Emerson, Lake & Palmer

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Neil Jung
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Re: Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Postby Neil Jung » 27 Jun 2021, 16:49

I appreciate the time you took to write these reviews and I’ve stuck the first album into the CD player as a result. I didn’t appreciate the band at the time, thinking they were inferior to my beloved Yes and Genesis. But I now seem to have almost all the albums, except Works, although I have Pirates on a compilation double CD. I even have Emerson Lake and Powell. I hope you’re going to review that too.
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Re: Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Postby Matt Wilson » 27 Jun 2021, 17:03

Neil Jung wrote:I appreciate the time you took to write these reviews and I’ve stuck the first album into the CD player as a result. I didn’t appreciate the band at the time, thinking they were inferior to my beloved Yes and Genesis. But I now seem to have almost all the albums, except Works, although I have Pirates on a compilation double CD. I even have Emerson Lake and Powell. I hope you’re going to review that too.


I have the Fanfare 1970 - 1997 box, so it has all the official ELP albums, and a handful of live ones. I've never heard the Emerson Lake and Powell CD. I'll do one or two more but doubt I'll go through In the Hot Seat unless people ask. There's definitely a decline starting with Works, and then a drop off in quality starting with Love Beach.

I might just go through that album just to say I finished the '70s. Their stuff through Welcome Back My Friends... is awesome though. Keith has been called the Hendrix of the Keyboards and that doesn't surprise me. He was that band in my estimation. I'm going to do threads later on this year for Van Der Graaf Generator and Caravan, as I've pre-ordered boxes for both groups. Maybe Faust too.

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Re: Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Postby Matt Wilson » 27 Jun 2021, 19:31

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Works Volume 2
If anything, perhaps more consistent than the first one, yet there's nothing as good as "Fanfare for the Common Man" either, so it's six of one, a half dozen of the other. What makes this volume more appealing for some (but not everybody of course), is that I believe all three of them are on most of these tracks. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong of course. Also, about half of the album had been recorded in previous years and some of it had even been released on 45s. I'll explain in detail when we're discussing each song. The takeaway is that it's another decent album like Works, but that their best days were behind them. Things would go further south after this though - so Volume 2 is the last ELP platter worthy of your attention in the minds of many.

1."Tiger in a Spotlight"
The first track here illustrates what I was referring to above. This boogie was recorded in 1973 but not considered worthy of release until 1977. Keith always had an affinity for jazz and there's a quote from Gillespie's "Salt Peanuts" here for those interested in such things. I like it better than any of Carl's songs on the last LP. Peter Sinfield wrote the words I gather from the credits.

2."When the Apple Blossoms Bloom in the Windmills of Your Mind I'll Be Your Valentine"
Another one from '73, and previously released as the B-side to "Jerusalem." Funky enough, but almost sounds like a studio jam and the title suggests they didn't take it seriously. I guess I like it well enough. But it also points out that what I'll accept as a decent track here wouldn't have been good enough for Brain Salad Surgery.

3."Bullfrog"
I don't know what it is about Palmer's numbers but they don't really do it for me. This isn't terrible actually, and is preferable to most of his stuff on side three of Works. Now since Ron Aspery and Colin Hodgkinson helped Carl write this, I'm wondering if Lake and Emerson are even playing here.

4. "Brain Salad Surgery"
The sessions from you-guessed- it provided this. The guys thought enough of this to make it the B-side of "Fanfare for the Common Man." It's okay, but there's a throw-away quality to the piece much like "When the Apple Blossoms Bloom in the Windmills of Your Mind I'll Be Your Valentine." Still, probably a highlight here.

5. "Barrelhouse Shake-Down"
Okay, this doesn't seem to be a trio effort as Jon Hiseman is on drums for sure. Don't know about Greg. Another exploration of Keith's barrelhouse piano fixation and big band music. The B-side of the previous year's "Honky Tonk Train Blues."

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6. "Watching Over You"
A Lake/Sinfield tune released as a single at the time. It's okay, but you can hear how Greg is chasing the "Lucky Man/Still You Turn Me On/From the Beginning" vibe in search of a hit. Come to think of it - he was doing the same thing on side two of Works. Written for his daughter. So that was it for side one. Nothing dire, but nothing to sit alongside their best work either.

