Volume 2 in the Working Live series from the Carl Palmer Band is another furious interpretation of some ELP classics as well as original material from the trio. Once again joined by hotshot guitarist Shaun Baxter and nimble bassist Dave Marks, this set is even more aggressive than on Volume 1, as they cover these complex tracks with an almost heavy metal attitude but with spectacular rock, fusion, and classical chops.
"Hoedown" is a ripping shred fest from all three players, with Baxter's lethal licks leading the way while Palmer and Marks litterally burn underneath. On their wild take on "Trilogy", Marks' powerful grooves mix with Palmer's busy jazz licks, giving Baxter plenty of room to fire off acrobatic riffs and scorching melody lines, keeping the tradition of the song alive but giving it an almost new identity. After the brief yet engaging fusion original "J. Section" (wow, would I love to hear more original songs from these guys!) they launch into a rampaging version of "Tarkus", complete with plenty of distorted guitar leads which take the place of Keith Emerson's over-the-top keyboard runs, as well as gymnastic bass and drum patterns. As the track morphs into "Aquatarkus" the trio really turns in a hot ensemble performance, all perfectly in synch with each other. "Carmina Burana" is a neat slice of heavy rock and fusion, which sees Palmer keeping a fast pace while Marks gets to drop in a melodic bass solos. Before long Baxter rampages in with a smoldering distortion and wah-wah drenched solo, perhaps his best moment on the CD. The rhythm and pacing of this track has a certain Deep Purple meets ELP feel to it, minus the keyboards of course. The CD ends with a fun and hard rocking version of "Fanfare for the Common Man" along with a stunning Carl Palmer drum solo.
The Working Live series from the Carl Palmer Band won't make you forget about the fantastic career and recordings of ELP, but it sure does remind you how great these songs are, and how refreshing it is to hear them in a slightly different context. So, if you are at all curious as to how "Tarkus", "Hoedown", "Trilogy" and "Fanfare" might sound with guitars cranked up to 11 and not a keyboard in sight, check this out.
3) J. Section
4) Tarkus & Aquatarkus
5) Carmina Burana
6) Fanfare & Drum Solo