George Starostin's Reviews

EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER

READER COMMENTS SECTION

Become a Certified Commentator today by following this link!

!!Before adding new comments, please check the GUIDELINES. Don't say I didn't warn you!!


Introduction

John McFerrin <stoo@imsa.edu> (24.05.99)

I agree with you that ELP is undeserving of their reputation as the most pompous of the groups. Often boring, yes, but not pompus. It's hilarious at times, tho.

Anyways, about the Yes comparisons. You're right, Yes' stuff doesn't mean anything. At all. Why? Cos Jon Anderson is a lunatic. BUT, y'know what? I really don't care. If ever their was a band that knew how to make you escape from the real world and take you into la-la land, it was Yes. And for me that's a definite bonus. Plus, it's enjoyable to hear these guys trying to make their music as complex as possible for its own sake. At least for me it is. I mean, sure, I like simple music that I can somehow relate to and find common ground in, but that doesn't mean I can't like completely abstract nonsense. If I want good, well written pop, I'll listen to the Beatles. If I want to be wowed by cold mechanical phenomenal technique and ability, I'll listen to Yes.

David <DistJudge@aol.com> (22.11.99)

The first thing to note about ELP is that the group was made up of three guys who were among the best, if not the best, at what they did musically. Keith Emerson had to be the best keyboard player in prog rock (and by extension, in any kind of "rock"). Better than Rick Wakeman (yes, I have several of his solo albums); better than Patrick Moraz, better than Tony Banks (that was pretty obvious, wasn't it), better than anybody. Greg Lake? Like you said, George, one of the best male voices, and by my reckoning, THE best male voice in prog rock, for sure. Quite a bassist too. Carl Palmer? For expertise and ability, he beats out a lot of other guys who I like(d): Alex Van Halen, Phil Collins, the drummer from Rush (I can't ever remember his name), Barriemore Barlow. Soulless? Maybe so, but a drum virtuoso. And the great thing about ELP is that the sum of the parts usually added up to great music, unlike "supergroups" such as Asia and Anderson, Bruford, et al, where several extremely talented guys added up to around zero and a major disappointment.

To some degree, if you want to like ELP, you need to be somewhat of an Anglophile. And you have to have at least a tolerance for classical music. I fit both categories, so I like most of their music. You can't be a classical snob, either, because you will feel that the classics have been desecrated (like Ted Turner colorizing old black and white movies). Once you realize that these guys put out fresh new arrangements and renditions of some of the classics, and accept them at that, your estimation of ELP will increase. I love almost all of their "covers" of classical pieces. And the guys were pretty good at playing their own music.

All that said, I don't exactly worship at their shrine. They could be self-indulgent, but nothing like Yes or Genesis (Lamb Lies Down on Broadway) or some of the other prog rockers were capable of doing. I don't like the majority of tracks on the Works albums. Some of their lyrics offend me (is Sinfield to blame?) But the Keyboardist, the Voice, and the Drummer made some pretty doggone good music together (in my native Southern U.S. tongue.)

Glenn Wiener <Glenn.Wiener@Entex.com> (04.02.2000)

Its amazing how this band has come out with so many great songs. 'Lucky Man', 'Karnevil', 'From The Beginning', 'Cest La Vie', and 'Still You Turn Me On' are all fabulous songs. However, after listening to one record, I can not imagine how one band can put out so much annoying filler. And at times, Keith Emerson contributes some painfully sounding organ /keyboard effects. Maybe you can recommend an ELP songs that do not overindulge in the irritating pointless instrumental jams.

Chris Ahlstrom <ahlstromc@home.com> (18.03.2000)

Actually, I liked them.  And I thought Brain Salad Surgery was very good, one of my favorite albums.  Still one of my favorites, and I'm getting ooooolllld!

Mattias Lundberg <lundbergmattias@hotmail.com> (11.04.2001)

We seem to agree on many things, one of them being that the progressive rock movement was characterized by a severe pretentiosness. However we disagree on other points: Is this pretentiosness necessarily a bad thing, and wouldn't it be far more pretentious to dismiss albums, bands or a whole era of popular music just because of the way they conceived their music ? Are we turning in to a world of music consumers and journalists (no need to make a distinction between the two), eager to have an opinion on everything ? I thought that music mattered more than that, and even if prog music often is concerned with factors extra-musical (the concept- or programmatic aspects), one must always be able to enjoy the absolute elements conveyed within it. Because of this (politically correct) popular view (reputation) of E.L.P. as pretentious dinosaurs, many people approach them with irrelevant assumptions, which naturally will bias them when they first hear the music. (I'm pretty certain a lot of the critics have made little or no aquintaince with the music in the first place).

Similarly, I can't see the pretentiosness in the adaption of Ginastera, Copland, Mussorgsky &c. &c. The early 70's saw the first generation of middle - sometimes upper - class youngsters having a go at popular music (Some of them musically trained, some not). Why should men like Chris Squire, Kerry Minnear and Keith Emerson not be allowed to pay hommage to the music they grew up with, when Paul McCartney and Ashley Hutchings could ? For E.L.P., the pretentiousness is in essence inverted. They were western-art musicians, trying to be rockn'roll. (Frequently it didn't work, Emerson's blues pretentions sounds pretty contrived at times). As somebody on this page pointed out, E.L.P. is probably the prog band that produced the biggest amount of filling material and in my opinion much weak material have been released straight from the begging(I'm no fan of Lake's contribution to the Works albums). Again, you either like it or not, don't spend time discussing what's bad about it. (I just did, sorry....). As for the comparison between Wakeman and Emerson I find it rather pointless. They are both great musicians and Emerson should have been just as awkward in a band like Yes that Wakeman would have been in E.L.P. My favourite E.L.P. album has to be Tarkus, although as their all-time greatest track I regard 'The Endless Enigma'.

Keef <keef.rob@verizon.net> (17.08.2004)

I noticed that there are a lot of people on this board who were 10 years from being born when a lot of prog (specifically ELP) was happening. One word gets bandied about a lot that bugs me quite a bit ... "pretentious."

Now, are ELP pretentious? Well, what are they pretending to be? They've always seemed to me to be three guys heavily into jazz and classical music that played something like rock, and just wanted to make their show as *big* as possible -- huge, expansive, like a Wagnerian opera. There's nothing wrong with that unless you happen not to be of the English middle class ... This is not that far off from the Who. It's also not far off from Kiss. But the Who dislocated R&B, and Kiss dislocated girl group songs, rather than classical music, and so somehow they're "real." This is a VERY STUPID concept. Gentle Giant seems to get it worst for dislocating English folk music and then trying for a hit record.

The class thing is *so strong* in the UK where they're from that the people who would be rocking in the pubs, schlonga schlonga for all you're worth, that those people are *bound* to call Genesis, Yes, and especially ELP (because they actually played classics, unlike Genesis and Yes) all sorts of things simply for being in a different class. And 30 years down the line people are mindless parroting this as fact without ever thinking where it came from. In other words it came from people who thought the middle class were *snooty* and hated them for having when they had not. Reviewers who originated this probably took one look at the album and said "a 20 minute track on a rock album? I'm not going to sit and listen to this. I'll just vent my frustrations with having nothing to eat for the next couple of days, and maybe I'll get paid for it." NME, Rolling Stone, et. al. printed it because they'd already paid for it, and it had some sort of entertainment value but it isn't exactly enlightenment or truth, but you have lots of people who weren't even *born* when this was happening accepting this swill as fact. In the seventies the game was to make a big show and have a bunch of teenagers go "ooooh!!" ELP were very good at this. And there's *nothing* wrong with that. If you could do something big and have a bunch of teenagers go "ooooh!!!" you'd probably do it too.

Now is 'Tarkus' long and boring? Maybe. But if you break it down into its parts it's 6 songs over 20 minutes. This averages out to 3:20 a section. Three songs with lyrics, three instrumental interludes. Seven titles out of a single piece of music (so that they could get seven chunks of publishing -- that's the way the machinery worked in those days).

How about 'Karn Evil 9'? Well, this is 3 parts, but really 5 or six sections proper depending on how you look at it ... average has gone to 5-6 minutes per section, but that's not that long. The Beatles didn't do so bad with "Hey Jude" being 7 minutes.

I feel most of these comments are not particularly original thought about the band or the music. The music's fine. It's not greater or worse than any other music -- you just have to sit through the parts you're not all than fond of because they didn't break it up into bite-size chunks. It more has to do with the class rift in the UK that's existed for hundreds of thousands of years, and maybe one day people will just learn to enjoy it, keep listening if you don't like it at the moment because it's going to change, and forget that it comes from "the classics."

Kathy <kmf17@optonline.net> (05.03.2006)

My all time favorite band. First rock show I attended in July 1977 when I was 16 - paid $20 for a seat from a kid I knew, in Madison Square Garden.

