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Emerson, Lake & Palmer – The Original Bootleg Series From The Manticore Vaults Vol. Two (Sanctuary records CMXBX330)

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The Original Bootleg Series From The Manticore Vaults Vol. Two (Sanctuary records CMXBX330)

The first volume of the Bootleg Series focused upon ELP’s live shows around the time they were recording and promoting their their studio LP Trilogy.  The second volume picks up where the first left off with one of the final Trilogy-era concerts and follows their career through two Brain Salad Surgery shows and one from the Works era.  And like the first box, this second utilized well known bootleg recordings released by other labels without much remastering or clean up.  However, they did use very good sources and unlike the first box which used incomplete tapes for two shows, only one show in this collection is incomplete. 

A Right Cordial Shocker (CMDDD310)

Hammersmith Odeon, London, England -  November 26th, 1972

Disc 1 (52:53):  Hoedown, Tarkus, Endless Enigma, At the Sign of the Swinging Cymbal, Sheriff, Take A Pebble, Lucky Man

Disc 2 (47:27):  Take A Pebble [conclusion], Pictures At An Exhibition, Nutrocker, Rondo

When ELP finished their summer ’72 tour of the US, they traveled back to England.  After headlining the NME Poll Winner’s concert on September 30th at the Oval Cricket Ground, they spent three weeks touring England and Scotland from November 10th to December 1st.  Hammersmith Odeon would be their only date in London.  The audience recording is clear but distant and Emerson’s introductions of the songs are hard to make out.  Previous release of this tape include Nutrocker ’72 (ZA 72/73) and the much more well known Cut The Organ (HAMODE72).

Despite the sound quality, this is one of the most intense and inventive ELP shows captured on tape.  By this poing “Tarkus” went through another change in its constantly evolving stage life.  Reaching twenty-five minutes, it is preceded and ends with what sounds like Tarkus itself roaring in anger.  Emerson favors missile sounds during the long “Aquatarkus” improvisation in the pieces’ latter half as well as references to J.S. Bach’s second piano concerto and other ditties.

“The Endless Enigma” is played for the final known time.  It doesn’t appear on the tape for the following night in Brighton and there are no known tapes for the two Newcastle shows and final night in Dundee.  Afterwards they play twenty-five seconds of “The Sign Of The Swinging Cymbal.”  This tune was composed by Brian Fahey and was well known as the weekly opening theme for Alan Freeman’s “Pick Of The Pops” on the BBC.  ELP began playing it the November 15th show in Bradford and was included in all the subsequent shows.

“Pictures At An Exhibition” is again very intense with very strange moog sounds being favored by Emerson for the melodies.  “Nutrocker” is segued with a seventeen minute “Rondo.”  Palmer has his very long drum solo in the middle and experiments with some truly strange sounding drums.  The rest of the band come in again to complete the piece.  ELP reached a high degree of popularity at this time and most of the shows on this tour were taped from the audience. 

Waiting For The Corduroy Purpose (CMDDD315)

Henry Lewit Arena, Wichita, KA – March 26th, 1974

Disc 1 (62:44):  Hoedown, Jerusalem, Toccata, Takrus, Benny The Bouncer, Jeremy Bender, Take A Pebble, Still…You Turn Me On, Lucky Man

Disc 2 (54:32):  piano improvisation, Take A Pebble, Karn Evil 9 (1st Impression), Karn Evil 9 (2nd Impression), Karn Evil 9 (3rd Impression)

Brain Salad Surgery remains ELP’s most important work.  Its importance is reflected in the fact that they toured five different times with that material.  The Get Me A Ladder tour in the spring of 1973 is interesting since it features the new songs in an early state of development.  Brain Salad Surgery was recorded afterwards, June to September and was released on November 19th, 1973.

Wichita comes right by the end of the second US tour for the new album and about a week before their famous appearance at the California Jam on April 6th.  Waiting For The Corduroy Purpose utilizes the same tape source relesed before on Benny The Bouncer (Highland HL118/119#EL4).  It is a very good to near excellent recording.  The taper paused the recorder between most of the songs to conserve space.  There is a small cut at the beginning of “Toccata,” one at 12:52 in “Tarkus” and another one at the start of “Aquatarkus.” 

The tape cuts in at the beginning of “Hoedown” and the show presents the entirety of the new album with a few older tracks included.  “Jerusalem” is segued with “Tocatta” which, in the words of Emerson, features Palmer’s “percussion synthesizers.”  Their old epic “Tarkus” is now expanded to a routine thirty minutes.  The second half of the track “Aquatarkus” includes many references including “Norwegian Wood,” Bach’s second violin concerto and other tunes. 

“Benny The Bouncer” from the new album is played with “Jeremy Bender” as a coda.  “Take A Pebble” is retained from previous tours and has the same arrangement.  The only addition is the new ballad “Still…You Turn Me On” is played before an acoustic “Lucky Man.”  Emerson plays the same jazz style piano improvisations. 

The set closes with the half hour long “Karn Evil 9″ suite.  It is played faithful to the studio version except that Palmer has his second drum solo of the show in the second part of the 1st Impression.  The show ends with the exploding organ to the astonishment of the audience.  “Pictures At An Exhibition” is the encore but the taper seems to have run out of tape and didn’t record it.  It’s a shame too since the versions on this tour were actually longer than those on the Trilogy tour the previous year with much more creative moog explorations.  Nevertheless this is a great document from the tour and a great inclusion in this boxset. 

