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


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

4.23 | 2165 ratings

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5 stars Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Emerson, Lake & Palmer (3.77/5 stars) Original Release: November 00, 1970


The Barbarian (3 stars) Instruments combine to evoke the image of a heavy, plodding Barbarian moving across the landscape. The quick work of the drums, however, evoked a sense of listening to the soundtrack of a silent film however. The busy-ness of the instrumentation on this instrumental tends to tire the ear and detract from the passages that creatively evoke the mood that the song aims at.

Take a Pebble (4 stars) The bass and a profound piano accompany the haunting vocals in the first part of this song. Then with a cascading rhythm layered piano takes over. In the middle of this there is a quiet section with a thoughtful acoustic guitar playing amidst the sounds of water drops. the lyrics are difficult to interpret but I suspect that what they are getting at is how the moments of our lives, successive moments in time, disturb, distort and destroy our memories causing them to fragment and to dissipate as the force of the latest experience propagates in our minds like a pebble thrown into a pool. The quiet mid point of this song might represent a moment when the knower achieves a reflective clarity regarding this relentless process and finds a place of stillness within the perpetual succession of time. Layered piano work has both a timeless cascading part and an ever changing timely part. The end of the song concludes this pleasant and disturbing journey with further descriptive words.

Knife Edge (4 stars) The menacing lyrics walk you through a mad world with a mildly hypnotic rhythm. The instrumental middle section expands the musical theme and moves briefly to a more ethereal passage. Then its back to the plodding guitar-organ of the openning hard rock theme.

the Three Fates: Clotho/Lachesis/Atropos (4 stars) Big evil organ opens the song. After a while a piano emerges. The piano playing is strong, colorful, then quiet, gentle. Then the piano swells with a rising passion like ocean waves. Emersons piano work moves through many themes and takes you in many directions with skillful ease. There are lots of interesting textures and moods painted in succession by Emerson in this instrumental. There is a good balance of variety without becoming a tedious jam session. The song ends in an explosion that dissipates just as the next song kicks in.

Tank (3 stars) In this instrumental the percussive melody paints the picture of some persistent machine moving over the landscape. A drum solo appears which seemlessly fits into the feel of the song as a whole but sounds still like a drum solo. I have a sense of a tank negotiating in its plodding yet nimble way an obstacle course of a landscape as I listen to this song. In the last half of the song a sinister rhythm of synthesizer, drums and and bass kicks in. Then a high-pitched harmonica synthesizer sound plays a strange blues. It is as if the tank has done something of consequence and now lumbers on in some new realm or mad reality. Although the song did engage my imagination it was more difficult to connect with emotionally.

Lucky Man (4 stars) the lyrics describe a man with women and wealth who performed his duty for his country and found death as ready to take him as anyone else less fortunate. The haunting chorus underscores the lyric's irony. The vocals sound Beatlesque. The song ends as a synthesizer comes in and brings an electric energy that is taunting and haunting all at once.

Album: The often dense style of Emerson, Lake & Palmer is the best asset and greatest liability. The songs on this album tend to succeed in balancing these things but not always so well. The band's style of play lends itself to themes of madness and relentless motion. The imaginative lyrics and themes seem concerned with dark spirits. The darkness in this album is akin to that of King Crimson's "In the Court of the Crimson King". Lake's vocalizations help to cut down on the density of the instrumentation. This density tends to soure me to their music over time but I have found this album one that has suffered less from than than there other albums from the 70s.

This album is an early progressive rock classic with exceptional musicianship combined with fantasy sound textures that transport you to another world and I recommend the album as a whole to prog rock fans.

MP3 recommendation:

4 Star Songs (4/5 stars) 1. Take a Pebble (4 stars) 2. Knife Edge (4 stars) 3. The Three Fates: Clotho/Lachesis/Atropos (4 stars) 4. Lucky Man (4 stars)

sealchan | 5/5 |


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