The distinct labeling of these groups and especially the critical hatred of ELP was stupid. Some of the music is overblown and can get tedious, but much of it was great, and really unique in sound. Emerson was the best keyboard player around in rock; Palmer the best [technically] drummer; Lake's voice and guitar/bass playing were very good. As showmen, they were terrific, and could really play. Do you remember the Stones show at the garden in 1981? I do-before corporate sponsorship they were all still on drugs and played and sounded like shit. ELP never did - always played and sounded great. Real artists, and totally under rated. Why they are not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is beyond me.


ALBUMS 
LIVE AT THE ISLE OF WIGHT FESTIVAL 1970

Thomas Vaughan Kent <thomas.kent@student.adelaide.edu.au> (10.02.2004)

This album is probably the worst live album ELP ever made (except the 'Now' part of Then and Now). Even 1992's live at the Royal Albert Hall is better than this - and that's saying a lot as it's an official 90s release, most of which are terrible.

'The Pictures' on here is ghastly, the whole last section is out of time. 'Take a Pebble' and 'Barbarian' are definitely the disc's saving graces.

Interesting to note that Emerson thought the show was terrible, too. Fun to hear them as young guys tho, your right - especially when you realise Carl was barely 20.


EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER

Mike DeFabio <defab4@earthlink.net> (24.08.99)

Nice album! Aside from 'the Three Fates', everything here is total topnotch prog! I even like 'Tank'! A nine it is!

Nick Karn <glassmoondt@yahoo.com> (18.10.99)

This album I think is literally divided between absolutely brilliant and incredibly aimless and boring. The highlights include "Lucky Man", an unbelievably uplifting acoustic ballad (the chorus harmonies... wow!), the dark and apocalyptic "Knife Edge", and around half of "Take A Pebble". The verses do in fact make the song sound like it's an expansion of King Crimson's "Epitaph" - a monumental song in itself, but a good amount of the instrumental section is elevator music... a complete yawnfest. The opener "The Barbarian" is a furious opening instrumental that's not too long and is excellent too, but the other two tracks ("The Three Fates" in particular) are way too painful to sit through and horribly indulgent, so I've got a compromise of my own, and that is to give this debut a 7.

Bob Josef <Trfesok@aol.com> (10.02.2000)

I'm pretty much in agreement with the review of the first album. "The Three Fates" doesn't do much for me. And "Tank" could have been cool if they cut that drum solo to a minute. But, no they -- had to prove that Palmer was a "composer" as well.

By the way, they started the classical rip-offs even earlier than Renaissance. For this go-round, they went for the Eastern European composers: "The Barbarian" is actually "Allegro Barbaro", from Bartok, and "Knife Edge" is derived from a piece by Janacek.

Ben Greenstein <bgreenstein@nctimes.net> (02.06.2000)

A pretty good debut album with a lot of filler. The organ solo is the low point - it isn't too interesting, but at least it isn't unpleasant. I actually like "Tank," and the three songs on side one are fantastic (especially "Knife Edge")! I've never been in love with "Lucky Man," though - to me, it sounds like a generic folk song. I mean, anyone could write that. The harmonies are cool, and I sort of like the falling apart at the end, but as a whole it's pretty useless. I could give this album a high seven.

Phil Boucher <KZ1000PS@aol.com> (06.08.2000)

I just recently bought this album, after having gotten most of their others (studio and live) and I think it's very refreshing to not have all the overblown epics they had made later in their career. First, I love the riff to "The Barbarian", and the middle piano section is a nice pause. "Take a Pebble" is very moving, and you can tell Lake put his soul into his singing for it. However, with "Knife Edge" I have yet to get the creepiness out of the song, but the instrumental parts I like, and it does show the three's abilities. Now with "the Three Fates/Tank" I like them. The church organ in Clotho is just so haunting it scares me into listening through. And although "Tank" is a very quirky piece, I like it very much, especially the drum solo, because I'm a drummer. Everyone else might find it pointless, but I don't think it will kill you to hear one drum solo over the course of however many studio albums. Think about how many guitar solos or keyboard solos there are. And lastly, I don't like "Lucky Man" that much, especially the synth solo at the end. It seems out of place "whooping" around in this light, soft ballad. I rate this very high, possibly a 10.

Kevin Baker <bakerspread@computron.net> (04.03.2001)

I must admit that prog as a genre has grown on me a great deal since I first experienced in on Court Of The Crimson King. I've been dabbling with a little Yes, some Tull, Genesis, etc., so I decided to check out some ELP. Since the Tarkus suite is soooooo long, I decided to focus on getting all the 1st album. So, over the last 2 days, I've been downloading like mad on Napster. And I must say, it was worth it. I genuinely like every song on here, even 'Tank'. Granted, it's my least favorite, but I can bear it. 'The Barbarian' is a cool opener, even if it is ripped off from a Bartok piece. 'Take A Pebble' is the true epic of the album, and what an epic! Emerson's skills as a pianist are on full display, and Palmer's drumming shines, but Lake...oh goodness, what a delivery. That man could sing! I even prefer his voice over Justin Hayward's. This song is genuinely moving. I'd even go so far as to say it alone could pull ELP's resonance rating up a point. A truly classic cut.  'Knife Edge' is pretty cool, but let's hear it for 'Lucky Man'! I absolutely love that song. I even like the wild "swoop" synth parts at the end. What a perfect prog song; one of the best in that genre. Now, I don't have any gripes with 'The Three Fates' suite. Emerson is a good enough keyboardist to pull the piece(s) off, and that what counts. To quote Rush Limbaugh, "It's not bombast if you have the talent to get away with it." Case in point. The piano part is my favorite, but all of it is enjoyable. 'Tank''s OK, but I could never list a drum solo as a favorite composition. Sorry drummers. I agree with the 9; maybe an overall of 12 would do it more justice, but 'Tank' keeps it from a 10.

Akis Katsman <watta502@yahoo.gr> (04.06.2003)

This, along with In The Court Of The Crimson King, is one of the best debut albums in the rock world. Indeed, "Take A Pebble" is the best song here, excellent piano from Emerson and breathtaking vocals from Lake. "The Barbarian" and "The Three Fates" are great classical-rock pieces, Emerson shines again in keyboards and piano. "Knife-Edge" rocks hard, with strange lyrics and one of the best keyboard solos I have ever heard. "Tank" shows that Carl Palmer is an extraordinary drummer, and it's damn cool. And finally, we've got "Lucky Man", an overrated but still great ballad. I love the singing here and the Moog at the end. Great progressive album. And it came in 1970! A solid 9 out of 10. This album was my introduction to ELP.

Jason Saenz <jsaenz@sagetelecom.net> (31.07.2004)

I like this album a lot, I don't see any mistakes anywhere at all. This show's ELP more agressive side, I mean TARKUS was mean but it is a little bit more smarter than this one. I think this a masterpeice and the highlight song to me is TANK, nobody really likes that one but I do, that's one heck of a drum solo and even the last part is really good except maybe for the silly keyboard sounds but that's not a real bother,Palmer sure does kick the hell out of MOBY DICK (no offense to all you LED ZEP overraters). The three fates is  really jazzy like and it still gives me that childish type of fear every time, probably the weakest song is "LUCKY MAN", but even though it's pretty much on the excellent-pleasent side.


TARKUS

Josh Fitzgerald <Joshsf@aol.com> (23.05.99)

Hmmmm. I'm wondering why you rated this album so high. It isn't very good. At least, I don't think so. The 20-minute first song can get REALLY tedious, REALLY fast. Although, I do like the "Mass" section a bit. Side 2 is just as plain. "Jeremy Bender" only runs for 1 minute and 50 seconds. "Are You Ready Eddy" is the most irritating example of 50's r&r parody ever recorded."A Time And A Place" is pretty much a 3-minute re-write of "Tarkus". The rest I can handle though. "Bitches Crystal" has an interesting feel to it, and I just plain love "The Only Way!" That "Infinite Space" part is boring though. Not one of the best albums I've ever heard.

My rating-6

John McFerrin <stoo@imsa.edu> (20.08.99)

I have to admit, the title track has really grown on me. Once I stopped trying to follow the story on the inner sleeve and just tried to enjoy the music, something clicked. And I do have to admit that 'Mass' is one of the catchiest ditties I've ever come across (although I understand very well how annoying it could seem to other people). The only part which still bothers me about it, though, is 'AquaTarkus'. There's something about that synth tone that just drives me batty (although I LOVE the Welcome Back ... extended version of it)

Side two is alright, although 'Bitches Crystal' is way too much like 'Tarkus' for its own good. Only 'Way/Infinite Space' is decent, and 'Time And a Place' sounds cool. And I must say that 'Are You Ready Eddy' is one of the funniest tracks I've ever heard. But 'Jeremy Bender', although lighthearted, is a little too bland for my tastes

Although I vastly prefer Brain Salad Surgery to this one, and even consider it a very slight step down from the debut, I gotta agree with you that this is the best way to be introduced to their sound. A 7 works for me.

