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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Works Vol. 1 CD (album) cover


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

2.92 | 715 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars ELP returned from an extended hiatus in 1977, sweetly oblivious to the fact that progressive rock was on the decline. Many bought the double-elpee set just the same (temporarily forgetting the substantial investment that Welcome Back was) to find that "Works Volume 1" was in fact three sides of solo music fused together with a token "band" side at the end. No doubt it's this sort of tinkering with the affection of fans that resulted in the backlash against the band in later years. For their trouble, the faithful were treated to predictably ambitious classical rock: Keith Emerson's "Piano Concerto No. 1", jazz and classical rock hybrids from Carl Palmer, a handful of winning ballads from Greg Lake, and two extended works credited to ELP at the end. Sure, it all requires a little patience, but the rewards are manifold: the second and third movements in Emerson's concerto, the familiar "C'est La Vie" and the undiscovered "Nobody Loves You Like I Do", Palmer's playful "Two Part Invention in D Minor", the band's arrangement of Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man", and the last great epic in their oeuvre, "Pirates". Because this album plays up the band's classical aspirations, it may alienate some listeners (e.g., those that felt "Pictures At An Exhibition" was an unnecessary exercise).

The side from Greg Lake deflates the album's pretensions somewhat, but even his ballads go over the top sometimes ("Closer to Believing" is a little precious, for example). And Emerson's piano concerto sounds to these ears like a pastiche of ideas rather than a traditionally structured piano concerto where you might expect the piano to introduce and expound on a dominant theme. Likewise, the band's extended take on "Fanfare" will test the limits of most listeners (the edited single version at least recognizes the ephemeral novelty factor of the idea). Ultimately "Works Volume 1" succeeds at sounding like an ELP album rather than a collection of solo material. It's not the tour-de-force of a "Tarkus", "Trilogy" or "Brain Salad Surgery", but a longing gaze at a band many loved (and many loved to hate). It's ambitious, brilliant in fits, tiresome in patches, and unrepentantly Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

daveconn | 4/5 |


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