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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Black Moon  CD (album) cover

BLACK MOON

Emerson Lake & Palmer

 

Symphonic Prog

2.85 | 310 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
3 stars ELP is a strange band, initially the first outright prog supergroup (and when you realize that Blind Faith only lasted one paltry album: arguably THE rock amalgamation of all time). Big boys, bigger arsenals of equipment and even bigger egos contributed to a phenomenon that espoused the fragility of fame and fortune in the music world, where you were indeed a "lucky man" what with all the horny groupies, the "tossed out the hotel window TV sets" attitude, the nasty drugs and the endless enigma of touring. Certainly, their recorded output up to Brain Salad Surgery is considered as topnotch examples of classical-infused power trio progressive rock but as the punkers stated their bloodless revolution (led according to lore by the aptly named The Vibrators), the virtuosos started running out of steam and ideas, egged on by the greedy corporations and the onset of diluted pop-prog by 1978-79. The death knell had sounded thanks to monolithic wastes of time, energy, vinyl and talent like the bloated Works Volumes 1 and 2, more embarrassing than anything and fuel for the untalented and frustrated to "revitalize" popular music by encouraging ugly idiots who could play two notes real well! By 1992, the punk phenomenon had petered into disarray (hey, how many combinations of 2 notes can you come up with?) and the music world was in a momentary lapse of marketing, hence ELP decided to go for the gap and try to wiggle through and make a splash. As many others here have commented correctly, it was a mitigated success, as "Black Moon" has some interesting tracks as well as some 'yuck'. Firstly, how can they agree on such a boring cover, with such dismal artwork, I mean the circus is a cool place and an attraction like the carousel can be enlightening but please, where was BSS' Giger when you really needed him? Secondly, the production is way too sterile and "poppy" with little warmth and no character at all. Who is this Mark Mancina anyway? The title track certainly has "oomph" as it steamrollers mightily with verve, confidence and authority, rousingly referring to the burning Iraqi oil fields of Gulf Storm and giving Lake's shakier voice some depth. One is almost reminded of Queen's anthemic "We Will Rock You" pounding, as Palmer does his best Roger Taylor imitation and Emerson reverts to blaring his fanfarish synths with undisguised ardor. Good emphatic opener, somewhat ruined by the next silly affair, the politically charged "Paper Blood", which could have been vastly improved had the lads rejected the gooey cheese they wrapped around it! A real corny and ultra-simplistic organ riff leads this horrid sing-along, I mean Asia could do this better and that is sad, perhaps this where the inspiration came from in the first place. The hysterical harmonica does little to relieve the pain. "Affairs of the Heart" reveals a quieter mood, time for Lake to provide one of his patented ballads but alas, his voice had altered greatly in the intervening years and he comes astoundingly across sounding more like David Cousins of the Strawbs, especially when the vessel resembles traditional British folk songs. The resemblance is uncanny and this sentiment will resurface later with equally Brit-folkish "A Farewell to Arms" as well as the closer "Footprints in the Snow". "Romeo & Juliet" is why I purchased this way back when in the first place and it is a classic piece of genius that has epic, empirical intonations full of bombast, majesty and clout. The sibilant synths marshal forward boldly, with swagger and utter poise, a modern diversion on Prokofiev's classic piece. Still revered today in many circles (and oft sampled) as ideal "entrance" music, be it at an event, a wedding or a concert. Simply magnificent! The Emersonian instrumental "Changing States" begins nicely with stately piano, church organ and a rousing "entrée en scene" that playfully rollicks onward, a good but not mindboggling return to form. "Burning Bridges" has little or no relevance to a prog fan, a pedestrian affair that is verging near revolting, tasteless corn! Even the organ snippets cannot save this bummer, got to (Black) Moon this one! Next! "Close to Home" is a piano solo that would do well in the bar lounge of a respectable 5 star hotel, say the Paris Ritz or even the Beverly Wilshire, Emerson doing his best Richard Gere/Pretty Woman midnight recital , as the wait staff boringly broom away the glitter, waiting to go home. Back to the sludge with the ridiculous "Better Days", a Chris deBurgh-like storytelling cough introducing a rather pedestrian sing-along rock song with funky clavinet and strained Lake vocals, "Stand on Me" repeated ad nauseum, with the wimpiest organ solo and the worst plodding drums ever from Palmer. Brutal trash. "Footprints in the Snow" mercifully revisits some faraway and discreet elegance, a genial nod to Cousins and his nasal twang with acoustic guitars and melancholic chorus. A little polish and a lot of spit would have elevated this a tad higher but three merry-go-rounds is more than enough!
tszirmay | 3/5 |

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