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Welcome Back, My Friends, To The Show That Never Ends...
Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Manticore 200
Released: August 1974
Chart Peak: #4
Weeks Charted: 24
Certified Gold: 9/19/74

For the life of me I can't figure out how people actually listen to three consecutive discs of this kind of thing. What are these people on, anyway? I've been told my ability to concentrate is better than average -- I can listen to the "National Lampoon Radio Hour" and read Tom Wicker at the same time -- but Keith Emerson's rococo razzle-dazzle on the keyboards (which seems to be what this group actually exists for) leaves me numb, craving aspirin, and mentally singing over and over the first lines of Kristofferson's "Why Me, Lord?"
Emerson, Lake and Palmer - Welcome Back, My Friends...
Original album advertising art.
Click image for larger view.
Emerson has fast hands, everyone knows that, and Carl Palmer seems to be a competent drummer (although his taste in gadgetry does belong right besides Emerson's), and Greg Lake, one discovers every twenty minutes when Emerson and Palmer allow him to be heard, is a decent guitar player. But if this is music, I'm glad I'm still hooked on what used to be music.

There are some improvisations, incorporating some of Friedrich Gulda's "Fugue," that prove Emerson is capable of sounding like a musician -- and there is interminable synthesizer and organ glop that proves he isn't much interested in doing it. Decorations are decorated until one would think we could no longer detect how lame the melody was at the bottom of these "original compositions," but we do detect it. I'm sure some people really do like this stuff and listen attentively all the way through (some people, according to some letters to the editors of Oui magazine, like being spanked with a paddle that has holes in it), but what concerns me is the greater number of people who are afraid of what their peers would say if they admitted they hate it. Well, peers, I can't stand it.

- Noel Coppage, Stereo Review, 3/75.

Bonus Reviews!

Welcome Back, My Friends, To The Show That Never Ends... is a marathon three-record set of live performances that are more like assaults. They roar from start to finish with such frenetic energy, ad overkill, that you may find yourself wishing the show would end. This is not to diminish the dazzling, flawless performances or the awesome tightness of the band, because it's all here, recorded with complete faithfulness -- everything an E.L.P. freak could desire. For anybody but a diehard fan, however, there are no surprises in the album and little chance of conversion.

- Playboy, 12/74.

For serious fans only. Not quite an adequate sounding document of their stage act. Others should stick with Pictures at an Exhibition. * *

- Bruce Eder, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

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