
Classic Rock (1995)
Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival (1997)
King Biscuit Flower Hour: Greatest Hits Live (1997)
Then & Now (live) (1998)
The Very Best Of Emerson, Lake and Palmer (2000)
The Original Bootleg Series From Manticore Vaults, Volume 1 (2001/2006)
The Original Bootleg Series From Manticore Vaults, Volume 2 (2001)
Live In Poland (2001)
Show That Never Ends (2001)
Live (2002)*
Best Of The Bootlegs (2002)
Solo Anthology (2002)
The Original Bootleg Series From Manticore Vaults, Volume 3 (2002)
Live In Poland (2003)
Greatest Hits Live (2003)
An Introduction To? (2004)
Three Classic Albums (2004)
Ultimate Collection (2004)
Critical Review 1970-1992 (2005)
Bootleg Box Set (2006)
Original Bootleg Series From The Manticore Vaults, Vol 4 (2006)
Lucky Man: Best Of Emerson, Lake & Palmer (2006)
The Birth Of A Band: Isle Of Wight Festival (2006)
The Essential Emerson, Lake & Palmer (2007)
From The Beginning (CD/DVD) (2007)
Works 1 & 2 (2009)
A Time And A Place (4CD Box) (2010)
Live At The High Voltage Festival (2010)

Pictures At An Exhibition (VHS/DVD) (1970/2002)
Welcome Back (VHS/DVD) (1993/2001)
Live At The Royal Albert Hall (VHS/DVD) (1996/2001)
Works Orchestral Tour: Olympic Stadium, Montreal, 1977 (DVD) (1998)
The Manticore Special (DVD) (1998) (broadcast on TV 1973/1974)
Masters From The Vault (2004)
Live At Montreux, 1997 (DVD) (2004)
Critical Review 1970-1995 (DVD) (2005)
Beyond The Beginning (DVD) (2005)
Music In Review (DVD) (2005)
Pictures At An Exhibition - 35th Anniversary Edition (DVD) (2005)
Live Broadcasts: Collector's Rarities (DVD) (2006)
Pictures At An Exhibition - Special Edition (40th Ann. Edition) (2010)

*this is of the Isle Of Wight festival, too.

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: December 2nd 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.emersonlakeandpalmer.com
Hits: 770
Language: english


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