Welcome Back, My Friends, to the Show That Never Ends ~ Ladies and Gentlemen is the second live album by the English progressive rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer, released as a triple album in August 1974 on Manticore Records. It was recorded in February 1974 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California during the group’s 1973–74 world tour in support of their fourth studio album, Brain Salad Surgery (1973).
The album was a commercial success, reaching number 4 on the Billboard 200, the band’s highest charting album in the US. In the UK, the album peaked at number 6. The album is certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for 500,000 copies sold in the US. Following its release, Emerson, Lake & Palmer took an extended break from writing and recording.
The album was recorded in February 1974 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California during the group’s 1973–74 world tour in support of their fourth studio album, Brain Salad Surgery (1973). Its title comes from the introduction to the show spoken by the show’s Master of Ceremonies (Pete Murray, the UK disc jockey) and the opening line of “Karn Evil 9: First Impression, Part 2”.
To record the album, staff and equipment were brought in from Wally Heider Studios in Los Angeles, including a 24-track mobile recording unit and a 40-input console. Peter Granet, one of the engineers, called it “the finest recording experience I’ve ever had”. The band used a Quadrophonic PA system on the tour, allowing a Quadrophonic mix of the album to be released on three 8-track cartridges. A four-channel sound LP, known as Quadradisc, was planned for release but it was scrapped due to engineering issues with master recording which prevented JVC, the manufacturer, from cutting a stable master to meet the format’s specifications.
Most of the recordings on the album were first used for broadcast on the American rock music radio show, The King Biscuit Flower Hour. In 1999, the radio recordings were released on CD.
AllMusic gave the album a mixed retrospective review, saying that it “makes one realise how accomplished these musicians were, and how well they worked together when the going was good.” They praised the set for including all but one song from Brain Salad Surgery, and particularly commended the performance of “Karn Evil 9” as being far superior to the studio rendition. However, they noted that unlike most live albums of the era, Welcome Back did not incorporate studio overdubs, limiting the band’s ability to recreate moments from their albums and resulting in poor sound quality: “Even the most recent remastered editions could not fix the feedback, the occasionally leakages, the echo, the seeming distance – the listener often gets the impression of being seated in the upper mezzanine of an arena.” (by wikipedia)
The year was 1974, and progressive rock supergroup Emerson Lake & Palmer had just finished an unbelievable run of chart topping studio recordings since their inception in 1970, and headed out to a massive stadium world tour dubbed ‘Somebody Get Me a Ladder’, which was documented in this legendary live album Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends-Ladies and Gentleman. Originally released as the first ever triple-vinyl live rock album, this live set showcased the true musical powers of the band onstage, pulling some of the best songs from their first four studio albums and turning them into musical theater for their fans.
A band fully capable of not only writing their own fantastic songs, but also taking traditional pieces and recreating them in their own vision, ELP put both on display here alongside daring improvisations for a live prog masterpiece. The late Keith Emerson’s uncanny abilities on his array of keyboards (Hammond organ, Moog, and piano) are on full display throughout, highlights being of course the epic “Tarkus”, the upbeat romps “Hoedown”, “Toccata”, and his gorgeous “Piano Improvisations”. Greg Lake adds some stellar lead guitar and Carl Palmer drops in an acrobatic drum solo on the classic “Karn Evil 9”, while the band deliver powerful melodic prog in the form of “Jerusalem” and the yearning “Take a Pebble”, with the lovely Lake ballads “Still…You Turn Me On” and “Lucky Man” housed within for good measure.
Bombastic, virtuosic, and most importantly, melodic, are just a few descriptions of what you are in store for on Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends-Ladies and Gentleman, quite simply a mandatory live album for any fan of ’70s rock … and a wonderful tribute to this legendary band. (seaoftranquility.org)
Keith Emerson (keyboards)
Greg Lake (bass, guitar, vocals)
Carl Palmer (drums, percussion)
01. Hoedown (Copland) 4.27
02. Jerusalem (Parry/Blake) 3.18
03. Toccata (Ginastera) 7.22
04. Tarkus 27.12
04.1. Eruption (Emerson)
04.2. Stones Of Years (Emerson/Lake)
04.3. Iconoclast (Emerson)
04.4. Mass (Emerson/Lake)
04.5. Manticore (Emerson)
04.6. Battlefield (Lake) / Epitaph (Fripp/Lake/McDonald/Giles/Sinfield)
04.7. Aquatarkus (Emerson)
05. Take A Pebble / Still…You Turn Me On / Lucky Man (Lake) 11.05
06. Piano Improvisations (including Friedrich Gulda’s “Fugue” and Joe Sullivan’s “Little Rock Getaway”) (Emerson) 11.52
07. Take A Pebble (Conclusion) (Lake) 3.14
08. Jeremy Bender / The Sheriff (Emerson/Lake) 5.24
09. Karn Evil 9 / 35.14
09.1. 1st Impression (including “Percussion Solo (Con Brio)) (Emerson/Lake/Palmer) 17.26
09.2. 2nd Impression (Emerson) 7.36
09.3. 3rd Impression (Emerson/Lake/Sinfield) 10.17
02 November 1944 – 11 March 2016
10 November 1947 – 07 December 2016