7. "So Far to Fall"
Sinfield writing the words again. They used this as the B-side of "Tiger in a Spotlight," itself hardly worthy of a single release. But then that was the state of things in camp Emerson, Lake and Palmer at the time. There's horns on this track - rare for them, and a funkiness which was relatively new. Actually better than most of the songs here.

8. "Maple Leaf Rag"
The Sting had made all things Scott Joplin popular in the '70s, and here Keith indulges with the London Philharmonic Orchestra along for the ride. Too short to be bothersome.

9. "I Believe in Father Christmas"
This holiday perennial had been a big hit for Lake in 1975 but was making its first appearance on an ELP record and is the most famous song on the album. The music is by Sergei Prokofiev, Sinfield helping out with words again.

10."Close but Not Touching"
Another funky Carl song utilizing a big band. I'm sure it's from the same sessions which gave us his material on the last album. For some reason I like it better than most of those songs too. Still forgettable though.

11. "Honky Tonk Train Blues"
This Meade Lux Lewis number was in keeping with "Maple Leaf Rag" and "Barrelhouse Shake Down" and was released the previous year as a 45, making the UK top 30 if you can believe it. It sounds great, but nothing like ELP music. Or at least, what we had come to expect from our heroes - the band was changing before our eyes.

12. "Show Me the Way to Go Home"
James Campbell and Reginald Connelly wrote this standard best remembered by me in the scene from Jaws where the actors sing it while sitting in the boat's cabin at night. Keith's all over the piano and it's fine.
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Re: Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Postby Matt Wilson » 27 Jun 2021, 19:57

Okay, one more thing before I leave the Works albums behind - I think they could've salvaged a fairly good ELP record out of these three LP's worth of music had they gone this route:

1977 Emerson, Lake and Palmer album

Side One
1. "Fanfare for the Common Man" Aaron Copland, arr. Emerson, Lake, Palmer 9:40
2. "C'est la Vie" Lake, Sinfield 4:16
3. "Hallowed Be Thy Name" Lake, Sinfield 4:35
4. "Brain Salad Surgery" Emerson, Lake, Sinfield 3:05

Side Two
1. "Tiger in a Spotlight" Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, Carl Palmer, Peter Sinfield 4:02
2. "Maple Leaf Rag" Scott Joplin, arr. Emerson 2:00
3. "I Believe in Father Christmas" Lake, Sinfield, Sergei Prokofiev 3:20
4. "Honky Tonk Train Blues" Meade Lux Lewis, arr. Emerson 2:57
5. "Show Me the Way to Go Home" James Campbell, Reginald Connelly 3:40

Side two being somewhat shorter than side one - but I was straining to include other good songs as even some of these are average.

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Re: Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Postby Jimbly » 27 Jun 2021, 20:59

Works 2 followed the same pattern as Works 1. A mix of band and solo tracks.

All of the band tracks are from BSS era apart from So Far to Fall and Show Me the Way to Go Home. Brain Salad Surgery was given away as a flexi disc in the NME, hence the line "We've made it for our enemy"

Bullfrog and Close But Not Touching are Solo Carl.

Honky Tonk Train Blues, Barrelhouse Shake Down and Maple Leaf Rag are Solo Keith.

Watching Over You and I Believe in Father Christmas are Solo Greg, although a book I have says that both Keith and Carl are on this version.
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Re: Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Postby Matt Wilson » 27 Jun 2021, 21:16

Thanks, Jeemo - I'm not surprised. I'm reading about the making of these albums right now and realize I should have included a few more things. For instance, during the break from '74 - '76 Carl studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in orchestral percussion - which explains side three of Works. His interests were developing along those lines in other words. Still doesn't make me like those songs any better though. And you're right, Keith's "Honky Tonk Train Blues" was entirely a solo effort apart from the other two. There was a twenty piece jazz orchestra on that track. The guys in ELP were very much into recording with other musicians at the time and couldn't be bothered with recording together. Symphonic music seemed the more attractive option I guess. Aaron Copland did not like what the band did with his "Fanfare..." song and even denied its use as late as 1988 when Keith and Carl wanted to televise a performance of the song at Atlantic Records' fortieth anniversary concert bash at Madison Square Garden. And that's even after pocketing all the money he must have made when the song was a hit ten years prior.

