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.