Mike DeFabio <defab4@earthlink.net> (24.08.99)

Everybody in the whole wide world seems to hate this album and I don't know why. It's pretentious as all get out but what's wrong with that? Sometimes I want to listen to a long silly song that doesn't mean anything but has a ton of awesome melodies, and that's just what side one is. Side too is good two. I don't agree with the ten, but a nine would fit!

Bob Josef <Trfesok@aol.com> (10.02.2000)

The "Tarkus" suite is kind of stiffly performed and produced. But rethinking is as a group of linked pop songs, as opposed to a "symphony," makes it a lot more enjoyable. When I saw the band in '78, one thing that really irked me is that they cut out "Iconoclast" and "Battlefield" (the best part!) and turned "Aquatarkus" into a long, tedious jam. Ugh!

As for the other songs, "Jeremy Bender" and "Are You Ready, Eddy?" prove that the group did have a sense of humor. "Eddy" is actually engineer Eddie Offord, who also hung out with Yes for several years. "A Time and a Place" and "Bitches Crystal" show Greg going in the "Knife Edge" direction and trying to sing in his gruff, "ominous" voice, but he sounds more annoying than scary. And "The Only Way" contains the single most obnoxious set of Lake lyrics in the group's history. I don't object to lyrics that challenge religion (see Aqualung), but they have to be GOOD.

Ben Greenstein <bgreenstein@nctimes.net> (14.02.2000)

I haven't really listened much to the shorter compositions on here, but the title track is fabulous! I just can't get enough of that spooky rhythm that opens it - in my opinion, that first three or so minutes takes everything I like about prog-rock and concentrates it into pure beauty. Maybe my opinion of beauty is just screwed up, I don't know. The song drags a little after that - not being as well focused as "Suppers Ready" or "Thick As A Brick" or any other twenty-minute plus song that I've heard - but it does have that awesome pitch-screwy solo. I'll have to listen to the second half of the album before I make up my mind on a defenite score, but for now I'm leaning for nine or maybe ten.

Jeff Claypool <jclaypool@adt.com> (31.05.2000)

I think that TARKUS is one of the most intelligent pieces of music I've ever heard. The level of educated musicianship needed to imagine and perform this is far beyond the ability of the majority of musicians out there. Frankly, I think the people responding who bash this album aren't musically educated enough to qualify as reviewers. Were these people music majors in college? Have they studied anything above Theory Level 1? Obviously you'll never admit it, but reviews like these illustrate the utter ignorance of their authors. They should be reviewing Keith Partridge instead of Keith Emerson.

Humble Student of Advanced Emersonian Studies

Eric X Kuns <kuns_eric@jpmorgan.com> (30.06.2000)

Half of the greatness of this album and Pictures are the album covers themselves (not really, it's something completely separate, buy I spent many hours in my late teens listening to the music while staring at the covers, and so the two are inextricably intertwined in my head). You gotta love the little story book illustrations of the armored-dillo and it's encounters. Sadly the dillo's progress is eventually checked by the least likable of his adversaries, which is the big-lipped lion-monkey dude with the scorpion tail. I heard this a couple decades ago and thought it was the shit of shit, and though it gets cornier every year, I still think it occupies a certain irreplaceable niche. Of course I have to turn it off during the "why did he lose 6 million Jews?" line because it's too heavy and cheesy at the same time. I particularly like 'Time and a Place', which reminds me of some vintage Cream somehow. Back in high school I tried to play this a friend who was into the B52's, and his response was, "it just doesn't do anything for me." Well, I thought the 52's were trivial, but now I dig them ("Hot Lava!").

<CarlEmbalmer@aol.com> (18.08.2000)

some great stuff here tecknical abbility unsurpassed.sends chills up my spine some find it cold and calculated but i think its great.

Jeff Melchior <Jeffmoncheri@aol.com> (16.12.2000)

I think Emerson, Lake and Palmer brought what  like to call the "Dungeons and Dragons" mentality to rock - the fantasy, sci-fi stuff that heavy metal bands such as Uriah Heep picked up and bands like Iron Maiden brought into the '80s. For good or bad, it filled a niche market that was obviously clamoring for this kind of stuff.

Personally, I think Tarkus kicks. I never even listen to the second side, but ot's worth the money for the side-long suite alone. There are some boring parts, but as far as 20-minute epics go this is right up there and probably more consistent than 'Close To The Edge' but nowhere near as exciting as 'Supper's Ready' (ELP could never pull off the raw emotion that Peter Gabriel could). Why doesn't Greg Lake play more electric guitar? His guitar breaks on Tarkus and Pictures At An Exhibition are some of the meanest-sounding I've ever heard. But they're few and far between and on newer releases pretty much non-existent.

Guilherme Nettesheim <deyeomeedeez@yahoo.com> (31.01.2004)

When I first heard this album, I didn't like it. Not at all infact, though I suspected as much with the cover. I had recently bought In the Court of King Crimson and gave this album a try because it had Mr. Lake's heavenly voice. After a while I decided to actually listen to it. I won't say this album is a masterpiece like King Crimson's debut, but it does rank up there with other great albums I own. I love it infact.

Tarkus is unjustly put down. Either they came up with the concept while chugging a gasoline/cyanide mixture or it was a joke, most likely the latter. Basing a huge, elaborate, side-long song on a joke as ridiculous as Armadillo tanks makes up for even the *ahem* infamous "Jew" line in 'The Only Way'. Greg's vocals are top notch here as well, but Emerson is really the hero here. His playing is very influenced by Classic music and throughout then whole it has countless different tones, from silly and happy in Mass to the hymn-like Eruption and ending in the battle march sounding Battlefield and Aquatarkus. And I usually hate synths muddling up my songs, but here they sound diverse and Emerson comes up with some awesome melodies, most of which are very complex and well thought out.

I like 'Jeremy Bender', but I don't love it. It's not bad, it just wasn't made to be loved. It's just... there. The silly piano and "okay" melody are alright at most. It's not bad as to be called a filler, but.... In case we couldn't tell it was a hymn by the overblown lyrics, church organs and the fact that it sounds incredibly classical ('Toccata in F' and 'Prelude VI' by Bach are played in the song) they decided to tell us it was a hymn. What really does it for me though is the beautiful piano playing by Emerson, and of course, Greg's voice. I love this song, but the overblown lyrics are horrible. If you can tune the words out and just hear Greg singing, the song is great.

Jason Saenz <jsaenz@sagetelecom.net> (13.07.2004)

This is the first ELP lp I listened to, and all I've got to say is: GOOD GOING!!!!!! This is probably the father of most prog concept albums (I'm not saying that there was nothing conceptual before, but this is one of the best ahead-of-time thingies). From beginning till the end it's always an adventure, I've listened to this many times and it still amuses and surprises me, EVERYTIME! Maybe at the end ELP does get a little weak but hey!, "Are you ready Eddy" is not bad either. Now music wise, this is complex music, I've had a few discussions comparing this and Crimsos debut (wich is something dumb, both albums are really different) and I have come to the conclusion that TARKUS is harder, angrier,more conceptual and more difficult than ITCOTCK.

Tim Blake (19.07.2006)

Wow. This an extremely strange album, it's difficult to know what the hell to think about it. As far as I can tell though, this kind of thing is par for course for ELP. Tarkus seems to contain a lot of contradictions. The music is inasnely complex but aurally extremely simple. The lyrics and vocals are powerful and epic while at the same time being distant and utterly impersonal. This is probably one of the most perplexingly robotic albums I've ever heard. It is almost completely devoid of any sense of humanity or feeling. It's bizarrely futuristic, but really not that 'out there'. Most of all, it simply sounds weird, like some bizarre alien lounge players spazzed out on acid while on a spaceship and programmed robots to jam their parts in the middle of a galactic war. Or something.

Another strange thing to note is that, while the music is crazy, just about ALL of it consists solely of synths/keys (man are there a LOT of keys), bass, drums, guitar and occasional vocals. That's all. No extra sound effects, no strange noises, no panning effects or explosions or strings or anything else that resembles anything other than the core instruments. No Pink Floyd style sound effects and manipulations to be had here. The outcome is that although instruments are flying all over the place in madly technical frenzy, it actually feels very predictable. You just know Emerson is going to doodle something insane, Lake will sing some obscure robotic melody while sounding very impassioned and Palmer will bash away as he does. But still, it's a good formula and wields some very interesting results, but feels a little limited. Sure, Yes had a sense of predictability, but they did actually throw in way more sonic shades, textures and contrast than can be found on Tarkus. That's what Tarkus lacks, constrast. Almost all of it is constant robotic doodling and slower obscure melodies played exactly the same (way) through the whole album. Compare Gates Of Delirium with Tarkus (both very long 'suite' style prog tracks about galactic war) and try to tell me that Gates doesn't have like, a gazillion more things going on in it (to exaggerate a trillion times).

