Emerson, Lake & Palmer perform Mussorgsky's "Pictures At An Exhibition".
Emerson, Lake & Palmer: Keith Emerson (keyboards); Greg Lake (vocals, guitar, bass); Carl Palmer (drums, percussion).
Liner Note Author: Peter Makowski.
Recording information: Newcastle City Hall, Great Britain (03/26/1971).
Much was made of early prog-rock's fusion of rock with classical music, but ELP was one of the only bands to take that task seriously, and never more so than on PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION. The well-known Mussorgsky piece is a staple of the classical music diet, and a prime example of "program music," where related sections of a piece combine to tell a story. True to the spirit of the times, ELP attacked "Pictures" with both classically trained respect and rocker irreverence. The album, recorded live in 1971, finds the band turning Mussorgsky's work inside out, not just restructuring it but reinventing it for their rock audience.
While sections like "Promenade" and The Hut of Baba Yaga" are essentially electrified, rocked-up versions of the original melodies, the band injects plenty of their own original (but not unrelated) motifs into the piece, including Greg Lake's moody ballad "The Sage" and the self-explanatory "Blues Variation." ELP is to be commended as much for its brash ambition as for its achievement in attempting a Moog-ified revamping of such a well established piece as PICTURES.