This is quite possibly the most pompous, ridiculous, over-the-top piece of self-indulgence it's been my pleasure to listen to. Start with a band that was the ultimate in overblown pomp-rock - Emerson, Lake and Palmer - and then fill their heads with ideas of being proper "artistes" with Things To Say. Give them every noise-making implement known to man and lock them in a studio, and boy, do they deliver. Trying to do justice to one of the most famous hymns ever written, the music is completely massive, suitably martial; the band throws everything at you, all manner of twiddly bits, fills and runs. It's as if they're competing with a particularly impressive church organ and they know they're losing. And, in a strange sort of way, it actually works. What doesn't sadly, is Greg Lake's voice. While he sounds great on tracks like "Karn Evil No 9", on this he's just not up to the bombastic, full-on production and his voice just gets lost.
Having said all that, I have a huge soft spot for ELP, and I can't help but like this. One of those moments in music where the band fell just a smidgen short of the job.