ELP Performs Karn Evil 9 In A Lovely Explosion Of Prog Excess

It’s Monday, a Hungarian designer has already given the website a makeover and now we’ve got a five minute drum solo for you.

Have we gone insane?

Not completely! But after seeing reader Matt Riddle’s prog keyboard tour, we felt the urge for a little vintage prog rock excess.

And in that respect, ELP’s 1974 performance of Karn Evil 9 definitely delivers.

Before the massive drum solo, Keith Emerson unleashes a torrent of angular riffs on organ and Minimoog. There’s no simulated sex or knife-play in this, but based on what I see at around 1:55, it looks like Emerson can play Karn Evil 9 while chewing gum.

29 thoughts on “ELP Performs Karn Evil 9 In A Lovely Explosion Of Prog Excess

  1. There is no such thing as prog rock excess. There is only prog rock.

    A garland of martian fire flowers for synthhead, in thanks for posting this.

  2. Wow, a lot sloppier than I remembered, and somebody please tune Greg’s guitar… They may have been King’s of Prog in the day, but they’re hacks by today’s standards.

    Let the shrieking begin

    1. Hacks compared to what? There really arent that many players out ther now that are willing to risk a three piece band playing exclusively live with this level of talent. All those DJs out there are beat matching and looping and clip launching…it’s not as dangerous as actually laying it all out on the line with nothing but your ability as a player to sustain a performance.

      This isn’t like your modern day band that has backing tracks playing to fill out the sound. It’s all being done live here. Yes, it’s a little sloppy…it’s called playing live.

      That being said, the drums solo in this was never my favorite part. The hanging bell pulled with the teeth has always been gratuitous.

        1. I saw Rick Wakeman live not long ago and apparently he started wearing the cape because a music journalist said he looked spidery on stage being so thin and reaching over to play multiple synths. He bought his first cape from another performer at a gig as a spur of the moment solution and it was an instant hit.

  3. I’m with Graham. give me real, live any day. most modern bands could not play at the level of the big groups of the 70s and 80s. I saw a “live” clip of Linkin Park recently. Autotuned tripled lead vocals. Massive backing vocals. Keyboard parts flying in and out from nowhere. Yes it sounded perfect. No way was it live.

    1. Listen to Linkin Park’s “In the end.”
      Using either just your ear or an audio editor, you can tell that the choruses (and other parts) are copied and pasted from earlier parts in the song.
      The choruses, matched up visually in an editor, are exactly the same.
      This is now done on many songs.

  4. And as long as I am in cranky mode…

    Anyone that wants to diss this performance should be able to lay down a fat bass line with one hand and play a smoking Hammond solo with the other. And chew gum at the same time.

    Now I am going to go chase kids out of my apple tree and you youngsters can go trigger some loops.

    1. I have a couple of dance-worthy tools, but they make things too EASY, too often. We all love our shiny toys, but clearly, some of them have developed a mutually-beneficial parasitic relationship with the audience. They’ve helped popular music to become so narrow and packaged that the human touch gets lost in the shuffle. I know for a fact that there is some craft and planning that must go into any dance show, but how often do you see/hear anyone step out front and play something impressive over dubstep in real-time? Anyone can set up a chain of samples and hit Play, but I am genuinely won over when they show off some organic chops. It proves they put some heart-to-hand-to-instrument time into the mix.

    1. Lake also frequently chewed gum while performing – now that’s a good trick, singing, playing bass and chewing gum at the same time.

      As big a ELP fan as I have always been, and even though Palmer was pretty much my hero when I was kid, I never liked his drum solos, nothing but unmusical showbiz.

      1. A Carl Palmer drum solo is just a technical exercise. It’s impressive, but there’s nothing musical about it. Phil Collins and Chester Thompson on the other hand, absolutely fantastic. Not as technical, but definitely musical. Probably the only drum solos I can listen to and enjoy.

  5. I once went to a Dennis Chambers drum clinic and noticed that he was chewing gum out of time through the whole performance. Given that he is generally playing polyrhythms with four different time signatures on his limbs, the gum seemed to add a fifth.

    In the Q&A session afterwards, someone asked him why he chewed gum while he played. He responded “because it’s tasty.”

  6. meh. ELP – and especially this tune – represented the shitty side of prog. There’s just no way one could compare the fluff pomp of ELP to the likes of Genesis, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, etc. ELP was always one step away from headling a 12month stint in Vegas. Not to say that Palmer and Emerson weren’t top notch musicians…they were. Greg Lake? meh. Weak as a bass player. Weak as a singer.

    1. Not sure about Genesis on that list. Also, Greg Lake was an important part of ELP’s success, because he wrote songs that were actual songs, so the group got radio play.

    2. You do know Greg Lake was from King Crimson, don’t you? It’s hard to replicate bass in most situations, especially on a video taken in the 70s, then converted to digital and compressed to youtube, then finally played back on computer speakers. If you listen to album recordings you’ll find much better examples, especially on KC stuff.

  7. Notice that this is one of those rare occasions when Keith Emerson only just made it to the show from his day job as a hospital orderly.

  8. Let’s be realistic here. No way anyone could write that kind of music these days, at their age, with the instruments they had. Emerson was and is a genius. Their first three albums (Pictures, ELP and BSS) are the absolutely phenomenal. The musical knowledge and creativity is insane for three young men barely in their 20s. ELP has no equals. I enjoy listening to Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd and others from that era, but they do not compare to ELP in their prime.

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