My Darling Nemesis…The Illuminati (CMDDD316)

Rich Stadium, Orchard Park, NY – July 26th, 1974

Disc 1 (72:53):  Hoedown, Jerusalem, Toccata, Tarkus, Take a Pebble, Still…You Turn Me On, Lucky Man, piano improvisation, Take A Pebble (conclusion)

Disc 2 (72:53):  Karn Evil 9 (1st Impression), Karn Evil 9 (2nd Impression), Karn Evil 9 (3rd Impression), Pictures At An Exhibition

When ELP would approach the closing nights of a tour  they would expand the improvisations on stage, using their well rehearsed songs as a launching pad for off the wall improvisations and jams.  The July 26th show in Buffalo occurs about a month before the extremely long Brain Salad Surgery tour that began the previous spring.  This is a very good to excellent audience recording with fantastic atmosphere.  It was first pressed on Impressions (Tumble Weed Recordings TW 53001/2) in 1993.  My Darling Nemesis…The Illuminati is a direct copy of  Karn Evil 9 Exhibition (Highland HL129#EL7).

The tape cuts in during “Hoedown,” is cut at the very end of “Tarkus,” has a cut in “Karn Evil 9″ between the first and second impressions and a cut before “Pictures At An Exhibition.”  “Benny The Bouncer,” which was normally played after “Tarkus,” was dropped from the set.

Eric Clapton and The Band’s show on July 4th was the first rock concert at Rich Stadium in Buffalo after it opened in 1973 (and a show notable for a very drunk Clapton).  Emerson, Lake & Palmer was the second.  They were supported by The James Gang and Lynyrd Skynyrd and they play the standard set but it is simply one of the best ELP concerts caught on tape.  There is such a wonderful atmosphere to the recording but the passion in the performance really hooks in the listener and doesn’t let up for two hours.

“Jerusalem,” the first song off the new album played, sounds intense and mysterious in this setting.  “Toccata” is a showcase for both Emerson and Palmer with his synthesized percussion.  Lake, however, has a rare electric guitar break and comes close to stealing the number from them.  This is one of the very few times an ELP song relies on the guitar for its strength.  “Tarkus,” reaches more than a half hour and is an amazing spectacle.

The long piano improvisations include Friedrich Gulda’s “Fugue” and Joe Sullivan’s “Little Rock Getaway” among other snippets of well known melodies.  “Karn Evil 9″ is almost complete in this recording, something that is unusual.  The first impression goes on for quite some time, reaching almost twenty minutes.  The tape flip between the first and second impressions is very small, losing very little music. 

The entire piece reaches thirty-five minutes, one of the longest renditions on tape.  The ”Pictures At An Exhibition” encore features Emerson in a very heroic mood, playing many grandiose melodies and flourishes as the bombast comes to an end.  Buffalo is not only one of the best ELP concerts on tape, but is one of the best progressive rock shows ever.  It is a convincing statement of the musical forms intention and power to hold a sold out stadium full of fans in attention.

Strangely Beneficient (CMDDD317)

New Haven Civic Center, New Haven, CT - November 30th, 1977

Disc 1 (44:17):  Peter Gunn, Hoedown, Tarkus, Take A Pebble, Piano Concerto (Part 1), Maple Leaf Rag, Take A Pebble, C’est La Vie, Lucky Man 

Disc 2 (44:26):  Karn Evil 9 [first impression part 2], Tiger In The Spotlight, Watching Over You, Nutrocker, Pirates, Fanfare For The Common Man

The final concert in this boxset is Strangely BeneficientNew Haven is the final show of the long Works tour in 1977 right about the time Works Vol. 2 hit the shelves.  The hour and a half recording is interesting in detailing the frustrations of the band in a year that began with high expectations and ended in disaster. 

Two older titles carry this tape, Live In New Haven (CD CD5-503) and Slippin’ On A Fanfare (Highland HL 401/402).  Is is an excellent sounding soundboard recording with the same timbre as the Hartford tape from July.  Missing from this tape are “Pictures At An Exhibition” (played after “Lucky Man”), “Tank” (played after “Karn Evil 9″), and the final song “Show Me The Way To Go Home.”  The master tape in circulation now does have ninety seconds of the final song so this release is not as complete as it could have been. 

The tape begins with the band playing the “Peter Gunn Theme,” a number they added to the set after their break in September and it is segued directly into “Hoedown.”  A scaled back “Tarkus,” running a bit more than half its length from the Brain Salad Surgery tour, follows.  Emerson keeps up with pop culture in “Aquatarkus” by dropping the Bach and Beatles references and plays instead John Williams’ “Star Wars” theme.

On past tours “Take A Pebble” served as the vehicle for Emerson’s piano improvisation and Lake’s ballads.  But Emerson dominates the song with a five minute scaled down reduction of his piano concerto from Works.  In an attempt to lighten the mood he follows it with Scott Joplin’s ”Maple Leaf Rag” before returning to “Take A Pebble.”  Lake follows that with two ballads of his own, the melodramatic “C’est La Vie” and “Lucky Man.”

Four minutes of “Karn Evil 9 (1st Impression)” is all that is salvaged from the mighty epic.  ”Welcome Back, My Friends…” is a phrase most associated with ELP at this point and it would have been too weird to not include anything from the piece.  Finally the disc ends with all newer material.  Two songs, ”Tiger In The Spotlight” and “Watching Over You” come from the new album and the two band pieces from Works end the disc.  In many ways this is a document of ELP on their last legs, the time when they ran out of ideas.  They would tour the US one more time the following year, record Love Beach and then disappear.   

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Emerson, Lake & Palmer - The Original Bootleg Series From The Manticore Vaults Vol. Two (Sanctuary records CMXBX330), 2.5 out of 5 based on 3 ratings

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