It it's favour Tarkus is still immensely unique, that's for sure. Aurally it isn't that out there, but it feels crazy. And to give off a sense of complete loonyness while not really being that out there in practice is still an accomplishment. The only other album I can think of that is this emotionally distant, robotic and impersonal is Focus by Cynic (look it up), and even then, music so intensely dissassociated from humanity manages to have a very powerful atmosphere by that mere fact. It takes a lot more to be actively anti-emotion than simply emotionally shallow and insipid, and I wouldn't say that's what's going on here. I'd give this album maybe a 7. Points off for being aurally limited. Music is quite good though.


PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION

David <DistJudge@aol.com> (22.11.99)

A hearty thumbs up to your review--couldn't have put it better myself.

Valentin Katz <Valka324@home.com> (10.12.99)

I'm very fond of this album because I was very interested to hear ELP perform live and I was not disappointed. The only real flaw is that it is so short, but that seems to be an ingrained characteristic of ELP. So many out of this world sounds and compilations. I like this a lot because you never know what to expect next and each time you listen to it, it sounds different. There are so many complexities in this record that its virtually impossible to memorize it at all. And 'Nutrocker' is way cool in my book, I've always liked the underlying melody of the number and putting a prog-rock spin on it made it sound that much better.'

Bob Josef <Trfesok@aol.com> (10.02.2000)

I don't see how you cam complain about the "sprawl" on the next two albums and give this one such a positive review -- this is the DEFINITION of sprawl. The original piece is only a little over a half hour, and then they have to extend it with such ridiculousness as "Blues Variation." The group definitely bit off more than they could chew here. Plus the live recording quality is really crappy. "Nutrocker" proves once again, though, that the group does have a sense of humor.

The best thing about this is that it turned me on to the original piece.

Ben Greenstein <bgreenstein@nctimes.net> (02.06.2000)

Not underrated at all. If you're going to play classical-rock fusion, then you've got to make it rock. This stuff just sort of sits there, without any memorable melodies or anything to keep it interesting. It is not as bad as it's rumoured to be - but that doesn't mean I like it. A four.

Eric X Kuns <kuns_eric@jpmorgan.com> (30.06.2000)

I loved Pictures at an Exhibition back in the day. Now, I'm scared to listen to it. Used to be I loved the over-the-top synth solo called either "the Hut" or "the Curse" of "Baba-yaga" so much that I still have it emblazoned in my brain and can hear it in my head on playback anytime I want. This is best appreciated while imagining those weird little custom paintings that comprised the pictures in the exhibition on the cover. I think they were by the same artist that did Tarkus, and each painting corresponded with a song. I remember some silver globe with electronic emanations for legs, and it corresponded very well with the synthesizer solos. It really is a crack up how these records have aged and people talk about the parts they still really dig, and then the parts that are "unbearable". Not much of this one would NOT be unbearable for me, I think, not yet anyway. You can spare me the 'Nutcracker' for sure. Yuck. And the 'Bolero' on Trilogy, too. One day I'll listen to Pictures again, but it may not be for a long while. Oh, the album turned me onto one of the same name by Tomita - a purely electronic interpretation of the same Mussorgsky original (I haven't heard that in decades either. It's probably also equally parts wonderful and embarrassingly bad).

Mike Healy <mhshadesbelow@yahoo.com> (05.12.2001)

This album was initially just a tape for the band to hear how the Mussorgsky suite was going down with the audience. I think it was either a soundboard tape, or a two-track recording, they weren't too specific about that. But that accounts for the sound quality, which I've never had a problem with; this isn't King Crimson's Earthbound LP, after all! I like how you can hear everything they're playing; the bass isn't too low in the mix, it's right there where it should be.

They liked what they heard and put it out in the UK, but Cotillion/Atlantic in the US weren't convinced that it would do anything over here, as it was too classically-oriented. They offered to put it out on one of their obscure jazz labels, but the guys wanted a normal release for it. UK Island began importing copies of it over here and they all sold out, it was being played on the radio, and so then Cotillion released it, and it was a hit!


TRILOGY

Juan Manuel Cuenca Flores <al772095@mail.mty.itesm.mx> (13.07.99)

i hated your review of trilogy album, im 18 year old guy, i like bands like yes and jethro tull, and yes ELP, when i first listened ELP, it was trilogy, and i loved it, the song 'trilogy', its my fav, it has great rythm and it is exciting for me, i listened to the other albums, and i still think trilogy is the best!!

Mike DeFabio <defab4@earthlink.net> (24.08.99)

Right now this is my least favorite of the four great ELP studio albums (Pictures at an Exhibition doesn't count, because it's live, and it's awful.) It's great, but less great than ELP, Tarkus, and BSS. I'm kind of sick of 'Endless Enigma', the title track doesn't do much for me, and 'Living Sin' is totally forgettable. And the cover's kinda dumb. Still, 'Hoedown''s on here, yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeha! And so is 'From the Beginning'! And 'Abaddon's Bolero' and 'the Sheriff' are cool too.

David <DistJudge@aol.com> (22.11.99)

I'm not much on the instrumental break between the two halves of 'Endless Enigma' but I have to say that I love 'Endless Enigma'. Lake's voice and Keith's keyboards shine on that track--it has a sort of majestic feel. And ELP's interpretation of Aaron Copland's classic 'Hoedown' is, well, a classic.

Bob Josef <Trfesok@aol.com> (10.02.2000)

Another big disagreement here! I think ELP is reaching their peak here -- I rate this at number 2. I would agree that the second side is not too thrilling. Yes, "Abbadon's Bolero" does go on too long. And "Living Sin" is not the first appearance of Greg's "evil" tone -- it's a worse clone of the already bad "Bitches Crystal." And "Trilogy" is really boring. And where is the trilogy? I don't three parts of anything in this track -- it's rather incoherent.

But they make up for all this on the wonderful first side. They finally achieve the majestic sweep on "The Endless Enigma" that they were going for on "The Three Fates" and "Tarkus". "From the Beginning" is a great, Steve Howe type of ballad -- and yes, it was their biggest American hit single. And "The Sheriff" and "Hoedown" are yet more examples of the fact that they didn't take themselves as seriously as critics thought they did. These two are the best "fun" tracks yet!

Add to that the best production that Greg came up with yet, and you've got one of the group's most indispensable albums.

Tony Souza <avsouza@webtv.net> (19.02.2000)

I actually like this one, and it's the only one that I still have of in their catalogue. I like the opener, "Endless Enigma" because of the organ work by Emerson. I preferred his organ work to his piano work because I find it less stilted and overblown (although he is a great piano player). The songs on here have a better sense of direction and purpose while still throwing in some musical surprises (the synthesizer break in "Trilogy" is my favorite moment on the record). Also, it's good to hear them lighten up a little in "The Sheriff", and I love the ragtime piano tacked on at the end of the song. "Bolero" does tend to drag a bit for me and I'm sick of hearing "In the Beginning" but I still like the feel and sound of this album. The production on ELP's previous albums tended to be thin-sounding, especially in the bass department but on here it's passable.

Ben Greenstein <bgreenstein@nctimes.net> (28.04.2000)

Holy Poop! This is a great album! A lot of people don't like it, some say it's weak compared to the next album, but I think it's fantastic. "Hoedown" has got to be one of my favourite classical songs of all time, and it sounds really good with the prog instrumentation. And "Endless Enigma" is powerful, too. Nothing on here is overlong, except for MAYBE "Abbadon's Bolero." The rest is essential. I give it a ten.

<JohnnyDiLascio2@aol.com> (29.04.2000)

I loved this album. Well, the main reason why was there was something about this album, it was in every song, I don't know what, just this feel to it that I loved. 'From the Beginning' is one of Greg's finest ballads, 'The Sherriff' is a great tune, and 'hoedown' rocks. 'trilogy' still stands as my all- time favorite ELP tune. I love how it comes at you like some sort of lounge lizard bar ballad and then smacks you in the face right in the middle. And 'fugue' is such a cool piano piece. BUY TRILOGY NOW!!!

John Sieber <oneofakind151@hotmail.com> (01.01.2001)

the song, 'trilogy'... so named, i think, because of its 3 distinct sections: 1) the emotional "slow" part in B major, 2) the dissonant synth solo in 5/4 time, and 3) the main theme returning, this time in 6/4 and Bb major. all tied together by short little interludes. however the title has not a goddamn thing to do with the lyrics. still, i love the song. when i got the CD (yes, i'm a digital pussy, no LP's) i got to "trilogy" and fell in love with it. for the next 6 hours i listened to this song. but the other tracks are cool too, even that gay 'bolero'. the key to enjoying even that one, is to paint a mental picture to go with the song. hey, it's art-rock, why not put some art with it?

