What does it sound like?:
This box set is designed to round up everything ELP related for the hard core fan. I’ve already reviewed during the past year the individual album reissues, so I’m not going to go over that ground again. (Is that a sigh of relief I hear?)
Instead, I’ll stick with the five live cds included in the box to entice fans that already have the rest of this stuff. They span a twenty five year period, starting in 1972, but really concentrating on the nineties with their reunion tours. In fact there’s one cd from ’72, two from ’92, one from ’97 and a BBC set covering different eras. That’s a bit of a shame, as they were at their creative peak in the seventies rather than in the nineties, so the balance does seem rather the wrong way round. Oddly though, or maybe it’s not surprising at all really, the set list barely changes over the years, although I suppose that applies to many heritage acts, where the old classics are always heavily favoured in live shows. At least the Birmingham show from 1992 does devote a few tracks to the ‘reunion’ Black Moon album, but it would have been nice to hear more of this more recent material. Two of the cds stand out: the 1972 set recorded in the US gives us some stirring performances of their earlier material, while the On The BBC disc is the pick of the bunch. This has some excellent performances from the Works tour originally broadcast on the OGWT in 1979, together with some rather less good ones broadcast on Pop Goes Summer in 1993.
So, overall, these are something of a mixed bag. There were a number of ELP shows issued as ‘official bootlegs’ at one time, although I haven’t seen them around for ages. The downside of them was their iffy sound quality. These have much better sound, but maybe the choice of shows could have been better.
What does it all *mean*?
This is a set squarely aimed at the devoted fan with money to spend to get every last bit of ELP they can. As well as the live sets, you do also get a vinyl live album from a different show, plus all the expanded reissues of their back catalogue, with 5.1 mixes where they were done. There’s also lots of memorabilia, book etc in there. It’s an extensive but expensive set, and certainly not one for those who just want an introduction to the band.
Goes well with…
Other ELP albums, esspecially their early to mid seventies releases.
Might suit people who like…
Prog, instrumental virtuosity.