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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Tarkus CD (album) cover


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

4.05 | 1759 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

2 stars When it comes to my enjoyment of an album, I need consistency in order to want to listen to it, I want a more complete listening experience in which everything fits together cohesively, not necessarily a concept album, but something that feels properly planned out and conceived. This is a big reason why Emerson Lake and Palmer's Tarkus fails so miserably, it doesn't matter how great your side long epic is guys, the rest of the material sucks and greatly drags everything down. While I found their debut album to be quite rough around the edged with a lack of polish and tight songwriting causing to to be much less enjoyable than it could have been, this album feels more like an ill conceived mess, with a single good song in its entirety.

To be fair, this one good song happens to be Tarkus, so it's not as if this album is completely worthless, as despite the fact that I don't find this quite as good as other epics of around the time such as Supper's Ready, Plague of Lighthouse Keepers and Close To The Edge, this is nonetheless an excellent track all the way through. One aspect I really love about this song is how it manages to control the bombast and relentless desire for showing off, making for a technically impressive song that doesn't go overboard with wandering jams, instead moving between each section seamlessly, with a strong jazzy tinge to Keith Emerson's playing. Furthermore, the song has a great progression to it, continuously switching between quiet, beautiful moments, and chaotic, bombastic instrumental sections that sound like an off kilter war march in certain respects, especially in terms of the wailing moog. One of my favourite moments of the song is definitely Mass, which is just so wonderfully groovy and energetic, building up to a drum solo that impresses me every time, which is balanced out by continuing to push the melody and rhythm, stopping the isolated, dull feeling that the drum solo of Tank created. Honestly, this is one of ELP's crowning achievements, being able to create a 20 minute epic without a single moment of filler.

The unfortunate thing is that after this absolutely monumental track, the rest of the album is without a doubt extremely painful to listen to. For one, most of the songs are quite generic, with barely anything of interest to be found at all. At the very least, both Bitches Crystal and The Only Way (Hymn) feel like there was an effort made in them, although the latter, while somewhat nice to listen to, is extremely boring, although the church organ and the way it picks up at the end stops it from being bad. The former feels rushed with parts that feel unnecessary, like, in such a bombastic, insane song, there is no need for the quieter moments, it's Emerson, Lake and Palmer, excess is everywhere and in spades, so I find it annoying that a time where this could be used to their advantage ends up being wasted. Time and a Place and Infinite Space (Conclusion) are both songs I have very little to say about, as they are simply beyond dull and unneccesary, further damaging an album that is already slipping. The final nail in the coffin is that this album has not one, but two comedic songs in them, both of which are awful. Jeremy Bender employs a sort of ragtime style to a very simple melody, and it's just really bad all around, especially since it comes straight after Tarkus. Are You Ready Eddy on the other hand is nothing short of utter garbage, and definitely one of the most unbearable songs the band has ever put out, trying to take a more classic rock and roll approach, but falling on their face so embarrassingly with every step. Furthermore, this is the song the album closes off on, leaving a sour taste in my mouth afterwards.

Honestly, if the band decided to maintain the same kind of magic and focus as Tarkus displayed, I think I'd absolutely adore this album, but as it stands, it's by far my least favourite of the peak of Emerson, Lake and Palmer's career. It's amazing just how different in quality the two halves of this album are, and just how obnoxious and bad I find the second half, making me treat this album as a single, 20 minute track instead most of the time, as I just have no desire to listen to it in full. If not for the masterpiece of the first half, this would be an easy 1 star, but I'll rate it 2, since I can't call this album good, but would be horribly wrong to completely write it off.

Best tracks: Tarkus, which is definitely a high point in the band's meterial

Weakest tracks: While the second side is all bad, Jeremy Bender and Are You Ready Eddy stand out immensely in this category

Verdict: An uneven mess of an album with its first side being incredible, but it's second side being borderline unlistenable. I only relistened to anything the second side had to offer in order to be able to give this a fair review.

Kempokid | 2/5 |


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