Emerson, Lake & Palmer

11-17-10

Emerson, Lake & Palmer

EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER – Emerson, Lake & Palmer (1st)

EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER – Tarkus (2nd)

EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER – Pictures At An Exhibition (Live album)

EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER – Trilogy (3rd)

EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER – Brain Salad Surgery (4th)

This is the classic contiguous set of EL&P albums.  You can have your “Works” and “Love Beach”, and all post-80’s albums.  These 5 titles are the reason they are highly regarded in many circles.

Keith Emerson = The Nice, Greg Lake = King Crimson, Carl Palmer = Atomic Rooster.  A “Super Group”, if you will.  They were wildly successful in the 70’s, but EL&P were one of the groups that new wave music rendered redundant.  All but the last of these titles were originally released on Island Records (UK) – those are the vinyl pressings to own.

I do not know quite why – but the US Cotillion label of the first album never had particularly good sound, while the British Island LP has astonishing “sound” – crisp highs, deep low frequencies – real ‘clarity’, too.  In fact, almost any non-US copy of this LP has “real good sound”.  I presently own a Japanese paper sleeve CD version that is, additionally, an SHM-CD ( = Super High Materials; a CD that will last for 100 years instead of 50 years; I bought this – and “Tarkus” – as they were both freshly mastered to 2008 standards).

“Pictures At An Exhibition” I bought originally as an Island Records UK pressing, as it was released in England before it got a US issue – so the black / pink label is what I am used to.  Took ages, but I eventually found a variant pressing, on German Island (with a normal ‘palm tree’ label).  I also have a DVD of this suite of songs being performed before a camera.

I really dropped the ball on “Trilogy”; to me, it’s the weak link in this set.  I suppose I had moved on to European bands like Focus, Amon Duul II, Le Orme – and EL&P no longer had the market cornered on 3-piece keyboard electric prog rock.  I was just busy elsewhere, during “Trilogy”.  And, no, I never had the chance to see them perform live.

Things picked up a bit with “Brain Salad Surgery”; I actually elected to pay attention once again largely due to the lyrical contribution of Pete Sinfield (also late of King Crimson).  It was the mighty “Tocatta” that caught my ear – proving that EL&P still had something to offer the field of esoteric classically-oriented prog rock in 1973.

I like “Tarkus” the best, and always have (Side 1!!!).  The debut album comes a close second (When was the last time you played a good quality copy of “The Barbarian”?  That’s such a hot track!).  Kids today are largely left off of the EL&P truck; that’s too bad – they made some great records for a few years there.

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4 Responses to Emerson, Lake & Palmer

  1. postpunkmonk says:

    You know where I stand on ELP. For me, Trilogy is the delight to hear. Such a well balanced album to my ears. The Gershwin-esque title cut is a high point for me. Rather, I think BSS is where they dropped the ball; save for the awesome “Tocatta,” upon which I am in total agreement. It’s the only ELP cut that approaches the go-for-the-throat cojones of King Crimson.

  2. Brian Ware says:

    Nobody was bigger for me in 1973 (the year I graduated from high school) than ELP. Got to see them live at the horrendous Curtis Hixon Hall in Tampa. Also remember them prominently featured on Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert late night series on ABC. Always liked Tarkus the best….

  3. ronkanefiles says:

    As an album, “Tarkus” is the bomb. JD & I agree on ‘Tocatta’. To all: Check out “The Barbarian” on either a non-US LP or re-mastered CD!

  4. postpunkmonk says:

    @ ronkanefiles – During the 18 or so months I did ELP, I managed to get the entire discography except for the “Tarkus” album. I have to admit, the live stuff on “Welcome Back” never pushed me to get it. And by the time I never got it, it was too late. Sad that I had “Love Beach,” which was contemporary [!] and not “Tarkus.” C’est la vie!

    @brian ware – I also remember late night ABC music shows with ELP. Remember “California Jam?” The teasers all showed Keith Emerson’s spinning piano as I recall. Can’t remember if my 11 year old self managed to stay awake to see it.

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