Emerson, Lake & Palmer: Live At The Royal Albert Hall

Emerson, Lake & Palmer: Live At The Royal Albert Hall (2005)
Shout! Factory
Cast: Keith Emerson, Greg Lake , Carl Palmer

In the 70s, "Emerson, Lake & Palmer" were the seminal progressive rock band coming out of England. The band was remarkable not only for playing as a trio only with Greg Lake serving as the bassist or the guitarist, depending on the song, but also for their almost orgiastic exploration of musical territory that was sometimes classically inspired and jazzy at others, while never straying too far from their real rock roots. In a word, ELP was a unique phenomenon that celebrated big successes with albums such as "Pictures At An Exhibition."

In 1992 the band reunited after a 14-year hiatus – or "vacation" as the Eagles would call it – and toured as a heritage band, performing some of their greatest hits. Their show at London's Royal Albert Hall has been recorded and is now presented on DVD once again. Clearly, this was a release I had to check out.

I went into this release with high hopes but sadly found them shattered very early on. While the concert is great and features some spectacular renditions of ELP's magnificent opi, the sound is not. I am not entirely sure how a concert recording of such poor audio quality could ever find its way into the market as an official release but I have heard bootlegs that sounded better to be honest. The track has a weak bass response and virtually no high end spectrum. The entire recording sounds muffled and lifeless without dynamics as if it were recorded through a wall from a room next door. What happened here?

I was excited to see live performances of track like "Tarkus" and "Paper Blood," to get a good dose of Keith Emerson's keyboard virtuosity, as well as a dose of their staggering "Blue Rondo A La Turk," only to be disappointed by the really bad sound quality that didn't make the cut. While the images are fine and well reproduced, I would consider the audio to be not even serviceable.

This could have been a fantastic release for fans of ELP's glorious days, but sadly this DVD is not worth the price of admission. I really, really wanted to like this disc, but unfortunately found it dissatisfying, if not unwatchable.