Penk's Prog Odyssey: ELP

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PENK
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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: ELP

Postby PENK » 18 May 2017, 20:21

LET'S PROG!

Image

For people who don't know what prog sounds like, this is what prog sounds like.

What I mean is that this is what prog sounds like in the brain of someone who has never heard prog. Noodly organ, silly lyrics, dramatic chords. Men with long hair playing a lot of notes very quickly, and in a variety of time and key signatures and so on. The prog never stops. Apart from 'Benny the Bouncer', which is basically a rubbish joke.

It's very, very kitschy. The dinky toytown production, the bloopy organ. It's the proggiest prog I've ever heard and the most juvenile. It's pretentious and overblown - 'Karn Evil 9' is half an hour long, has several sections, dreadful synths and lyrics that go "no man yields who flies in my ship. Danger! Let the bridge computer speak. Stranger! Load your program, I am yourself" yet also mention kings, jewels, vaseline, fighting cocks and "jackals of gold" - and all incredibly silly. It's difficult to really know how serious they are. They sound like they take themselves very seriously and think they're making art; yet they sound like they're having a blast, as everything is so lively and daft. Can we really hold that against them?

Henri Bergson says that "a comic character is generally comic in proportion to his ignorance of himself". ELP give an impression of pomposity and of a complete absence of self-awareness, and yet there's something likable about them, as there is a lot of life to their music however nutty and rubbish it is.

I understand that even for the serious prog fans on here, the ones who are into the whole capes-and-mead thing at the weekend, ELP are often considered a bridge too far. A guilty prog pleasure, maybe?

The music on Brain Salad Surgery is ludicrous; the musicians are preposterous. The temptation is to laugh. The Bible, though, warns us against mockery, telling of the small boys who jeered a bald man, saying "get along with you, bald head"; he cursed them in the name of the Lord and a she-bear came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of them. This is a real Bible story, incidentally. And as such, it's difficult to feel too mean-spirited about ELP. They sound on the record like they are having a blast.

It's tinged, too with tragedy. Keith Emerson took his own life last year as he was losing the use of his hands and was affected by stagefright. Who can really mock that?

I didn't have such a good time listening to their record; I really didn't think it was any good at all, but listening to it still helped me understand. Their absurdity and ridiculousness put the fun in prog.
Last edited by PENK on 19 May 2017, 07:45, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: ELP

Postby Jeemo » 18 May 2017, 20:48

fucking love it.
Image So Long Kid, Take A Bow.

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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: ELP

Postby Quaco » 18 May 2017, 21:30

I like it a lot, but PENK's post is pretty accurate and affecting even. Kudos for appreciating the wild aspects even while realizing it's not music you enjoy.

ELP has that kind of serious sound -- there's not a lot of humor -- but it's also fritzy and spasmodic. The humor and lightness is in the music. One gets the feeling Emerson was inspired by carnival sounds and barrel organs at an early age, even before latching on to 20th-century classical and ragtime. Lake, on the other hand, seemed to want to be a serious troubadour who could make women cream their jeans just by looking at them. Carl Palmer seemed like he gave up a career as a sprinter because rock was in that year.

It should be mentioned that Pete Sinfield -- lyricist/roadie for the original King Crimson, who also produced the first Roxy Music album and some PFM albums -- was a regular contributor, and some of the silliest ideas were his. Many of the failings of "Karn Evil 9" are in the lyrics.
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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: ELP

Postby The Slider » 19 May 2017, 00:55

I am astounded how absolutely you nailed ELP in one listen.
I do not disagree with one single word.
And I've been listening to them since this album came out as a new release. 43 years ago.
Ah but I was so much younger then.
I'm older than that now.

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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: ELP

Postby The Slider » 19 May 2017, 00:59

Quaco wrote: Many of the failings of "Karn Evil 9" are in the lyrics.


Many.
But by no means all. Or even most.
As much as I love it, it is total bollocks.
Lyrically. musically, conceptually... aesthetically, morally, exisfuckingtentially

Wonderful. But complete rubbish.

Just in case there is anyone reading this who isn't already familiar with the piece:

Ah but I was so much younger then.
I'm older than that now.

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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: ELP

Postby joels344 » 19 May 2017, 02:35

ELP's true masterpiece:

Image

:D

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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: ELP

Postby Jeemo » 19 May 2017, 08:08

joels344 wrote:ELP's true masterpiece:

Image

:D



yaas
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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: ELP

Postby Canis lupus » 19 May 2017, 10:23

It's very, very kitschy.


The whole LP? Hmm



...great posts, BTW.

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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: ELP

Postby algroth » 24 May 2017, 23:20

Oh, "Toccata" is definitely kitschy, but that's part of why I love it. I can see it making a fantastic soundtrack to a Z-class alien invasion film.

