Pictures at an Exhibition (Emerson, Lake and Palmer album)

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This article is about the reworked album version. For other uses, see Pictures at an Exhibition (disambiguation).
Pictures at an Exhibition
Live album by Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Released November 1971
Recorded 26 March 1971,
Newcastle City Hall,
Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Genre Progressive rock, symphonic rock, classical crossover
Length 37:56
Label Island
Manticore (UK)
Rhino (US)
Producer Greg Lake
Emerson, Lake & Palmer chronology
Pictures at an Exhibition
Alternative cover
Original cover with pictures unrevealed.
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[1]
Robert Christgau D+[2]
Rolling Stone (unfavorable)[3]

Pictures at an Exhibition is an album by British progressive rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer, released in 1971 as a live album and re-released in 2001 as a remastered edition including both live and studio versions of Modest Mussorgsky's classical piece Pictures at an Exhibition.


The original live album was recorded at Newcastle City Hall in North East England. The opening track of the album was played on a Harrison & Harrison pipe organ which was installed in the City Hall in 1928. The organ console is some way above stage level, at the top of a stepped terrace used for choral performances. The drum roll connecting the opening track to the next served to cover Emerson's dash back down to the stage.

Due to management conflicts, the recording was not released until after Tarkus, their second studio album. The record company was reluctant to release a classical suite as an album, and insisted it be released on their classical music label instead. Fearing that this would lead to poor sales, ELP instead decided to shelve the work. After the success of their second album, however, the label agreed to release Pictures as a budget live album.

There was also a video made of a different live performance (Lyceum Theatre, 9 December 1970). This had a limited theatrical release in 1973, and a remastered DVD release with Dolby surround sound in 2000. Being a live album, sometimes Keith Emerson's voltage-controlled Moog oscillators went out of tune, due to humidity and temperature.

Cover design[edit]

The original album cover, commissioned to William Neal who designed and painted every canvas, used a gatefold sleeve, depicting on the outside blank picture frames labelled with the titles of the pieces: "The Old Castle", "The Gnome", etc. The paintings were huge oil paintings full of ELP symbolism, like the Tarkus background in the "Hut" and the white dove embossed into the titanium white oil paint in "Promenade" (visible only on the original painting).

On the inner sleeve, all of the paintings were revealed, but one remains blank: "Promenade". The musical piece, of course, is not about a picture, but represents a walk through the gallery. Some CD covers use only the "revealed" version.

All of the paintings were later hung at the Hammersmith Town Hall, London, and photographed by Keith Morris and Nigel Marlow, both former graduates from Guildford School of Art.[4]

Track listing[edit]

The track listing on the LP-cover and CD booklet is always a bit confusing and track markers on CDs turn out to be in wrong places, which also lead to wrong statements of run-durations. Also the credits are quite poor in some places.

Furthermore it has to be added, that the original piece for Piano consists of much more pictures than this version and is strictly instrumental. The music one hears on the ELP-recording consists of this:

  1. Promenade: Organ solo (instrumental, more information see above)
  2. The Gnome: Group (instrumental)
  3. Promenade: Hammond organ and chant
  4. (Interlude: short synthesizer solo, not a Mussorgsky piece)
  5. The Sage: A new picture "drawn" by Lake in the mood of a medieval minnesang, works as sort of romantic prelude to "The Old Castle"
  6. (Interlude: Moog-ribbon-controller-solo by Emerson, not a Mussorgsky piece)
  7. The Old Castle: The full group performs a heavily accelerated adaptation of the original theme and then turn without pause into the
  8. Blues Variation, which is not an original ELP composition as the credits state, but a typical ELP-variation or amendment on the classical theme. Quotes Bill Evans's jazz tune "Interplay."
  9. Promenade: Group (instrumental)
  10. The Hut of Baba Yaga: Group (instrumental)
  11. The Curse of Baba Yaga is a new title to the middle section of the original piece. The music is again an adaption of the original piece, only the lyrics and chant is complete new to the piece
  12. The Hut of Baba Yaga: Group (instrumental)
  13. The Great Gates of Kiev is also the last picture of Mussorgsky's piano-cycle. Lyrics and chant were added, the music is very close to the original. Where the original piano plays bell-like, Carl Palmer uses a real church bell in his drum set. In the middle section one hears Emerson treating his L-100 Hammond organ violently, as he used to do so in nearly all shows as a personal trademark.