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Love Beach
The guys didn't want to record this record but the label insisted as one more LP was owed. The album cover didn't help either as you'd be forgiven for thinking it's Barry, Robin and Maurice standing on the beach with their tans, chest hair and medallions. A more commercial approach was suggested by Ahmet Ertegun himself, much to Keith's dismay, and the band began recording in Chris Blackwell's studio in the Bahamas (the trio were tax exiles by then). Why a fourth LP worth of material was needed in less than two years (don't forget Works was a double) when there had been no albums for years prior is something worth pondering as Love Beach is a prime example of what happens when you force a group to record product when they aren't in the mood. There was even this little advertisement for tour merchandise slipped in to the LP sleeve to add insult to injury:
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1."All I Want Is You"
A trio of Lake/Sinfield songs begins the record. Greg had utilized Sinfield's writing for years by then and even though they had begun to get on each other's nerves, Pete still came down to the island to work on lyrics - only to find the others weren't getting along and decided to write the words by himself. This is okay, I guess and certainly doesn't sound anything like the stuff on the two previous albums.

2."Love Beach"
Yes, there really is a Love Beach in the Bahamas outside of Compass Point Studios apparently. "We can make love on Love Beach" sings Greg in this blatant attempt at a hit which could never be. It simply wasn't what fans of Emerson, Lake and Palmer wanted to hear - much less what the dwindling pool of progressive rock crowd deemed worthy. It's over before you know it fortunately.

3."Taste of My Love"
If I had to chose something from side one which is the least offensive I guess this would be it. Not that I'm concentrating on the lyrics mind (they needed Sinfield for this?) These are merely pop/rock songs, without the usual virtuosic displays of keyboard wizardry we've come to expect. It could never have satisfied long-time fans, and it wasn't good enough to convert new ones. I take it back, the song just ended and it was terrible.

4."The Gambler"
So Keith helped with this song and it shows as its jauntiness helps the medicine go down. At least there's a little synth solo in the middle of the proceedings. You can tell I'm looking for anything positive to say...

5."For You"
And we're back to the Lake/Sinfield songs. Keith adds some menacing-sounding bits at the beginning. I can almost imagine hearing this at a jazz lounge amidst the consumption of cocktails and chatter in the Caribbean where calcifying middle-aged clients confer about... No, I can't complete this thought as I'm putting more thought into my writing than these guys did making this music. Maybe if they would have worked on it a little more.

6."Canario" (from Fantasía para un gentilhombre)
Keith sounds like he's all over this, wresting the last cut away from Greg before side one was lost. Hey, it's not bad and I'm taking away from "Taste of My Love" the claim of best-thing-so-far on the record. Written by Joaquín Rodrigo, so we're back to utilizing music from hundreds of years ago. Rodrigo wrote Concierto de Aranjuez, which Miles covered on the Sketches of Spain album.

7. "Memoirs of an Officer and a Gentleman"
The second side is taken up with one composition just like in days of old. "Just like 'Tarkus' or "Karn Evil 9' " I hear you say. Well, not quite. True, it's probably the most progressive (but not progressive-sounding - that title goes to "Canario") thing on the record, but Greg's emotional singing makes it sound more like one of his side one numbers with Sinfield than anything else. Keith would have fancied another sci fi tale rather than this melodrama. They're trying here, I'll give them that. But the stars weren't in alignment for ELP anymore and epic compositions about lovers in WWII were going to have to be catchier than this in order to be successful. Had I bought this at the time, at age 13, I might look fondly on it now. but I doubt I even knew of this record's existence in 1978.

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Re: Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Postby Jimbly » 27 Jun 2021, 22:36

Well that's odd because He allowed them to release it in the first place. There's an audio clip of him talking on the From The Beginning box set.
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Re: Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Postby Matt Wilson » 27 Jun 2021, 23:21

Jimbly wrote:Well that's odd because He allowed them to release it in the first place. There's an audio clip of him talking on the From The Beginning box set.


