Not an easy task taking on the music of Emerson Lake & Palmer yet the Magna Carta record label along with an impressive cast of prog-rock warriors “own the rights” to these superbly produced “tribute” CDs. Previous tributes to Genesis and Yes were enormously successful and now Encores, Legends & Paradox
give the ground breaking prog-rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer a rebirth of sorts with this sparkling, multi-dimensional and contemporary representation of ELP originals and adaptations.
“Karn Evil 9 1st Impression” features passionate vocals and solid bass work from Robert Berry who at one time replaced Greg Lake in the ELP lineup. Here, keyboard whiz Jordan Rudess blends many elements of the original Keith Emerson motifs yet adds a touch of soul through nuance, textural synth work and intelligent utilization of tremolo. “Bitches Crystal” gets a jazzy uplift via Igor Khoroshev’s acoustic piano solo as the venerable John Wetton breathes fire through passionate and forceful vocals.
The rendering of Keith Emerson’s adaptation of Alberto Ginastera’s 1st Piano Concerto, 4th Movement (Toccata) is multifaceted and executed in superb fashion. The great guitarist Peter Banks jabs, spars and meshes well with Trent Gardner’s ethereal and colorful backwash of synths. The introduction of guitar here and throughout adds another dimension to the conceptual approach of ELP’s music. On “Toccata”, keyboardist Matt Guillory is credited with the lead synth solos. “A Time And A Place” is hard driving and very much in-your-face. Jethro Tull’s Martin Barre steps in on guitar complete with his signature style “crunch” chords and sustained attack as “Niacin’s John Novello dazzles with jazzy and pervasive Hammond B-3 work. Here, the rhythm section of Wayne Gardner (b) and Doane Perry (d) drive the inherently complex rhythms as James LaBrie renders heartfelt and soulful vocals. “A Time And A Place” ends somewhere up in the stratosphere thanks to razor sharp precision and explosive impact, featuring the underlying yet thunderous rhythmic structures and tight arrangements.
ELP’s classic (and radio friendly) “Hoedown” features ex-Mahavishnu Orchestra violinist Jerry Goodman. Goodman adds the Midas touch and keeping in line with the nature of the original composition is a natural and perfect fit. On “Hoedown”, Simon Phillips (d) and Robert Berry (b) are roaring thunder yet maintain the tight and complex rhythms underneath the whirling dervish keyboard work of Jordan Rudess. Jerry Goodman churns out a blistering electric violin solo as the boys also dabble with a brief C&W motif. “The Endless Enigma” features the majestic vocals of keyboardist/vocalist Trent Gardner. Gardner also utilizes a Midi-patch as he emulates the trumpet, emitting sounds of joy or celebration. Changing moods, shifting tempos and complex unison patterns seize the spirit of ELP yet the overall tone is topical and refreshing. These first class musicians provide a new slant by reviving the essence of ELP yet offset the original compositions with additional instrumentation and clever orchestrations. There are numerous twists and turns and welcome surprises as these gents reinvent ELP while offering a new and enticing look.
Encores, Legends & Paradox is one of the finest “tribute” recordings this writer has heard in many years, regardless of genre. The overall production is a thing of beauty as Magna Carta continue to wave their magic wan with this ongoing series. ***** (see May 99 AAJ Interview with Robert Berry)
Track List: 1) Karn Evil 9 1st Impression 2) Bitches Crystal 3) Toccata 4) Knife Edge 5) A Time And A Place 6) Hoedown 7) The Sheriff 8) The Endless Enigma 9) The Barbarian 10) Tarkus
Performances By: Peter Banks, Martin Barre, Robert Berry, Marc Bonilla, Geoff Downes, Trent Gardner, Wayne Gardner, Jerry Goodman, Matt Guillory, Glenn Hughes, Igor Khoroshev, James LaBrie, Pat Mastelotto, Erik Norlander, John Novello, Doane Perry, Simon Phillips, Mike Portnoy, Mark Robertson, Jordan Rudess, Derek Sherinian, John Wetton and Mark Wood