Jason Saenz <jsaenz@sagetelecom.net> (13.07.2004)

The rating I found here is a little harsh, I mean this aint no Tarkus but it aint no Love Beach either, I mean these guys still their instruments in a proper manner, the 'Trilogy' track is really good, beautful piano'ing, flawless vocals and great work done in the timing dept. plus Palmer's technical smashing and bashing just goes the right way. This album maybe a little too much on the funny side in some track's but it still isn' that bad. Good drumming sometimes compensates for much of the silly stuff.


BRAIN SALAD SURGERY

Mike DeFabio <defab4@earthlink.net> (24.08.99)

Sorry, I love the heck out of this album. I think 'Karn Evil 9' is great, it doesn't bore me at all throughout its half hour running time. It's better than 'Tarkus' and easily the greatest thing they ever wrote. An easy ten.

John McFerrin <stoo@imsa.edu> (28.08.99)

I'm still really puzzled about you thinking that the whole 'KE 9' suite is boring. Maybe part 2 or 3 can get a little dull (though not for me), but part 1 is AWESOME. I mean, you seriously don't get carried away by the Emerson Lake interplay throughout, with that fantastic synth sequence before each "I'LL BE THERE I'LL BE THERE I WILL BE THERE" chunk? For me, that's just as catchy as, say, 'Mass,' and probably much more so.

Oh, and of course 'Jerusalem' sounds like a hymn; it IS a hymn, specifically, an old British hymn. I mean, you seriously don't expect a a pompous hymn covered by ELP to not be overblown?

For me, this is a 10, and none of the others even come close.

P.S. Btw, the middle spacey part in 'Toccata', believe it or don't, is not Keith. That's Carl on his synthesized drums. Yeah, I know it's hard to believe, and I wouldn't believe it myself if it weren't for the liner notes specifically telling me so.

Bob Josef <Trfesok@aol.com> (10.02.2000)

And, of course, an even bigger disagreement. The BEST album by ELP, in my mind, and in the minds of a great deal of fans. Almost endlessly entertaining. The only major flaw is "Toccata," this albums "Tank." Drum solos played on electronic drums sound just as tedious as those played on acoustic drums.

But come on! Another great ballad from Greg! The amusing, lighthearted "Benny the Bouncer" -- the only track from the album that the left off the boxed set -- and they included "Toccata!" "Jerusalem" has all the grandeur of "The Endless Enigma," and "Karn Evil 9" is not tedious, but one roller-coaster moment after another. It's better to hear it as one continuous piece on the CD, rather than butchered like on the LP.

The most essential album by the band, by far.

Ben Greenstein <bgreenstein@nctimes.net> (28.04.2000)

Another really good ELP record. I hate "Benny The Bouncer," though, so I'll have to give it a nine (only?). "Karn Evil 9" is the greatest, though! Even "3rd Impression, as dorky as it sounds, has got a really good melody. And "Still You Turn Me On." I love this band! How can anyone dismiss these guys as "too pretentious" when they're such good songwriters and performers.

Rich Bunnell <taosterman@yahoo.com> (07.06.2000)

I like most of this album, but I can only give it a lowish eight because 1) The sound is sort of overbearing and thin, and 2) The "2nd Impression" of KE9 really sucks. Everything else is really good-- I originally thought that "1st Impression" was some stupid hick song until I heard the full version here on the album itself, and now it's awesome! "Still...You Turn Me On" and that really long instrumental classical thing are great too, and "Benny The Bouncer" is hilarious! As I said, though, I can only go as high as a low eight because of the album's flaws (which are glaring) but I can't see why this one's randomly slammed as a lowpoint for the band.

Phil Boucher <KZ1000PS@aol.com> (07.08.2000)

Just to answer any questions with the "Brain Salad Surgery" title, the band had a inside joke they'd say when referring to oral sex, which was "whip some skull on me."

This was supposed to be the title of BSS but they changed it to BSS after they heard that name used in the Dr. John song, "In the Right Place." That's about all there is behind the name Brain Salad Surgery, and don't ask me how I know all that.

jeffrey b.good <tull_fan@mail.ru> (06.10.2000)

I see, at least you've given Thick As A Brick the right rating(I don't want to comment it, because I can't add anything), so I hope one good day you'll be able to listen to this album. I agree, the second side is quite boring and overlonged, but "3rd impression" is rather good, and "1rst.Part 2" could be, if Greg Lake would shut up. But "Toccata" and "1st Impression. Part one" are great and no doubt are prog classical. You ask for ratings? Nine at least.

PS. Oops, sorry, guys, it's best Emerson's album ever, I no longer dislike any part of 'Karn evil', and forget about that rudimentary lyrics. If you hate Sinfield for writing all this, you should dig later Emerson's progect "Eskimo"(his short collaboration with Sinfield and french musitians, unfortunately, almost unknown in Russia, and really hard to find).

Rob Pasquale <Campione13@aol.com> (14.07.2001)

I'm only 18 and my musical knowledge is obviously limited because of that, but ever since I first came across your page a few months ago, i have come back at least once a day to read some reviews and I think it is by far the best opinion based website in terms of music. Since I first started reading your page, I have been hitting all the music stores and buying all the cds that have been given a good review by you. Well, I guess i've bought some albums that were given bad reviews (I just had to by Yes' Tales didn't I? What a waste). My favorite category is Progressive Rock, and you do a great job. Keep up the good work! Anyway, on to Karn Evil 9...

I was at a friends house hanging out. He has Napster and had it set to 'random' mode. After a while, this song came on that sounded like nothing I have ever heard before (I wasn't in to prog yet). The song was so damn cool. After a couple of minutes I asked how long this song was. My friend muttered a number which I took as '3'. "Three?" I asked? THIRTY he said. What the hell? I thought 'American Pie' was a long song. Emerson Lake a Palmer? Never heard of them. I soon found Brain Salad surgery at a music store and fell in love. I was always a fan of the keyboards, and 'Part 2" has the best keyboard section i've ever heard. 'First Impression' is absolutely amazing and never gets dull for one moment. Part two slows down and is boring to me, maybe after the adrenaline rush of Part One, a slow, quiet Part Two is too big a change for me. Part Three has some more awesome keyboarding and a cool mystical atmosphere. I do not find this song overlong in any way. Maybe you should just think of it as being 4 completely different tracks. Hopefully one day, your feeling about this song will change.

<SpaceClown@aol.com> (21.09.2002)

Okay, since you asked, here's my (probably too long-winded, so be forewarned) take on it: Brain Salad Surgery is one of the albums in my unofficial "Holy Trinity of Prog Rock" (the other two are Yes's The Yes Album and King Crimson's Lark's Tongues In Aspic, if you really wanna know). BSS represents many of the best things progressive rock had to offer. And believe me, I'm not your typical pretentious diehard Prog-Head -- hey, if I'm a diehard fan of anyone, it'd be Frank Zappa. But I do listen to a lot of prog, and I even know how to play some on guitar, so I think I have a reasonably good ear for it. Having said that, few pro rock albums impress me as much as ELP's BSS. I remember the creepy Giger cover from my childhood, when they used to advertise it on the inner sleeves of other ATCO albums. It was a hard album cover to forget ... just something about that skull bolted into the grim gray machinery always struck me as deeply disturbing, far moreso than the silly satanic thematics of your typical Black Sabbath album. Not to knock Black Sabbath, because they were a respectable band in their own right, but you gotta admit some of Sabbath's album covers bordered on the ridiculous. But the cover of BSS is downright SCARY, especially when you consider the similarities between it and the inhuman machine-world of "Karn Evil 9, Third Impression". I don't usually go on about album covers, but the cover of BSS is an exception. In me, it stirs up old hospital memories from distant childhood -- stark fluorescent lights, silent gray elevators, and the cold science of X-ray chambers. I have to respect ANY painting that creeps me out to such an extent, just on general principle.

As for the music, it's generally well-suited to the cover ... fascinating and strange and disturbing. The first four songs on Brain Salad Surgery are all good enough, in their own way. "Jerusalem" and "Toccata" are adaptations of classical pieces, but they're done with enough innovation to keep them fresh and exciting -- in particular, check out the laser sounds in "Toccata," blasts of space-age gunfire which suit the song's ominous mood of impending battle (remember that old 80s computer war-game "Rampart" where you had to knock out the enemy's walls with cannon-fire? I swear they ripped off the beginning of ELP's "Toccata" for the music). And "Still ... You Turn Me On" is certainly good, although I think it's too short and inconclusive to be truly great, almost as if it were thrown together for a quick radio hit (the funky, un-proglike guitar further confirms my suspicions). On the other hand, I really like "Benny the Bouncer" -- ELP's answer to "Bad Bad Leroy Brown" I suppose -- with its jangly/catchy piano, scat-drums, and tongue-in-cheek bloodbath lyrics delivered in Lake's amusingly bogus cockney accent. "So now he works for Jesus as the bouncer at Saint Peter's gaaaate!" cracks me up every time I hear it (and as far as I'm concerned, anyone who fights a knife-wielding hood with a cold meat pie deserves what he gets ... "Benny the Dumbass Bouncer" would have been more apt). And Emerson even adds some comical "shuttlecock" piano playing at the very end, just when you think it's finally over. All around, an awesome little tune.

