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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Brain Salad Surgery CD (album) cover


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

4.17 | 2127 ratings

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5 stars This album was my first introduction to the band sometime in 1975 / 1976 (can not remember exact year). It was from my friend's tape that played "Toccata" at that time. I was so shock with the kind of "weird" music these guys were producing. My friend then lent me his tape and I got more listen at home. Oh man . it was a great record the whole album (even though I was not into "Benny The Bouncer"). When I got into epic track titled "Karn Evil 9" I was totally amazed with this band and I talked to myself that I had to buy the cassette myself. It was not easy really because at that time I had no money at all to buy (even) the cassette. I remember that I had to wait until my mom got a what so called a "project" as she was just successfully sold some spaces in our house for a rent to a group of accountants that audited one company in my small city. My mom then gave me money to buy the cassette. Thanks God! Finally I got my first ELP cassette man! Yeah! The cassette then rocked my house all the time with Yes "Fragile", "Relayer" and also Uriah Heep "Demons and Wizards". (Oh by the way, my mom was - and still - open mind with rock music that my brother and myself played through player at our home at that time. She liked Uriah Heep "Demons and Wizard". Even now with her 79 years old age she still enjoy the opening track "He was the wizard of a thousand kings ." when she visited my house last month).

I was so proud having this "Brain Salad Surgery" cassette in my collection of (I think) about 20 rock cassettes at that time. I kept playing the tape over and over - especially during "Toccata" and "Karn Evil 9". I was proud with the group and collected some write- ups about the band from our local rock magazine at that time - Aktuil. I had a habit of playing the tape in "high volume" every morning before school. Then, when I walked to my school I still sing part of the lyrics like "Welcome back my friend to the show that never ends ." for my 20 minute-walk to my school. I felt "energized" everyday by singing (in my heart) this album's song. It meant a lot to me! What made me happy (also) was the fact that many of my friends and my brother's friends who liked music (at that time the difference between pop and rock was that thin - people did not categorize the music style) mentioned ELP highly. We talked about how complicated but enjoyable the track like "Karn Evil 9" was. OK OK . that was old story that surrounded me in my small city in Indonesia during time when this album was released. When I could earn money during digital era, I bought the CD (not the remaster one) and I still enjoy listening to it even until now when I'm writing this review.

Having described the "nuances" of this album and what it meant to me personally in a small city far away from the place where the album was released, it suffices to say that this album is a true masterpiece! Sorry, I have to be "firm" this time that I can only accept a minimum of four stars (out of 5) of people's rating because for this album nothing is "vague". If someone gives less than 4 stars rating, I'm sure s/he does not understand (or is not interested with) the context of this album or not a progressive rock explorer. Well, I know that expressing views in prog arena is an interesting challenge. People have different views and perceptions based on their taste and background. And, because of the nature of prog music is somehow (in my humble opinion) too broad and sometime I feel like "boundaryless" (ehm .. it looks like I'm a business strategy guys like "Kenichi Ohmae" or "Jack Welch" hah?). But .. there is an absolute value about this wonderful album "Brain Salad Surgery", either you are "into" or "not into" it. Let me tell you my rationales why I am in the "into" bandwagon ..

Rationale # 1: The album has been decades around us and if we compare it with any complexity, harmony and musical quality produced by any prog band(s) that emerged later on, nothing would shake this album from its (still) top position. The prog elements are there and most importantly the originality issues. Yes, the band has adapted the classical music creation - but look (please) the brilliant approach the band had taken in their arrangement.

Rationale # 2: The album (and the band, of course) has inspired many groups that emerge after this album. For practicality, just browse through this page and you may find tens or even hundreds of bands that reviewers have given marks of "influenced by ELP" or even some reviews that specifically mentioned this album. You might find it on Triumvirat, Ars Nova, Cast, Cairo and many others.

Rationale # 3: The musical quality of this album is really top notch and unquestionable at all. The overall composition blend all technical skills of each contributor in such a way that produce a complex music in a very tight structure with excellent harmony. In fact, with sometimes a lack of nice melody, this album still produce wonderful sound.

I think with those three rationales, you would understand why I adore this album. You might have different views, as I hope. Otherwise, it's not prog at all if you agree on whatever I've just written. Any differing opinions are welcome and you may post in this site. And for this album, I don't think it's wise to review track by track as this is a legendary album that any prog explorer MUST have the CD and enjoy himself / herself. My personal experience has indicated that having enjoyed all tracks, I finally can enjoy "Benny The Bouncer" that I hated the first time. So at this point of time - and onward - this album is a well rounded prog creation that deserves a "full five stars" rating. And it will be like that through time passages in the future. That's my humble opinion. Keep on Progging! - GW, Indonesia.

Gatot | 5/5 |


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