Manticore Vaults 1 Box set, Import
Elp Decided to Stare Down One of the Many Demons of their Remarkable Career. They have Begun a Series to Release Many of their Live Concert Recordings Legitimately that were Previously Available Only by Shady Means. This Initial Six CD Set was Recorded in 1971-72 from New York, Kentucky, and England. The Tapes have Been Digitally Remastered and Sleeve Notes Written by Elp Expert Martyn Hanson.
The bootleg vol 1 covers shows from their infancy. The first show, Stomping Encore, is from Gallic Park in the Bronx from September 1, 1971, just over a year from their world debut at the Isle of Wight festival. For a 1971 audience recording it is very good, especially when compared to audience recordings from other prog rock bands from the same year.
The other three shows, Louisville, Long Beach, and Saragota Springs, all come from 1972. Again, all of the audience recordings are very good to excellent except for the Louisville tape which I would say is fair to good (but still enjoyable).
People complain about the repetitiveness (Tarkus appearing in every show in the two box sets), but what do you expect? That is their magnum opus. What is facinating is to hear Emerson's improvs in the piece. In the Long Beach show, listen to a motive that he later used in Karn Evil 9 (First Impression).
I would recommend this box set to anyone who is curious to hear what ELP sounded like on stage in their young prime.
And since this was a bootleg series, and bootlegs from the 70's are usually pretty poor sounding, I had some extra low expectations.
No matter what I say below, remember, these CD's are NOT for casual listeners of ELP. It is only for hardcore fans that care about the performances more than the sound. Usually the sound is to bassy and echoing in the hall that it was recorded in.
Imagine my surprise when I heard the Gaelic Park show! Yes, it is audience recorded, and there is some clipping distortion, and the mike must have been right in front of the moog's amplifier.
But -- Hearing a REALLY GOOD performance of Tarkus for the first time, and the Bach partita segment of Knife Edge so clearly..
And the "piano interlude" is the 2nd movement of Emerson concerto #1! He had composed it full blown in 1971!
The rest of the albums are from 1972, and have early versions of "The Endless Enigma"... If you have an equalizer, you will want to drop the low end severely.
I also find it interesting to hear the slow degradation of Aquatarkus, until the culmination of bad versions -- "Welcome Back My Friends to he Show That Never Ends".
I do wish that there were more complete versions of "Pictures". All of them are the 2nd half of the album.
And I do hope that there will be more of these releases.
expect the sound quality to follow suit--all of the four shows
in this box are taken from audience recordings, and although they have been remastered and sound better than the actual boots,
one should not expect crystal-clear sonics. Actually, the sound
quality varies from show to show--Gaelic Park is "C" quality,
Louiseville is "C+", Long Beach is "B+" (easily the best-sounding of the bunch) and Saratoga is "B".
What makes this release essential for ELP fans are the performances themselves--all from the glory years of '71 and
'72 when the group's level of musicianship was astounding and
a healthy dose of improvisation meant they never played the same way twice. The two best shows in this regard are Gaelic Park and Long Beach--in fact, the Long Beach show is a dream come true in terms of set list, performance and sound quality. The synth work during "Aquatarkus" is very different from both the studio version and the "Welcome Back My Friends" live version;
Emerson draws some very advanced sounds out of his Moog. The piano work on "Take A Pebble" also moves through new territory, and it's nice to hear a live version of "The Endless Enigma" (which is surprisingly faithful to the studio original). The Long Beach version of "Rondo" also adds in some atypical synth work.
Although I'm very happy to have this release, I'm not sure it was necessary to include all four shows--the Louiseville, Saratoga and Long Beach shows all share basically the same setlist, and it gets a little tiring to hear "Tarkus", "Rondo"
and "Pictures" over and over again (Palmer's mammoth ten-minute
drum solos during "Rondo" become especially tedious). I think it would have been best to just release the Gaelic Park and Long Beach shows--the Long Beach show in particular being one of their finest-ever, and cetainly worthy of official release. However, I don't mind having all four shows and look forward to buying Vol.2. (...)