If you're looking for a straight rendition of Mussorgsky's Pictures, this ain't it! What you get with this album is an amalgam: Some of it is Mussorgsky, some of it ELP, some of it is Mussourgsky as adapted by ELP. The result is one of the finest pieces of progressive rock ever pressed on black vinyl.
I've been a fan of ELP since I first heard Tarkus in the early '70s. Saber rattling, aggressive, over the top rock-n-roll. ELP was at the forefront of progressive rock, blending classical, jazz and rock in a frantic keyboard driven fusion. They are as dark as Pink Floyd could ever be and just a touch more complex and grand in scope than the best work by Yes. With this album, they just took it just a bit further.
ELP was critisized as pompus and pretentious. And with this album, they peaked in that regard. Ravel's orchestration of "Pictures" is one of those classical pieces which is perfect without any further adaptation. It is one thing to tackle great classical pieces such as Alberto Ginastera's 1st Piano Concerto ("Tocotta" on Brain Salad Surgery) or Bartok or Janacek ("The Barbarian" and "Knife Edge" on ELP's first album). But Mussourgsky! Glad ELP violated that holy cow! Rock-n-Roll!
If you have a good stereo and turntable, I highly recommend trying to find the audiophile half speed master pressing on the Mobile High Fidelity label. The fidelity is much better than with a CD, and this is one piece of music which is worth it!