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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Trilogy CD (album) cover

TRILOGY

Emerson Lake & Palmer

 

Symphonic Prog

4.08 | 1107 ratings

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tarkus1980
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Y'know, the concept of 'fandom' is strange. It's not enough to more or less like an artist's work as a whole, and the fact that most of ELP's early albums get high grades certainly suggests that I'm quite fond of this band. No, there are also certain 'standards' of the band that one must love to be a true fan. And among ELP fans, Trilogy is certainly one of these albums that are required to be adored to some degree. Unfortunately, I just can't share that point of view, no matter how hard I try.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not calling the album bad, not by any stretch of the imagination. There really isn't a single song on here that I would call crap (although the stupid "Living Sin" might come close). The problem is that, far too often, this album is extremely dull. Take the opening ten-minute "Endless Enigma" suite, for instance. Parts of the vocal melody are nice, sure, but the instrumental passages really drag the song down (especially since it seems too much to me that the band is trying to make all their instrumental tricks replace the main 'song' part, which raises a definite prog red flag for me, as opposed to having them augment the main 'song' part, which is what I love in my prog). And the man to blame for that is, unfortunately, Keith. On the surface, his keyboards sound just the same as they always did, but the energy, the pulsating power that made "Barbarian," "Tarkus," and "Time and a Place" come to life just isn't there. The same thing can be said about the title track as well; the first three minutes are beautiful (courtesy of Lake, as well as some very beautiful piano from Keith), but the last five are a real bore (courtesy of Emerson going through all the synth/organ/piano tricks that he already showed quite prominently elsewhere). In short, the form remains intact, but the fire is dwindling at an alarming rate.

Even the 'normal' songs suffer from the boredom factor. I actually did finally come around to enjoying "From the Beginning" quite a bit, as opposed to before when I thought of it as just another piece of boring filler; it's too mellow, just like everything else on the album, but the main melody is very nice, and I do like the atmosphere created by Keith's keys in the end quite a bit. In any case, there's also "The Sheriff," which is little more than an 'old-west' version of "Jeremy Bender." It's nice, a pleasant and slightly amusing diversion from the 'serious' parts of the album, but the lyrics aren't as funny as their predecessor's, and let's face it, that was the main appeal of the song. It's not that much of a comedown, though - I do dig the accelerated ragtime piano solos at the end, after all.

So why do I give it a solid *** if all I've really done is complain about it so far? Well, the band's attempts at staying in their established 'formula' don't really succeed, but when they shifted their mindset into a 'pure' classical mode, they struck gold. Exhibit A is the group's cover of Copeland's "Hoedown," known in pop culture as the "Beef: it's what's for dinner" theme. The synth arrangement here is FABULOUS, and while the energy is still slightly lacking, it's still enough to really get your blood pumping. And closing the album, we have Exhibit B, an Emerson classical number entitled "Abaddon's Bolero." I find it highly ironic that the catchiest number on the whole album was probably envisioned as the most pompous and "elite" song of them all, but that's life. This piece really gets you into a foot- tapping groove, and there are all sorts of little symphonic trappings in the background that are enough to vary the sound. I can honestly say that it does not get boring in the entirety of its eight minutes, and I would be perfectly happy if it went on for another ten if Keith could continue to find enough background notes to fill in the time and keep it interesting (which he definitely succeeds at here).

Again, this is not a bad album. It's just that, well, it doesn't do enough to really be considered a very good album. This is just me talking, of course; most ELP fans, from what I've observed, tend to love this one. As for me, though, I'll stick to the other standards of the era. It's definitely a solid ***, if only because of the lack of immediately offensive material, but that's largely the effect of digging the ELP approach, even when it's just them doing "ELP by Numbers."

tarkus1980 | 3/5 |

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