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Lake, Greg: "Songs of a Lifetime"

Wow…Greg Lake…where to begin? One of my favorite singers of all time. Right behind Peter Gabriel or Paul Mc Cartney. First time I heard Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, (ELP), back around age 10 – 13, I thought he sounded like a Roman or Greek deity. Epic vocal power in every way. And at the same time on songs like "C'est La Vie" or "Father Christmas", the ability to transfer the passion and emotion of kindness through the speaker like few others. Power and warmth. The two key elements every singer wishes to master. Lake is the template and one of the seminal voices of progressive rock. So many have tried to match his majesty.

However, that was back in the '60s and 70s. This is the more subdued version of Lake, now some 50 years hence. Surprisingly, a humble man reappears live in his latest release, "Songs of a Lifetime". And what a lifetime. Google his name and take a look at the history. It would take too long to describe it all here. On this album, rather than take a victory lap, he intersperses some wonderful discussions with the audience about his heroes. He has been a part of some of progressive rock's greatest groups, albums, and history, yet, he takes his hat off to some of those who inspired him.

He opens the album with one of my favorite albums of all time, King Crimson's "The Court of the Crimson King". The album opener, '21st Century Schizoid Man' is the starting point for this live CD. Thunder and then Lake roaring through the power drums, bass, lead electric and keys, just as though it was 1969 all over again. Unfortunately he only sings the opening lines.

'Lend Your Love to Me Tonight', the oopening track from side two of ELP's 'Works Volume One'. This is an almost acoustic version with Lake's vocals ringing out loudly, amidst some soft piano, drums, and at times choir – like support. On this one he reminds me of Roger Daltrey …another of the best power singers of my time.

'Songs of a Lifetime Tour Introduction' is Lake's spoken introduction behind the mission of the tour. This is his opportunity to perform the 'musical tapestry' that made his career one of the greatest in history. Another chance to give the fans what they want.

"I suppose there's no better place to start than 'From the Beginning'". Yes, of course. This acoustic version live is excellent. He still has it, both in his singing and of course in his guitar playing. I've discussed his singing already, but many other musicians and critics throughout time have commented on his bass and guitar playing. If you haven't heard this song, you really should. One of the best songs off ELP's 'Trilogy' album, and Lake does it proud.

'Tribute to the King', is one of Lake's stories about his visit to one of Elvis Presley's shows in Las Vegas. I will not play the spoiler. But Lake was definitely a fan.

Lake's tribute to the King, 'Heartbreak Hotel', or as Lake puts it, "The greatest rock n' roll song ever written". He does an amazing job of providing the power that the 50s legend was able to transfer to so many female audience members. You will love the piano.

'Epitaph / The Court of the Crimson King' is easily one of the best parts of 'Crimson King' for me. So it was great to hear this epic piece of music again. It sounds as good as it did in 1969, when I first heard it on vinyl. Definitely a concert and album highlight.

You can't just walk by one of the greatest albums of rock history without talking about some of its history. So Lake provides a wonderful synopsis of the making of the album cover for "The Court of the Crimson King". I've read the story before, but hearing it from Lake makes you feel the pain with him.

'I Talk to the Wind', is another of my favorite parts of "The Court of the Crimson King", so again, it was wonderful to hear this song brought to life again. Magnificent in its brilliance and simplicity.

'Ringo and the Beatles' is a discussion of Lake's admiration for their legendary music.

Then Lake does a great job bringing back 'You've Got to Hide Your Love Away' to the stage again.

Another of my favorite albums with Lake included was the re-formed Greg Lake, Keith Emerson, and Cozy Powell album, 'Emerson, Lake, and Powell", from June of 1986. The album didn't really receive the critical acclaim it should have. One of the best songs, besides the dynamic epic closer 'Mars, The Bringer of War', was the big single from the album, 'Touch and Go'. Lake re-creates the majesty and power of this classic, complete with excellent keys surrounding his power vocal.

'Trilogy' is one of ELP's greatest works, and Lake adds some extra guitar at the opening to preserve the mystery. But soon dives headlong into this intricate and wonderful piece of classic progressive music. This is the song every keyboard artist of the era was trying to figure out and copy. But that is the huge second half of the song. What is often lost is the beautiful guitar opening and Lake's voice. Lake stops before diving into the extended keyboard extravaganza…leaving many of us wishing for more. But remember this is Lake not Emerson.

'Still…You Turn Me On' is off one of ELP's best albums, 'Brain Salad Surgery'. This is one of the first ELP albums I ever heard so it is dear to me. Lake re-creates the feeling and emotion I remember from first hearing that classic.

'Reflections of Paris' is the prelude discussion to 'C'est La Vie', as Lake discusses his memories of living in the 'City of Light'.

'C'est La Vie', off ELP's 'Works Volume 1' goes down in history as one of the best songs Lake has ever co-written with Peter Sinfield. If you haven't heard this classic, bring tissues. Lake brings it back to life in all of its full glory and dynamic emotional power.

'My Very First Guitar' is a great discussion of Greg Lake's beginnings as a musician. The evolution of 'Lucky Man, from childhood beginnings to one of the band's most famous tracks is worth the price of admission alone.

Then, he plays, 'Lucky Man', as if it was the 1960s all over again.

You couldn't grow up in the 1960s and not be influenced by the many human rights movements of the era. Curtis Mayfield's 'People Get Ready' is one of the most memorable songs from that era. Greg Lake performs it with the dignity and sincerity with which the song demands.

Like 'Lucky Man', 'Karn Evil 9 First Impression, Part 2' is one of the signature songs most associated with the incredible legacy of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. It is the exciting and epic closer to the 'Brain Salad Surgery' album. Perfect in every way. Lake brings it back to life in all its glory to close the album.

How much more can you say. This should be a required purchase for any ELP or King Crimson collection. It is a window into the history of one of rock's greatest vocalists. The legacy is long. This is some of the best of it…if you will. Neatly packaged in one CD. Sit back and enjoy "Songs of a Lifetime".

Track Listing:

1. 21st CENTURY SCHIZOID MAN
2. LEND YOUR LOVE TO ME TONIGHT
3. SONGS OF A LIFETIME TOUR INTRODUCTION
4. FROM THE BEGINNING
5. TRIBUTE TO THE KING
6. HEARTBREAK HOTEL
7. EPITAPH / THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING
8. KING CRIMSON COVER STORY
9. I TALK TO THE WIND
10. RINGO AND THE BEATLES
11. YOU'VE GOT TO HIDE YOUR LOVE AWAY
12. TOUCH AND GO
13. TRILOGY
14. STILL…YOU TURN ME ON
15. REFLECTIONS OF PARIS
16. C'EST LA VIE
17. MY VERY FIRST GUITAR
18. LUCKY MAN
19. PEOPLE GET READY
20. KARN EVIL 9 FIRST IMPRESSION

Added: May 25th 2013
Reviewer: Mark Johnson
Score:
Related Link: www.greglake.com/
Hits: 2215
Language: english

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