Geez Louise, the show really NEVER ENDS.
Everyday mediocrities may be swept away by time, but great atrocities must never be forgotten. So in the spirit of the Shoah Foundation, Shout! Factory has unearthed this two-disc 1978 ELP concert, that its horror may live afresh. The sound, “meticulously mastered from the original analog tapes”, is terrible—thin and watery with a murky low end. These songs simply didn’t transfer well to a stage free of overdubs. The song selection is hit or miss (“Pirates” = ARRRRGGGGHHHHH). Indeed, the only thing that’s truly exceptional here is keyboardist Keith Emerson’s ego. From his liner notes: “This particular performance proves what a defining influence ELP had over classical, jazz and folk musicians all over the world.” Please. If you want your local jazz musician to quit in disgust, tell him he plays like Keith Emerson. A few lessons of Emersonian self-reliance: Pitch bend and laser fire effects sound awesome, no matter which song they interrupt; quoting the Close Encounters theme is even funnier right after you’ve quoted the Star Wars theme; and punchy Aaron Copland tunes are in no way derailed by a bunch of aimless diatonic noodling. To be fair, the cheering crowd seems to lap it all up; but as my friend Kyle points out, they were probably enjoying a light show on acid.
(All of the above ran at PopMatters. Hateful comments about church musicians may start appearing in their comments field at any time.)