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Free / EL&P – Complete Performance In The Stadium 1972 (Killing Floor KF 98025/26)

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Complete Performance In The Stadium 1972 (Killing Floor KF 98025/26)

The double bill of Free and Emerson, Lake & Palmer had a two date mini-tour of Japan.  It lasted for two days, July 22nd in Tokyo and July 24th in Osaka.  Instead of playing the Budokan and Festival Hall respectively (where most touring groups played), they played in massive baseball stadiums in front of tens of thousands of fans.  These were among the first (if not THE first) massive outdoor rock concerts in Japan.  The reaction was so enthusiastic that the Osaka show ended in a riot at the end of ELP’s set.

It presents two bands going in opposite directions.  Free reformed earlier in the year to save guitarist Paul Kossoff from his growing drug addiction and had just released their latest album Free At Last.  By July bassist Andy Fraser left the band and was replaced by Tetsu Yamauchi.  Paul Kossoff also was out of the band by this time and Paul Rodgers was handling guitar.  They would remain active for several more months before breaking up again with Paul Rodgers and Simon Kirke going on to form Bad Company.

ELP on the other hand had just released their third studio album Trilogy the month before and it was climbing up the charts, eventually reaching number five on Billboard.  They were engaged in extensive touring in the US at the time and these two Japan dates were a bit of a break.  They would also be their last two shows played in Japan until they returned in 1993.  

Killing Floor use a very good audience tape capturing the complete event.  The stage was set up on the infield and the fans were in the stadium seats (like The Beatles at Shea), so the bands sound a bit far away.  But the audience are quiet and respectful and don’t interfere with the recording at all.  The PA was loud enough to ensure a good recording.  It is also commendable that the label presents the two sets together in one package.  It gives it more sense of the event.                 

Korakuen Stadium, Tokyo, Japan – July 22nd, 1972

Disc 1 (47:40):  I’m On The Run, Like Water, Lady, Seven Angels, Unseen Love, Heartbreaker, Honky Tonk Women, Fire And Water

Free’s set can be found also on Complete Korakuen Live! (Private Masters 040) and Fire & Water (TNT Studio) which also has several tracks from the rehearsal tape made by Rabbit Bundrick.  The five songs on the video, “Seven Angels,” “Unseen Love,” “Fire And Water,” “Heartbreaker” and “Honky Tonk Women” can be found on Live And Rehearsals at Far East (Gypsy Eye 081) along with six tracks from the Bundrick tape.  (The complete rehearsal tape is available on Bundrick’s website as Free Rehearsal – Tokyo 1972).  Finally the video surfaced several years ago and can be found on Super Summer 0722 (Bad Wizard).

For a band on their last legs they give a mesmerizing performance and come close to upstaging the headliners.  There is a short introduction before they start with “I’m On The Run,” a song written by keyboardist Rabbit Bundrick for the Kossoff/Kirke/Tetsu/Rabbit side project (i.e. Free without Paul Rodgers) followed by the Rodgers tune “Like Water.”  

The audience don’t sound too interested at this point, but Free get their attention with “Seven Angels.”  This song was freshly written and wouldn’t be available until the following year’s LP Heartbreaker.  Full of drama, this is one of the best songs of the entire set.  Rabbit  Bundrick takes the vocals for his own song “Unseen Love” and tell the audience “at the end there is a chorus, a melody, you can sing with us.”  It is, like the previous song, an extremely dramatic piece of writing.  Their set ends with the Stones cover “Honky Tonk Women” and “Fire And Water.”    

Disc 2 (46:55):  Hoedown, Tarkus, Take A Pebble – Lucky Man

Disc 3 (36:12):  Pictures At An Exhibition, Rondo

The headliner’s set has been released before on Hoedown (BGS 1993-1) and Rock Explosion at Korakuen (Private Masters PM-043/44).  Three songs from the soundboard appear on Koshien Battlefield(Mindwarp MWCD-043/044) and of course the footage can be found on the Bad Wizard DVD Super Summer 0722.

ELP play their shortened set compared to the other dates.  “The Endless Enigma” and “The Sheriff,” two songs from Trilogy, are dropped.  ”Hoedown” gets the show off to a quickening start and is followed by a full version of “Tarkus.”  They’ve been favoring a slower military beat in the latter stages of “Aquatarkus” but forgo that here for a more heavy approach. 

Emerson is concerned about the audience hearing the piano before “Take A Pebble,” saying “we hope you can hear the piano out there.”  Lake’s part of the piece includes the short “Ballad Of Blue” the dog and a full “Lucky Man.”  Palmer adds drums to the piece but Emerson is strangely absent for Lake’s tune.  For the rest of the improv middle Emerson favors a heavy jazz melody with be-bop overtones.

Before they play “Pictures At An Exhibition” Lakes jokes around singing “raindrops keep falling on my head” to make fun of the slight drizzle that evening.  They play a seventeen minute version of ”Pictures At An Exhibition” with a massive sounding “Great Gates Of Kiev” at the end.  The show closes with twenty minutes of “Rondo” featuring Palmer’s long drum solo in the middle.  Emerson’s attacks upon the organ with the katana are cheered wildly by the audience.

Both bands deliver an excellent set in this performance and Killing Floor does a good job in promoting both as an event.  Not only are both tapes very good sounding and complete, but they also include a mini poster with the artwork as well.  This is the kind of silver pressing that wouldn’t be made today by profit minded labels.  It is geared too much to the collector and rock historian to be popular.  However, it is a good way to hear what kind of a massive event this short, two show tour of Japan was for both bands. 

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Free / EL&P - Complete Performance In The Stadium 1972 (Killing Floor KF 98025/26), 2.6 out of 5 based on 4 ratings

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