But of course, the real reason to buy Brain Salad Surgery is the album's centerpiece -- and masterpiece -- "Karn Evil 9". I'm not claiming "Karn Evil 9" is perfect. In fact, I find the second impression to be out of place and annoying. It would have fit in perfectly on the first ELP album, resembling as it does parts of "Take A Pebble" and "The Three Fates", especially the latter (the Fourth Fate? hmmm). And I guess it would've made an interesting addition to Tarkus, which I was never crazy about anyway. But in the middle of "Karn Evil 9"? Here you have this darkly carnivalesque epic of futuristic evil, full of manic energy and blasphemous inspiration then you have an even MORE futuristic sounding space epic, perhaps the ultimate space epic ever offered by Prog-rock, the final awful confrontation between man and machine. And in between, you have this spontaneous jazz improv, with a few makeshift samba rhythms thrown in for variety. It just don't wash! Emerson is a fantastic keyboardist, there's no denying that, but I can't see what he was thinking when he decided to put avant-garde jazz in the middle of a sci-fi Prog-rock epic. They should have recorded this as a separate song. As "Toccata, Part 2" it might have worked ... and musically speaking, the second impression could be loosely defined as a toccata. Having said that, "Karn Evil 9" is still absolutely spectacular. A prog lexicon, it lures like the poisonous gaze of a basilisk. I'd put it in the same league with the best King Crimson (and I wouldn't say that lightly, because I have a great deal of respect for the Crims). If Emerson had only used something more like "AquaTarkus" or "Tank" for the second impression, this song could have been the ultimate Prog-rock epic. Just for the record, I think the honor of ultimate Prog-rock epic would probably go to "Lark's Tongues In Aspic, Part 2" or "Yours Is No Disgrace" hang on, lemme flip a coin.

Anyways, in summation, Brain Salad Surgery is one of the definitive prog albums of its day. In my book, BSS isn't actually the best ELP album -- that honor falls to their debut album, Emerson Lake & Palmer. So why do I choose BSS for my "holy trinity" rather than choosing their debut album? Because BSS is their most purely "prog" album, a mastodonic Prog-rock bible that demonstrates all of the good (and bad) aspects of prog rock. Everything's here in spades -- the central role of the keyboard in most of the songs, the complex musical arrangements, the science-fiction imagery, the brain-teasing intellectualist lyrics ... the grandiosity and the pompousness ... the arrogance and the limitless ambition. I'd rate it a 10 for its sheer "definitiveness" alone. In truth, I had expected you to give it at least a 9, George. If you simply hated Prog-rock, then maybe I could understand your so-so rating. But obviously you like at least some Prog-rock, because you gave friggin' Tarkus a 10, so I'm rather confused by your lukewarm reaction to BSS ... because BSS kicks Tarkus's armored armadillo ass in a lot of ways.

My disagreements with you here are the exception rather than the rule. In all fairness, you run one hell of a great site, your musical philosophy is thoughtful and more or less consistent, and I share your general opinions on a lot of the albums you've reviewed. But when it comes to your ideas about Prog-rock, I sometimes half-jokingly wonder if you're really one of the Sex Pistols writing under a Russian pseudonym. And don't even get me started on YES! :-)


WELCOME BACK MY FRIENDS TO THE SHOW THAT NEVER ENDS

Cole <bozmn@intercom.net> (18.08.99)

Yawn is the best descriptive word for this. I can't stand 'Karn Evil 9', so that's part of the reason. All the solo time gets boring after a while, too; how many drum solos does one really need to hear in their lifetime? ...oh, fine, I'll talk about the actual songs. "Tarkus" is performed quite well (except for the excerpt from "Epitaph"--there's nothing to listen to except for Greg's singing and a little bit of guitar), and I especially like the jammed out "Aquatarkus"--Emo and Rick Wakeman were both great synth players before the late 70's, when they turned to cheese. Greg Lake's acoustic stuff is nice, but I'd rather hear the whole band doing "Lucky Man" and "Still...". I think the high point, aside from "Tarkus", is "Hoedown", which is -really- fast and energetic. Other than that, there's no reason for me to pull this out instead of the studio albums. I'd give this.. uh.. 4 at best.

Bob Josef <Trfesok@aol.com> (10.02.2000)

I'll go even further and say that, except for the numbing jam on "Aquatarkus," they do the DEFINITIVE version of "Tarkus" here. The track just swings compared to the rather robotic studio version.

Otherwise, it's really only for hardcores. Besides "Aquatarkus", Keith also gets tedious on the "Piano Impovs" -- yes, we know you can play, so shut up already! The acoustic "Still..You Turn Me On" is a trifle, and a real nitpick for me is that Lake leaves off the third repetition of the refrain of 'Lucky Man', which removes the irony that was the entire point of the song! I agree that the "Jeremy Bender/The Sheriff" medley is fun -- where's "Benny the Bouncer"? Plus we really don't need the whole rest of the last album, either.

And, lastly, the recording quality is lousy, that "live from a big cave" feeling that Yessongs also has, ruining stuff like "Jerusalem," "Hoedown" and the unlistenable-as-it-is "Toccata". Stick with Brain Salad and Trilogy. I did get the LP set as a Christmas present, but it's hard to justify a full price purchase, even for "Tarkus."

<KZ1000PS@aol.com> (02.04.2000)

Well, this has become my overall favorite album of ELP. To start off with, "Hoedown" seems nearly twice as fast as the studio version, "Jerusalem" and "Tocotta" (although nearly indecipherable due to the swamp-like acoustics) are just as good as the studio, and then comes "Tarkus." This piece sounds, in my opinion, far greater than the studio version, speeding up the fast parts and slowing down the slow parts, creating for a more powerful impression/suite/symphony/whatever. I just flat out love the entire song (except for the annoyingly long "Aquatarkus" jam), and can listen to it over and over without moving. As for the rest of the album, The piano improvs don't really lose my attention as much as I would think them to, and "Jeremy Bender/The Sheriff" is much more bearable at the mid tempo pace here. "KE9" I've listened to maybe twice and thought the studio version was more impressive. Overall though, I'd give this album a 9.


WORKS VOLUME 1

Bob Josef <Trfesok@aol.com> (10.02.2000)

I think they kind of cheated, giving us three half solo albums, plus only two group performances, and calling it a ELP album. Be that as it may..

If you like rock and hate classical music, then "Concerto" is simply not for you. I personally like it -- I even heard it played recently on my favorite all-classical radio station. I guess there's something to it.

I disagree totally about "Hallowed be thy Name" -- the lyrics aren't quite as trashy as "The Only Way," but Greg more than makes up for it with really bad music -- throw this one out of the window! But the rest has some nice melodies and arrangements, even if Sinfield gets overwordy, but we old proggers like that kind of stuff. And there's "C'est la Vie," which does prove that sometimes less is more.

Palmer's stuff is all over the map, but it's at least interesting. I don't know if "Food for the Soul" is supposed to be big band jazz or something, but it sounds more like something a high school marching band would come up with. And I agree, a new jazz version of "Tank" was highly unnecessary.

As for the group side, I don't agree that "Pirates" is unengaging. I think Keith does conjure a cinematic sweep that compliments the lyrics well -- it actually started off as movie soundtrack music. I have mixed feelings about "Fanfare." Up to this point, Keith more or less retained the original mood of the classical pieces he covered. But now, he ruins the stately, dignified intent of Copland and turned it into this huge rock thing. On the other hand, it rocks more than anything else on the album, and Copland himself supposedly dug it, so who am I to complain?

The band lost a lot of fans here for a lot of reasons, but there's one I think is overlooked. Before this, Keith's choice of keyboards were primarily Hammond organ and Moog synth, which still made them sound primarily like a ROCK band, even when they got into the classical thing. But here, he switches to Yamaha (and later Kurzweil) synths, which sounded a lot colder and inaccessible to many ears. But he felt he had to keep up with the times, I suppose..

Ben Greenstein <bgreenstein@nctimes.net> (28.04.2000)

Yeah, it's overkill. Lake's ballads are below par, and, as much as I dig Emerson's piano playing, I prefer his futuristic synths. Palmer's experiments are okay, and "Pirates" is pretty enjoyable, and I love "Fanfare," so I give it a seven.


