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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Works Vol. 1 CD (album) cover


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

2.90 | 696 ratings

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2 stars After an intensive five years and after the tour to promote the classic Brain Salad Surgery ELP were pretty much a burnt out force. A necessary break was to take place and Works Volume 1 wouldn't appear until 1977, four years since their last studio album. The band hadn't been idol though; the original intention had been for each member to release a solo album. However with their legion of fans desperate for a new ELP album and with each musician having ideas of working with orchestras, it was decided that they would pool their individual solo efforts into a double album under the ELP banner. They would have one side each, the fourth being a collaborative band effort. They did however contribute to each others sides on a playing level to a certain extent, the exception being Keith Emerson's Piano Concerto Number 1.

Emerson's Piano Concerto took up the first side of the album and is the most satisfactory side. Having written the piece, Emerson contributes piano with orchestral backing. It's suitably dramatic, in keeping with his bombastic approach to keyboard playing in ELP, though enough use is made of light and shade for colour. Not a masterpiece by any means but reasonably enjoyable.

The same can't be said for Greg Lake's and Carl Palmers sides. Lake contributes a side of shorter acoustic based songs along the lines of Lucky Man with some orchestral backing. While the songs are performed well enough they are incredibly dull and leave no desire to hit the replay button. Although Lend Your Love To Me Tonight is the best of a bad bunch there's nothing to get excited about here.

Palmer's contributions are almost as equally dull as Lake's. like fellow band members he makes use of an orchestra ranging from the orchestral The Enemy God Dances With The Black Spirits to limp fusion on LA Nights. There's lightweight rock with the funky New Orleans with Joe Walsh providing vocoder treated vocals. Palmer gets to play vibes on Two Part Invention In D Minor and Food for Your Soul is big band jazz giving him an excuse for a drum workout. The ELP classic Tank is given the big band treatment but pales into insignificance next to the original.

By far the most pleasing moment of the album comes on the band side where they do an interpretation of Aaron Copeland's Fanfare For The Common Man, the only moment that really captures what ELP are about. An edited version was even a hit single at the time. The other full band piece is Pirates, again utilizing an orchestra but fails to live up to past glories.

Of course progressive rock has always been associated with excess and I wouldn't have it any other way. Unfortunately on Works Volume 1 despite there being the occasional glimmer of something worthwhile, overall I find it a step too far in self indulgence. For the fan who must have everything only.

Nightfly | 2/5 |


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