On This Day (September 27)…ELP Sit In The Hot Seat

Emerson, Lake & Palmer released In The Hot Seat on this day in 1994.

File:ELPalmer InTheHotSeat.jpg
Album cover, designed by Hans Neleman. Retrieved from here.

This was ELP’s final studio album, capping off their twenty-four year history in studios. As with its immediate predecessor, Black Moon, the band brought in an outside producer for the album rather than rely on Greg Lake as they had in the 70s. This producer was Keith Olsen, who had gained some fame for his work with such bands as Fleetwood Mac and the Grateful Dead.

ELP made the album in the midst of serious medical issues for two members. Keith Emerson, who spent a large portion of his life battling issues with his hands, underwent an operation around the time of making this album to deal with the ulnar nerve. Carl Palmer, suffering from carpal tunnel, also underwent surgery.

The music on this album was also quite unusual for ELP. Like Love Beach and Black Moon, the songs were generally shorter. There were no classical covers on this album, making it the first ELP album to not include even a snippet of music from the classical canon. Instead, the group covered Bob Dylan’s song “The Man in the Long Black Coat”. Greg Lake had previously collaborated with Dylan in his solo career on the song “Love You Too Much”; by Lake’s own telling, he is the only male artist to collaborate with the legendary American musician.

Another song on this album featured ELP dipping into specific causes. The song “Daddy” was written about the disappearance of a young child, Sara Anne Wood; the royalties from this song were reportedly given to the charity her father founded in her name, the Sara Anne Wood Rescue Center. While someone confessed to her murder, Wood’s body has still yet to be located.

A studio version of “Pictures at an Exhibition” was included as a bonus on the release. This version originally came from the anthology box set Return of the Manticore.

This album performed poorly among critics. It did not even make the Billboard 200 or the Official UK Charts. The band never toured to support it; In The Hot Seat is only one of two of ELP’s albums to have none of its music performed onstage (discounting the album’s take on “Pictures at an Exhibition”) by the band. The only other album to get this dubious distinction is Love Beach, released in 1978. Greg Lake performed two songs from the album in solo shows around that time, namely “Daddy” and “Heart on Ice”.

No songs, no preparation, no work ethic.

Keith Olsen about “In the Hot Seat”. Retrieved from here.

Even the players involved did not particularly care for the album! Keith Olsen appears to have regretted producing it. Greg Lake, meanwhile, has been vocal in his criticisms of the process of this album’s creation. He would later allege that the making of this album was in part the reason why he lobbied so hard to produce when the group next considered making an album. Sadly, the other two members were so against this that the group split up rather than work together again.

As always, I encourage readers to make their own judgements on music I discuss here. If you have yet to listen to this album, I would recommend you do so below.

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