To me, Brain Salad Surgery is pretty much all about two two tracks: "Toccata" and the first movement of "Karn Evil 9". The rest I can do without, by and large. Generally agree with PENK's review, too. Of the classic four studio albums by ELP, it's my least favorite as well (despite the two aforementioned tracks which are great).

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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: ELP

Postby Canis lupus » 25 May 2017, 11:26

algroth wrote:Oh, "Toccata" is definitely kitschy,


I'd sat that love song about the ladder = definitely kitschy.

Tocatta, no: not a chip from the same block.
Even today (45 years later), I think it compliments perfectly the cover art (jaw dropping back in the day). Didn't the Argentine composer compliment them on their "diabolical" arrangement?

algroth wrote:To me, Brain Salad Surgery is pretty much all about two two tracks: "Toccata" and the FIRST PART OF THE first movement of "Karn Evil 9". The rest I can do without, by and large.


I've tried to correct that for you, squire ;)

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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: ELP

Postby algroth » 25 May 2017, 15:30

◉ ͜◉ wrote:
algroth wrote:Oh, "Toccata" is definitely kitschy,


I'd sat that love song about the ladder = definitely kitschy.

Tocatta, no: not a chip from the same block.
Even today (45 years later), I think it compliments perfectly the cover art (jaw dropping back in the day). Didn't the Argentine composer compliment them on their "diabolical" arrangement?


I would definitely compliment them on it too, but it's still kitsch. :)

algroth wrote:To me, Brain Salad Surgery is pretty much all about two two tracks: "Toccata" and the FIRST PART OF THE first movement of "Karn Evil 9". The rest I can do without, by and large.


I've tried to correct that for you, squire ;)


Nah, I like the second part too.

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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: ELP

Postby Lord Rother » 27 May 2017, 09:19

I do appreciate what it was at the time but not my cuppa prog at all.

Far too much nonsense tunelessness going on.

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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: ELP

Postby algroth » 27 May 2017, 09:29

I'd be curious to get a ranking from PENK as to how he feels about each prog record he's so far heard in this Odyssey. :D

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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: ELP

Postby trans-chigley express » 27 May 2017, 15:50

People always assume I like this lot but their brand of Prog has never done a thing for me. It's everything I dislike about Prog conveniently packaged in one band. I do revisit them occasionally just to see if they suddenly make some kind of sense but they never do.

Although as with a lot of bands I dislike there is one track that I find irresistible and that's Fanfare For The Common Man, even the full length version is a blast.

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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: ELP

Postby Lord Rother » 27 May 2017, 16:18

Yep, that and Lucky Man are about where it starts and ends for me.

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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: ELP

Postby Quaco » 27 May 2017, 23:18

For me, ELP is definitely down the list from bands like Yes, Genesis, and King Crimson, but really there are only about eight good prog bands in total, so to be seventh or eighth best isn't so bad.
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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: ELP

Postby algroth » 27 May 2017, 23:56

Quaco wrote:For me, ELP is definitely down the list from bands like Yes, Genesis, and King Crimson, but really there are only about eight good prog bands in total, so to be seventh or eighth best isn't so bad.


There are many many more than that, personally. Off the top of my head I can think of: Yes, Genesis, Crimson, Soft Machine, Caravan, ELP, Magma, National Health, Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, Gong, Komintern, Bubu, Invisible, La Máquina de Hacer Pájaros, Ossana, Il Balleto di Bronzo, Le Orme, Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, Arto Zoyd, Jumbo, Univers Zéro, Present, Harmonium, Focus, Supersister, Henry Cow, M.I.A., Redd, Climax, Los Jaivas, Grobschnitt, Triana and several others, and these are all within the 70s and not considering the broadchurchers like Can or the Mothers, or acts from other decades for that matter. There's loads of great stuff in the genre the way I see it.

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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: ELP

Postby Quaco » 28 May 2017, 19:41

Much for me to check out there, thanks!

And some I wasn't considering true prog.

And a couple I've decided I don't actually care for.





Now I'm wondering which eight I was referring to.

Yes, King Crimson, Genesis, Gentle Giant, ELP, PFM, Van Der Graaf, occasional Tull...
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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: ELP

Postby algroth » 29 May 2017, 02:07

Quaco wrote:Much for me to check out there, thanks!

And some I wasn't considering true prog.

And a couple I've decided I don't actually care for.





Now I'm wondering which eight I was referring to.

Yes, King Crimson, Genesis, Gentle Giant, ELP, PFM, Van Der Graaf, occasional Tull...


Heh, a few there that I missed too (most notably Van der Graaf Generator). But yeah... Lots of great stuff in the scene from where I'm standing. :)

Who do you not consider prog and who do you not care for?

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Re: Penk's Prog Odyssey: ELP

Postby Osgood » 29 May 2017, 08:49

Re ELP studio albums:

Trilogy
1st
Tarkus
Brain Salad Surgery

and then forget

Isn't it?
Nobody's ferpect.


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