Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy: Live – album review
CARL PALMER’S ELP LEGACY: LIVE
CD & DVD
Released 29 June 2018
Carl Palmer – officially a prog god and sadly the only remaining living member of the ELP trio that dominated the rock world for a brief spell in the early seventies. However, as keeper of the flame,
On this occasion, a double hit with a CD/DVD combo containing live recordings from 2014 and 2016 with his trio that puts a different spin on the ELP catalogue by substituting Keith Emerson’s keyboards with Paul Bielatowicz’s guitar and adding bassist Simon Fitzpatrick. Not a copycat in any way for Emerson or Lake, an impossible task, so a chance to reconstruct their classic works.
First up is the live in New York 2014 CD, the icing on the cake being the trio working their way through a full unexpurgated version of Tarkus. Along with a couple of the sort of classical pieces that ELP used to round up and work into a progressive rock tour de force (Toccata and Holst’s Mars), the trio also draw from the ELP with a shortened version of Trilogy and a thrilling Knife Edge.
It’s sometimes quite a challenge to get used to the unusual lack of keyboards, in particular some of Emerson’s piano parts on Trilogy, to the extent that you subconsciously feel yourself playing those familiar parts in your head in a weird sort of overlaying process. The case is the same again for some of Emerson’s rasping organ parts in Tarkus, but to give Palmer and his guys credit, they haven’t taken the easy route and the pleasure comes in hearing the works reinterpreted into a metallic prog rock format with the approval of a key player.
The DVD portion is likely the greater pull and more satisfying, being a record of the Keith Emerson tribute concert in Miami just a couple of months after his premature death in March 2016. A lengthy two hour set (also includes some mandatory behind the scenes footage) includes special guest appearances from a couple of Emerson’s peers, Steve Hackett and Vanilla Fudge’s Mark Stein, plus a hard to criticise ELP and related set.
Again, once you’re comfortable with the keyboard-less set up and happy to take care of playing along those licks in your imagination, the adaption of two tracks that were used as regular ELP set openers, a storming Hoedown and the more controlled Peter Gunn, kind of seal the deal on the different arrangements that Palmer now favours. The Barbarian and Pictures At An Exhibition and Bitches Crystal hit the spot with some impressive and intuitive playing between the trio – the sort of which you’d find with the original ELP – the yearning for a keyboard presence starts to fade and you’re appreciating the new direction.
At his kit, Palmer simply gets on with doing what he does best. Gone is the massive indulgent set of drums and percussion that were his trademark in favour of a more restrained and sensible set up and economy (although no less effective) way to his playing. The footage all adds up to an emotional tribute – as Palmer himself says of his fallen compadres and indeed the music the three created together: “always remembered, never forgotten.”
Watch the trio playing Trilogy live in 2018 on Cruise to The Edge here:
The Carl Palmer website is here