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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Pictures At An Exhibition

Emerson, Lake & Palmer

1971

Buy At Rough Trade
Pictures At An Exhibition
Album Summary

Pictures at an Exhibition is a live album by English progressive rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer, released in November 1971 on Island Records. It features the group's rock adaptation of Pictures at an Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky, performed at Newcastle City Hall on 26 March 1971. The band had performed the Mussorgsky piece since their live debut in August 1970, after keyboardist Keith Emerson had attended an orchestral performance of the piece several years before and pitched the idea to guitarist and frontman Greg Lake and drummer Carl Palmer, who agreed to adapt it while contributing sections to the arrangement. The album concludes with the concert's encore, "Nut Rocker". Pictures at an Exhibition went to number 3 on the UK Albums Chart and number 10 on the US Billboard 200. In 2001, it was reissued as a remastered edition that included a studio version of the piece recorded in 1993.

Wikipedia

Rating

2.67

Votes

9580
Genres
Rock
Hard Rock

Reviews

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Wed Jun 23 2021
2

It's a live album of a keyboard-driven progressive rock band covering a 150 year old Russian romantic composer, and it sounds like video game boss music.

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Fri Feb 18 2022
1

2/17/22 “What do you think it would sound like if aliens invaded the Catholic Church?” This is how I picture the idea for this album came about. Not my vibe at all, could not take it seriously, but they get partial credit for playing the whole thing live and making it a continuous piece. Favorite song: Nut Rocker

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Thu Nov 26 2020
1

Incoherent, pretentious, noodling.... this really isn’t for me. Why play 1 note when you can play 27!

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Thu Jun 03 2021
5

This fun rock opera makes up for all the crap I’ve sat through in this challenge. It has elements of classical music, metal, punk, blues and 60s funky keyboard jazz. Even if it is perhaps slightly pretentious and overambitious, it doesn't get boring for the duration, and what's wrong with being slightly pretentious and overambitious when you're obviously having a great time doing it? I literally burst out laughing at the start of Blues Variation because it was such a completely unexpected gear change. This is exactly the kind of stuff I started the challenge to hear.

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Wed Mar 02 2022
1

I haven't heard this for over 40 years. It's still awful

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Fri May 07 2021
4

I'm a sucker for prog rock, I love this reimagining of classical songs. Will def revisit this one many times

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Sun Jul 18 2021
4

Cet album démarrait sur les chapeaux de roue, une excellente musicalité se dégageait de ce dernier, mais un bruit désagréable se faisait de plus en présent au fil des pistes. En effet, tapis dans l'ombre du studio, je devinais une silhouette familière, se rapprochant pas à pas du micro d'enregistrement: cette silhouette, c'etait celle de Manzarek. De quelques sons etouffés sur les premières pistes, il finit peu à peu par devenir omniprésent, jusqu'à ejecter les pauvres Emerson Lake et Palmer du studio pour monopoliser les débats avec son immonde orgue. Un comportement absolument scandaleux qui je l'espère sera sanctionné par Robert Dimery au plus vite.

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Sun Jul 18 2021
3

Malgré les nombreuses réprimandes adressées à Robert au sujet de l'inclusion de l'album The Doors dans ce classement, album qui, dois-je le rappeler, fut souillé des doigts de l'organiste Manzarek, notre cher éditeur semble encore une fois n'en faire qu'à sa tête avec l'ajout de l'album qui nous intéresse aujourd'hui. Pictures At An Exhibition est en effet lui aussi gangrené par un orgue, celui de Keith Emerson. Vous l'aurez compris, la liste des personæ non gratæ de ce générateur accueille un nouveau membre en la personne dudit Emerson.

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Thu Nov 11 2021
2

I hated - and I really do mean HATED - so much of this. Yet it avoids a one star review because it was also really interesting, intriguing, impressive and even enjoyable in parts. A bizarre album

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Thu Apr 07 2022
2

I like Prog Rock but this is pretty gratuitous. I groaned when I saw it was LIVE too and was amazed the Geordies let them out alive at the end! Only joking and there's some good musicianship in parts but other parts it's like they're making it up as they go along. I gave it another go and it does grow on you (like what I won't say!) I need to listen to the classical piece it's based on I guess.....

