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

EMERSON LAKE & PALMER

Emerson Lake & Palmer

 

Symphonic Prog

4.23 | 2021 ratings

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Kempokid
3 stars After an onslaught of Dream Theater reviews that honestly left me burnt out on everything to do with the band for the time being, I decided to just stop with them for the time being and move onto a band that I have extremely mixed opinions on, Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Overall, I find the band to have a very particular sound to them unlike much other prog at the time, with much more on the nose classical influence to the point of reimagining various classical pieces, an extreme focus on keyboards and drums, and an all around more energetic, chaotic, jam focused sound to them. Out of all the classic prog bands, this is easily one of the most pompous and excessive of them all, only issue being that it only works some of the time, an issue present through every one of their albums. Their debut is definitely their most restrained work by an extremely wide margin, but even here, there is still a lot of time dedicated to simply showing off the incredible talent of the band members, rather than on making enjoyable music. Both Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer are extremely skilled at their respective instruments, and Greg Lake is one of my favourite vocalists, but the music itself is quite a mixed bag, with a lot of it sounding like more work could have been done in order to polish things significantly.

Despite the band largely providing its riffs and melody through the keyboards, The Barbarian kicks off the album with a sludgy guitar tone, before increasing in speed, starting off slowly before the beat evolves into a gallop. I love the way everything cuts out in order for the frenetic drumming and tense piano playing to come in, providing the mental image of being chased, at least to me. I love the intensity of this song, and it's without a doubt one of my favourite songs on the album, and is at the very least, what I'd consider to be the most perfect. Take A Pebble is a very different affair however, starting off very strongly, highly reminiscient of the earlier King Crimson ballads such as the first couple of minutes of Moonchild, with similarly amazing vocals and an overall powerful beauty to it. The issue here is that a lot of the middle instrumental section feels very unecessary, being quite dull with what I consider to be fairly unappealing country - blues section that feels as if it comes out of nowhere and lasts far too long. In a way, I guess I can compare it to Moonchild, both starting out excellently before devolving into pure boredom, with any magic the song contained being drained away. Knife Edge proves to fare far better, being a pleasant, bluesy song with much more restraint placed upon it, with nothing getting too out of hand, and some really great concepts explored, especially the baroque section, which is simply to die for. The song feels a bit stilted in placed, but is definitely enjoyable.

The Three Fates feels like the polar opposite of Knife Edge, with it sounding like the band just decided to abandon all restraint and see how much punishment their instruments could take before they broke. What is created from this is a wonderfully chaotic instrumental that switches between mildly dull to downright awesome, the latter being much more prominent in the third movement of the song, and at the very least, it's simply more proof that Keith Emerson is incredible on his respecitve instruments (if it was somehow not already extremely obvious from everything else here), but once again, the song could have used a bit of trimming. Tank is definitely an interesting song, having some of the greatest instrumental interplay that the band has ever composed in my opinion, with an amazing driving energy behind it. The issue here is that once again, the excessive, pompous side of the band ends up getting the better of it in the form of a 2 minute drum solo which becomes almost painfully dull by the end. I honestly want a version of this song with a shortened version of the drum solo, as this would otherwise be one of my absolute favourite songs by the band if not for how much the energy is ruined. Lucky Man is definitely a beautiful track and one that I can quite easily see how it became the most popular, well known song by the band, as it's peacful, melodic, and absolutely beautiful. There is nowhere near the same amount of chaos and intensity as previous songs, but does close off in a way that sums up the whole album very well, with a poorly conceived moog solo that disrupts the beauty, although the song is still incredible despite this.

Overall, while 5 of the 6 songs on this album are good overall (Take A Pebble, not so much), almost all of them are flawed in the same general way, with the exception of The Barbarian. Each of them could have used further editing and polishing to make for some really great listening, as the songs all have incredible potential in one way or another. As it stands though, while I do really enjoy listening to this album, I often end up becoming mildly irritated at the many flaws it has, which is definitely enough for me to knock this down to 3 stars. I'd highly recommend this album to those who enjoy heavily classical influenced music and also can get behind a lot of excess. This is definitely their most restrained album of their peak material, which is honestly a good thing in certain respects when looking at some of their later efforts where they allowed their pretentiousness to go unchecked.

Best songs: The Barbarian, Knife Edge, Lucky Man

Weakest songs: Take A Pebble

Verdict: Highly technical, complex muwsic that has a habit of becoming too overtly complex for its own good. Songs can both have moments of genius, and moments of ill conceived noodling, but for the most part, it's an entertaining album overall, albeit very flawed in certain respects.

Kempokid | 3/5 |

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