Greg Lake, Carl Palmer and manager Stewart Young on their one-mic wonder
GREG LAKE (bass): Works Volume 1 was a departure from what we were used to doing, and it evolved a lot more complication, and preparation, and orchestration – it was a very big undertaking.
STEWART YOUNG (manager): ELP had done a huge tour, from ’73 into ’74, for the Brain Salad Surgery album. Then we took time off in ’75 to write.
CARL PALMER (drums): We took a long hiatus. We took a bit too much time off, actually, and then we came back and did Works 1 and 2. Keith wanted to take a whole year off, and nobody could understand why, he wasn’t doing any writing or anything. So it kind of dragged on. And someone said, “Look, you know, we need to get on and do something.” We eventually came up with the concept with the orchestra, and that’s how that started.
YOUNG: At that time there was a very savage tax structure in the country, so the lawyers advised us that we should record it outside the UK. We’d always had a good time in Switzerland, and we met a guy called Claude Nobs who used to run the Montreux jazz festival. He told us about this great studio in Montreux – it was a bit dramatic, but we all moved down and recorded there.
LAKE: You don’t really get to know Swiss people. You meet them, and they’re very nice, but it’s rather like talking through a sheet of glass. There’s this sort of invisible divide, they very much keep themselves to themselves. But it’s super-hygienic and their quality of life is absolutely outstanding. So it’s a very peculiar place to make records, because it’s rather like you’re detached from reality. In some ways, it’s good, it’s sort of a dreamscape. In other ways, there’s no escaping that sort of pretend world, which is what it is.
YOUNG: At one stage Keith was thinking about doing a solo album of a piano concerto. We came up with a compromise, so the concerto eventually ended up on the album. Because everybody obviously wanted the group to stay as a group, but there was a difference of opinion as to the best way to do that.