Boston 1971 (Virtuoso 010/011)
Music Hall, Boston, MA – November 12th, 1971
Disc 1: Intro., Hoedown, Tarkus, Take A Pebble, Piano Improvisations, Take A Pebble (Reprise)
Disc 2: Knife Edge, Rondo, Drum Solo, Rondo (Reprise)
Emerson Lake & Palmer’s final appearance in the US in 1971 had five known shows over a three week period and is surprisingly poorly documented. The highlight was their Madison Square Garden debut on Thanksgiving when they shared the bill with the J. Geils Band. No tape has ever surfaced for that event. Some sources claim they played at The Warehouse in New Orleans on November 20th and played also in Shreveport, Louisiana on November 28th. Three concerts were recorded including the opening night in Boston on November 12th. The Greg Lake website says this was a free concert, but the previous show in Boston on September 15th at the Hatch Shell was also a free concert leading to speculation that he has the circumstances of the two shows confused. Ayanami released a seventy nine minute version of this tape in 2001 titled Down To Boston (Ayanami 103). At the end of November 2007 another transfer closer to the master cassette was posted online. This is three minutes longer and the sound quality is upgraded. There is a nasty cut by the end of the show during the reprise of “Rondo” and from 1:41 to 1:48 the very end of “Knife Edge” is clearly audible. It is a strange and annoying glitch that the label should have corrected and is the only smear upon an otherwise very solid and enjoyable release.
There is a moment of audience noise before Emerson introduces the first song, saying, “We’re recording a new album in England and this is one of the tracks on it…it’s called ‘Hoedown.'” The Aaron Copeland cover is their greatest set opener and perhaps the best set opener in the history of rock and this is the earliest tape where it is played as such. At this point it is taken at the same slower pace as on Trilogy, but on future tours it would be played at a breakneck pace building tremendous excitement and energy. “Tarkus” is played next and after the “Stones Of Years” movement the organ disappears leaving only bass and drums. They stop at 6:26 and Emerson says, “we got a power cut on the organ, bear with us for a bit. I think it is all right…. Yeah Good!” At 7:25 they pick up right where they left off and continue the piece. The ending part of “Aquatarkus” is strange with an expressionistic call and response between Lake and Emerson giving the entire piece a halting transition to the end. The long “Take A Pebble” includes Emerson playing the opening piano melody for “Bitches Crystal,” “Jeremy Bender” and Lake singing “Oh! Susanna” before he plays the ballad of his dog Blue (or Boo). The show ends with an eleven-minute drum solo in “Rondo” as the set closer and no encore is present. Boston 1971 is packaged in a double slimline jewel case with dull paper inserts and is limited to two hundred copies.
Detroit 1971 (bonus cdr)
Easttown Theatre, Detroit, MI – November 15th, 1971: Intro., Hoedown, Tarkus, Take A Pebble, Rondo (includes drum solo), A Time And A Place
The first copies of Boston 1971 come with the free cdr title Detroit 1971. This hour long fragment was recorded at the Easttown Theater in Detroit three days after Boston. ELP played their second and third US concerts ever at this venue on April 23rd & 24th, 1971 (their first US concert was on April 21st at Theil College in western Pennsylvania). This tape sometimes circulates as being from one of the April shows, but ELP opened with “The Barbarian” in the spring and summer and not “Hoedown.” Yes, who were touring in support of Fragile, opened for ELP at this show. The sound quality of Detroit wavers between poor to fair to good. Parts of “Tarkus” are severely deteriorated and hard to hear. It it also quite heavily cut. An eyewitness claims they played “Knife Edge” during the set and “Nutrocker” during the encores. There is a cut 27:03 in “Tarkus,” ten minute in “Take A Pebble” eliminating the long piano improvisations and reprise. This tap is noteworthy for the rare live version of “A Time And A Place” played as an encore. This tape works fine as a bonus, but isn’t good enough to be released on its own except for the die hard ELP collectors. Overall this is a fine release by Virtuoso worth having. (GS)If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)