WORKS VOLUME 2

Bob Josef <Trfesok@aol.com> (10.02.2000)

Mostly in agreement here -- the album is indeed solo singles and outtakes from the last two studio albums. "Watching Over You" is lovelier than any of Greg's ballads from the last album -- even more straightforward than "C'est la Vie." "Bullfrog" is a neat idea which captures the title character, but Palmer comes up with yet more high school marching band music with "Close, but Not Touching." "Brain Salad Surgery" has more of Greg trying to sound demonic, a la "Bitches Crystal" (Greg, this ain't Black Sabbath - give it up). I don't know about "Jennifer Eccles" (never heard it), but "Father Christmas" is actually derived from the fourth movement of Tchaikovsky's "Lt. Kije Suite." And the rest of it is fun and not nearly as heavy as the last album.

Where did you get a white copy of the first volume? Everywhere else, it's black.

Ben Greenstein <bgreenstein@nctimes.net> (28.04.2000)

Really good! Although I would rather hear the band do their trademark sci-fi sound, I don't see any problem with them doing boogie woogie and ragtime, especially when it's good. The weirdo jazz numbers are good, too, and "Father Christmas." Actually, the only song I don't like too much is "Watching Over You," just because anyone could write that. I don't like "Lucky Man," either - you got a problem with that? I give the album a highish eight.

Loyal A. Wiens <loyalw@att.net> (04.12.2000)

I was browsing your review page on Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. In your comments about Works, Volume 2, you say "come to think of it, this one is also white as snow. Of course, Vol. 1 was white, too,". Well, actually, Vol. 1 was (is, since I still have a vinyl copy) black with white writing.

Nice layout and reviews, otherwise.

[Special author note: Apparently, there are some white editions, too - otherwise, why would my CD (and the album cover I pilfered from the All-Music Guide) be different?]

Pierre Bathos <pierrebathos@rock.com> (01.12.2003)

A minor detail - the theme used in 'I Believe In Father Christmas' is borrowed from Lt. Kije by Prokofiev (not Tchaikovsky as claimed by Bob Josef).


LOVE BEACH

Dan Miller <Daniel_E_Miller@notes.seagate.com> (05.08.99)

A most level-headed review for the most controversial progressive rock record of all time! Anyway, let's be fair to ol' Love Beach, man. It's not that bad - and after a careful listen, you might find that it's pretty good! Sure, the cover is ridiculous. It's actually funny, but who am I to judge? Maybe - just maybe - there are some ELP fans of the female persuasion out there who wanted to see our heroes in open shirts and gleaming smiles. What about their needs, huh?!

Of course, in all fairness this would have to stand as the lowest-quality ELP album - not so unusual considering so very few bands end their careers with a bang! ELP did in fact re-emerge eight years later with the great Emerson, Lake & Powell (sure, Meatloaf, two outta three ain't bad) so today's fans can now look back and realize Love Beach was like the belch amid a smooth, satisfying drink of beer and not the diarrhea after a delicious, five-course meal.

And it's a good belch, too. Love Beach offers solid Lake-style pop with "All I Want is You" and "For You." "The Gambler" is okay, while the title track and "Taste of My Love" are a laugh riot. Lake tries way too hard to croon. "Canario" is a throwback to ELP's rich classical-interpretive tradition. The "Memoirs" suite surely doesn't measure up to "Tarkus," but if you listen closely, you'll discover genuine emotion and melody throughout (except for perhaps "A March") with some great piano and a heartfelt Lake vocal that might sound a tad bit too Harlequin Romance but does bring a little tear to the eye.

Fans should be a little more charitable. If Love Beach came out with a different title and album cover, perhaps the album might have received at least a little bit of respect. Sure, it is still the most negligible, and it's definitely a fans-only album, but if the fan can approach Love Beach knowing: (1) the cover is funny; and (2) the music is not up to par with their best stuff, then the fan might appreciate Love Beach. I have a 99-cent used record. I think I'm gonna go out and buy the CD!

David <DistJudge@aol.com> (22.11.99)

Back in 1981, I told a guy that I liked one side of Love Beach, and he said "Oh,yeah, the second side is awful!" That's the side I like. Yes, it's true. It's very British--the military glory, the national pride, the stiff upper lip in the face of discomfort and tragedy. Not the subject matter most people would be interested in, I guess, but the second-side suite expresses it well. Lake's singing is great, as usual (I have long envied the low notes he hit when singing "The telegram dropped from my hand. She was all I had, I just don't understand", etc. ) The lyrics tell the story well, even if Sinfield did come up with such lines as "Learned Latin verbs in fear of a beating, and for years thought central heating was for just old people's homes." (that line sounds like it came from the same source as the lyrics for 'Fast Food' on Townshend's Iron Man). The music, while not usually exciting, matches the subject matter. The final march is really appropriate to close a suite about Britain and its military glory, even with the admittedly superior 'Canario' on side one.

Bob Josef <Trfesok@aol.com> (10.02.2000)

Yes, the fans turned away from them in droves here. The album was a major critical and commercial bomb. I didn't find it all that bad, but it was jarring coming after all the Works hoopla.

And, you're right, most of the venom was directed at the Lake/Sinfield pop songs. I actually think they have great hooks, but the lyrics are, again, very radically different. Maybe, after being criticized on the last three albums for being pretentious and obscure, Sinfield decided to go to the other extreme by being oversimplistic. And "So Far to Fall" is not his grossest lyric -- that honor goes to "Taste of My Love," the silliest song about sex ever recorded ("Go down gently/with your face to the East" -- does the direction you face make any difference?). But they're all fun.

And there are other goodies here for the persistent fan. Keith gets more listener-friendly tones out of his new synth toys than on the last two records, and Greg adds guitar synthesizer, which he hasn't done before or since, and it adds an interesting sonic element. "Canario" is one of their better classical adaptations, and "Memoirs," like "Pirates," captures a perfect mood with music and lyrics. Sinfield does better here than on side 1, but I hate the line where he tritely rhymes "June" with "honeymoon."

And as an attempt at pop, it is infinitely better than To the Power of Three.


WORKS LIVE

Bob Josef <Trfesok@aol.com> (10.02.2000)

No argument here. Much better than the last live album. MUCH higher recording quality. And yes, "Pictures" does come into its own here -- the best version on record. "Tank" and "Abaddon" do not improve with length or orchestration. "Tiger" and "Maple Leaf Rag" preserve the group's sense of humor.

A complete, live "Rondo" (actually, it's Dave Brubeck's "Blue Rondo a la Turk") from 1970, recorded in London just after Isle of Wight, has been released on the boxed set.

There is another live album from this period -- actually, two periods. Live from the King Biscuit Flower Hour collects four tracks from the '74 tour and about 10 from the next leg of the '77 tour, after they were forced to drop the orchestra. I picked it up because I saw the band in early '78 during this portion of the tour. But, warning: ALL of the selections can be found on Welcome Back.. or here.


EMERSON, LAKE & POWELL

Dan Miller <Daniel_E_Miller@notes.seagate.com> (03.08.99)

Actually, the Lake-less trio called themselves, simply, "3," their album To the Power of 3. It is the biggest piece of crap - I remember it had one redeeming song on it - I forget the name, and I'll bet you a pound to a pinch of progshit that compared to 3 you will hail the greatness of Calling All Stations! Berry is a relative no-namer whose only claim to fame might have been replacing the rather disillusioned Steve Hackett in the latter's own GTR. Check the 25-cent bins for 3 but don't overspend. Now, back to ELPowell. Emerson and Lake must have recruited Powell so the band could retain their ELP trademark, because Powell, as talented as he is, doesn't quite fit here. Powell is a heavy-metal four-on-the-floor poundsman and rock 'n' roll journeyman with a resume including Rainbow, Michael Schenker Group, Whitesnake and Black Sabbath. Of course, if not for Powell they could have tried elsewhere. Emerson, Lemmy & Prince, perhaps? Or Estefan, Lake and Pavarotti? Scary. Fortunately, Powell was available. What makes ELPowell work is that it is a return to form. Long, serious songs and short pop tunes together with Emerson's undying talent and Lake's deep and maturing voice really pull it off. "Mars: The Bringer of War" is better than King Crimson's "The Devil's Triangle" because ELP plays Holst's arrangement note-for-note, and it rocks, unlike their Pictures at an Exhibition which was definitely a stretch of an adaptation. On another classical note, the main keyboard riff from "Touch and Go" is based on Ralph Vaughan-Williams' "Greensleeves" (you know, the Christmas carol, "What Child is This?"), so ELP continues to do what they do best. They produce a collection that kicks and yet retains all of its experimentation and classicism. (Actually, I do like all the bands mentioned above, but "3" really does choke the chicken. Fun trivia - Turn the ELPowell cover upside down and read 666 out of the "faces." HA! Even ELP failed to escape the wrath of the PMRC and other assorted religious kooks)

Bob Josef <Trfesok@aol.com> (10.02.2000)

This one strikes me as a compromise between Love Beach and Works. You've got these long suites with really abstract, wordy lyrics on side 1, kinda like "Pirates." It seems that Greg can get weird without Pete's help. The short songs, on the other hand, are more varied than on Love Beach. It's classic Keith, fanfares and all on "Touch and Go," commercial balladeering on "Love Blind" and "Lay Down Your Guns." And, I agree, they hit the classical bullseye again with "Mars."

