Album review: GREG LAKE – London ’81

GREG LAKE - London '81

Purple Pyramid/Cleopatra Records [Release date 21.08.15]

Now here’s an interesting find from the back pages of Greg Lake’s illustrious career.  Recorded in 1981 with Gary Moore on guitar it is more than just a curios.  Two years after ELP split, Lake headed out in October 1981 on a lower-key tour.  This gig was recorded at London’s Hammersmith Odeon at the very end of that excursion.

We might overlook that Lake’s first solo album, released a week or so before the tour, featured Moore on guitar.  Also in his band at this time was the late Tommy Eyre on keys (Joe Cocker, Juicy Lucy), Ted McKenna on drums (Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Rory Gallagher) and he plucked Tristram Margetts (bass) from the band he had mentored in the early-seventies, Spontaneous Combustion.

It’s fair to say that by the end of this tour the band  were fully “on the money” and unsurprisingly the setlist is peppered with “greatest hits”.

Starting with two ELP standards ‘Fanfare For The Common Man’ and ‘Karn Evil 9′ the album is a showcase for the flexible talents of the much-missed Moore, and the inclusion of ‘Nuclear Attack’ (from that first solo album) and ‘Parisienne Walkways’ merely re-affirms this.

With only one curveball in the shape of ‘You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me’ and several new pieces – ‘The Lie’, ‘Retribution Drive’ and ‘Love You Too Much’ – the album climaxes with two powerful versions of ’21st Century Schizoid Man’ and ‘The Court Of The Crimson King’ attesting Lake’s one year tenure with King Crimson.

In addition to the perhaps unexpected inclusion of Moore on guitar, several of the new songs were co-written with Tony Benyon who some might recall provided cartoons for NME in the seventies.

For fans of Gary Moore, and also a priceless memento of post-ELP Lake; away from the massive stadia and – fortunately – ahead of the excessive use of synthesizers that ushered in the new decade.  ****

Review by David Randall

David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.


David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 20 September 2020.

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