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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Love Beach CD (album) cover


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

2.06 | 622 ratings

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1 stars What a hardship it must have been for Emerson, Lake and Palmer to be "forced" (so the story goes) to decamp to Compass Point Studios in the sun-kissed Bahamas to record this album. Actually I believe they moved there for tax reasons. Still, it would have been worth it had the sun and sea helped to produce some decent music, but the result was this execrable album.

Some say the music on this album was written either tongue-in-cheek or without heart because the band begrudgingly had to fulfil a contractual obligation to Atlantic Records. Others say that Atlantic Records insisted the band produce shorter, more commercial tracks. So what does that make the LP side-long 'Memoirs Of An Officer And A Gentleman' then: a sop to existing fans, or a compromise with Atlantic? The excuses would still mean that the band abrogated their responsibility to their fans. Any self-respecting artist would not prostitute himself in such a way and, in any case, it is still possible to produce good music within a 3 or 4-minute straightjacket, as other Progressive Rock bands have shown. No, I believe the dearth of quality has a simpler explanation: the band members were bankrupt creatively and suffering from over-inflated egos. You only have to listen to "Works Volume 1" to realise that all was not well long before "Love Beach" was even conceived. Fame, fortune and overblown, tiring concert tours had taken their toll, and the quality of the music nose-dived after "Brain Salad Surgery." The band's flamboyance was tolerable while they were producing albums of the quality of the first five, but not after la dolce vita arrived and creative burnout occurred. I believe that the musical output would have been the same even if the band had taken another break (and remember that there had already been a lengthy hiatus between "Brain Salad Surgery" and "Works Volume 1"). The band was a spent force, irrespective of the advent of punk rock. According to lyricist Sinfield the band were behaving like "spoilt brats" and hardly talking to each other, so I think the apologists are basically wrong.

The album title alludes to a well-known beach of that name in the Bahamas. I assume that the band members were already living on or near Love Beach. Perhaps it was one of the reasons for choosing to record in the Bahamas in the first place. Anyway, according to the sleeve notes of the Sanctuary Records CD, Emerson was incensed at the choice of title - I do hope that is true.

The cringe-making album title and 'Bee Gees' cover photo were a surprise when I bought the album in 1978 - a surprise that turned to disappointment upon hearing the music. I thought it would improve with repeated listening, but it didn't. Sinfield's lyrics are part of the problem: "I want to love you like nobody loved you, Get on my stallion and we'll ride"; "I'm gonna love you like nobody loved you, Climb on my rocket and we'll fly"; "We loved so hard we shook the stars above." Yuck! Sinfield later declared that, with the possible exception of 'An Officer And A Gentleman', he didn't think much of his lyrics either. And I disagree with his opinion of 'An Officer And A Gentleman': parts of that track are dire too (the forced rhyming in places, for example). It's no exaggeration to say that some of the lyrics on this album make me cringe.

All the songs on the first side of the LP are slight pop: elevator music. 'All I Want Is You' (the single) and 'Love Beach' have simplistic, pleasant-enough tunes, but 'Taste Of My Love', 'The Gambler' and 'For You' have naff tunes and lousy synthesizers. 'Canario', the only decent track on the album, is an instrumental: the band's interpretation of Rodrigo's 'Fantasia Para Un Gentilhombre'. 'Memoirs Of An Officer And A Gentlemen' is 20 minutes of mediocre music dressed up in pretentious lyrics.

Surprisingly it's still easy to buy this album. Ironically, prevalent sniggering about the album over the years has probably resulted in some sales: people want to hear for themselves what the fuss is all about. Several earlier reviews posted on this Web site are evidence that the album has not disappointed universally; taste, after all, is a very individual thing. However it seems the majority share my disdain for the album, so don't say you haven't been warned!

The Sanctuary Records CD has three bonus tracks to prolong the misery: rehearsals for 'Canario', 'Taste Of My Love' and 'Letters From The Front'. What a complete waste of time.

How the mighty have fallen. I'm tempted to give this album a zero-star rating (Bad. Do not buy!), but a completist and diehard ELP fan would still be able to listen to it so I'll go with one star (Poor. Only for completists.)

Fitzcarraldo | 1/5 |


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