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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Brain Salad Surgery CD (album) cover


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

4.17 | 2129 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars This is the 4th album from Emerson, Lake and Palmer (ELP) released on 1973. The quintessence of this album (and I think of entire ELP catalogue) is the Karn Evil 9. This is an epic and powerful composition, consisting of 3 parts (called impressions) with nearly 30-minute duration. Not only the music that really defines what a progressive rock is, but the lyrics ? like many progressive musics ? is challenging to decode (extra works for audience like me without having English as mother tongue). For what I understood from several articles, Karn Evil 9 tells us a story about battle between human and artificial intelligence. The 3rd impression fortunately gives a lot of clue about this.

1st Impression: a powerful 13-minute show off of great musicianship of the trio. They work meticulously to create this composition. A short but dense example is the "..roll up! .. roll up!.." part, as if the bass, keyboard and drums are playfully teasing each others. The beginning of Part 2 is perhaps the most recognisable piece, with famous opening line "Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends". 1st impression is my favourite ELP tracks, and I enjoy every version of this song being performed live in several albums.

2nd Impression: is a 7-minute colourful instrumental composition. Started with kind of fast pace jazzy piano tunes, and I feel a bit of African dance music in the middle. An interesting article offers a interpretation that this part depicts the machine preparing the overtaking of human control. 3rd Impression: how did ELP get the idea of human versus artificial intelligent at that time? I grew up with sci-fi movies with that kind of story so it is not too difficult to enjoy this part while imagining the struggle of mankind against machine. The song and sounds are perfectly fits this story-line. "I'm Perfect. Are You?" is the chilling closing phrase from the machine.

Two other tracks in this album adapt classical pieces. "Toccata" is an adaptation from Toccata Concertata (Piano Concerto No.1 Op 28) written by Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera. I think this piece has a kind of complexity that Keith Emerson fonds of. The ELP version is vibrant, with a bit of space rock sound. Anyway, it is said that Ginastera is happy with the way ELP adapt this piece, describing that Keith Emerson was able to catch the mood of the piece beautifully. "Jerusalem" is adapted from Hubert Parry's choral song of the same title. Not too many re- arrangements for this song.

"Still ... You Turn Me On" written by Greg Lake is a beautiful ballad song, kind of a nice short break for our brain among other complex tracks. Greg Lake's guitar work is very nice and in a excellent detail. Rolling Stones magazine lists this as one of ELP 10 Essential Songs (even without Carl Palmer on his drum).

"Benny the Bouncer": a nice ragtime piece. A background sound of bar-fight and breaking glass go well with the track's title. A lot of fun in this song.

I consider this album as one of Progressive Rock Icons, and one of album that shape my interest in progressive rock music. A lot of respect for this trio. May Greg Lake and Keith Emerson rest in peace.

Mark-P | 5/5 |


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