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Wed Oct 11 2023
2

sounds like what me and my mates used to do in music in 6th form, piss about making noise on instruments. weirdly it's not truly awful and again the final fantasy factor gives it a minor improvement over the 1 it was destined for

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Thu Nov 11 2021
1

Absolute garbage and I mean garbage - prog nonsense with piles of shitty organ, barely audible vocals, no songs worth a toss

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Fri Feb 18 2022
1

Good lord in heaven. This was… something. It reminded me of that scene in friends where Ross plays his “soundscapes” on the keyboard. Some of this was almost passable to listen to but a good portion was absolutely atrocious with heavy doses of sounds that could only be the band’s interpretation of what a UFO sounds like.

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Thu Mar 11 2021
5

Fascinating album enjoyed every minute

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Wed Apr 21 2021
4

A wild album. Classical music flowing into rock, that suddenly opens up with extraterrestrial funk at times. But the construction of the album itself truly is solid.

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Thu Aug 05 2021
3

Very Meta making music inspired by music inspired by art. But mostly it just made me want to listen to Mussorgsky. They really love those synthesis.

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Mon Aug 30 2021
3

Solid 3. Interesting interpretation, damn they're virtuosos, I'm glad I listened, and I'd put this on a 1001 list... but for this piece, one of the best ever, I'd rather just listen to Mussorgsky by a true symphony orchestra.

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Thu Jan 21 2021
2

🤷🏻‍♂️ Yeah, not for me. I know this was a event where they were essentially performing some one else’s music, but it really just seemed like like a lot of random electric twitching for extended portions. Started to focus a bit near the end, I liked the portion about the Baba Yaga, the nutcracker portion was interesting.

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Mon Jun 28 2021
2

Prog rock at its toughest; classical work reimagined w lots of virtuosity and bravura. You need some guts to keep it from the beginning to the end

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Fri Feb 23 2024
2

Sometimes this album reminds of what it sounds like inside a music store. Sometimes relatively quiet, sometimes a lot of sounds, in your face drums next to what sometimes sounds like someone testing each of the many settings on the synthesizer. Occasional strains of familiar melodies. When the musicians are playing together, abrupt stops and starts and stylistic changes on a dime. The only throughline here is that the every musician uses every moment to beseech you to appreciate their chops. In fairness to them, I can hear the desperate psychology behind this music because I have been more generous than most in dedicating my youth to a similar cause. Another take: the difference between ELP and the Allman Brothers explains the difference between UK and USA. Thirdly: Where is the ELO-ELP supergroup? Finally: I'm razzing them, but any band that has an album titled Brain Salad Surgery deserves some respect.

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Mon Mar 29 2021
1

Not fun at all. Weird and boring.

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Thu Jan 06 2022
1

All instrumental prog rock. Just the worst part of the Pink Floyd records. Pass.

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Mon May 30 2022
1

Overblown, bloated, overproduced rubbish

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Thu Nov 11 2021
5

Long loved this since I got on vinyl back whenever!

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Sun Nov 14 2021
5

This might be one of the easiest 5s to give. Narrative, unique sounds, and excellent performances, ALL ON A LIVE ALBUM. Concise Beast.

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Fri Dec 03 2021
5

ELP are probably my favourite progressive rock band. However, I don't generally like live albums, so I always overlooked this one. I mean, it epitomises everything bad people say about prog... it's overblown, pretentious, self-indulgent... I mean, it's a rock band playing adaptations of of Mussorgsky. C'mon. But in spite of all that, it's a fucking barrelling, irresistible rock show that is fun as hell. I particularly love the organ work, and the fast, choppy bits which sound like proto-math rock. On top of that, it's a live album that actually sounds good and offers something different from their studio records. My only complaint is that some of the slower/quieter parts don't work so well - but they do reflect the source material and they give the album balance. So it's 4.5*, but I'm happy rounding it to 5*.

