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


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

4.23 | 2150 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Most fans/listeners/people would agree that ELP's debut is probably one of their better releases, perhaps on a par with 'Trilogy', but not up there with 'Brain Salad Surgery'. And so I was surprised to see that on this site, it is the highest ranked album by the trio with a good forty places above their alleged magnum opus.

It almost definately has something to do with the cloud of pretentiousness that has been thrust upon the band, because this is the only release where such a quality isn't present. And while some people have obviously underated the music on later albums due to the members' egos, that's not something I believe is fair. Sure, egocentricism is a social turn-off, but in order to even have any degree of success in the music industry you must showcase yourself. People might as well make music in private if others are going to criticise their attitude.

Anyway, 'Emerson, Lake and Palmer' is a fine album regardless of such arguments, but is it deserving of its place in the middle section of our top 100? I'm not so sure. It's fequently good, but also frequently individualistic. There are plenty of moments (by which I mean, too many on side 2) where only one or two of the band members are playing. And albums such as 'Ummagumma' and 'Fragile' prove that this only works if the music has a point to it, which on both albums, it doesn't. And I'm afraid to say that it doesn't here either. 'The Three Fates' is purely a pianist's virtuoso display; fine, but the bulk of 'Take a Pebble' already proved that Emerson was a fantastic musician, not to mention being a vehicle for Lake's acoustic skills. And with 'Lucky Man' being self-confessed filler, the only neccesary song on side 2 is 'Tank', an actual song with a brief drum solo that makes it's point and leaves again. Carl Palmer knows the difference between a studio and a stage.

I have no complaints about the group tracks; later albums would show significant development but these arrangements are good evidence that ELP was a band worth forming. In fact, despite my harsh remarks, all six tracks here are decent. It's just that 'Take a Pebble' and 'Knife Edge' sum up this band's sound enough between them to make the latter songs not needed. If 'Works' was too diverse, then this is too samey.

In conclusion, this debut is a classy and dynamic album, but it had something important to say:

"Emerson, Lake and Palmer are a great band, but they've already run out of ideas"

Thankfully the impending 'Tarkus' would disprove such a claim...

thehallway | 4/5 |


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