Emerson, Lake & Palmer's self-titled debut album was released in November 1970. They planned to record "Pictures At An Exhibition" for their next album, but decided instead to make a piece called "Tarkus
" the centerpiece and title track.
On March 26, 1971 at stop on their UK tour at Newcastle City Hall in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, the group performed "Pictures At An Exhibition" and released the recording as their first live album (third overall). Released in November of that year, the album went to #3 on the UK charts in December, thanks in part to its budget price of £1.49 - the group figured that since it cost them very little to make, they shouldn't charge much for it.
In America, their label Atlantic Records had no interest in the album because there were no sections that could be spun off as singles, making radio play very unlikely. Their UK label, Island, responded by shipping copies to America, which sold very well and prodded Atlantic into issuing it Stateside, where it climbed to #10.