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Fri Jan 14 2022
5

I really like this! Hadn't heard it before.

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Thu Apr 28 2022
5

Wild love album. Very cool take on some classical classics. There's not nearly enough organ in today's music.

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Fri Jun 10 2022
5

Amazing discovery for me. Mixture between synth and classical.

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Thu Jul 14 2022
5

sonzao tri, progressivo e tal, tocam muito

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Wed Sep 14 2022
5

Here we have another Prog Rock trio, this one much different than yesterday's (Rush). ELP, along with early Genesis and Yes, are my three favorite Prog Rock bands. Keith Emerson has been mentioned as one of the best, if not the most technically accomplished keyboard player in rock history. This live album, of course with no overdubs or retakes, is a great example of the talent, creativity, and imagination of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. The trio plays a tight adaptation of a classical piece by Mussorgski. The pipe organ, multiple synths, acoustic guitar, bass, and drums all contribute to this impressive work.

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Wed Sep 28 2022
5

This was absolutely bizarre, but I couldn't help but love it. It was just a lot of fun from beginning to end, and I found myself dancing along to some of the more energetic songs. It's absolutely amazing what ELP were doing with synthesizers over 50 years ago! I think this is a timeless album that I'll surely come back to at some point. I have to say though, that Promenade motif is going to bug me. Where the hell have I heard it before? Favourite: The Old Castle

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Wed Dec 28 2022
5

Hardest five I've given in ages!!!! Hell yeah dude!!! hell yeah!!!

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Sun Jan 29 2023
5

Amazing. It's a live record. It's as metal as you can be without distorted guitars. Favorite part: the gnome.

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Sun Feb 12 2023
5

What an amazing recording of an amazing live performance! After listening to this the first time I put on Pictures at an Exhibition by the Vienna Philharmonic (itself a re-arrangement of the source piano version by Mussorgsky). I really loved both and it made this work all the more impressive. By the time I had done all this listening and reading about Pictures At An Exhibition I was completely enthralled. It takes a certain kind of hubris to do something like this. It’s impressive when it pays off. This is a wildly ambitious endeavor that created something really interesting and unique. I’m fairly certain I would never have known about this had it not appeared here. Bravo!

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Thu Feb 23 2023
5

Thats it, this is the BEST album i have ever listened to so far (I know i will change my mind someday) BUT SERIOUSLY!!!! Fuck y'all who hate this you just dont understand! This is a really great rock opera! I just wish this album was more popular and appreciated!

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Fri Mar 03 2023
5

Progressive rock, my beloved. Is it for everyone? So long as you leave your expectations of “modesty” and “relatability” at the door. ELP remains one of my favourite progressive rock acts, though in my opinion Pictures at an Exhibition may be one of their weaker records. But that’s not to say it’s bad. ELP takes the classical mainstay “Pictures at an Exhibition” and re-arranges it for a rock trio. Some purists may be appalled by this, but for those who have never heard a progressive rock record outside of Pink Floyd or 70s Genesis, this is a great record to start on. And after you finish, look to ELP’s album “Trilogy”, which is probably their most cohesive record, and not weakened by a side-long suite (Unlike the B-sides of Rush’s “2112” and ELP’s “Tarkus”.)

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Fri Mar 24 2023
5

so, so proggy a flawless, phenomenal record 10/10

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Wed May 17 2023
5

Très solide, du prog de fou a l'état pur. Liven plus ayoye. 5

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Wed May 24 2023
5

Incredible live album, makes me miss live music for the sake of watching artists at the peak of performance, feels like it's becoming more of a marketing vehicle now. I had never heard this band but plan to listen much more!

