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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Tarkus CD (album) cover


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

4.06 | 1663 ratings

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RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars "Tarkus" is arguably ELP's masterpiece and one of prog's finest moments. So, why a mere four stars, and from someone who's an unabashed fan of the group? Because, as many ELP records, it is a flawed masterpiece. The sheer magnificence of the title track, 20 minutes of pure prog glory, is somewhat marred by an excess of filler in the rest of the album - namely, the tracks called "Jeremy Bender" and "Are You Ready Eddy". Mind you, I find them both amusing, but also quite out of place on the same record as a career-defining tour de force like the awesome title track.

"Eruption", the first movement of the "Tarkus" suite, builds up until Emerson's synths literally explode from the amps, backed by Palmer's precise, intricate drumming; then things slow down for Lake's first showcase, the wistful "Stones of Years", in which he proves himself once again to be one of the greatest vocalists on the scene. After this moment of relative quiet, things heat up again with "Iconoclast", "Mass" (another Lake showcase, complete with bitingly ironic lyrics) and "Manticore", leading up to the two final movements, the real triumph of the album. In "Battlefield" Lake shows he can play a mean lead guitar (his solo reminds me in a way of Gilmour's style), though the track is best remembered for his utterly wonderful vocal performance. Then "Aquatarkus" (one of the greatest instrumentals of all time) brings everything to a close, with Emerson and Palmer again involved in a show-stopping demonstration of their respective skills.

I know opinion is divided on the remaining tracks on the album. Personally, I think "Bitches Crystal", "A Time and A Place" and "The Only Way/Infinite Space" are all more than adequate tracks, though no masterpieces. On the first one, Lake's vocals sound a bit strained, as the track would have been more suitable for a voice such as Ian Gillan or even Glenn Hughes - though musically it is a very interesting experiment of blending prog with jazz and hard rock. "A Time and A Place" is also quite good, though nothing earth-shaking; more interesting is "The Only Way/Infinite Space", with Lake singing his rather controversial lyrics while accompanied by a church organ! Of the other two songs, the so-called 'funny' ones, I think the less said the better.... As I stated before, they might sound nice on a completely different album by a different band. Why ELP needed to include that kind of 'light relief' in most of their records is quite beyond me. So, if I could I would give "Tarkus" 4,5 stars. As someone wrote on this website, the suite alone would deserve 6, but those two tracks prevent it from being the essential item it should have been. Nevertheless, you should get it, if only to lose yourself in the utter bliss provided by the title track!

Raff | 4/5 |


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