GREG LAKE – Magical : The Solo Years (Cherry Red 7-CD Box Set) [2023]

GREG LAKE - Magical : The Solo Years (Cherry Red 7-CD Box Set) [2023] - full

GREG LAKE was a pivotal founding father of the progressive rock movement. A singer, guitarist and songwriter, he was a founding member of both King Crimson and Emerson Lake & Palmer – two of the greatest and most respected bands of the 1970’s.
Now Cherry Red is releasing “Magical : The Solo Years“, a 7-disc box set celebrating the solo career of this incredible, versatile, and much-missed musician – a collection of the solo albums written and recorded by Lake along with rare tracks and live takes encompassing his time with ELP, King Crimson and beyond.
Included are Lake’s two early ’80s AOR solo albums featuring Gary Moore on guitar, two highly sought after ‘official bootleg’ collections including songs recorded with TOTO and Asia (collector’s gems), and three live shows – a lot of unreleased material. All of which serve to illustrate the sheer depth of talent demonstrated by this passionate musician.

Lake was Prog beast, but also able to write catchy, melodic AOR tunes. On his self-titled 1981 debut (CD1) we find hard-hitting and infectious songs, with strong songwriting and musicianship. The most valuable addition to Lake’s band that he would tour and record with for the next couple of years was undoubtedly guitarist Gary Moore. His talent on the guitar is a wonder to behold and he often steals the limelight from Lake himself.
It’s actually Moore’s own song ‘Nuclear Attack’ that begins the album, purely because Lake “liked the song, and that’s why it’s on there.” It’s a scorching tune that leads into another banger, ‘Love You Too Much’, originally written by Bob Dylan but finished by Lake.
One can feel the arena-filling energy that pulsates in these songs.

”Manoeuvres” (CD2) the second solo album, is even more AOR, very 1982’s synth-heavy, still with some proggy moments and Gary Moore droping more great guitar work.
With the management at Chrysalis breathing down Lake’s neck to ask him to produce another hit such as ‘Lucky Man’, and facing no promotion or tour for ‘Manoeuvres’, Lake came to the realisation that he simply wasn’t sought after as a solo artist. He decided he “had no appetite or inspiration for creating popular music in […] an increasingly phoney, media-driven world.”

But that didn’t stop him from playing music, as is revealed by the next two discs, comprising both volumes of ‘From the Underground: The Official Bootleg’. This manic medley takes us on a roller coaster ride through Lake’s career, from his pre-Crimson days through to th ’90s revival of Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
The real meat of the box set lies in these recordings.
The three bonus tracks for debut album ‘Greg Lake’ (which he recorded with Toto at the height of their career) and one bonus track for ‘Manoeuvres’ can be found on the second disc ‘From the Underground, Vol.II
Deeper into the Mine’.

Greg Lake did a collaboration with Geoff Downes from 1989-’90 that was released in 2015 as ‘Ride the Tiger’. While this album is not present in ‘Magical’, three of its tracks can be found on ‘From the Underground Vol.II’.
The set also features a track to represent Lake’s brief time as Asia frontman when he performed with the group in Tokyo for the Asia in Asia concert in 1983, a recording that was released last year as a live album. I’m grateful that they selected my favorite of Asia’s tracks, the ever-popular Heat of the Moment.

With the bootleg albums acting as an exciting résumé of Lake’s career, we move onto a more stately affair with Lake’s 2013 live album ‘Songs of a Lifetime’ (CD5) which chronicles his final tour. The idea for the tour came while he was writing his autobiography; certain songs seemed to keep cropping up and felt important to him, and he wanted to share stories with his audience whilst playing those songs.
Consequently, we hear a mix of Greg Lake originals from ELP and King Crimson as well as covers from artists that inspired him such as Elvis and the Beatles.

‘Live at Manticore Hall’ (CD7) is Emerson/Lake – just as much Lake’s album as it is Emerson’s, so it makes sense for it to also be included here. The album acts as an interesting precursor to ‘Songs of a Lifetime’ where stories about each song are told. It’s also the only place in the box where you get to hear Tarkus, so that in itself is a boon.

Whether you are a seasoned fan or just starting out on your Greg Lake journey, there is no finer, deeper or more definitive anthology available on the market. A tribute, in the truest sense, to one of the greatest songwriters of all time.


