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Emerson, Lake & Palmer: Beyond the Beginning (DVD)

Beyond the Beginning is a mammoth four-hour double DVD set that encompasses the entire history of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Disc One is a compilation of performances arranged in more or less chronological order, starting with a television performance of "Take a Pebble" on The Beat Club in 1970 and concluding with a very tired version of "Touch and Go" from a show in Budapest in 1997. There's lots of bonus footage as well, with a nice 16-minute rehearsal clip of the band in the studio from 1973 being my personal favorite. Bob Moog is featured in an interview shortly before his death and we see ELP in a celebrity race at Brands Hatch in 1973. Disc Two includes an hour long documentary as well as 45 minutes of the legendary California Jam concert from 1974. You get plenty of interactive menus, discographies and other fun stuff.

Sounds great so far, doesn't it? Unfortunately, Beyond the Beginning is a bit of a mixed bag. As to be expected from so much vintage footage, the audio/video quality varies greatly. Occasionally the clips are terrific looking while some material appears to have been taken from 3rd generation bootleg VHS tapes. But the big problem lies in the editing; the entire project feels very slapdash with Disc One being particularly offensive. Only a few of the songs are complete and some clips are as short as one minute...and what executive decided it was a good idea to include two songs from California Jam on Disc One when the very same songs are present on Disc Two of the Cal Jam main program?!

Still another disappointment is that nearly half of the material from Disc One isn't very rare, with footage gleaned from the semi legitimate Masters from the Vault DVD not to mention the added redundancy of "Pirates" from the famous and easily available video of the Montreal gig from1977. Amazingly, the footage from Montreal looks even worse than on previous DVD editions: it's much darker and grainier than the official DVD release. Disc Two fares better with regard to continuity and the Beyond the Beginning documentary makes the whole release worthwhile for me. Keith Emerson, Greg Lake and Carl Palmer all speak candidly about their music, their rise and fall in the public eye as well as the arguments that fragmented the band. Scant mention is made of the reunions of the last two decades. California Jam looks acceptable but again, sloppy editing and abrupt chapter breaks makes for frustrating viewing. Almost no song is featured in its entirety but at least we get to see that nifty rotating piano!

Emerson Lake and Palmer fans will eat this DVD up, but anyone hoping for ELP to accomplish what Led Zeppelin did with their amazing DVD will certainly want to lower their expectations. Beyond the Beginning is a good historical document that should have been much better.

Track Listing Disc One

  1. Take a Pebble
  2. Knife Edge
  3. Rondo/Pictures
  4. Rondo
  5. Lucky Man
  6. Tarkus/Eruption
  7. Hoedown
  8. Tank
  9. Still You Turn Me On
  10. Karn Evil 9
  11. I Believe in Father Christmas
  12. Honky Tonk Train Blues
  13. Tocatta
  14. Fanfare for the Common Man
  15. Pirates
  16. Tiger in the Spotlight
  17. Watching Over You
  18. Tarkus
  19. Touch and Go
  20. Plus Bonus Material

Track Listing Disc Two

  1. Tocatta
  2. Still You Turn Me On
  3. Lucky Man
  4. Piano Improvisations
  5. Take A Pebble
  6. Karn Evil 9 1st Impression Part Two
  7. Karn Evil 9 3rd Impression
  8. Spinning Piano
  9. Great Gates of Kiev
  10. Beyond the Beginning Documentary
  11. Plus Bonus Material

Added: June 1st 2006
Reviewer: Steve Pettengill
Related Link: Official Emerson, Lake & Palmer Global Web Site
Hits: 3752
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Emerson, Lake & Palmer: Beyond the Beginning (DVD)
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-06-01 07:22:47
My Score:

While far from perfect, Beyond the Beginning is a great retrospective look at one of the all-time great progressive rock bands, ELP. Containing hours of content, including interviews with all three members, plenty of live footage, videos, and other assorted odds-and-ends like an interview with the late Bob Moog, an analysis of the cover art of ELP albums, and clips from a celebrity motor race that the band took part in. While it would be nice to have some of the full shows that songs and snippets are taken from here, I think the idea was to present a career spanning look at ELP rather than an all-encompassing. Clips are included from the Isle of Wight Festival, the California Jam, as well as many snippets from throughout the early and mid-70's, some of questionable quality, but a great watch nontheless. The footage from Brussels in 1971 ("Knife Edge" & "Rondo") and Milan in 1973 ("Hoedown" & "Tank") is especially fun due to the vintage nature of it, and the psychedelic appearance of the Beat Club performance of "Take a Pebble" in 1970 is interesting to say the least.

The interview and history of segments are most fascinating, as you really get to hear first hand from the band the successes and failures of the band, and get some insight into why the band split in the late 70's. Basically, the overblown Works tour is what did them in, as the band took with them a huge orchestra and stage set which pretty much was a bust and broke the band financially, mentally, and physically (catch a wild cut from one of the shows, "Pirates", from 1977 in Montreal, to see how overblown it was), which then led to the dissapointment of Love Beach and the beginning of a long hiatus for the band that lasted until the early 90's.

Overall, this is a good package and a must for ELP fans. The booklet that comes with this 2 DVD set is nice, and chronicles what you are about to watch and serves almost as a nice tour program.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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