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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Works Vol. 1 CD (album) cover

WORKS VOL. 1

Emerson Lake & Palmer

 

Symphonic Prog

2.93 | 723 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

ken_scrbrgh
4 stars Please indulge me in a little personal rumination here. It was early 1972, and I was in the seventh grade at Christian Brothers School in New Orleans, LA. From my family's home on Fleur de Lis Dr., my friends and I would venture across the Seventeenth Street Canal (yes--that Seventeenth Street Canal . . . ) to hang out at the old Pelican Bowling Alley. At that time, my musical formation consisted mainly of knowledge of the Beatles and a mental collection of everything from The Turtles So Happy Together to Mason Williams' Classical Gas. While at Pelican Bowling Alley, my horizons expanded via the jukebox in the form of the recently released Roundabout. One might say at this point the progressive awareness entered my horizons.

However, listening to Emerson, Lake, and Palmer's Tarkus any number of times at a friend's house really engaged me. Then, there was the song Trilogy. Soon after came Pictures at an Exhibition. Then, questions: Mussorgsky, Bartok, Copland? Why, could Emerson, Lake, and Palmer give us a bit more than entertainment? Then came Brain Salad Surgery--Blake and Ginastera? Yes, the edge of awareness was expanding. Simultaneously, my friends and I discovered not just Fragile, but Close to the Edge as well. And, not really apparent to us at the time, John, Paul, George, and Ringo had done a good job of preparing us for these excursions.

Brain Salad Surgery cemented Keith, Greg, and Carl's hold on my attention. In the summer of 1974, these three may have reached the summit at the California Jam Concert . . . . This was followed by, for a teenager, the interminable lapse between Brain Salad Surgery and Works, Volume I. So, now, it is February/March of 1977, and, finally, the new album. Goodness . . . . Fittingly, this experience would occur again in July of 1977 upon the release of Going for the One. Such great expectations met by their realities.

I would think the musical enterprise was always a difficult marriage for Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. Works, Volume I amplifies this history of difficulty. To Emerson's Piano Concerto, I would simply say that, in a sense, it is unnecessary. That is, by 1977, Emerson had become, and still is, my favorite progressive rock keyboardist. Although I enjoy his concerto, it strikes me more as the piece Emerson would have composed and performed to earn his M. M. in Theory and Composition. Emerson's performance on Tarkus tells us even more about his proficiencies and creativity.

Regarding Lake's side: entertaining with no real revelations. This is territory earlier and more convincingly covered by Take a Pebble, Lucky Man, and From the Beginning.

Palmer states the case better for his individual efforts. Unlike his colleagues, Palmer's efforts display an expansion of his demonstrated genres of proficiency from the earlier albums. In L.A. Nights, Palmer works with Joe Walsh, which, in 1977, seemed most incongruous to us. In Food for Your Soul, we hear Maynard Ferguson and Doc Severinsen. In his adaptations and performances of Prokofiev and Bach pieces, Palmer formally exposes the classical training, which he shares with Emerson. These interpretations also flow well into the group's interpretation of Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man on the fourth, group side. Perhaps the album in question should have focused on the group's collective efforts during the Works sessions with less emphasis on the individual pieces? Of course, in the words of former Saints' Head Coach, Jim Mora, Could'a, would'a, should'a, don't mean s---,and you can put that in the paper for me.

Which brings us to Pirates. I have one question for the fellowship of ProgArchives.com: don't you think one Emerson, Lake, and Palmer album merits inclusion in the top 100? Now, with that done, to Pirates and the strength of what I consider the group's five star compositions: I would say Karn Evil 9, Tarkus, Trilogy, Tank, and Pirates. One might add The Endless Enigma and recognition of the group's many interpretations and introductions of Bartok, Janacek, Mussorgsky, Bach, Copland, Ginastera, and so on. Those who know progressive rock know the genre demands repeated listenings. My first encounter with Pirates was almost thirty-two years ago, and I still welcome its oceanic adventures.

Yes, and in closing, I add that Going for the One has emerged from the heavy expectations of youth to a more realistic and substantive place in my musical horizons.

l

ken_scrbrgh | 4/5 |

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