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


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

2.90 | 697 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
1 stars Gnaaaaah, do I have to listen to this again!?

If you've ever looked up the definition for ''pretentious'' in the English dictionary you would see three guys standing on a beach next to a palm tree smiling like idiots with their Hawaiian shirts half open to expose their proggily hairy chests to the women who would be walking by on either side of the camera, heartily disinterested - those guys are Emerson, Lake and Palmer, the chick magnets. Works Vol. 1 was the highly anticipated follow up to the masterpiece that was Brain Salad Surgery that was held off for years and years thanks to inner band turmoils and ultimately the band being way too busy staring at their own reflection in the mirror. What this represents is the end of the progressive rock golden era, and from here on out the critics would start taking cheap-shots at the genre thanks to albums just like this one.

Being a double album with 4 sides, it would be the ultimate self indulgence to give each member their own side, and that's what happened here - with the band's collaborative works saved for the final side. Here is where the problems start. Each member is good at a certain thing, but it turns out that they're not really all that great on their own. Take for instance Keith Emerson's piano wanderings which take up the full 20-minutes of the first side. While there are flashes of inspiration and some impressive moments, this is a mostly forgettable concerto which just feels bland. Lake's side is something of a nightmare for any progressive rock fan, as he spend the entire time with sappy ballads with the exception of Hallowed Be Thy Name which is somewhat of a worthy listen, but does not even compare to the worst of the old ELP material. Palmer's side is probably the least painful of the bunch, the founder of groups like Atomic Rooster is able to put his chops to good use, although there's no exceptional material from the side - nothing that really 'pops', just a whole bunch of stuff that is merely okay. The remake of Tank with orchestration doesn't do the original any justice at all.

Coming into the final side things are probably going to start looking up, after all, the first song is a cover and the second is written by Peter Sinfield. Unfortunately all is not so. Fanfare For The Common Man often gets a lot of praise, but it's probably because this song is a shining oasis long across a desert of uninspired musical ideas with no direction. It's a weak tune compared to anything off of early works, but probably the best song on this album so far. The album ends with the epic Pirates, which is not so bad, but not so great either. Still not a hint of the trademark hammond, but at least this song proves that ELP weren't completely off their rocker with this album, just mostly.

Unless you want some really expensive coasters for your beer which you will no doubt need after hearing this album just avoid it all together. ELP fans may find something to love, but there just isn't anything here worth recommending. The scary part is that Works Vol. 2 is considered the worst of the two, and from here it really can't get any worse, so whatever part of the abyss that album comes from must be truly terrifying. Probably the biggest problem with this album is that it's so freaking long, and the music is so overly self indulgent that it's the kind of stuff that they'd show their mothers only to have them say, ''oh, that's very nice dear''. I'm going to end this review the same way that most listening sessions of this album must have ended - with the needle being pulled from the record. 1 star!

Queen By-Tor | 1/5 |


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