T: ... following this which is the single lifted from the album -
["Love You Too Much" plays.]
T: And that's a track which is called "Love You Too Much". You'll find it on the new album by Greg Lake and it's also just been released as a single. Greg is in the studio with me now. What does it feel like to be back? In fact, where have you been? 'Cause it - I mean - ELP went 'boing'
Greg: If I told you, Tommy, they'd all want to go there. Eh, no, I've been working, experimenting with different styles of music, and uh, just cutting lots of music. This album really is excerpts from all along that path that I've been recording.
T: How long has it been since ELP decided to knock it on the head?
Greg: It must be three years, I suppose. And more than that since we last toured. In fact, in England, I think we - the last time we toured - eh '74, I think
R: Really, that long ago?
Greg: maybe '76.
T: That's a heck of a long time not to be in the public eye.
Greg: During ELP we played the same 20 songs every night for 10 years. And, oh, you kind of lose touch with your own creative ability and creative energy and direction. You lose touch with yourself. And I think one of the things that took me a while was to rediscover what it was that I personally felt about music and what I wanted to sing.
T: There's also a period during which you had solo success.
Greg: Um - on a very different level. I suppose because I'm a singer the records that I've made were with songs that were much more accessible that some the of the things that Keith did because he was an instrumentalist. And so ... I suppose it was a question of accessibility more than anything else.
T: 'Cause when ELP was around, the only time that was given on radio as a band was really in - if you like in those days - the Top Gear, at were on Radio One.
Greg: We had a hard time on radio and in the press ...
T: ... but not in front of audiences.
Greg: No, it was a very strange thing. We had a very deep warm relationship with audiences all over the world, and yet the press, for some reason, found us objectionable. We were a bit pretentious, at times, I don't know, but ah, without being something vivid, there's nothing to talk about. It's better to be vivid at the risk of being a bit objectionable than being, you know, okay for everybody, but it's a bit of a mediocre thing. I think ELP was something vivid and stood out. I have good memories of ELP.
T: It was a good band. So was King Crimson - you were in that initially as well ...
Greg: That's right, yes.
T And they're back on the road again in a slightly different format.
Greg: Still full of those King Crimson ideas, yes.
T: Let's talk about the new band. You've got Gary Moore playing lead guitar. He's got to be one of the best guitarists in the world.
Greg: I think he is, yes.
T: Ted McKenna is the drummer ...
T: Now he's got a very good pedigree.
Greg: Yes, Ted - The last thing Ted did was worked with Rory Gallagher - uh, and beyond that he was with, um, Alex Harvey.
T: Alex Harvey - Sensational Alex Harvey Band.
Greg: That's right.
T: This is another track from the album.. This one incidentally was written by Gary Moore and it's called "Nuclear Attack".
["Nuclear Attack" plays.]
T: "Nuclear Attack" from the new Greg Lake album. But that of course is also out as a single by Gary Moore, isn't it - with a totally different line-up.
Greg: I believe so, yes.
T: He recorded his version before he obviously came and joined you.
Greg: I think so, yes.
T: Let's talk about the writing on the album. You have written some of the songs on your own, but there's a name that comes up all the time - Benyon - and he's not a member of the band.
T: Who is he?
Greg: Tony Benyon is better known as the Lone Groover on the NME - he's a cartoonist really and he's also a fantastic lyricist. He's kind of an all around artist, you know. And he and I have been writing some songs together. He also did the album cover.
T: Useful person to have around.
Greg: It's great, just great, you know. Just a very nice person and a tremendous artist.
T: The span of the music on the album is one of the most attractive things about the album. It's got very different styles right across.
Greg: This album was made over two and a half years and of course over that time I was developing and some of the songs that I recorded I ended up not liking, and some of them I liked, and I think this is a collection based on my favorite tunes that were recorded during that period.
T: Here's a track that I particularly like - A great indication of the way that you can handle a love song or in this instance an out of love song. It's called "It Hurts"
["It Hurts" plays.]
T: Greg Lake and a song called "It Hurts". That's a good song, isn't it, something that I think a lot of people might accept that song because it's you ...
T: But if it's the same type of song on some one else's rock and roll album, they'd go "wimpy".
Greg: Yes, I could see how somebody could say "but yea, you know", but for me every type of song has a place, you know. I once went to watch Presley in Las Vegas and one of the marvelous things about his show was that one minute he'd be literally screaming and the next minute he'd be singing "Love Me Tender" or something. And from the point of view of the musical experience - that to me is, uh, the highest achievement I think.
T: Hmmm. The band has only been on stage once in this country, in fact once in the world.
T: Is that right?
T: And that was at Reading. And I was out front for that one and I was very very impressed. But I don't think that you were that impressed with your performance for some strange reason. I don't know why.
Greg: Well it was a very nerve-wracking experience, really. I think for me, because it was the first show and it was 20,000 people or whatever it is, 30,000 people. And, um, I realized that I'm starting again. For me this is a new beginning. One of the things I was happy to see was the very young people were enthusiastic over the band, and particularly over some of the old King Crimson numbers which must have been on the charts when they were 6 and 10, and that's a fantastic feeling when you know that somebody's father probably played it to their child and now their child's in the audience and knows it. It's a feeling of depth, you know.
T: When do we get the opportunity en masse as far as this country is concerned to see you?
Greg: Very soon. We're at the moment at rehearsals for, um, a tour which commences on the 9th of October and goes ... We play almost all the cities and uh, you know, play the whole country and ends up at Hammersmith Odeon.
T: The old (indecipherable) Odeon.
T: This is a track called "Retribution Drive"
["Retribution Drive" plays.]
T: A really sophisticated album that is - five-star - classy. The dynamic of the whole album when you listen to it side by side the A side then the B side. It's a beautiful dynamic across every track. I would have spent next Wednesday afternoon from 3 o'clock to going just about 9 o'clock watching them rehearse. They really are a fine musical unit. The album is out on Chrysalis Records. It's by the Greg Lake Band.
[Many thanks to Donna for transcribing this interview!]