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

EMERSON LAKE & PALMER

Emerson Lake & Palmer

 

Symphonic Prog

4.23 | 1416 ratings

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Raff
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I love ELP, nevertheless I think this is their only really perfect album. As much as I love the others (at least those up to "Welcome Back My Friends..."), to be honest I have to admit there's always something missing, unlike, for instance, in albums such as "Wish You Were Here" or "In the Court of the Crimson King". However, this is not the case of ELP's eponymous debut: a bold, bombastic, in-your-face statement of intent, a prog masterpiece the band have been able to better in all their chequered career.

When the record originally came out, its two sides were divided between 'group' efforts on the first and tracks showcasing the individual prowess of the three band members on the second. ELP took up the same idea in their 1977 "Works vol.1" double album, only much less successfully. Everything begins in style with one of my all-time favourite instrumental tracks, the magnificent "The Barbarian", a reworking of Bela Bartok's "Allegro Barbaro", an extremely heavy triumphal march driven by Palmer's drumming and Emerson's Hammond, complete with booming gong to signal the end of the quieter section and the reprise of the main theme. After that, things couldn't get more different with Lake's haunting, wistful ballad "Take a Pebble", undoubtedly one of his best vocal performances, with lovely piano and acoustic guitar in the middle section. "Knife Edge" is a rockier song that draws again upon a piece of classical music (this time it's Janacek's "Sinfonietta"), featuring beautiful Hammond work by Emerson and menacing, almost snarling vocals by Lake.

The second side sees Emerson's three-part tour de force, "The Three Fates", where he plays a real organ in the majestic "Clotho", before laying into his piano for "Lachesis" and "Atropos". Palmer's showcase, the intricate and heavily percussive "Tank", follows, and Lake's Top Ten ballad "Lucky Man" (which, as everybody now knows, he wrote at 12) brings the album to a close. Though I've never been particularly fond of this song, I cannot deny its attractiveness, enhanced by Emerson's Moog solo a the end. However, as Lake's ballads go, I very much prefer "From the Beginning" and especially the much- maligned "Still...You Turn Me On". I agree that ELP may not be to everyone's taste, but I also think no self-respecting progger's record collection could be considered complete without at least this one album. As to myself, this is definitely one of my Top Ten favourites in any kind of genre.

Raff | 5/5 |

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