I can’t believe there are any progheads out there who don’t have at least one copy of the ELP album in their collection, and if they are anything like me then they probably have it on vinyl, a couple of different CD releases as well as the accompanying DVD.
But of course the music which is the inspiration for this album is from far earlier, in fact in many ways it dates all the way back to 1868 when composer Modest Mussorgsky first met artist, architect, and designer Viktor Hartmann, who gave him two of the pictures that later formed the basis of the inspiration. When Hartmann passed away at the age of 39, Mussorgsky was affected quite badly, and this led to him writing the score in just three weeks. However, a version wasn’t published until some five years after his own death, and it wasn’t until the 50th Anniversary of that event that a complete score was produced.
Over the years it has been recorded multiple times, and within the progressive scene, it was, of course, the inspiration for ELP’s 1971 live album.
Now, nearly fifty years on from that, and some 150 years since the original paintings were given to Mussorgsky, we have a new version from German quartet Voyager IV. The line-up is Marcus Schinkel (piano and keyboards), Johannes Kuchta (vocals and drums), Fritz Roppel (bass) and Wim de Vries (drums). That they have been inspired to undertake this piece of work due to the ELP release is never in doubt, as although they do have ten tracks inspired by the original classical work, they also include both Lake’s “Lucky Man’ and King Crimson’s “I Talk To The Wind” which of course also featured Lake on vocals.
In some ways it is an album which confused me quite a great deal, just because they have been inspired by the original score, just as Emerson was, which means that some themes are familiar yet others are quite different as apart from the two numbers already mentioned the rest were all composed either by Schinkel or in collaboration with Kuchta. Also, there is no use whatsoever of guitar on the album (although there are two drummers it doesn’t sound to me as if they are both playing at the same time, although that could be different in concert), plus this is a studio album which has allowed some layering. Then in Roppel they have a bassist who uses a six-string as his instrument of choice, and sounds to me as if he is approaching music from a jazz background and is certainly not content just to be pinning down the bottom end but is adding his own styles and runs.
It is as bombastic as one would expect, but not heavy-handed, and songs such as “Bydlo” are incredibly accessible, exciting and invigorating. It would also be wrong of me not to mention the packaging on this release – as it comes as a hardback digipak containing multiple pages of photos and lyrics, quite something for what I believe is a debut release. This really is the total package, and fans of the original, ELP, Isao Tomita or any of the many other artists who have taken this as inspiration will find much on here to enjoy. Well worth discovering. 8/10
NEW SONG ALERT: Singer/multi-instrumentalist/producer Robert Berry’s new album, “The Rules Have Changed,” will be released under the name 3.2 on Frontiers Music srl on August 10, 2018. The full-length album will feature musical contributions by the late KEITH EMERSON, whom Berry was a bandmate within the band 3. This is the last musical project in which Emerson was involved prior to his untimely passing in 2016.
A preview of the album, the track, “Somebody’s Watching” has been released today. It is available on all streaming services as well as an instant download with digital pre-orders. Hear it here:
The working relationship between Emerson and Berry began in 1987 when former YES (official) manager Brian Lane and Carl Palmer arranged a meeting between the two prolific musicians. The plan was to form a more melodic, song-oriented band, compared to the complex symphonic rock compositions for which Emerson, Lake & Palmer was known, which would allow Emerson, Berry, and Palmer to follow in the footsteps of the success that Original Asia and GTR were enjoying during that period.
The result of that collaboration between Emerson, Berry, and Palmer was the band 3 and the album “… To The Power of Three,” was released worldwide by Geffen Records in 1988. The first single, “Talkin’ ‘Bout” reached #9 on the Billboard charts and the band successfully toured the U.S. to support the album.
With the success of the first release, Geffen urged the band to go back into the studio to begin work on a second album, but Emerson felt uncomfortable with Geffen’s momentum stifling, an inconsistent strategy that ultimately cut the first album’s success short, consequently prompting the band to call it quits. At the time of the band’s dissolution, several songs were already written for the band’s second release with some of the songs later being released on Robert Berry’s solo album, “Pilgrimage To A Point”.
In October 2015, conversations about a new 3 album started between Robert Berry and Frontiers’ President Serafino Perugino as Robert had been speaking to Emerson about releasing the band’s long-delayed follow-up album. Berry relayed those conversations to Emerson and in turn sparked revived enthusiasm from him for pursuing the project. The exchange of musical ideas ultimately paved the groundwork for “The Rules Have Changed.”
After Emerson’s death in 2016, Berry was left with Emerson’s final musical ideas for the project. From old cassette tapes, keyboard parts written over the phone and long discussions between the two friends about style, the framework of the album was set and ready to be brought to life.
After several months of grieving and contemplation about what to do with these co-written songs and musical fragments from Emerson, Robert decided to resume work on the material that was created and craft a record that would ultimately be a fitting tribute to Keith Emerson’s musical legacy and at the same time re-energize and update the musical style started with 3 some 30 years ago.
“Keith and I developed together with a vision of what the new album would be like, explains Berry. “There were many times over the past 30 years since 3 had come out that Keith either played on a session for me or we just talked on the phone. The new album consists of some past 3 writing from 1988, some newly written last efforts from Keith, and some songs written exclusively by me after Keith’s death. “
The final result is “The Rules Have Changed,” a reboot of the original 3 project, centered on Robert Berry’s amazing musical talents.
This is a record that deserves to be heard by every fan of the great Keith Emerson and includes many exquisite musical adventures, which every progressive music fan will be delighted to experience and enjoy.
“Every second I worked on writing, recording, and performing those songs I had one thing on my mind,” says Berry. “The phrase… ‘What would Keith do’…drove me, it guided me, it consumed my creativity. It was so important to me to fulfill our vision for this album. I believe Keith worked through me. I especially felt him with me when I did the solos. The songs we had worked on together but the solos were to be improvised while recording. You will hear his flare coming through on the solos. The solos are played by me, but, at the same time, also by him. I would never say I was even close to being the player Keith was. But I believe you can hear his spirit in the sound and in my playing. I am so proud of this album. I can’t help but think somehow he is proud of the results too.”
1. One by One
2. Powerful Man
3. The Rules Have Changed
4. Our Bond
5. What You’re Dreaming Now
6. Somebody’s Watching
7. This Letter
8. Your Mark on The World
PRODUCED BY: Robert Berry
SONGWRITERS: Keith Emerson, Robert Berry
ARRANGEMENTS: Keith Emerson, Robert Berry
RECORDED and MIXED BY: Robert Berry at Soundtek Studios, Campbell, CA MASTERED BY: George Horn Mastering, Berkeley, CA
INSTRUMENTATION: Robert Berry
ELP Fanfare 1970-1997is a lavishly packaged, super-deluxe, multi-component rigid box set, containing a wealth of ELP treasure showcasing the immense musical talents of Keith Emerson, Greg Lake and Carl Palmer.
Fanfare 1970-1997includes a triple vinyl LP of previously unreleased live audio, all the remastered original album CDs, previously unreleased live CDs and BBC archive material, 5:1 album mixes audio Blu-ray, 7” singles, deluxe hardback photo-book with rare photos and extensive sleeve notes, reproduced original tour programmes and poster, and enamel ELP pin badge.
By pre-ordering Fanfare 1970-1997on PledgeMusic you will receive an exclusive bonus CD of the previously unreleased Black Moon – Rough Album Mixes and your numbered Box Set will be delivered as close as possible to the 29th of September, ahead of the general release of 27th October.
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