Yeah they were and they still rocked. The ELPowell album is fairly solid and at least had the pretty decent single Touch and Go. But touch and go sums up the band's career afterwards. Carl Palmer rejoined for a long stint in the 90s and the band put out some great DVDs of 70s stuff I had never seen. The studio albums were frankly pretty terrible and not worth mentioning.
The band called it quits (again) 12 years ago but reformed for a one-off gig last July headlining the High Voltage Festival event in Victoria Park, London for their 40th anniversary. Carl Palmer last week had this to say to Classic Rock Magazine:
...for reasons I won’t go into it’s always hard to rev it up. We rehearsed for it for a month, which almost killed me. Not the physical side of it, just keeping interested. Me personally, I didn’t need a month. But that’s what we did, and when it came to the gig what you saw was what you got. That’s as good as it will ever be (again). Everyone seemed pretty happy with it, and I think that gig will be far as the three of us can take things.
...I’m not the nervous type. I play all the time. Greg and Keith, on the other hand, were highly nervous and that was part of the problem though they both did the best they could.
And that’s about it, really. There are no plans to do anything else, not from my perspective anyway. I’ve let the other two know that. Being the 40th anniversary, it seemed a great way to finish things. Let’s just leave it there.
This interview of course got me all interested to hear this gig and I found a bootleg and yeah they are pretty scrappy. It sounds like Emerson's hands are freezing cold, and Greg Lake's voice is about an octave lower than in the 70s - all the tunes are in much, much lower keys to accommodate his voice.
Granted, Emerson sounds great for a guy who was diagnosed with repetitive stress syndrome (kind of funny if you are familiar with how he plays keyboards), and had nerve surgery on his arms a few years back. It's gotta be tough to bounce back from that. And he recently had a real health scare that you can read about here. Here's wishing Keith a speedy recovery.
But I agree with Palmer - they are done. But now I want to dig back into my vinyl and crank up Tarkus! Are you ready Eddie!?
For a little comparison, here is the band last July in London:
And in its prime: