Live > Welcome back my friends...
Triple live album recorded in February 1974 at Anaheim Convention Center, the music was originally used for a radio programme called
King Biscuit Boy (!), which was broadcast coast to coast in the States. The resulting tapes sounded so good that ELP had mixed them at
Air Studios in London for a May release to coincide with their British gigs, but then finally released August 19, 1974. The album reached
#4 on the US Billboard album chart making it ELP's highest charting album in the US. The Hard Rock Cafe in Orlando, Florida, also has
the title as a message above their main entrance.
RIAA-USA Gold: September 19, 1974
Peter Granet, engineer from Wally Heider Recording Studio in Los Angeles:
"It was the finest recording experience Iíve ever had. We used a 24-track mobile recording unit and a 40-input console. This may be the record of the year. We recorded the applause too, and then they did 'Pictures At An Exhibition' as an encore. We would have included it on the album too, but that would have made it a four record set, instead of just a three record one. We all helped mix the tapes. At some times there were as many as eight hands on the board at once. Everybodyís ideas were listened to. It was a tremendous cooperative effort. Everything was very open, they were a pleasure to work with, they knew exactly what they wanted. It is the most energetic, full live album Iíve ever heard. The listener, if he closes his eyes, gets the feeling of sitting at the mixerís desk in the center of the auditorium itself. The finest spot in the entire hall - the exact point of reference for quadraphonic sound. What you hear and feel is the stage about 100 feet in front of you. You feel the distances, the 200 yards of space behind you and the sound whacking and bouncing off all the walls at once. And it just never stops. It just blows you out."
"There are a few things that I really like about doing a live ELP album. This is the first truly Quadraphonic show to go on the road. And I think thatís a trip. If people are gonna have Quad players, and Iím told they are, I donít see it. I donít see them in peopleís homes, but Iím told they are. And if they have got them, and they enjoy Quad, then one of the nicest ways to do it is to enjoy it in a live atmosphere. The beauty of Quad is that itís four-dimensional. It surrounds you. The most suited thing is a live performance in Quad.
In many ways, itís a lot better than a contrived recording where you put this sound in that corner. Thatís obviously a trippy gimmick. A live album I would like to have out on ELP would be one where the audience would be on the back two speakers and the band in the front two. So when you listen to it. when you shut your eyes youíll sit in the crowd and hear the band play. That would be a nice way to use Quad. Thatís one of the things I like about doing a live LP.
The other thing is that he music we play off all the albums, weíve changed it so much that itís really nothing like it is on the recordings. So thereís some new things. The show has never been better than it is now and I donít think weíve ever played better than weíre playing now. Itís a good time to capture that on record and for anybody whoís into ELP and ELPís music, itís a nice album to have.
Itís probably the best things we have ever played and done when weíre performing well. I mean 'Tarkus' is one of the best tracks weíve ever had. So thatís gonna be on and 'Take A Pebble', from the first album, is one of the things that has lasted well for us. 'Lucky Man', 'Hoedown', 'Trilogy' ... see, we havenít heard the tapes yet in total. Iíve heard some of them and theyíve been really nice. Surprisingly good. I usually hear live recordings and just throw them away. Theyíre often a rip-off. But these are clear and present and theyíre very live.
So the best of what weíve done is there. If there is a whole show and itís not too over-indulgent, thereís not too many lengthy solos and things so that people wonít get bored ...Ďcause itís all very well when youíre doing a visual thing, like Keithís solos ... but then you canít see them on record. Itís a different thing altogether. So obviously, these things have got to come out ... theyíve got to be presented in an exciting fashion. Itíll be a challenge, but Iím sure we can pull it off. If we could release a three record set of the whole show, Iíd do it. And for a reduced price, too. Live albums cost nothing to record, so thereís no use in overcharging."
"The Welcome Back live album was kind of the end of an era for ELP. It was the sum of what we had been doing since our beginning, and we showed the progression in our music, up to that point. We were pushing the envelope and breaking barriers, and I think that was apparent in our live show back then. Welcome Back was about the more rock'n'roll side of ELP and the fans loved it."
"Some of the more remarkable effects play an important role within the music. For the end of the 'Karn Evil 9' piece for example, the last notes resound round the hall in darkness before they'de ended with a violent explosion. At first we ended the piece as it is on the record, but that confused everybody. It needed something more definite and the explosion adds emphasis to the question that the piece is supposed to pose.
The piece is an attack against a computerised society and it is rather ironic. It should be played and presented with the most advanced electronic, technical equipment available.
ELP made some great albums back then, but the live show is where it all came together. We were able to combine showmanship and musicianship into one massive spectacle. The triple live album is the document of what we were doing on the road in those days."
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