It was filmed, but not televised according to Will Romano in his Mountains Come Out of the Sky book on prog. Oh, you mean Copland allowed them to record it? Yes, he did. He said that's because he couldn't stop them from recording/releasing it.

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Re: Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Postby Jimbly » 27 Jun 2021, 23:28

Stuart Young ELP manager

"The interesting thing... was that we had to get the permission of Aaron Copland, the composer. The publishing house said forget it. So I got Mr Copland's home number, called him up and he was very friendly on the phone. And he says "Send it to me, let me listen." And he loved it. He called me and said "This is brilliant, this is fantastic. This is doing something to my music."

The clip on the box set is taken from this

Interviewer: Just before I left London, I heard a piece of music of yours, Fanfare for the Common Man, which had been taken by a rock group Emerson, Lake & Palmer. How do you feel about that?

Copland: Well, (laughs) of course it's very flattering to have one's music adopted by so popular a group, and so good a group as Emerson, Lake & Palmer. A lot depends on what they do with what they take, and naturally since I have a copyright on such material, they're not able to take it without my permission; so that in each case, where I have given my permission, there was something that attracted me about the version that they perform, which made me think I'd like to allow them to release it. Of course, I always prefer my own version best, but (laughs) what they do is really around the piece, you might say, rather than a literal transposition of the piece, and they're a gifted group. In that particular case, I allowed it to go by because when they first play it, they play it fairly straight and when they end the piece, they play it very straight. What they do in the middle, I'm not sure exactly how they connect that with my music but (laughs) they do it someway, I suppose. But the fact that at the beginning and the end it really is the Fanfare for the Common Man gave me the feeling I ought to allow them to do it as they pleased.

Interviewer: I know your original work is just over three minutes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer have managed to turn it into a nine minute work.

Copland: (Laughs) Exactly, well, it's those six minutes in the middle...(laughs)
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Re: Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Postby Matt Wilson » 27 Jun 2021, 23:40

Yeah, I read that too. Guess there are differing opinions about how Copland felt about ELP performing his work. As I said, he surely profited from it, so the taste couldn't have been that bitter.

Here's what Romano has to say:

"The band sent Copland the music to ask permission and he said something along the lines of, 'If I was able to stop you, I would,' " remembers Sinfield. Copland's response was certainly radically different from Ginastera's but that didn't stop ELP. They pressed on, regardless of whether the composer had given his blessing or not. Crazy: Rock audiences were introduced to Copland, as Works, Volume 1 became a top 20 US hit in 1977. But this did little to calm Copland, who apparently could hold a grudge. More than a decade later, when Emerson and Palmer joined forces with Robert Berry to form the band 3, Copland reps refused to let the band televise a performance of "Fanfare for the Common Man" at Atlantic Records' fortieth anniversary concert bash at Madison Square Garden in May 1988.

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Re: Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Postby Jimbly » 27 Jun 2021, 23:58

I suppose he could have different thoughts over the years. Rock audiences were introduced to Copland when Hoedown was featured on Trilogy. Also The Stones used Fanfare as their intro long before Works was released.

Anyway it's Love Beach next, can't wait.
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Re: Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Postby Matt Wilson » 28 Jun 2021, 00:11

You already missed the Love Beach review. Scroll up.

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In Concert
Naturally, they toured extensively during the Works period with an orchestra for some of the dates which proved unfeasible financially. The shows were good though and another live LP was squeezed out before decade's end. You can get the whole thing and then some on the Works Volume 2 two-disc remastered CD. The expanded version was also released in 1993 as Works Live. This album isn't on my Fanfare box set, so I'm playing the Works Volume 2 CD version. This is what Works Live looks like:
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1."Introductory Fanfare"
Just like it says.

2."Peter Gunn"
This left field choice is quite good as an in-concert warm up. I've always enjoyed the Mancini number and this version is no exception.

3."Tiger in a Spotlight"
And we're reminded what album they were promoting at the time. Sounds better here for some reason. I'm digging Keith's solo! They sound loose.

