Personnel: Greg Lake (vocals, guitar); Keith Emerson (keyboards); Carl Palmer (percussion).
Audio Remasterer: Randy Wine.
Liner Note Authors: Greg Lake; Keith Emerson ; Carl Palmer.
Recording information: The Mar Y Sol Festival, Vega Baja, San Juan, PR (04/02/1972).
The Shout! Factory label continued its series of reissues from progressive rock masters Emerson, Lake & Palmer with 2011's Live at the Mar y Sol Festival '72. Keyboardist Keith Emerson, vocalist/bass guitarist/guitarist Greg Lake, and drummer Carl Palmer were only three years into ELP and were riding high on their massive success at the time of the show on April 2, 1972, the second day of this three-day festival in steamy, scorching Puerto Rico. (Other acts on the bill included Alice Cooper, the Allman Brothers Band, B.B. King, Dr. John, Faces, J. Geils Band, and several lesser-known artists. It was a pivotal gig for a then essentially unknown Billy Joel. Several bands like Black Sabbath and Fleetwood Mac were scheduled to perform but either didn't show up or were prevented from playing due to a variety of logistical nightmares, including serious problems that promoter Alex Cooley was having with the Puerto Rican government.) Live at the Mar y Sol Festival '72 includes ELP's complete set and it is the first-ever official separate CD release of the band's performance; it initially appeared on ELP's From the Beginning import box set in 2007. The trio's stellar performance begins with a thunderous arrangement of Aaron Copland's "Hoedown." The blistering 23-minute epic "Tarkus" allows all three musicians to demonstrate their considerable skills, and this song proves how much Palmer's drumming drove ELP in concert. Lake's rich vocals and keen melodic sensibilities really shine on "Take a Pebble" and "Lucky Man." The first half of Emerson's "Piano Improvisation" is a solo rapid-fire classical/jazz hybrid before Lake and Palmer join in and give the piece the distinctive feel of a jazz trio jiving in a smoky nightclub. The 15-minute interpretation of Modest Mussorgsky's classical composition "Pictures at an Exhibition" is followed by the 18-minute finale, "Rondo," based on music written by jazz pianist Dave Brubeck; Emerson had previously performed "Rondo" as a member of the Nice. The liner notes include brief yet insightful comments from the band: Emerson remembers the lack of a soundcheck and how worried he was about how the extreme Caribbean humidity would affect his Moog synthesizer; Lake recalls the stifling heat, how chaotic and disorganized the festival seemed, a dead rattlesnake under the tiny stage, and how a powerful television light nearly set his jacket on fire; Palmer praises the state-of-the-art mastering of the tapes to create a CD with excellent sound quality. ~ Bret Adams