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


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

4.24 | 1950 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Review N 15

This is my second review of an Emerson, Lake & Palmer's album. The first was their debut live album 'Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends'. I chose review their eponymous debut studio album 'Emerson, Lake & Palmer', released in 1970, as my first studio review of them, because is my favourite studio work from the group.

The three band members came from three very well established bands, before they joined together. All of them were very talented musicians and very experienced too. Greg Lake came from a band that needs no introduction. He came from King Crimson and was one of their founder members. King Crimson are simply and undoubtedly, one of the best and most innovative progressive bands ever. He took part on their two first studio albums, 'In The Court Of The Crimson King' and 'In The Wake Of Poseidon'. Carl Palmer came from Atomic Rooster and he was also one of their founder members. Atomic Rooster is a British heavy progressive band. He has only participated on their debut eponymous studio album 'Atomic Rooster'. Finally, Keith Emerson came from The Nice and he was one of their founder members too. The Nice was a British symphonic progressive band who has combined classical, jazz, blues and rock music. Their music became the seeds of what will be the sound of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. He took part on all their four studio albums 'The Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack', 'Ars Longa Vita Brevis', 'The Nice' and 'Elegy'.

Curiously, Emerson, Lake & Palmer could have been called HELP or Hendrix, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, if Jimi Hendrix had adhered to the project. It seems that Hendrix was tired of his own band and wanted to try something different and new. So supposedly, he expressed an interest in playing with them. However, because of scheduling conflicts, such idea couldn't be immediately held, and unfortunately, Hendrix died shortly after. However, the history was never confirmed. It even was contradicted by Lake, saying that it was just a rumour created by the press.

The front cover of the album depicts a fluttering white bird with a human ear in the bottom left corner. It was painted by Nic Dartnell and it seems that originally was for the Spirit, an American proto-prog band. It also seems that the figure man on the left of the cover is the Spirit drummer, Ed Cassidy. However, the artist denied, in an interview.

'Emerson, Lake & Palmer' has six tracks. The first track 'Barbarian', despite being attributed to the trio, is a musical arrangement of a Bela Bartok's piano piece, named 'Allegro Barbaro'. Although, the original piece be only for piano, the band rearranged the song for organ, bass and drums. This is a great aggressive track with a hard rock influence. The second track 'Take A Pebble' is a beautiful ballad by Lake, and is the lengthiest track on the album. This is a magnificent song with the powerful vocals of Lake. His singing is simply terrific, with the final line of the verses building on the legacy of King Crimson's 'Epitaph', which sounds even better. The third track 'Knife-Edge' is based on the first movement of Leos Janacek's 'Sinfonietta'. This is another great piece of music with a great showcase by all the three band members, with particular emphasis to the great bass lines. The fourth track 'The Three Fates' is an Emerson's concept piece of music, about the meaning of life, god and evil. The suite is divided into three parts. 'Clotho', an organ solo recorded at the Royal Festival Hall, 'Lachesis', a piano solo and 'Atropos', a piano trio. This is technically an excellent piece of music that showcases the rare musical talents of Emerson. The fifth track 'Tank' contains a Carl Palmer's small and beautiful solo studio drumming. Basically, the piece showcases Palmer's unique drumming style and features one of the few drum solos on a studio album. It also marks the first appearance of the Emerson's famous Moog synthesizer. The sixth track 'Lucky Man' is a ballad written by Lake for acoustic guitar, when he was a schoolboy. However, at the beginning, the song wasn't well received by Emerson and Palmer. It's a song with acoustic guitar, beautiful singing and a great synthesizer solo towards the end. It's, for me, one of the best songs ever written by Lake, and it became as one of the band's most commercial and accessible tracks.

Conclusion: 'Emerson, Lake & Palmer' is an excellent album, very fluent and very beautiful, with moody keyboards, memorable guitar lines, immaculate drumming, and above all, a great vocal work by Lake. It also still features very strong compositions and a magnificent and inspired musicianship. Emerson takes the band's music a little too strongly in his own hands on many occasions on the album. His virtuoso skills have become the defining factor on the band's music. However, fantastic musicians such as Lake and Palmer deserve certainly also a more prominent spot. Sincerely, and in my humble opinion, this album is with 'Brain Salad Surgery' the two best studio works from the group, only supplanted by their triple live album 'Welcome back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends'.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 5/5 |


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