3 - Rockin' the Ritz: NYC 1988

by Kevin Wierzbicki

The band 3 --- Keith Emerson on keyboards, Carl Palmer on drums and Robert Berry on bass and vocals --- only made one studio album but they recorded two live efforts, one of which, Rockin' the Ritz 1988 has found new life on both CD and wax as it has just become available on vinyl for the first time ever. The live recording finds the prog rock trio (aided by guitarist Paul Keller and singer Jennifer Steele) performing cuts from studio album To the Power of Three along with Emerson, Lake & Palmer favorites and a few covers. The show begins with a take on the frenetic jazz fusion track "Fanfare for the Common Man," an Aaron Copland tune that ELP hopped up; the instrumental here sticks to the arrangement that ELP fans are very familiar with. The set also includes another Copland instrumental that ELP turned into a fan favorite, the speedy dance track "Hoedown." To the Power of Three had just been released at the time of this show so it's understandable that 3 would want to showcase the record here and they perform just about all of it: The dramatic and lengthy prog workout "Desde La Vida," the made for radio pop rocker "Lover to Lover," the reflective "You Do or You Don't" and the Berry-penned "Talkin' 'Bout," all sung by Berry. Another band original that was not on To the Power of Three, "Dream Runner," comes mid-set; it is an instrumental showcasing Emerson's keyboard work as many of the songs here do. The guys perform the sprightly "Creole Dance" to begin the second half of the show; the cut is based on the work of Argentine classical composer Alberto Ginastera and adapts perfectly for the 3/ELP sound. More music from To the Power of Three finishes out the show; Emerson's "On My Way Home" with emotional vocals from Berry and Berry's own catchy pop rocker "Runaway." A cover of the Four Tops chestnut "Standing in the Shadows of Love," with haunting vocal contributions from Steele, breaks up the run of originals as does a medley complete with a long drum solo from Palmer, bookended by "America" and Bach's "Fugue in D Minor BMV 565." The show closes with another jam that features a take on the Byrds hit "Eight Miles High" and Henry Mancini's fun "Peter Gunn Theme." Fans of Emerson, Lake & Palmer will find Rockin' the Ritz to be a fine addition to their ELP collections. Two songs found on the 2-CD set, "Lover to Lover" and "Runaway" are not on the vinyl due to time constraints of that format.


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