4."C'est la Vie"
They get this out of the way early and again - I'm almost digging it more here than the studio version. Perhaps I'm overly fond of live ELP and it's not like this record salvaged their ailing reputation or anything but it sounds good right now, especially the orchestra.

On the expanded version we get "Watching Over You" and "Maple Leaf Rag" next. Keith wanted the album to be two LPs initially and the Works Live version is closer to what he wanted without following the original proposed track list exactly.

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5."The Enemy God Dances with the Black Spirits"
Now this is one that definitely sounds better live! It sounds like ELP of old - and what's with the shortened length? Only 2:48 here. This jam could have gone on for another ten minutes and I would not have been bored.

On Works Live we get an eleven-minute "Fanfare for the Common Man" which is every bit as good as the hit version until Keith starts making with the noise at around the seven minute mark. So why didn't they ditch the idea of Love Beach entirely and simply release the two-LP version of In Concert instead? When this finally came out in '93 it was far too late... Jeemo will be happy to know that in the liner notes to the Works Volume 2 CD Copland is described thusly: "After hearing a tape he phoned manager Stewart Young and told him: "This is brilliant, it's fantastic." He added later it was flattering to have his music adopted by a group "as good and popular as ELP."

6. "Knife-Edge"
This was the closing track on side one of the original 1979 LP. Going all the way back to the debut album in fact. I love it, but there's nothing here that the studio cut doesn't give us except a faster tempo. There is the orchestra though...

"Show Me the Way to Go Home" is next on Works Live sounding more bluesy and uh, 'lively' than the Works Volume 2 version. Is it just me or does this material benefit from all three of them playing in the same room at the same time? "Abaddon's Bolero" follows and again, it's shorter than the studio cut for some reason. I guess playing these tunes at a faster tempo caused the briefer times. The orchestra sounds great again. Must have been thrilling to see live. "Closer to Believing" gets an airing as well - but this one I don't think improves in a live setting. My least fave tune here.

7. "Piano Concerto No. 1, Third Movement: Toccata con Fuoco"
Keith's piano concerto number is condensed here to under seven minutes. It basically functions as a solo piece with orchestral backing. He always said he put his heart into this song. It's too bad I don't appreciate it more.

8. "Pictures at an Exhibition"
The last cut on the original LP, but moved before "Piano Concerto" for some reason on Works Live. It's just as awesome as it was in '71. Shortened to about fifteen minutes here, we're only given the highlights. Hell, some might even like this version more than the previous LP-length one. But then I doubt it as I'm not even sure how many of us have heard this record. It seems to have been forgotten except among hard core ELP fans.

We get a twelve-and-a-half-minute version of "Tank" on Works Live to end with which has the orchestra, jazz soloing from Keith, and the requisite vulgarity so critiqued at the time. But hell, it's what Emerson, Lake and Palmer did, you know? Practically their raison d'être if you will, so I'm not complaining. Had the Works Live version been released and not the In Concert bowdlerized one we did get - I think prog fans would have been happier.

OK, so I'm finished with the '70s - sort of. The Fanfare box presents a bounty of live recordings, unfortunately, not many of them from the golden era. This one is a doozy though:
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Live at Pocono International Raceway, Long Pond, PA, USA 8th July 1972
Pretty good sound quality, epic performances, and a great setlist. Trilogy had just been released two days before. Check it out:

1. Hoedown 4:10
2. Tarkus 22:05
3. Take a Pebble 4:36
4. Lucky Man 2:57
5. Piano Improvisations 6:57
6. Take a Pebble (Reprise) 2:07
7. Pictures at an Exhibition 18:22
8. Blue Rondo a la Turk 18:19

This was later released on vinyl. You can hear the musicians yelling their admiration whenever they play something well, which is often.There are parts of "Tarkus" where Keith is playing so fast I can't believe it. I wonder if he ever got carpel tunnel syndrome as he got older because he was having problems with his hands in the '90s when they were recording one of those reunion albums. When ELP were on, there was no progressive rock band better - at least to me. Live, who could touch these guys? Maybe Yes on a really good night. The version of "Hoedown" here could be better than the one on Welcome Back My Friends... This "Pictures..." tops the one on In Concert for sure, though Keith does enjoy his Hendrix feedback doesn't he? This is from when they didn't even have any marginal songs in their setlist, it's ALL good. They even conclude with a tune from Keith's Nice days to make C happy. In that last song, there's a drum solo from Carl which is probably the best I've heard him play. Warning though - as with all live ELP, if long, jamming passages aren't your thing - you won't last.
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Re: Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Postby Jimbly » 28 Jun 2021, 10:03

Cheers Matt, Love Beach is so awful it beggars belief that the label forced them to make it, and then heard it and then released it.