I sort of miss Greg''s acoustic guitar and Keith's Hammond, though. On the other hand, I don't agree about Powell - I think he aquitted himself well here. And he didn't play any ten minute solos here.

Joel Larsson <joel.larsson@privat.utfors.se> (25.02.2001)

(Laugh)! Well, I haven't heard this one one, but how funny wouldn't it be with Emerson, Lemmy & Prince, as mr Miller prospects, or on the other hand Emerson, Lemmy & Henley. THAT should be one of the weirdest and non-prospected groups ever! Well, think about it, Emerson with his virtuos keyboard playing and classical influences together with Lemmy's superheavymetal songwriting talents and the commerciallist Don Henley from Eagles but have made a solo carreer, too. Well, that would be something to get interested about, wouldn't it? 


BLACK MOON

Bob Josef <Trfesok@aol.com> (10.02.2000)

Yes, Greg's voice is shot to hell. It's a pity. And I do think Palmer is noticeable, but, yeah, they should have given him more to do than drum to a click track.

But I disagree -- it's not as much of a waste as you think it is. All of the songs,(except for producer Mark Mancina's "Burning Bridges"), though short, maintain the melodies and feel of classic ELP. I think Keith's two instrumentals and "Romeo and Juliet" are good Keith, we get good ballads from Greg, and the lyrics are much improved from the last two albums. And we get the good old Hammond organ back. There was hope in the old beast, but maybe they should have hired a new lead vocalist...

And, to ensure that they kept up with Yes in the live album department, the tour produced a CD and video called Live at the Albert Hall. If you don't want to hear Greg's new voice on classic material, I don't know if I'd recommend it...

Robert Baker <bakerfp@mindspring.com> (18.08.2001)

When I first heard Black Moon at the time it came out, I was sorely disappointed. First, I mourned the loss of Greg Lake's voice, then, after the first two songs, I mourned the loss of originality in songwriting. Couple that with a completely lame version of 'Romeo and Juliet' and I was ready to pull it out of the CD player and fling it into the fire. But wait...'Affairs of the Heart'...not too bad, 'Farwell to Arms'...definitely over-sentimental, but it works. Then the album really shines. On 'Changing States', Keith plays with the old fire of the early days, 'Burning Bridges' is simply majestic, 'Close the Home' may be the most beautiful short piano work Keith has every written and 'Footprints in the Snow' is as good a ballad as any ballad on Works I or II. 'Better Days' could have been, well...better. I like this album even more as time passes. Especially now that I am used to the 'Barry White' version of Greg Lake.


IN THE HOT SEAT

Bob Josef <Trfesok@aol.com> (10.02.2000)

Putting a toy train on the cover is indicative of the album -- beyond lightweight. The best song is indeed "Man in the Long Black Coat," which points to the problem. Palmer doesn't get more to do. Greg's voice still is gone. But this time, they rely way too much on outside songwriters. And they contribute mediocrities. ELP did leave the door open for its audience to embrace pop music, but they blew it by not coming up with GOOD pop songs, much like Renaissance. The recording was complicated by the fact that Keith developed repetitive stress disorder during the sessions, which might have been one disincentive for them in terms or trying something more ambitious.

No, "Daddy" is not about the loss of Greg's child, but he did read a story about a minister who did. He donated all the royalties from the track to a charity for missing children, which is very cool. Unfortunately, since the album totally tanked, I doubt if the charity saw a lot of revenue..

This "Pictures" was actually recorded much earlier and released prior to this on the boxed set. I suppose putting it here also was supposed to suck old proggers like me in. The major problems with this version is, again, Greg's voice and the cheesy backup vocals. Stick with Works Live.

John C. Stefani <jcstefani@cogeco.ca> (22.06.2003)

Regarding your comments on "Daddy" ... yes it is based a true story. If memory serves a young girl named Sara Ann Woods was kidnapped and murdered. An association for abducted children was founded in her name. I also believe that this song "Daddy" served as a fundraiser - Greg Lake donated proceeds from the album.

PS. I pulled this from another web page, hope it helps...

Greg Lake's involvement with the plight of missing and exploited children came about strictly as a fluke. After watching a segment on The Fox Network's America's Most Wanted about the August '93 abduction of 12 year old Sara Anne Wood, Lake was compelled to write the song "Daddy", which eventually ended up on the newest ELP record, In The Hot Seat. The record was played last fall on New York City's WPLJ-FM who, in turn, put Lake together with Wood's father, Rev. Robert Wood. From there Lake (with ELP) became involved in the cause. A check for $5,000 (and the future royalties from "Daddy") were donated to Rev. Wood's organization The Sara Anne Rescue Center, a support center for the plight of families whose children have been abducted or exploited. Next came an introduction to America's Most Wanted host, John Walsh, whose own son, Adam, was abducted and murdered 14 years ago. "It wasn't until after I had written and recorded "Daddy" did I realize we could do a lot of good with it", said Lake. "At that point, I also found out just how big a crisis this is. Over 4,600 children are abducted each year in the U.S. alone. All through ELP's history we had never done any public charity events, but this time, I knew that a difference could be made, not only financially, but by celebrities such as myself bringing awareness to this issue". During the solo tour in November and December of 1994, Greg Lake raised money and awareness for this cause. Each show was a sell out (including Syracuse, New York's 3,000 seat Landmark Theater), nearly $100,000 was generated to benefit the charity. "The response from both the public and the various city officials was overwhelming", said Greg. "To have so many people come up to me and tell me how much the song moved them, emotionally, was really gratifying. I hope to continue to be able to use my position in the music industry to help bring awareness to this very serious and important social problem."


THEN AND NOW

Thomas Vaughan Kent <thomas.kent@student.adelaide.edu.au> (02.10.2003)

G'day George!

I just wanted to say, in relation to your review of ELP's Then & Now, that Emerson isn't actually playing the highly sped up section at the end of 'Karn Evil 9'. I used to play it to all my friends and laugh at just how fast it was (in the same way we'd laugh at how Roger Waters could ever release some of those woeful tracks near the end of Syd's Madcap Laughs) -- it seemed amazing that someone could play *that* fast.

But he doesn't - at the end of the concert, they'd all get up and leave (EL&P that is - the audience might have left long ago!) and the synthesizer would speed up a sequence of notes he'd put in the day before, or whatever. The idea was that a computer was self destructing or something. It's explained in the ELP biography "The Show That Never Ends", I can't remember who wrote it, but he is a true ELP fanatic.


VIDEOS 
PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION

<TheManticoreKing@aol.com> (12.02.2000)

This was the first video by the band I bought. You must got ripped off because the video is supposed to contain 'The Barbarian', 'Knife-Edge', 'Take A Pebble', 'Tank', and 'Rondo', then the 'Pictures At An Exhibition' suite. By the band I also have the following videos: Live in Japan '72, California Jam '74, The Manticore Special '73, and Live in Montreal '77. The videos were easier to buy than I had thought. They can be bought at the band's site or you can buy from a dealer. If all else fails, try EBAY!

Hervé Nicol <h.nicol@nexotelematics.com> (12.06.2002)

Hi,

I bought the Pictures at an exhibition DVD, and I agree with you: I was disapointed by its shortness and the "special effects" at the interesting moments. Plus they look like they are not having much fun playing.

But ELP is a band I like a lot. I'd like to have a good video from them if it exists. ;)

Mike Healy <shadesbelow@yahoo.com> (09.10.2002)

I just saw the Pictures At An Exhibition videotape, which was briefly available on video in the early 80's, complete with an oversized cardboard box. I have to say that I really like it. The picture and sound quality is really good, which helps, but yes, the color effects are a little too head-trippy (I wonder if the video came with a free hit of acid to go with it!).

The video says that it was recorded at the Lyceum in London, possibly in 1970 (Keith is still wearing the same outfit from the Isle Of Wight show), and the LP was recorded at City Hall in Newcastle in early 1971. Obviously, this was an earlier performance, as there are a few spots where it's not as tight, or Carl Palmer loses his place slightly with the drums. Considering that this is one of my favorite albums of all time, I have to say it makes a great companion to the album. Now, I'll have to seek out the longer version of the show!


Return to the main index page