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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Tarkus CD (album) cover


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

4.06 | 1933 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars How to qualify an album like TARKUS? While the first side contains the best epic of all time , the other one is supposed to have the so called filler songs.Does the proficiency of TARKUS make it up for the B- Side , or is the B-Side as good as the opener? Stay tuned.

Actually , it's none of the above. The much maligned B-Side it's pretty good , it just does not feature a monster epic but 6 short songs that shows us all that ELP were capable to do at the time. This goes from joke songs , classical adaptations and hard rock numbers.

The album opens with a cute little song called TARKUS. This pompous , overblown , self indulgent and pretentious epic , has the quality that distinguishes the memorable ones from the forgettable ones: This 20 minute song feels like a 3 minute Top 40 hit single to me. And you know why? Because of it's cohesiveness , every note is where it should be , every section has a purpose and even Lake's vocals fit with the mood of every section perfectly. But... the story regarding Tarkus is quite dull actually , everyone knows it : A tankmadillo that was born from an egg from a volcano and is beated by a manticore. Even if it was made to be a critic about war and the cruelty of it ( which you can tell mostly from the Battlefield section) the quality of the story is sub par. But this guys are musicians , not novelists so I guess I can't blame them and I will not. Since their main concern was the music and it was exellent I will award side A with the highest mark.

Now to side B. After such an effort as TARKUS , did they have any fuel left in the tank? Not much , but it still well administrated. First joke song in ELP's career is called Jeremy Bender and I like it since it's relaxing and if I am in the mood ,may even sing it. It reminds me of the shorter songs of the White Album for it's western motif , probably Rocky Racoon or Don't pass me by. C'mon it's just a minute and a half , don't be so harsh!

Bitches Crystal , it's a fast hard rocker in which Emerson plays a great acustic piano solo. And Lake gives his most over the top performance ever , one thing is certain: He is not Ian Gillan. Fourth song it's called The only way/ Infinite space .Musically it's exellent , it features a church organ like the The Three fates but not as loud I think this makes the song more enjoyable. However , the lyrics are some of the worst in ELP's 70's period. I am lucky since I like in a spanish speaking country and nobody cares but I guess that hearing such cheesy lyrics in the UK or the US must be either pathetic or hilarious.

The album closes with two songs that run under the 3 minute mark: A time and a place and the infamous Are you ready Eddy. The first one is a hard rocker much like Atomic Rooster or Uriah Heep , nothing spectacular but still a nice track. The last one is just a joke song about ELP's album producer. Like I said with Jeremy bender , don't be so harsh!

Suming up , the B side can't be regarded as a landmark in progressive rock. I would award it 3 stars. However , the magnificence of TARKUS takes this album to legendary status. What would have been of our beloved genre without 20 minute monster epics?

NOTE: In Tarkus's case PLEASE don't judge a book by it's cover!

crimson87 | 5/5 |


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