Classic concerts from some of rock’s greatest acts are getting the high-def treatment this summer! Eagle Rock Entertainment will release The Shadows: The Final Tour on June 15, followed by Emerson, Lake & Palmer: Live at Montreux 1997 and The Moody Blues: Threshold of a Dream – Live at the Isle of Wight Festival. While Eagle Rock continuing to release old concerts on the Blu-ray format is nothing new for the company, the choices are definitely quite varied as the concerts span quite a few decades this time around. Fans of classic rock will no doubt find this to be a highly enjoyable wave.
Formed in 1970, prog-rock supergroup Emerson, Lake, and Palmer was the progeny of keyboardist Keith Emerson (of The Nice), guitarist/bassist/vocalist Greg Lake (King Crimson), and drummer Carl Palmer (Atomic Rooster, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown). Enjoying massive success and huge album sales in the seventies before disbanding in the early eighties, Live at Montreux 1997 captures their reunification in the nineties. Originally released on standard DVD in November 2004, this 90-minute concert features ELP classics “Kam Evil 9,” “Hoedown,” and “Take a Pebble,” melded with rare tracks that never appeared on their studio albums, such as “Touch and Go,” “Dance Creole,” and “Carmina Burana.”
It seems the majority of these concerts being released by Eagle Rock lately are all of talent I’ve either never heard of or have only heard in passing. While “Emerson, Lake, & Palmer” is definitely a name that you know just from their lengthy history in the classic rock world, if you’re like me chances are you’ve only heard a few of their songs in passing. This isn’t a huge deal as I enjoy discovering different music (new or old, doesn’t matter), but trying to actually review these concerts is really just flat-out impossible. I’ve no idea if this is the band at their height or if I shouldn’t be judging them based solely on the performances shown here…although I’m guessing I shouldn’t because it’s a pretty poor performance; the audience definitely enjoys it, but if you look at it objectively then the keyboard usage and…well, everything else just doesn’t hold up.
The full track list for this release is as follows:
1. Introduction by Claude Nobs
2. Karnevil 9 – 1st Impression, Part 2
3. Tiger In The Spotlight
5. Touch And Go
6. From The Beginning
7. Knife Edge
8. Bitches Crystal
9. Dance Creole
10. Honky Tonk Train Blues
11. Take A Pebble
12. Lucky Man
13. Tarkus/Pictures At An Exhibition
– Fanfare For The Common Man
– Carmina Burana
– Carl Palmer: Drum Solo
– Toccata In D Minor
Overall a Recommended release for fans, but if you’re like me then you can probably just skip it. It’s really quite a disappointing concert all around simply because it’s clear the band isn’t at the top of their game…but, again, fun for fans I suppose.
Rock Entertainment brings Emerson, Lake and Palmer to Blu-ray in a standard Elite Blu-ray case. A booklet inside contains information and photos from the concert as well as information about the group and this particular production, while the menu system for the disc lays out everything in a nice and tidy fashion. There are sadly zero extras, however.
The video arrives in an AVC encoded 1080i transfer and despite the decade old recording it’s still a pretty clear transfer overall. The Blu-ray does offer an immediate bonus for those upgrading from the previous DVD release, however, as it features a widescreen transfer as opposed to a fullscreen one. The usual inhibitors of a live concert are here, such as the lightning or smoke/fog making for a sometimes overly smooth picture, but overall the transfer here is really solid with a lot of detail, particularly in close-ups where the clothing and set detail can pop a bit more. As is usual with Eagle Rock releases, the film boasts three audio tracks as well, a DTS-HD MA, DD5.1 and a PCM track. All three have their merits, but it’s the DTS-HD that is the king of the listing here, which truly isn’t saying much because the over-abundance of keyboard usage (yes I know it’s the bands “thing”) really makes the soundtrack sound quite hollow most of the time.
Overall a Recommended release for fans. Newcomers will want to stick with a rental.
Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Live at Montreux is now available on Blu-ray.