The two widely (wildly) anticipated reissues of Emerson, Lake & Palmer classic titles, ELP, and Tarkus, have kept fans on the edge of their seats until their release last month.  Remastered (remixed) by new, top of the heap, board master, Steven Wilson (he of Porcupine Tree), the two albums have now taken on further legendary status by his adept skills and evident love with classic music.

Several weeks ago, our excellent reviewer of all things progressive (and other arcane beauties), revisited one of these Wilson-remixed ELP titles on this site (read here).

I wanted to jump in and provide my short piece on both titles.  Most important, and especially in these times, classic title improvements, especially complete definitive editions, seem to warm our hearts quite a bit.  Although some would argue that sometimes there comes a time when the it is right to quit bleeding titles on fans in hopes of greater profit margins, I would fall into a different category.

I love that a constant flow of attention is being paid to titles that many of us grew up with.  With improving technologies that can consistently deliver greater sonic beauty (in the hands of masters such as Steven Wilson), and collectible materials that include not only demos, alternate versions of known songs, rare live performance tracks, etc, but also memorabilia, photos, all usually included in expanded booklets, and in the case of Super Deluxe Editions, collectible hard-backed and jam-packed books that complete definitive editions.  ( But Super Deluxe Editions are of another discussion.)

With the release of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and later release, Tarkus (both reissued in the US on Razor & Tie), the definitive editions of both titles have become interesting collectibles.

ELP, originally released in 1970, is represented here with three discs.  The first CD contains the original album as remastered by Andy Pearce and Matt Wortham.  However, the true star is the DVD included with the Steven Wilson 5.1 and Stereo remixes.  This DVD-Audio is completely filled with wonderful sounding versions of the album you fell in love with.  But if that were not enough, there are extras.  The DVD-Audio throws in a few bonus songs as well (Alternate Takes and Alternate versions).

The second disc contains what is referred to as The Alternate ELP with the new Wilson Stereo remix on a CD making portability an essential.  Added to all of that is a 16-page booklet that delivers photos, and insightful write-ups.

The same is generally true of Tarkus.  Released in 1971, this album also grew in the hearts of engaged fans.  This set is complete with the original album on disc one, while disc two contains The Alternate Tarkus, with bonus material in the new Wilson Stereo remix.  The DVD-Audio, like the ELP album, is complete with 5.1, and Stereo mixes playable in the higher quality DVD playback that will please you.

Like the ELP tri-fold softpack set, this Tarkus reissue has a 16-page booklet included with excellent photos, and write-ups in a great layout.

You don’t need my review of the album’s original material.  Your mind is already made up on that.  If you want a sonic description of what is in these title, read Bob Metcalf’s excellent review (here) posted a few weeks earlier.

I’m just here to tell you that these titles are must-haves, especially if you have only early CD issues.  Even if you have the excellent Shout! Factory reissues, these are superior replacements in several ways, the most enticing being the Wilson mixes.

I recommend them…both of them.  And I look forward to the Trilogy reissue most.  Now, I salivate.

Release Date: September 25. 2012

–Matt Rowe