An Obligation “Works” (Highland HL352/353)
Civic Center, Hartford, CT – July 10th, 1977
Disc 1 (66:42): Karn Evil 9 (1st Impression part 2), Hoedown, Tarkus, Take A Pebble (including 3rd Movement: Toccata Can Fuoco) (slightly cut), Still…You Turn Me On (with piano & xylophone), Knife Edge, Pictures At An Exhibition, C’est La Vie (with accordion), Lucky Man
Disc 2 (53:52): Tank (incl. Carl Palmer drum solo), Nutrocker, Pirates, Fanfare For The Common Man (incl. Rondo), Outroduction. BONUS TRACKS: Fanfare For The Common Man (single edit), Pirates, Piano Concerto No. 1 (Germany only single “Excerpts from Works”), C’est La Vie (single edit)
ELP’s 1977 Works tour can be considered an act of sheer genius or pure hubris, or maybe even both. No other band had ever thought of bringing with them a full-scale orchestra on tour. The intention was to faithfully reproduce the symphonic arrangements on their new LP, but the logistics and cost forced them to reconsider their plan less than two weeks into the tour.
As the story goes, they took a few days in Fort Wayne, Indiana to rearrange their show to fit the three-piece lineup utilizing the orchestra for the three Madison Square Garden concerts and the final show in Montreal which was recorded and filmed for the official live album.
An Obligation “Works” is an excellent soundboard of the Hartford, CT concert immediately following the three New York shows. It sounds like the band is coming off of a high from having their orchestra for three nights. Keith Emerson plays the third movement of his Piano Concerto as part of “Take A Pebble.”
“C’est La Vie” is very nice and “Tank” is especially powerful in this very detailed soundboard recording. The latter-day classic “Pirates” closes the set very well, although the song sounds much better with the orchestral accompaniment. The encore “Fanfare For The Common Man”, their big hit that summer, brings down the house.
It is curious how two soundboard recordings have been released from this era come from Connecticut shows (the New Haven show in November was released as part of the Bootleg Vol. 2 box set some years back and is another great show with the emphasis upon songs from Works Vol. 2). The balance of the second disc includes hard to find out of print single edits from the Works and Works Vol. 2 era that is a good bonus. Given the performance, quality of recording and overall care given by Highland, this is definitely worth having and one of the better titles this label has produced.