Lyrics - Lake, Fraser (The latter, Andy Fraser, was, according to Lake "a roadie's roadie" who helped with the lyrics here and there, Lake stated furthermore "we gave him the credits, but not the money")

Original LP and CD Edition
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Promenade"   Mussorgsky, arranged by Emerson 1:58
2. "The Gnome"   Mussorgsky, Palmer 4:18
3. "Promenade"   Mussorgsky, Lake, arranged by Lake 1:23
4. "The Sage"   Lake 4:42
5. "The Old Castle"   Mussorgsky, Emerson 2:33
6. "Blues Variation"   Emerson, Lake, Palmer 4:22
7. "Promenade"   Mussorgsky, arranged by Emerson 1:29
8. "The Hut of Baba Yaga"   Mussorgsky, arranged by Emerson 1:12
9. "The Curse of Baba Yaga"   Emerson, Lake, Palmer 4:10
10. "The Hut of Baba Yaga"   Mussorgsky, arranged by Emerson 1:06
11. "The Great Gates of Kiev"   Mussorgsky, Lake 6:37
12. "Nutrocker"   Tchaikovsky, Fowley, arranged by Emerson, Lake, Palmer 4:26
2001 remaster bonus
No. Title Writer(s) Length
13. "Pictures at an Exhibition" (studio version)
  • Promenade 1:44
  • The Gnome 2:07
  • Promenade 1:46
  • The Sage 3:08
  • The Hut of Baba Yaga 1:17
  • The Great Gates of Kiev 5:26"  
Mussorgsky, Emerson, Lake, Palmer, Fraser 15:28
2008 Deluxe Edition
No. Title Writer(s) Length
13. "Pictures at an Exhibition" (Medley)*
  • "Promenade" (instrumental)
  • "The Gnome"
  • "Promenade" (vocal)
  • "The Sage"
  • "The Hut of Baba Yaga"
  • "The Great Gates of Kiev""  
Mussorgsky/Emerson/Lake/Palmer/Fraser 35:17

* Although the CD lists this as being the 'medley', recorded in 1993, released on The Return of the Manticore box set and some pressings of the 1994 album In the Hot Seat, it is actually a live recording of the band's performance of 'Pictures' taken from their first Isle of Wight show - including the famous cannons being fired at the end.

2008 Deluxe Edition Bonus Disc
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Promenade"   Mussorgsky 2:02
2. "The Gnome"   Mussorgsky/Palmer 5:41
3. "Promenade"   Mussorgsky/Lake 1:24
4. "The Sage"   Lake 5:07
5. "The Old Castle"   Mussorgsky/Emerson 4:24
6. "Blues Variation"   Emerson/Lake/Palmer 6:05
7. "Promenade"   Mussorgsky 1:31
8. "The Hut of Baba Yaga"   Mussorgsky 1:15
9. "The Curse of Baba Yaga"   Emerson/Lake/Palmer 4:56
10. "The Hut of Baba Yaga"   Mussorgsky 1:11
11. "The Great Gates of Kiev/The End"   Mussorgsky/Lake 6:52
12. "The Barbarian"   Bartók; arr. Emerson/Lake/Palmer 5:23
13. "Knife-Edge"   Emerson/Lake/Janáček/Bach/Fraser 8:03
14. "Rondo"   Brubeck/Emerson/Jackson/O'List/Davison 17:50
15. "Nut Rocker"   Tchaikovsky/Fowley 4:26
  • The material on the second disc was recorded at the Lyceum Theatre in December 1970.



  • Producer: Greg Lake
  • Engineer: Eddie Offord
  • Remastering: Joseph M. Palmaccio
  • Arrangers: Keith Emerson, Greg Lake
  • Cover design: William Neal
  • Cover painting: William Neal
  • Artwork: William Neal
  • Photography: Nigel Marlow, Keith Morris
  • Lyrics: Greg Lake, Richard Fraser


The album reached #3 in the UK album chart in December 1971, only by virtue of the fact that budget-priced albums (of which Pictures at an Exhibition was one), were eligible for inclusion at that time. At the beginning of 1972 another change in the chart rules excluded them again, which meant that Pictures disappeared from the chart from #9 after a run of just 5 weeks.

In the US Billboard album chart it peaked at #10 in early 1972.


  • Nutrocker / The Great Gates of Kiev (USA release)

Other rock adaptations of Mussorgsky[edit]

Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition was also performed in different electronic arrangements by both Isao Tomita and Tangerine Dream, and in a heavy metal adaptation by the German band Mekong Delta. The first and third mentioned are more complete versions of the original suite.


  1. ^ Eder, Bruce (2011 [last update]). "Pictures at an Exhibition - Emerson, Lake & Palmer | AllMusic". Allmusic. Retrieved 25 July 2011.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert (2011). "Robert Christgau: CG: Emerson, Lake & Palmer". Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  3. ^ Bangs, Lester (2 March 1972). "Emerson, Lake & Palmer: Pictures At An Exhibition : Music Reviews : Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 11 December 2007. Retrieved 3 September 2012. 
  4. ^ William Neal Studio