Born Of Evil (Highland HL563/564)
Ahoy Halle, Rotterdam, Netherlands – May 25th, 1974
Disc 1: Introduction, Hoedown, Jerusalem, Toccata, Tarkus (incl. Epitaph), Benny The Bouncer, Take A Pebble/Still…You Turn Me On/Lucky Man
Disc 2: Piano improvisations/Take A Pebble (conclusion), Karn Evil 9 (1st Impression), Karn Evil 9 (2nd Impression), Karn Evil 9 (3rd Impression), Pictures At An Exhibition
The Brain Salad Surgery era is considered to be Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s artistic and commercial peak. Beginning in the spring of 1973, the tour supporting this LP took them almost a year on the road covering both Europe and the United States twice each. It was their longest up to this point in their career and was the last they would be seen for three years until the Works tour in 1977. This show occurs during the second tour of Europe in a year. This began with four dates at Wembley in London in April and ended June 1st in Frankfurt. Rotterdam is during the final week and this is the first time this tape has appeared on a commercial boot. It is distant and contains significant amounts of echo. Little dropouts are scattered throughout the show and the quality drops a bit during “Take A Pebble” and becomes noticeable distorted right before a cut in the tape in the piano improvisations during the fast, jazzy section.
ELP’s massive quadraphonic sound system insures that any tape will be at least listenable and the taper was in a good position to produce an enjoyable document. He was also able to preserve the integrity of the epic performances very well. There is a cut at 21:35 in “Tarkus”, at 8:45 during the piano improvisations and at 7:18 in “Karn Evil 9 (2nd Impression)”. There is some tape flutter at the end of “Karn Evil 9 (1st Impression)”. The end of the tape shows signs of disintegration and “Take A Pebble” has a serious manufacturing flaw. The song begins and at 1:15 it begins again.
By the spring of 1974 ELP become confident enough with their material, both new and old, to push the boundaries of improvisation to the point where it was almost routine to have versions of “Tarkus” and “Karn Evil 9” that would last for a half hour. The show begins with the mc making a quick announcement in Dutch before he says, “Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends…Emerson, Lake and Palmer!!” and the band launch into their best set opener, “Hoedown”. Keith is especially fluid in this piece. He introduces the next two songs, calling “Jerusalem” an “English hymn”. “Tarkus” reaches almost forty minutes. The “Aquatarkus” section is extended with snatches of Bach and the Beatles (everything but the kitchen sink it seems) and reaches a frenzy by the end. “Benny The Bouncer” from the album is the lighthearted relief after the intensity of “Tarkus”.
Before “Take A Pebble” Lake taps his microphone and says “it works!” This part of the show is centered upon Lake and Emerson playing acoustic instruments. “Take A Pebble” is one of his earliest little ballad and it leads to his latest, “Still…You Turn Me On”. Some of the lyrics are silly but Lake sings a heartfelt version of the piece. This leads into Lake’s acoustic solo version of the band’s first big his “Lucky Man.” Early concerts duplicated the studio version of the song with the moog solo by song’s end, but on this tour it was played as an acoustic solo piece by Lake alone. On some occasions Emerson would join in on accordion or piano, but in Rotterdam Lake is alone with the whistling audience.
A fifteen-minute piano solo follows this where Emerson experiments with avant-garde motifs before slipping into a breezy jazz section before the final verse of “Take A Pebble.” The new epic piece, “Karn Evil 9” begins with no introduction. This version lasts for thirty-five minutes including a six-minute drum solo during the “1st Impression”. The tape becomes somewhat distorted during the third impression. The encore is a seventeen-minute version of “Pictures” that includes the moog wanking frenzy in the middle as it common for these shows. Some comments from people who attended the show include, “I’ve seen several shows at the Ahoy’, but to my recollection this was and will remain the most impressive!…My second visit at ELP, together with my older brother, we spoke to Keith at the middle of the day near the hall he was sitting in a cab.
They started with ‘Hoedown’; very loud indeed. I was wondering if Greg would come out of the sound blast with his voice but he did it great. What a fantastic sound and it was quadraphonic, from four corners of the hall. After the set they came back with ‘Pictures’; by almost 35 minutes, it was my money worth.” The artwork is simple but effective with several stage shots from the Brain Salad Surgery tour on the front and inside. There are not many Emerson, Lake And Palmer silver boots on the market, especially since Highland seems to have abandoned them. Born Of Evil isn’t perfect but the tape is good enough to be listened to more than once. (GS)