[Review] Greg Lake (2007)

New faces and old favorites intersect on this concert disc culled from the Greg Lake Band’s 2005 tour of the UK and Germany.

Kronomyth 4.0: Fanfare for the lucky schizoid man.

In 2005, a new Greg Lake Band was formed and hit the road. I mention this just in case you didn’t know. In 2007, a live disc was released from the tour, the cover of which you were looking at just moments ago and thinking, “That shameless William Shatner will hawk anything, even the latest Greg Lake CD.” If the cover art isn’t enough to make you want to buy this on the spot, let me nudge you it a little: this disc sounds waaaay better than it looks. Imagine those latter-day live Camel albums with more singing and less guitar soloing, and you’re getting an accurate picture.

Greg Lake is, after all, as close as prog rock has to royalty. On this disc, the king returns to recount his glory years with King Crimson and ELP. Far from tired and twice-told tales, these songs are made to feel new again. Listen to Lake’s fearless performance of Pictures at an Exhibition; if that doesn’t give you chills, you need to turn the heat down.

Of course, since half of these songs are over thirty years old, they’ve been caught on other stages, most recently on ELP’s 1997-1998 tour. Only Farewell to Arms (from Black Moon) had yet to be captured live on disc, and it’s honestly one of the duller entries on here. Better by far are the storming version of 21st Century Schizoid Man and the stately Take A Pebble, which features a Spanish guitar solo from 22-year-old wunderkind Florian Opahle.

One point worth making: I’m not sure how much (if any) post-doctoring took place, but the audience is almost absent from the equation. The opening lines of Touch and Go, instantly recognizable, are greeted with silence. I mean, Greg Lake’s fans aren’t that old. It’s the mutual love between audience and artist that’s missing on this disc. I wasn’t in a hurry to leave; I wanted to hear stories, jokes, engage a king in crowded conversation. But the king simply leaves the building under fading applause, and we wonder when we’ll meet again…

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The Songs

1. In the Court of the Crimson King (Pete Sinfield/Iam McDonald)
2. Paper Blood (Keith Emerson/Greg Lake/Carl Palmer)
3. Touch and Go (Keith Emerson/Greg Lake)
4. Take a Pebble (Greg Lake)
5. Farewell to Arms (Keith Emerson/Greg Lake)
6. Fanfare for the Common Man (Aaron Copland, arr. by Keith Emerson/Greg Lake/Carl Palmer)
7. Lucky Man (Greg Lake)
8. 21st Century Schizoid Man (Robert Fripp/Ian McDonald/Greg Lake/Michael Giles/Pete Sinfield)
9. Pictures at an Exhibition (Modest Mussorgsky)
10. Karn Evil 9 (1st Impression – Part 2) (Keith Emerson/Greg Lake/Pete Sinfield)

The Players

Greg Lake (vocals, guitars, harmonica), David Arch (keyboards), Trevor Barry (bass), Brett Morgan (drums), Florian Opahle (guitar) with Bekki Carpenter (backing vocals), Josh Grafton (2nd keyboards), Jai Ramage (backing vocals). Sound engineered by John Buckley; sound recorded by Jim Hurst.

The Pictures

Cover photo by Franz Soprani. Graphics by Max Marchini. Print design by Craig Whyte.

The Plastic

Released on compact disc on June 26, 2007 in the US (MVD Audio, 5034X).

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