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

EMERSON LAKE & PALMER

Emerson Lake & Palmer

 

Symphonic Prog

4.23 | 1367 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

J-Man
Prog Reviewer
2 stars Masterpiece?

When people talk about the classic progressive rock groups, ELP is always mentioned. While I won't dispute their significance in the progressive rock world, they have never excited me as much as other classic prog bands such as Yes, Jethro Tull, King Crimson, and Genesis.

This was the third ELP album I had purchased after Trilogy and then Brain Salad Surgery. I find both of those albums moderately enjoyable (probably 3 star albums), but I did find them overrated. When I bought their debut album I was really expecting something great, but I was very disappointed. Whereas the two above mentioned albums have many redeemable qualities behind the excessive noodling, this album never really did much for me. I don't think I'll ever understand what is so great about ELP, and why I'm unable to discover it. This album certainly didn't do me any favors from that aspect, and makes me question their music even more.

For those of you who have never heard ELP, this is progressive rock (though I wouldn't nessacerily label it "symphonic" prog) with many classical influences. There are some hard rock leanings mostly because of the heavy dependence on Hammond organ. The music has a lot of weak transitions, and is focused mostly on Keith Emerson's virtuosic keyboard abilities. The skill and talent is present on all of these songs, but the memorable melodies and consistency is only present for brief visits.

THE MUSIC:

"The Barbarian"- The first starts with a distorted guitar riff, that soon turns into heavy and dark organ chords. I remember the first time I heard this I was immediately in love. Keith Emerson's talent on the organ shines right here, and Carl Palmer does an excellent job as well. Almost out of nowhere, it turns into a classically-influenced piano section. I think the song would have faired much better without it, to be honest. The transition into this section is weak, and the section itself is nothing too memorable, and seems directionless. Luckily the original section soon returns, and Keith Emerson amazes me again. The organ soloing is truly excellent. Overall, this is a mixed bag, though. It definitely has its moments, but it is lacking in consistency.

"Take A Pebble"- The first song opens up with a beautiful piano melody. The opening is really good and when Greg Lake's vocals enter it's pure magnificence. Soon a classical-sounding piano section enters. It sounds really good, even if it doesn't really fit. Soon a folky guitar section enters. This entire section (and trust me it's pretty long) doesn't fit at all, and seems almost pointless to me. It gets absolutely nowhere, even if the guitar playing is solid. When the classical piano enters again, too much of it seems like noodling for my tastes, but the musicianship is excellent. It builds well into the ending. Again, this is a very uneven song, and only about half of it is really worthwhile. This is much longer than it needs to be.

"Knife-Edge"- After the fairly boring and overly long previous track, this immediately brought my attention back. After the bombastic organ opening, it goes into a bluesy-section with just bass, drums, and Greg Lake's vocals. Much of the song builds off of these two sections, and it does it excellently. This has some great soloing from Keith Emerson. This is my favorite song from the album, and I wish more of the album would be like this.

"The Three Fates"- We all know the saying that good things never last. Well this is a perfect representation of that. After the magnificent previous track, this just strikes me as boring, pretentious, and unnecessary. The opening church organ solo is decent enough, but it does nothing for me. It goes into a piano section that is just pure noodling. Nothing more, nothing less. The church organ shortly returns and just plays the same chords over and over again. A weak transition brings us into a complex piano section with drumming. This whole song is completely pointless in my opinion, and it just seems like Keith Emerson showing off. Needless to say, it doesn't impress me.

"Tank"- This is Carl Palmer's solo spot, and he shows his chops clearly. This is a weak composition, though. The musicianship is spot-on as always, but the songwriting does nothing for me. That's usually my main problem with ELP. Their talent is undeniable, but the music is often questionable. This is another fairly useless track.

"Lucky Man"- This is often the most scolded track on the album, but I must say that it is one of my favorites from the album. Unlike most of the other songs, this actually has memorable melodies and it is consistent from beginning to end. I love the synth solo near the end especially. This is a great closing track, though I'm sure many will be quick to deny it.

Conclusion:

Emerson, Lake & Palmer is a pretty overrated album in my opinion. The musicianship is excellent, but the music often is directionless and leaves me cold. ELP's music just never interests me as much as Yes, Jethro Tull, or Genesis, and this album is no exception. I enjoy some of their later albums, but their debut is flawed in various ways. I don't consider myself an ELP fan much at all, but this is one of my least favorites from this era. If you're interested in ELP, I recommend going to their next couple albums, as I find them moderately enjoyable. This album is lacking terms in consistency and memorable moments. I know many will disagree, but I can't give this more than a 2 star rating. I don't think I'll ever understand what's so great about this album.

2 stars.

J-Man | 2/5 |

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