Songs Of A Lifetime

Greg Lake

It's those classic songs and the stories behind them that make Greg Lake's Songs Of A Lifetime so special. While the former Emerson, Lake & Palmer, King Crimson and one-time Asia vocalist and bassist penned his autobiography Lucky Man, "songs would crop up that were in some way crucial or extremely important in the development of my career," giving Lake the idea to go out and perform these tunes - both his own and ones that influenced him.

Blasting storm effects, jabbing keys and a drum machine back Lake's powerful vocal on a snippet of the King Crimson classic, "21st Century Schizoid Man," that opens the 20-track disc. He moves onto a much less complicated "Lend Your Love To Me Tonight," a personal highlight for me when I caught this tour in New York and one of the better songs on this CD.

Lake's stories are as every bit as important as the songs he performed at these concerts. He recalls seeing Elvis in Lake Tahoe in the early 70s before going into a rendition of what he calls "the greatest rock and roll song ever written," a rather solid stab at "Heartbreak Hotel." Then we're into the court of King Crimson with "Epitaph," followed by a delicious story about the players in King Crimson and the famous cover of their debut album. On "I Talk To The Wind," another classic Crimson tune, Lake's vocals are very strong, even though at times the backing keys bleed through, adding a slight karaoke feel.

Bright quick audience participation lifts the equally bright and quick Beatles song, "You Got To Hide Your Love Away," after Lake's story about touring with Ringo Starr. A major highlight is when Lake's vocal and acoustic guitar brush over "Trilogy," which is practically worth the price of this CD alone. "Still You Turn Me On" sounded big and another story about how "C'est la Vie" was a hit for Johnny Hallyday (aka the French Elvis) in France certainly explains the global appeal of ELP.

The night wouldn't be complete without the ubiquitous "Lucky Man." Lake's powerful voice and simple playing on the keys work well on a very sweet "People Get Ready." The encore of ELP's "Karn Evil 9, First Impression, Part 2" gets the crowd really crazy with full complement of backing tracks. We do get a good mix of Lake's bass up nice and high and his voice sounds as good at the end of the show as it did at the beginning. Overall, Songs Of A Lifetime does a stellar job of bringing a show from Greg Lake's recent tour to life. We can only hope more will follow.

~ Ralph Greco, Jr.

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