Disc One – Greg Lake
01. Nuclear Attack (4:32)
02. Love You Too Much (5:29)
03. It Hurts (4:30)
04. Black and Blue (3:58)
05. Retribution Drive (5:04)
06. Long Goodbye (3:59)
07. The Lie (4:45)
08. Someone (4:11)
09. Let Me Love You Once (4:19)
10. For Those Who Dare (3:52)


Disc Two – Manoeuvres
01. Manoeuvres (4:06)
02. Too Young to Love (4:06)
03. Paralysed (3:59)
04. A Woman Like You (4:34)
05. I Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love Tonight (3:55)
06. It’s You, You’ve Gotta Believe (7:10)
07. Famous Last Words (3:06)
08. Slave to Love (3:23)
09. Haunted (4:52)
10. I Don’t Know Why I Still Love You (5:16)


Disc Three – From the Underground, Vol.1:
An Official Greg Lake Bootleg
01. Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Touch and Go (3:21)
02. King Crimson – A Man, a City (11:13)
03. The Shame – Don’t Go Away Little Girl (3:06)
04. Greg Lake – Medley: Still… You Turn Me On / Watching Over You (4:15)
05. Greg Lake & Band – Daddy (4:52)
06. Greg Lake & Band – Retribution Drive (4:53)
07. Asia with Greg Lake – Heat of the Moment (6:29)
08. Emerson, Lake & Powell – The Score (9:05)
09. Shy Limbs – Love (2:58)
10. Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Affairs of the Heart (4:12)
11. Emerson, Lake & Powell – Learning to Fly (3:43)
12. Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Lucky Man (3:02)
13. Greg Lake & Band – 21st Century Schizoid Man (8:58)


Disc Four – From the Underground, Vol.II
Deeper into the Mine: An Official Greg Lake Bootleg
01. Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Black Moon (6:25)
02. Greg Lake’s Ride the Tiger – Check it Out (4:43)
03. Greg Lake’s Ride the Tiger – Love Under Fire (4:58)
04. Greg Lake with Toto – Cold Side of a Woman (4:42)
05. Emerson, Lake & Powell – Step Aside (3:33)
06. Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Preacher Blues (3:21)
07. Greg Lake – Hold Me (4:09)
08. Greg Lake & Band – Heart on Ice (3:46)
09. Greg Lake’s Ride the Tiger – Blue Light (4:05)
10. Greg Lake with Toto – You’re Good with Your Love (2:59)
11. Greg Lake with Toto – You Really Got a Hold on Me (4:49)
12. King Crimson – Epitaph (4:21)
13. Greg Lake Band featuring Gary Moore – Fanfare for the Common Man (6:16)


Disc Five – Songs of a Lifetime
01. 21st Century Schizoid Man (1:01)
02. Lend Your Love to Me Tonight (3:40)
03. Songs of a Lifetime Tour Introduction (1:11)
04. From the Beginning (4:57)
05. Tribute to the King (7:04)
06. Heartbreak Hotel (2:27)
07. Epitaph / The Court of the Crimson King (5:05)
08. King Crimson Cover Story (4:47)
09. I Talk to the Wind (4:30)
10. Ringo and the Beatles (4:16)
11. You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away (2:53)
12. Touch and Go (3:11)
13. Trilogy (2:53)
14. Still… You Turn Me On (3:35)
15. Reflections of Paris (1:22)
16. C’est la vie (3:59)
17. My Very First Guitar (4:07)
18. Lucky Man (4:47)
19. People Get Ready (3:27)
20. Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression – Part 2 (5:41)


Disc Six – Live in Piacenza
01. 21st Century Schizoid Man (1:25)
02. Lend Your Love to Me Tonight (4:44)
03. From the Beginning (5:20)
04. Heartbreak Hotel (2:17)
05. Epitaph / The Court of the Crimson King (5:11)
06. I Talk to the Wind (4:42)
07. You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away (3:03)
08. Touch and Go (3:11)
09. Trilogy / Still…You Turn Me On (6:41)
10. I Believe in Father Christmas (3:53)
11. Shakin’ All Over (2:40)
12. C’est la vie (3:55)
13. People Get Ready (4:37)
14. Lucky Man (5:50)
15. Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression – Part 2 (5:53)


Disc Seven – Emerson/Lake: Live from Manticore Hall
01. From the Beginning (6:09)
02. Introduction (1:04)
03. I Talk to the Wind (5:32)
04. Bitches Crystal (6:18)
05. The Barbarian (6:21)
06. Take a Pebble (5:19)
07. Tarkus (17:07)
08. C’est la vie (6:00)
09. Pirates (13:29)
10. Moog Solo / Lucky Man (10:37)

Greg Lake – Vocals, Guitars, Bass
The Greg Lake Band (Discs 1 & 2):
– Gary Moore – Guitars
– Tommy Eyre – Keyboards
– Tristram Margetts – Bass
– Ted McKenna – Drums
Keith Emerson – Keyboards (Disc 7)



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