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Fri Jun 09 2023
5

orgaanista musiikkia. massive sound... mieletöntä instrumentointia genrehyppimistä ja kaikki kuulostaa niin hyvältä.. Incoherent, pretentious, noodling, kolmen adjektiivin quota täytetty, tarkennusta? ei saatana ole tulossa.. sanotaan vaan...jotain... järisyttävä yleisön tuomio taas britpop faneilta... lampaat (three different ones) vai oliko siat heh... attack of the clones... protestivitosta tähän väliin ei muuta mahdollisuutta MIKÄ VITTU ON TÄÄ PRETENTIOUS SANA JOTA KÄYTETÄÄN VITUN USEIN NOISSA ARVOSTELUISSA??? HÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄH NYT JÄI AIVOIHIN LUKKOON JOKU TERMI TAAS POIS SIELTÄ POIS HUS!! the gnome

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Fri Jul 14 2023
5

мечтательно и вау

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Fri Nov 17 2023
5

From the first song, this album demanded my attention. Mussorgsky? Synths? Influential rock musicians? What is this? This is the first album on this list that I think was truly new to me; I have never heard anything like this before. I listen to most of these albums while working. Not this one, this is a spectacle in itself. The music is less so distracting from the work as the work is distracting from the music. My mind is blown.

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Mon Nov 27 2023
5

Nice one, really like the instrumentation

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Fri Dec 08 2023
5

Such a cool classic/rock blend! Nutcracker rock is such classic, great album.

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Thu Dec 21 2023
5

Funky, trippy, just plain fun!

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Wed Jan 03 2024
5

Emerson, Lake, Palmer (nods sympathetically), thanks for coming in. I'm afraid this is an intervention.

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Thu Feb 08 2024
5

So prog that it should come with a warning. The only thing wrong with Pictures At An Exhibition is that Lake doesn’t sing more than he does. Speaking of which… I would like to start a petition for Greg Lake to sing on every album on this list from here on out. Cool? Great!

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Thu Feb 22 2024
5

I don’t really know why but i loved listing to that Album it’s weird but somehow perfect. The sound is extremely off and that makes it even better

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Wed Oct 28 2020
4

Haven't listened to all of the source material. But interesting arrangement. 7/10

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Wed Feb 24 2021
4

ELP kannte ich auch nur namentlich. Dies ist ein großes Album. Gute 4 Sterne.

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Wed Jul 21 2021
4

I've loved ELP since I was a teenager. Yes, I know they are over the top pretentious art rock, but dammit they were also really, really good. Keith Emerson was to keyboards like Jimi Hendrix to guitars. Lake and Palmer are amazing in their own way also. I've owned this album on vinyl for many years but to be honest it's one of the ELP albums I've listened to the least. Not sure why that is because it's very good. 4 stars.

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Mon Jan 25 2021
4

Relaxing. Kinda spaced the mid section.

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Fri Apr 09 2021
4

Ruhiger Kirchenrock oder wie nennt man das? Auf jeden Fall schaurig schön.

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Wed Aug 04 2021
4

Really enjoyed the spacey weirdness of this.

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Sun Aug 22 2021
4

ARE YOU READY FOR MORE MUSIC?? *CROWD CHEERS AND THEY PLAY SOME NUTCRACKER SONG*

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Sat Sep 11 2021
4

This is a weird album. Definitely not what I was expecting when I selected "Metal and Hard Rock" as the only genre for this list. It's pretty enjoyable though. Very good as background music to work too as well, which is something I've been lacking. Overall, good album.

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Sun Nov 14 2021
4

A fun idea with an equally fun execution. Gotta love those classical/rock fusions.

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Wed Nov 24 2021
4

totally wasn't expecting this...solid album with a really cool sound

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Wed Dec 15 2021
4

Good. I appreciate the effort of re-creating symphonic piece.

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Wed Jan 12 2022
4

I don't think this has aged as well as some other ELP records, but it's still pretty good.

