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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Tarkus CD (album) cover

TARKUS

Emerson Lake & Palmer

 

Symphonic Prog

4.06 | 1939 ratings

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bluetailfly
5 stars Tarkus. What a mind-blowing landmark of prog rock this album is! I mean what other album opens with such insistency and then proceeds to captivate you with urgent melodies and astonishing instrumental prowess . And what is astonishing about the epic title track is how artfully Emerson & Lake weave their various pieces together. The segues are so skillful that the listener is both aware of them and yet not too aware of them; each piece evolves organically from what precedes it. And Palmer's contribution is essential; without his percussive accompaniment, this piece would not be half what it is. I've never heard a drummer better utilize his drum kit to support and drive such a variety of music. Edward Macan has an insightful discussion of this song-cycle in his "Rocking the Classics," a must- read for all serious prog fans.

"Tarkus" is proof that ELP only made their best songs when all three contributed creatively in equal amounts to each piece. And I think this is the most difficult kind of songwriting arrangement, because each member has to allow the other two to assume partial control over what has been submitted.

A similar example of this type of collaboration on this album is the way Emerson contributes to "The Only Way (Hymn),"---what must have initially been a Lake piece. Following Emerson's instrumental opening church organ section, Lake delivers his signature melancholy melody and lyrics. Then, smartly, Emerson switches to an acoustic piano to accompany the rest of Lake's song. Abruptly, without a break , "Infinite Space (Conclusion)" begins with its acoustic keyboard journey to the outer fringes. These two tracks are really one piece, and it's the contrast of the two that produces that ineffable prog music experience. This piece is another example of how the ELP chemistry was a complex mixture that produced an aesthetic phenomenon that far exceeded what each of its components could achieve on their own (to say the least).

Five stars. This album is one of the best of the founding generation of prog masterpieces.

bluetailfly | 5/5 |

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