Steven Wilson is not only a talented musician and mixer, but has a lot of class as well. I thought I'd share Steven Wilson's comments on the "Unknown Ballad" issue, as he posted at QuadraphonicQuad, in response to a somewhat hostile comment:
Originally Posted by quad57:
WELL WHY THE FRACK IS THAT TRACK ON THE DISC ANYWAY, IT SHOULD BE PULLED!
That track is not either elp or Keith singing as the booklet says. Any true elp fan will know it's not them, how could this happen? I loved Steve's work on Crimson and Tull but these 2 elp discs could have been alot better. Perhaps if it was done by a person who has a true passion of the group and the music. Steve's version is good but the Rhino surround version of Lucky Man blows the new version away. Maybe John Kellogg who did the 5.1 mix is a true fan of the music.
Steven Wilson's response:
Chris Welch, who wrote the sleeve notes you refer to, spent a lot of the early 70's hanging out with the group and I think you can say he is both a true ELP fan, and something of an authority on them - he wrote about the song as being sung by Keith, I bow to his judgment on this, I personally don't know what Keith singing sounds like - when Keith was quizzed on it recently he was unable to confirm it was him, but neither was he sure it was not him. One thing that is for sure however, is that the piece was indeed recorded during the Tarkus sessions, as it appears on the the same tape reel (reel 323) between two sections of the title track of Tarkus - it therefore doesn't seem very likely that they stopped an ELP session mid way through, and different musicians wandered it to record a song for a completely different project on ELP's multitrack tape. Possible, but hugely unlikely. I certainly would not have mixed it and included it in my mixes present to the band for approval if the evidence did not point to it being an out-take from the sessions - the 3 members had approximately a year to listen to and veto its inclusion - my job was simply to mix everything that was found on the reels I was given. Greg thinks it is his composition, so I suspect it is him playing the piano, and sung by one of the other members, or perhaps a friend of theirs who happened to be in the studio, perhaps even Eddie Offord, who knows? I suspect the truth is that no-one really knows, and that includes "true fans" - the only people that could really confirm its origins simply don't remember.
I haven't heard the Rhino mix of Lucky Man - I'm sure it's very good. If I was more of a fan of the music (or I should say *even* more, because I really like the album a lot) it wouldn't have changed by mix in any way that I can think of - it's pretty faithful to the original, so I suspect you simply prefer the decisions made on where to put things in the surround spectrum, which is fair enough.