Back in 2018 multi-instrumentalist Robert Berry released as 3.2 the album The Rules Have Changed (see review). A kind of follow up to the album To The Power Of Three which he made with the band 3 in 1988. This band was a collaboration between Keith Emerson, Carl Palmer and Robert Berry. Berry replaced Greg Lake, resulting in an album which had a mix of progressive rock and A.O.R. The album could be considered to be a second collaboration between Robert Berry and Keith Emerson. However, without the latter since he passed away in March 2016
Right after the release of The Rules Have Changed I asked Robert (see interview) if there is any chance that you will ever play the album live on stage. Well this is what he said to me: “The talk right now is to do a world tour next year encompassing my thirty-year progressive rock history from GTR, 3, my solo album Pilgrimage To A Point, Magna Carta tributes like Roundabout, my time with Ambrosia, and 3.2. It would be quite a show of mostly material people know, but has never been played live. I'm very excited about it.”
So in the end it turned out that Berry was so eager to perform live that he created a band. For this band he recruited Paul Keller of the original 3 touring band on guitar, Jimmy Keegan (ex-Spock's Beard) on drums and Andrew Colyer (Circuline) on keyboards. Berry himself took care of the bass, the acoustic guitar and lead vocals. This was followed by a 29-date North American tour as Robert Berry's 3.2. The good news is that one of those dates was captured and now released as Alive At Progstock on 2 CDs and 1 DVD. The concert presented here was recorded and filmed at the International ProgStock festival in New Jersey.
Everybody who listens now to the recordings that were made October 11th 2019 will hear a band which is simply fantastic! Because the musicians are at the top of their game. All 15 compositions presented here are very strong versions of songs which were important throughout Roberts entire career. Every song has an introduction done by Berry as well. Telling how his musical life took shape by playing in bands and meeting new musicians, some of them were his musical heroes.
First you can hear Life Beyond L.A. from Ambrosia Life Beyond L.A." (1978) in which he played. Next up is No One Else To Blame that Berry wrote for a second, never-released GTR album but ended up on Roberts solo album Pilgrimage To A Point (1993). Desde La Vida is the first track taken from the 3 album To The Power Of Three. Powerful Man is on the other hand the first piece of music taken from the earlier mentioned 3.2 album The Rules Have Changed. After this it is time for Last Ride Into The Sun, again from Pilgrimage To A Point. Originally intended for the next 3 album and has many ELP influences. After this it's time for the first tribute track. Which is Minstrel In The Gallery from To Cry You A Song - A Collection Of Tull Tales (1996), a Jethro Tull tribute album. You Do Or You Don't is another piece of music from the 3 album To The Power Of Three. Here you can hear Berry by himself accompanied on the acoustic guitar only. The famous Yes tune Roundabout he probably also did with GTR but this completely different version you can find on Tales From Yesterday (1995), the Yes tribute album in which he was involved with. Can't Let Go is taken from Robert's solo album The Dividing Line (2008) is next. We get back to The Rules Have Changed with Somebody's Watching. Back again to To The Power Of Three with Talkin' Bout and Eight Miles High (originally done by The Byrds). Which has the ending of ELP's Fanfare For The Common Man. And because he's also a member of the December People, the band that plays traditional Christmas carols in a progressive rock way, we have a nice version of Deck The Halls to enjoy. Many Rush influences to enjoy here! The classic Genesis piece Watcher Of The Skies is next and was taken from the Genesis tribute album Supper's Ready, 1995). Another great version can be enjoyed even though it sounds different this time around. Finally of course a great tune from Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Namely Karn Evil 9 (1st Impression, Part 1) from the ELP tribute album Encores, Legends & Paradox (1999).
As far as the DVD is concerned, you get even more than only listening to both CDs. Because the visuals of how everybody played on their instruments is always something I want to see. Also this time around. The cameras are all well placed. The sound recording is perfect (although not in surround) and the lighting will do as well.
This release is in all ways a great retrospective of Berry's musical career. But above all a must have for all Keith Emerson fans. Because the songs of ELP, 3 and 3.2 brings back the music of one of the greatest keyboard players ever, back into your living room on your TV screen and sound system. And if it's done by an amazing band there isn't much complaint I guess! Therefore I'll give it two thumbs up and a well deserved score of four stars.
**** Henri Strik (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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