The live albums with the orchestra don't really work for me. The whole point of them was they weren't an orchestra they were a rock group playing classical influenced music.
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Re: Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Postby The Slider » 28 Jun 2021, 18:34

There is literally nothing of any value whatsoever to me created by them after the release of Works Vol1
And in concert, nothing after the Trilogy tour.
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Re: Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Postby kath » 29 Jun 2021, 20:52

i'm behind on the reading, got somewhere in brain salad surgery, but i must say two things:

1. top notch writing

and

2. i hate benny the bouncer. even their (to me) classic era albums always had a clinker.

p.s. ahhhh, the mash-up i made for love beach.

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Re: Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Postby Mike Boom » 29 Jun 2021, 21:59

kath wrote:i'm behind on the reading, got somewhere in brain salad surgery, but i must say two things:

1. top notch writing

and

2. i hate benny the bouncer. even their (to me) classic era albums always had a clinker.

p.s. ahhhh, the mash-up i made for love beach.

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:lol:
I love how the tanks cannon appears to shoot directly up Emersons ass :lol:

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Re: Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Postby Neil Jung » 29 Jun 2021, 22:41

You must do Emerson Lake and Powell. I played it yesterday. It’s really pretty good! It would be such a shame to finish with a photo of the ghastly Love Beach.
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Re: Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Postby Matt Wilson » 29 Jun 2021, 23:59

Neil Jung wrote:You must do Emerson Lake and Powell. I played it yesterday. It’s really pretty good! It would be such a shame to finish with a photo of the ghastly Love Beach.


I'm too anal/OCD to just listen to it on youtube or whatever and write about it. I'd have to buy it, and I'm too lazy to do that. By all means, feel free to review it right here on this thread. I turn it over to you. I think they're spent now anyway and don't really have a desire to venture into the eighties with these guys. I've got their two '90s albums in the box set but haven't even played them yet.

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Re: Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Postby yomptepi » 30 Jun 2021, 14:45

Nice writing Matt, and of interest as I have bee accruing some eLP lately. . I would point out that I suspect you put more effort into your review of Love beach than the band put into recording it. I am nearly ready to follow your lead and start from the top. ( although I will certainly stop at brain Salad Surgery)
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Re: Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Postby Nervous Ned » 30 Jun 2021, 17:36

Let me add my thanks, Matt, for your reviews. With those later albums you really took one for the team! The drop off in quality from Works Vol 1 is staggering. I actually have a soft spot for it. Always loved Keith’s Piano Concerto. I’m sure it’s rubbish compared to serious classical stuff but it’s what got me into classical music. So kudos to Keith. I also like Carl’s side a lot. It’s all over the place but at least he goes for it. It’s Greg’s side that I never got into. Too saccharine and samey. He was never a great vocalist, or guitarist. Only C’est La Vie has some bombastic charm to it.
Interesting that you treat Works Vol 2 as a bona fide album. It really was just a cheap cash in comprised of outtakes and b sides. And it sounds like it.
I seem to remember that Vol 2 was actually going to be more like Vol 1; a side each per member. I know Carl recorded a percussion concerto for it, this is ELP right, of course he did! Let’s face it, that version of Works was never going to get released. However, the concerto WAS released many years later on the Carl Palmer Anthology. Anyone heard it? It’s on Spotify. I’d play it myself but can’t quite bring myself to do it.
Also ... am I right in thinking that the weird synthy bits in the middle of Tocatta from BSS are actually Carl not Keith. I seem to remember an interview from Carl in 1980 when he was promoting PM , where he claimed that it was him. A minor point I guess.