Pumped out shortly after the well-received Works double album back in 1997, Works Volume 2 contained only a single album comprised of leftovers, rarities, and solo tracks that were laying around unused. BMG's reissue contains that original album remastered, as well as the soon to follow Works Live release, which showcased ELP's stunning live album with orchestra, recorded at Olympic Stadium, Montreal, Canada in August of that year. Both albums here have been remastered and housed within a charming dual CD digipack chock full of info and photos.
The Works Volume 2 has its share of highlights, kicking off with the bluesy "Tiger in a Spotlight" and the acrobatic prog/fusion instrumental "When the Apple Blossoms Bloom in the Windmills of Your Mind I'll Be Your Valentine ", both leftovers from the Brain Salad Surgery sessions but never making it to the final album. The latter is truly an outstanding piece, littered with incredible synth work from Keith Emerson, nimble drums from Carl Palmer, and Greg Lake's sinewy bass lines. "Brain Salad Surgery" is also another piece that was left off the album of the same name, appearing here in the form of a quirky, short vocal piece with intricate musical accompaniment. "Bullfrog" is a Palmer solo piece, more in the jazz-rock realm, with guests Ron Aspery on horns and Colin Hodgkinson on bass & guitars, while the honkey tonk piano shuffle of "Barrelhouse Shake-Down" is an Emerson number that sees the keyboard legend veer off into bluesy big band jazz. A Lake solo track is up next, the gentle pop number "Watching Over You", again showcasing his lovely voice and lulling acoustic guitar strains, which gives way to the full bands mix of funk & jazz on the complex "So Far to Fall", Palmer's intricate drum fills flailing away underneath symphonic keys from Emerson and Lake's alluring vocals. For "Maple Leaf Rag", Emerson appears solo with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and it's a majestic, charming interpretation. A nice inclusion here is Lake's heartwarming classic "I Believe in Father Christmas", one of his most beloved songs that is still played today around the holidays. "Close But Not Touching" is another Palmer solo piece written for jazz big band, here featuring scorching horns and a blazing lead guitar solo, and "Honky Tonk Train Blues" is almost a Part 2 of "Barrelhouse Shake-Down", Emerson again going in bluesy piano directions, accompanied by horns. The final track on the regular Works 2 album is Lake's interpretation of the bluesy classic "Show Me the Way to Go Home", another fine vehicle for his outstanding vocal prowess.
Works Live picks up towards the end of CD 1, after a brief "Introductory Fanfare" the band launch into a wild version of "Peter Gunn", and from there it's a selection of tracks from both Works albums as well as a few ELP classics. Highlights include a roaring "Fanfare for the Common Man", a gorgeous "C'est la Vie" (one of Lake's best and most underrated tunes), an epic "Pictures at an Exhibition", the raging "Knife Edge", and a majestic "Abaddon's Bolero". Emerson also puts on a clinic throughout the short but incredible "The Enemy God Dances with the Black Spirits", a wild vehicle for Hammond organ and Moog, while "Tank" of course lets Mr. Palmer strut his stuff in a big way.
BMG has once again done another fine job remastering both of these albums, and the overall presentation is just fabulous. Whether you are in need of a CD upgrade or discovering these for the first time, this is the edition to get.
Tiger in a Spotlight
When the Apple Blossoms Bloom in the Windmills of Your Mind I'll Be Your Valentine
Brain Salad Surgery
Watching Over You
So Far to Fall
Maple Leaf Rag
I Believe in Father Christmas
Close but Not Touching
Honky Tonk Train Blues (2017 Remastered Version)
Show Me the Way to Go Home
Introductory Fanfare (Live) [2017 Remastered Version]Introductory Fanfare (Live) [2017 Remastered Version]Introductory Fanfare (Live) 0:51
Peter Gunn (Live)
Tiger in a Spotlight (Live)
C'est la Vie (Live)
Watching Over You (Live)
Maple Leaf Rag (Live)
The Enemy God Dances With the Black Spirits (Live)
Fanfare for the Common Man (Live)
Knife Edge (Live)
Show Me the Way to Go Home (Live)
Abaddon's Bolero (Live)
Pictures At an Exhibition: i. Promenade, ii The Gnome, iii. Promenade, iv. The Hut of Baba Yaga, v. The Curse of Baba Yaga, vi. The Hut of Baba Yaga, vii. The Great Gates of Kiev (Live)
Closer to Believing (Live)
Piano Concerto, Third Movement: Toccata con Fuoco (Live)