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Wed Mar 23 2022
4

Now, Keith Emerson is a God. 4.25

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Wed May 04 2022
4

The sheer audacity has to be admired. Is anyone trying to pull off this sort of highbrow goof in rock and roll land anymore? Would any major label dare greenlight it? It succeeds quite well as a prog rock album on its own merits as well, and has enough humor and high spirits to mostly dodge an indictment of tremendous pretentiousness. Mostly.

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Mon Jun 06 2022
4

What an interesting concept, to adapt a Russian composer's suite to a rock context. The pipe organ really adds something dramatic and unexpected.

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Wed Jun 15 2022
4

ELP were crazy and fantastically original. They got famous as a folk rock band; slow acoustic songs like Lucky Man and From the Beginning are their most well known tunes. But anyone who ACTUALLY knows ELP knows they epitomized keyboard-driven prog rock. Keith Emerson was the most skilled keyboardist of the 20th century. Easily. It's easy to arrive at this opinion after listening to ELP's first 4 studio albums, which showcase much better keyboard/piano work than this even this album does. I don't even listen to Pictures at an Exhibition all that much. What an insane mind he must have had to compose ELP's discography. And Carl Palmer was a MONSTER of a drummer. Crazy dexterity. I find that prog drummers (Bill Bruford, Phil Collins, Neil Peart) tend to be way more impressive than the traditionally chosen greatest rock drummers of all time. Plus ELP almost singlehandedly inspired the majority of 90s videogame music. Listen to Tarkus or the Karn Evil 9 suite if you don't believe me. If I had a nickel for every turn-based RPG battle theme that sounded like ELP... I can definitely understand why not everyone would enjoy this album. It's weird. But I dig it. Not nearly as good as Brain Salad Surgery though. I REALLY wish Pictures at an Exhibition WASN'T on this list, and that Brain Salad Surgery was instead. I don't love this one as much, so I was unsure whether to put 4 or 5. And because I was unsure I decided to put it as a 4/5 for now.

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Thu Jun 23 2022
4

Speciaal album inderdaad. Maar de gekheidjes met het orgel vielen mij wel eens in de smaak

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Wed Aug 10 2022
4

Música clásica tocada como rock progresivo con teclados. Curioso. Un 4.

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Fri Aug 12 2022
4

What a unique album. A classical suite reinterpreted and extended by a prog rock band. Fantastic sounding live album

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Fri Aug 12 2022
4

Not sure what to think! This is so top class in its avant garde approach to prog rock and jazz fusion. I am very impressed, but hard to judge it against the conventional albums on the list.

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Thu Aug 25 2022
4

I got this record at a yard sale 20 years ago along with about 20 other 70’s LP’s, and honestly don’t think I’ve ever listened to it before today. ELP never did it for me they way that Yes’ classic records and King Crimson’s 73-75 period does. Those bands tended merge classical and rock more interestingly to me, where ELP tilts toward classical much more. This album is no exception: a live, rock interpretation of Mussorgsky’s Pictures At An Exhibiton. Having no familiarity with the original piece or extensive knowledge of classical music, this review isn’t going to be the most balanced. As an experimental rock record, it’s mostly enjoyable, with all three members of ELP playing extremely well. Emerson is clearly the main attraction of the band: a veritable keyboard wizard, even if he didn’t wear a cape, like his contemporary in Yes, Rick Wakeman. As such, his moog synthesizer is often loudest in the mix, sometimes overpowering the rest of the band and occasionally sounding as if parts had been overdubbed after the fact, in an effort to bridge the movements. Lake and Palmer provide a solid foundation for his soloing, even when they are also going off on their own solos. ELP, say what you will about them, were an extremely tight band on this record. Of the other ELP records I’ve listened to (Tarkus and Trilogy) Pictures at an Exhibition was the most enjoyable. Maybe it’s because it was a live record that captured the band’s energy better than their studio work or maybe because Pictures leans into ELP’s classical side rather than rock.

