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

EMERSON LAKE & POWELL

Emerson Lake & Palmer

 

Symphonic Prog

3.15 | 299 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The letter ain't the only thing that stayed the same

Before we start this review I have a confession to make. I originally bought the vinyl of this album as something of a joke. I really didn't expect very much of it, and here's why. It's from the 80s, it doesn't have the original lineup of a band whose name is the lineup of the band, and it's the successor to the massive flop, Love Beach. Well, let's just say that this album is a very pleasant surprise. It's largely a return to what ELP was doing in the 70s that made them so famous, and it really doesn't have any terrible moments. On the whole the album is solid, there's no individual tracks that get away from the rest, nor bog it down.

What's surprising is just how much the album still sounds like good ol' ELP. Although with Emerson's synths (now flavored to the tune of the 80s, although no less virtuosic) pressing hard in the foreground it's really no surprise that the album sounds classic. Lake's voice sounds just as sharp as ever and Powell makes a great contribution to the album with his hard rock background, although the other two seem to have put some restraints on him, because he never has the chance to really unleash and fly off the hook with his drumming skills. The melodies for the album are all surprisingly familiar, although hard to put a finger on just where they could have come from. The powerful The Miracle has a ripping synthesizer which sounds oddly familiar, but still very much ELP.

If not for the overwhelming amount of pomp still present on the album a lot of the material may have sounded flat. Though ELP often get criticized for sounding 'pretentious' there's no doubt that that element of their sound is part of what made the band great. Emerson's obligatory reworking of an instrumental, this time in the form of Mars, The Bringer Of War, sounds like a clash of the titans, put to the music of a synthesizer as sharp as a blade. The compositional work on the single Touch And Go is as impressive as much of the music made by the band in the 70s with their immense sound ready to crush anyone who gets in their way. Although some of the songs on the second side are a little bit out of the normal range of ELP music such as the slow and sappy Lay Down Your Guns, the balladic Love Blind and the almost 'pool-house' sounding Step Aside, they still fit within the context of the album and make for an excellent listen.

Lucky for the fans, there's also some excellent prog on the album. The first side is home to a mere 3 compositions, and with two of them being over 7-minutes, you know some good has to come of it. The opening The Score is a track that can be compared to some of the band's best with a driving keyboard and powerful shouting from Lake. The entire 9-minutes of the song has enough nostalgia factor to really nab the attention of any discerning progger and though some of that may be lot on the short, but no less impressive Learning To Fly, it will certainly be regained by the already mentioned The Miracle.

Overall a surprisingly good album from a band who hadn't produced much of note since the mid-70s. Don't overlook this one for the same reasons I did. If you enjoy ELP then chances are you're going to get a kick out of this hidden gem. Not for starters to the band, but certainly not the last one you want to own by them. A solid album that's going to get a good 3 out of 5. Recommended!

Queen By-Tor | 3/5 |

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