In The Hot Seat
The recently released CD, “In the Hot Seat,” is the ninth studio recording from the aging progressive rock trio, Emerson, Lake, & Palmer. It is also the weakest, most uninspired recording this usually magnificent trio has released in their 24 years of making music together. The intricacy, intensity, and delicacy which characterized ELP in their prime are missing. The trio opts for simplistic pop and completely ignores their considerable instrumental talents.
“In the Hot Seat” lacks several ELP trademarks. Greg Lake’s acoustic ballads, for example, are missing. His song, “Daddy,” is a melancholy piece about the abduction of a man’s daughter. Rather than play the part of an acoustic ballader, Lake allows miserably simplistic drumming keyboard playing to weigh down what could have been a hauntingly powerful song. The album is also bereft of instrumental pieces that marked the earlier ELP albums, such as “Trilogy” and “Brain Salad Surgery.”
However, some songs contain brief flashes of ELP’s fire.
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“Hand of Truth” and “One by One” are particular standouts. This album shows, more than anything else, an aging group making a last effort. The CD release contains a bonus track, “Pictures at an Exhibition,” the only studio recording the trio has made of Mussorgsky’s piece is a sweeping, majestic work that contains every aspect of the greatness for which ELP is known. The same cannot be said, unfortunately, for their new album.
In a time when ’70s progressive rock groups like Pink Floyd, Yes, and King Crimson are making comebacks, ELP will need some help to stay alive