Tantalizingly short relic from the vinyl era
Eddie Konczal | 06/29/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"1979's "In Concert" was the last of three live albums that progressive rock supergroup Emerson Lake & Palmer released during the 1970s, and represented sort of a bittersweet swan song for the band's classic period. It lacks many of ELP's signature songs from the early 1970s (which had already appeared on 1974's "Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends...") and suffers from lackluster production values. Finally, "In Concert" was completely marginalized by the 1996 reissue "Works Live," which expanded this set to a double CD. But for me, "In Concert" remains a sentimental favorite. It was one of my first ELP CDs, and was instrumental in ELP becoming one of my favorite bands.
"In Concert" documents ELP's ambitious "Works" 1977 tour, which featured a full orchestra in support of their two "Works" albums. Employing a travelling orchestra became prohibitively expensive, and ELP ended up playing some dates without the orchestra before eventually cutting the tour short. Progressive rock's critics seized upon the failure of the "Works" tour as emblematic of the genre's pomposity and eventual decline. The relative briefness of the resulting live album is perhaps fitting; several of the tracks don't feature the orchestra, and those that do suffer from dull, flat mixes.
"In Concert" begins with "Introductory Fanfare," hardly a song in its own right; it's basically some synth noodling segueing into the band's introduction by the PA announcer. ELP follows with a cheesy yet spirited performance of the "Peter Gunn" theme, followed by a surprisingly energetic rendition of "Tiger in a Spotlight," which greatly improves upon the "Works Vol. 2" version. Also gaining in live performance is the exquisite "C'est La Vie," featuring a passionate vocal performance by Lake and a tasteful accordion solo by Emerson.
After that, things get sort of dicey. Palmer delivers a powerhouse drum performance on his "Works Vol. 1" interpretation of Prokofiev's "The Enemy God Dances with the Black Spirits," but Emerson steals the show with a boisterous synth solo; perhaps somewhat embarrassed, he shouts "Carl Palmer, all right!" after it's done (I always chuckle at that). The sound quality tanks during "Knife-Edge" and "Piano Concerto No. 1", undermining the full orchestra's presence on these tracks.
"In Concert" recovers with a magnificent, 15-minute condensation of ELP's adaptation of Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition." I actually (and somewhat heretically) prefer this focused version of "Pictures" to the longer, sloppier version on the earlier album of the same name (1972).
With the release of the longer "Works Live," it's difficult to recommend "In Concert." While it comes across more as a hastily scribbled good-bye note than a proper farewell, it's one I cherish all the same."
Great-- but too short!
Henry R. Kujawa | "The Forbidden Zone" (Camden, NJ) | 01/13/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When this first came out, I preferred it over WELCOME BACK MY FRIENDS. This was recorded during the 1977 WORKS tour, when I somehow managed to see the band twice several months apart. I still remember listening to 2 fans on the subway ride home discussing the show and trying to figure out what that opening number was-- "It sounded like something from a BOND movie!", one said. ELP, of course, were the ones who ressurected Henry Mancini's PETER GUNN theme, and it's been covered endlessly by other bands ever since!
However, this particular CD serves little purpose, as it has since been reissued with TWICE the amount of songs as WORKS LIVE. By all means-- get THAT instead!"
Get Works Live instead
kireviewer | Sunnyvale, Ca United States | 02/03/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"This album has been re-issued as "Works Live". Works Live is a 2 CD set and has twice the amount of music.
When this originally came out on LP, it was a huge disappointment. The track selection is bad and mostly pointless. The songs added to Works Live are much better than what is on the short disc.
Actually, I don't think I would recommend Works Live, either. There are some good tracks on it, but more than half of it (especially the In Concert part) just isn't very good.