Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Aquakarn #10 (Highland HL350/351)

Aquakarn #10 (Highland HL350/351)

Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, ON, Canada – December 7th, 1973

Disc 1 (64:52)  Hoedown, Jerusalem, Toccata, Tarkus, Benny The Bouncer, Take A Pebble (fugue), Still…You Turn Me On, Lucky Man (with piano), Piano improvisations (Little Rock Getaway), Take A Pebble (conclusion)

Disc 2 (50:59):  Karn Evil 9 (1st Impression), Karn Evil 9 (2nd Impression), Karn Evil 9 (3rd Impression), Pictures At An Exhibition, outroduction

Aquakarn #10 is a good but frustrating listen.  On the whole the tape for this show is very good and has wonderful atmosphere, but there are time when there is significant distortion (like during “Toccata”) and tape deterioration (during the encore “Pictures At An Exhibition”).  There are also numerous little cuts scattered throughout the tape including a cut and repeat at 16:36 in “Tarkus” and two more at 17:12 and 17:26.  There is a cut before “Take A Pebble” eliminating the opening notes and at 1:55.  The very start of “Still…You Turn Me On” is also missing.  During the piano improvisations there is a cut at 9:04.  During the “Karn Evil 9” suite there is a cut at 1:08 in the first impression, a cut between the first and second (a common phenomena in Brain Salad Surgery tapes) and one at the end of the second impression eliminating about a minute of music.  In the third impression there are cuts at 1:26, 135-1:40 and at 4:13 and in the encore “Pictures At An Exhibition” there are cuts at 7:00 and 13:38.

There are many issues with this tape, but for the most part is enjoyable and contains another great ELP show in Canada.  Greg Lake delivers a poignant version of “Jerusalem” and the line “nor will my sword sleep in my hand” can send chills down the spine.  “Tarkus” reaches twenty-five minutes but will be expanded later on in the tour.  Emerson take a long time to get into the “Aquatarkus” section of the fantasy.  Emerson introduces “Benny The Bouncer” by saying, “the words to this next song are at Young Street Station.”  ELP liked to include a lighthearted song on each of their albums and concerts and this tune is from their latest album, effectively replacing “The Sheriff” in the setlist.  It is a nice jazzy dixieland tune that nicely breaks up the tense epics in the first half of the show.  

“Take A Pebble” is segued with “Still…You Turn Me On” which in turn leads to their earliest hit “Lucky Man.”  Emerson accompanies Lake on the piano making this a rarity.  The jazzy piano improvisations include the Joe Sullivan ragtime tune “Little Rock Getaway” before the reprise of “Take A Pebble.”  The second epic of the night takes up most of the second half of the show.  Emerson introduces the piece saying, “Karn Evil 9 takes up most of Brain Salad Surgery and it consists of three impressions which each have a different meaning. The first impression is a statement and a reaction to the statement.  You’ll have to listen to the words to find out what it’s all about.  There’s an interval for the second impression.  The third impression goes with the evolution of creativity, very heavy stuff there.  Starting with the stone age going through right the iron age up to right where we are now with computers adn things.  And the answer’s all up to you.  Rock and roll.  ‘Karn Evil 9.'”

The introduction is a bit pretentious but the suite is one of their greatest creations.  It contains an extraordinary contrast in musical styles beginning with a tight baroque style fugue, carnival screamers, Caribbean steel drum dance music, Elgareque marches and electronic cacophony with a long Carl Palmer drum solo thrown in for good measure.  Except for the drum solo it was played each night very close to the studio recording with no expansions or improvisations.  The only encore is an eighteen minute version of “Pictures At An Exhibition” with “The Great Gates Of Kiev” being the centerpiece with moog inspired atonal explorations in the middle.  The distortion on the tape actually works well with this part of the song.  Aquakarn #10 was released by Highland ten years ago and is so far the only silver pressed edition of the Toronto tape.  Despite the problems, it is listenable enough to be worth investigating as a good document into this long tour.      

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