Greg Lake is well-known as one of the founding members of King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. In both bands he played the bass and the guitar and he did the lead vocals, but he also has a career of his own. He now has been working as a musician for over forty years. In 2012 he embarked on a solo tour to perform songs that were in one way or another crucial or very important for the development of his career. Behind these songs, not always self-written, often a story can be told. Sometimes these songs were performed by other artists as well. He realized that they actually represented the journey he had shared with the audience over the years, so he wanted to do a series of intimate, small scale concerts. Lake purposely set out to make these shows dynamic and entertaining with a lot of drama and pathos and even some humour at times as well. Everyone should feel part of the performance. He named this solo tour Songs Of A Lifetime.
From this tour an eponymous album has been recorded. The recordings were made during a selection of shows performed on the 2012 tour in the USA, UK and Italy. Right from the start you'll hear that this wasn't just a performance from an old musician sitting down with his guitar to do work from his back catalogue. Several times you get the impression that he was backed up by a complete band. I guess some tapes played along while he entertained the audience from behind the keyboard, the bass guitar or the electric and acoustic guitars. Obviously Greg Lake also played songs from the beginning of his career with King Crimson, so you may enjoy fine versions of I Talk To The Wind, 21st Century Schizoid Man and Epitaph / The Court Of The Crimson King.
Of course he also recorded some tracks that led to super stardom with ELP such as From The Beginning, Still, You Turn Me On, C'Est La Vie, Karn Evil 9 and the single Lucky Man. In an often humorous way he tells some background stories connected to these pieces. Lucky Man, for instance, was originally intended not to be recorded for ELP's debut album. However, they missed a track to complete the album and they had nothing else to record. Greg told Keith Emerson that he had a tune which he had written at the age of twelve. They eventually decided to record it and the rest is history. Furthermore Greg played songs to honour Elvis Presley (Heartbreak Hotel), The Beatles (You've Got To Hide Your Love Away) and Curtis Mayfield (People Get Ready), and all with a connecting background story to it.
While listening to all these songs it surprised me that Greg's voice, in spite of the fact that he's 65 years old, is still in great shape. The original concert evenings lasted mostly for two hours, so obviously not all the songs he performed can be heard on this album. Perhaps it should have been better to release a double album because the level of the performed songs certainly deserved it.
Songs Of A Lifetime is an obligatory purchase for all Greg Lake fans, especially those who like King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. But in general this album is highly recommended to all progressive rock fans, because Greg Lake still shows that he can entertain an audience even without an accompanying backing band!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
Where to buy?
All Rights Reserved Background Magazine 2013