Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Emerson Lake & Palmer - Brain Salad Surgery CD (album) cover


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

4.17 | 2127 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars Of all the albums ELP released, Brain Salad Surgery is the best. But it's still far from being what ELP could have potentially done. Unfortunately after this release it was a never ending downward spiral for the group, with an occasional hiccup (like the Emerson Lake & Powell effort in 1985).

The album doesn't really start off on the right foot, with a boring adaptation of William Blake's Jerusalem. Fortunately it's a short piece which leads into the wonderful Toccata, an adaptation of Alberto Ginastera's 1st Piano Concerto, 4th Movement. Emerson's heavy use of synthesizers in this piece is a fine example as to why Emerson's name is so popular among progressive rock fans.

Unfortunately, ELP drops into mediocrity with another acoustical ballad by Greg Lake, followed by the silly Benny the Bouncer. At best, both are forgettable and easily fit the ELP formula of some great pieces amidst a bunch of shorter filler tracks, a formula that has prevented ELP from ever having the masterpiece it potentially could have made.

Fortunately for the world of Prog, ELP save the rest of the album for one of their best and well-known pieces, the nearly 30-minute long Karn Evil 9. Unfortunately the entire performance of this song had its first movement split into two parts because it could not fit on one side of an LP. Even when it came out on CD, this remained so until later re-releases had the performance whole as it was originally intended. For ELP, these circumstances provided an unusual side-effect, as the second part of the first impression became a big radio hit on AOR stations.

Penned by Peter Sinfield, the story of Karn Evil 9 is told in three impressions, with the second being an instrumental interlude. The first impression tells the story of a world in which the decadence of the old world is preserved in carnival exhibits along with some things which are rare in the future. The third impression is about a war between computers and humans. Both the first and third impressions are absolutely amazing and are probably the best tracks ELP ever made. The instrumental interlude, on the other hand, is pretty tame stuff.

Not quite a masterpiece, but definitely the best of ELP's albums. Easily four stars and highly regarded by the majority of symphonic prog fans.

progaardvark | 4/5 |


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Share this EMERSON LAKE & PALMER review

Social review comments () BETA

Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.