Tuesday, 31 January 2017

"Trilogy: Deluxe Edition" by EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER (2015 Sony Music/Legacy 2CD/1DVD-A Set – Paschal Byrne/Andy Pearce/Nigel Wilkes/Jakko Jakszyk Remixes and Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...


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"...It Was All Clear...From The Beginning..." 

As an impressionable 14-year old in 1972 Dublin - I can remember holding the 4th ELP album under my arm in all its gorgeous Island Records Hipgnosis Gatefold Sleeve splendiffery as I trucked along the unsuspecting footpath to my mate's house in Clontarf (he later turned out to be a blindingly great bass player - Raymond "Gally" Kelleher). I was gamely determined to get him away from that grungy hard-rocking Black Sabbath and Budgie stuff and introduce the clearly unenlightened eejet Ray to the wondrous and complicated Moog glories of Prog Rock (some chance). He listened to Part One of "The Endless Enigma" and uttered adjectives beginning with 'f' that his mother wouldn't have approved of. Not even Carl Palmer saying the "s" word at the beginning of "The Sheriff" as he misses a beat (which seemed terribly exciting at the time) bought out the inner Rock ‘n’ Roller in him. No – none of it worked – in fact massively unimpressed - Gally looked at me sideways - like I might need to up the drugs-intake or get more therapy (and real fast). Ah well...

In equal measure ELP’s catalogue has long since been the stuff of devotion and utter derision as the decades roll by – and I’m down with both opinions. They were bloated and preposterous at times for sure – but they were also innovative and magnificent and with "Trilogy" – they moved me. "Trilogy" has always had a place in my clogged-up soft machine and this stunning 3-disc reissue finally does that nugget in their patchy catalogue a long-deserved solid. Here are laced-up boots and moody side profiles...

UK released 27 April 2015 (May 2015 in the USA) – "Trilogy: Deluxe Edition" by EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER on Sony Music/Legacy /Leadclass Limited 88875004902 (Barcode 888750049025) is a 2CD/1DVD Reissue which breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 – Original Trilogy (42:12 minutes):
1. The Endless Enigma (Part One)
2. Fugue
3. The Endless Enigma (Part Two)
4. From The Beginning
5. The Sheriff
6. Hoedown
7. Trilogy [Side 2]
8. Living Sin
9. Abaddon’s Bolero
Tracks 1 to 9 are their 4th album "Trilogy" – originally released July 1972 in the UK on Island Records ILPS 9186 and in the USA on Cotillion SD-9903 (Produced by Greg Lake and Eddie Offord). Original master tapes transferred by PASCHAL BYRNE at Audio Archiving in London – remaster for the original mix by ANDY PEARCE.

Disc 2 – New Stereo Trilogy (46:53 minutes):
1. From The Beginning (Alternate Version)
2 to 10 as per Disc 1 with each track as (New Stereo Mix)

Disc 3 – DVD-A 5.1 Trilogy:
Tracks 1 to 9 (as per Disc 1) offers the album in “Original Mixes Presented In Both MLP Lossless & LPCM – both at 24-bit 96kHz”
Tracks 10 to 18 (as per Disc 1) offers the album in “New Stereo Mixes Presented In Both MLP Lossless 5.1 & Stereo at 24-bit 96kHz, DTS 96/24 5.1 & Dolby Digital 5.1 (48kHz) and LPCM Stereo 24-bit 96kHz

Track 19 is “From The Beginning (Alternate Version)” – as per 10 to 18

The New Stereo and 5.1 Surround Mixes are both by JAKKO JAKSZYK - a musician who has been involved in some of the King Crimson Reissues with 5.1 Surround Mixes (all have been praised greatly). DVD-A Authoring is by NIGEL WILKES at Opus Productions. Both Disc 2 and 3 are listed as PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED.

The DVD-A loads up the screen with the front cover artwork across the full widescreen spectrum as it displays EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER – Trilogy – DELUXE EDITION. It offers 3 options (a) Play (b) Audio Setup and (c) Original Mix. If you press play it will immediately launch into the New Stereo Mix by Jakko Jakszyk while the LPCM Stereo, DTS 5.1 Surround and Dolby Digital Surround options are all off the Audio Set Up link.

The four-flap foldout card digipak is a chunky affair with a picture of Keith Emerson (Keyboards), Greg Lake (Lead Vocals and Bass) and Carl Palmer (Drums) under each of the three see-through plastic trays. The 16-page booklet features new liner notes from noted writer and Musicologist CHRIS WELCH with a superbly in-depth interview from Jakko Jakszyk on the tapes and Surround mixes he had to make. A fan of the band since 1971 when he saw the group at the Oval Cricket Grounds in Kennington, London for £1.25 new pence – his enthusiasm and dedication to getting it right is palatable. The reproduce the inner gatefold trick photo by HIPGNOSIS where they are behind trees (Epping Forest), an advert for the American album on Cotillion and there’s even a fee paragraphs from all three musicians (signed beneath) about how they remember the album. It’s well done - but small change to the musical improvements...

"Trilogy" always had way too much hiss and little or no oomph. I’ve heard (I think) no less than three remasters of it – none of which elevated it beyond 'good'. And while you play Andy Pearce’s gallant attempt on Disc 1 – the truth for me is that the flat transfer doesn’t really sound improved. But all of that goes out the window when you get to Disc 2 and 3 where new Remaster Hero JAKSZYK has finally produced the Audio fans have craved for decades – and in two different ways (no less) that both excel. The New Stereo Trilogy is truly fabulous stuff – the hiss gone – the instruments to the fore – and yet it isn’t trebled up to the nines for effect – the whole sound stage is just better and more ballsy for the want of better words. When Greg Lake sings, "I've begun to see the reasons why I'm here..." as he finishes Part 2 of "The Endless Enigma" – the whole group punch is formidable. And there’s a heartbeat at the beginning of track one (Lake on Bass apparently) that predates "Dark Side Of The Moon" by a year as an intro effect that’s been hidden in the mix for decades.

But then you’re hit with a true sensation – the beautiful ballad by Greg Lake "From The Beginning". Having loved and heard this track for 40+ years in average sound – what an utter blast it is to hear it this clear, this gorgeous and dare we say - this powerful. The acoustic guitars strum with power and warmth, the bass is so sweet and man - when that Keith Emerson solo kicks it – you’re floored. Of the tracks on Side Two the best sounding has to be "Trilogy" with its piano intro and then that massive Synth break in the middle. Those huge keyboard blasts and drum rolls at the end of "Living Sin" also sound incredible.

I popped round to a mate's house to sample the 5.1 Surround and WOW is the only appropriate response. There’s instrumental stuff going in the album finisher "Abaddon's Bolero" that I’ve never heard – rhythm flourishes and guitars that swirl around the room – unbelievably good. The DVD-A is a triumph and I’m really going to have to invest in a decent Surround set up at home.

So there you have it – a good Emerson, Lake And Palmer reissue at last - glory be. Why I’m so animated I might even listen to the side and a half version of "Karn Evil 9" on the dreadful live triple "Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends..." set?

Well I might...but then again...I may need to look at those med's levels again as Gally Kelleher once advised...
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