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Thu Sep 01 2022
4

Prog rock is better than expected. While the genre doesn't have many catchy bangers, it doesn't have the awfully boring songs. Pictures At An Exhibition is a live album by Emerson, Lake & Palmer. The musicianship is insane. This is a great experience to listen to all the way through. There is no way I would listen to each song individually, but together it is awesome! For some reason, the longer songs are worse than the shorter songs Best Songs: The Old Castle, Nutrocker Worst Songs: Curse of Baba Yaga

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Thu Sep 15 2022
4

A classical reimagining that sounds like a trip

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Fri Sep 16 2022
4

What a batshit album. Who asked for prog rock Mussorgsky? Absolutely nobody, but there were some pretty ripping moments in Baba Yaga nonetheless.

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Fri Oct 07 2022
4

Cool prog album a lot/a little to much Roland e-piano but still a interesting and nice listen.

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Mon Oct 10 2022
4

I like that they went all in on this project, you have to commit to something this ridiculous.

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Thu Oct 20 2022
4

4.3 - I hated "Tarkus" but, surprisingly, I loved this. Prog rock tends to feel bookish and sterile, it's all time signature changes, noodling basslines and bloated synth sounds. Most of these bands sound like self-important pedants. But with this record we hear the energetic interplay between band and audience, and it sounds like such riotous fun! These live performances also showcase the band's virtuosity - they nail every complex phrase masterfully. Standout: "The Sage."

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Fri Oct 21 2022
4

Favourite track(s): The Sage Wonder how I would rate this if I was more familiar with the original composition. This is just cool. Even though it makes use of the prominent themes, which even I am familiar with, it does not feel classical at all. More like a Pink Floyd record. Makes you wonder what music the composers of earlier centuries would have made, had they had more freedom in picking a style. Or maybe I just don't understand classical music genres enough. Still, cool guitars, cool e-piano and cool lyrics. Certainly takes you on a journey.

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Thu Oct 27 2022
4

I knew the original piano/orchestral versions before listening to this, but I think this is a nice adaptation overall. It's not so common to have a good crossover of classical music and rock. They do overdo the synths a little sometimes though

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Wed Nov 02 2022
4

-Very Emerson, Lake & Palmer-y type jams -All quite fun, although "The Sage" was a bit of a dip -Not really as strong as "Brain Salad Surgery." Had a harder time following the musical motifs and lyrics were pretty sparse -Still overall solid rock and keyboard jamming

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Wed Nov 02 2022
4

I think i would like prog rock a lot better when I'm stoned. that being said, this was fantastically entertaining. I would love to catch a concert film. It's a shame prog doesn't get the same draw it used to.

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Wed Nov 02 2022
4

I like Emerson, Lake & Palmer. I have listened to a few of their albums, and regularly return to some of their tracks. This was my first time hearing Pictures At An Exhibition. "Nut Rocker" and the "Promenade" tracks are the only tracks that felt familiar to me. I settled in quickly hearing Greg Lake's vocals in the Promendade tracks. "The Old Castle" had the mix of keyboards and drums that you would expect from ELP. As "The Old Castle" shifted into "Blues Variation", Keith Emerson was up to full power. For a live album, the production was clean and easy to listen to. There weren't any stand-out tracks for me, but this album feels more consistent than some of ELP's studio records (e.g. Tarkus). I am doing a little extra rounding up, but I could come back to this record on a different day.

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Wed Nov 02 2022
4

I'm not a big fan of live recordings of this sort, but as someone who likes psychedelic and progressive rock this is a pretty fun one nonetheless. Saved tracks: The Curse of Baba Yaga, The Hut of Baba Yaga - Pt. 2, The Great Gates of Kiev

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Thu Nov 10 2022
4

Classical prog rock was a huge surprise. Consider me shocked and a fan

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Sun Dec 11 2022
4

I’m not sure whether to classify this album as a classical, symphonic rock, or progressive rock album. Several classics snippets are played straight while other songs are fusions of style. Having said that, this album is a bit over ambitious and I’m not sure it totally succeeds at what it’s trying to do whatever that is. It’s not great as a classical album but does have some really great progressive jazz moments. I’ll give it a four for sheer uniqueness.

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