BMG continues their ELP remaster/reissue series with this fifth studio album, originally just titled Works but later on tagged with 'Volume 1' after a second installment came out not long after. Basically, in 1977, after the band had taken some time off from the major grind of the road & the studio, they started to contemplate perhaps doing solo albums. Ultimately, it was decided instead to actually incorporate solo pieces onto a double ELP album, one side of the LP set for each member of the band, and the fourth to feature compositions featuring the full group.
The solo pieces really hit home on what direction each band member were kind of going in and that time. Keith Emerson was becoming increasingly interested in orchestral, symphonic music, so he hooked up with the London Philharmonic Orchestra for "Piano Concerto 1", a rousing 18+ minute journey into classical bombast that shows off Keith's incredible skills on the Steinway Grand Piano alongside the orchestra. For Greg Lake's contributions, he not surprisingly opts for more pop flavored material, including the catchy "Lend Your Love to Me Tonight", the alluring "C'est La Vie" (one of the most underrated Lake/Peter Sinfield compositions ever!), the upbeat and somewhat bluesy numbers "Hallowed Be Thy Name" & "Nobody Loves You Like I Do", and the adult contemporary pop of "Closer to Believing". No bombast to speak of here, these tracks are pure singer-songwriter Greg Lake, showcasing those memorable hooks and gorgeous vocal melodies, but for fans of the prog side of ELP, pretty far from what we'd expect from any of them for sure. Carl Palmer's pieces are some of the more intriguing of Works, as his tracks kick of Disc 2 here, starting with the raucous classical themes of " The Enemy God Dances With the Black Spirits", as orchestral swirls combat acrobatic drumming, which leads into the sizzling jazz-fusion of "L.A. Nights". For this rumbling piece, Joe Walsh, sax player Ron Aspery, and Emerson join Palmer for a wild ride of jazz, rock, and funk motifs, Walsh ripping into some scorching lead & slide guitar solos. "New Orleans" is pure jazzy funk, while "Food For Your Soul" again sees the drum legend roaring alongside some intense jazz-fusion & funk arrangements, a must hear for any fan of The Brecker Brothers, Miles David, or Weather Report. The drummer also combats a recreation of the classic "Tank" from ELP's debut album, here with orchestra in tow, and this version features plenty of virtuoso drumming, horns, and Emerson on Moog. Works closes with what was side 4 of the original LP, two compositions featuring the full band. First up is "Fanfare for the Common Man", an Aaron Copeland original from the 1940's that would become a huge international hit for the band and one of their most beloved recordings. Emerson's synths are huge here, Lake's bass pulsating, and Palmer rumbles along every step of the way. It's classic symphonic prog rock at its very best! Finishing up the album is the 13-minute "Pirates", another symphonic piece that showed ELP at their most adventurous, filled with wondrous Emerson keyboards, soaring Lake vocals, and plenty of percussive acrobatics from Palmer.
No bonus material on this reissue, but the sound quality of the remaster is spectacular, and the booklet contains a wealth of photos and information. If you haven't yet discovered Works, now's the time to do so, but this is also a great upgrade for all of you who have the original CD issue.
1. Piano Concerto No. 1 (i. 1st Movement: Allegro Giojoso; ii. 2nd Movement: Andante Molto Cantabile;
2. Lend Your Love to Me Tonight (2017 Remastered Version)
3. C'est La Vie (2017 Remastered Version)
4. Hallowed Be Thy Name (2017 Remastered Version)
5. Nobody Loves You Like I Do (2017 Remastered Version)
6. Closer to Believing (2017 Remastered Version)
1. The Enemy God Dances With the Black Spirits (2017 Remastered Version)
2. L.A. Nights (2017 Remastered Version)
3. New Orleans (2017 Remastered Version)
4. Two Part Invention in D Minor (2017 Remastered Version)
5. Food for Your Soul (2017 Remastered Version)
6. Tank (2017 Remastered Version)
7. Fanfare for the Common Man (2017 Remastered Version)
8. Pirates (2017 Remastered Version)