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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Brain Salad Surgery CD (album) cover


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

4.17 | 2129 ratings

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5 stars One thing is quite certain: ou can love this album to death or loathe it with every fiber of your being, but you can't really ignore it. From the gorgeusly disturbing gatefold sleeve, displaying a masterpiece of Gothic artwork by Swiss cult artist R.H. Giger (of "Alien" fame), down to the unabashed self-indulgence of its musical content, "Brain Salad Surgery" is a compendium of everything progressive rock is all about, the good, the bad and the ugly. It is loud, metallic, and harsh, undeniably bombastic, though it can also be melodic and soothing - a true rollercoaster ride of an album, swinging from the beautiful, English choirboy vocals of "Jerusalem" (with wonderful lyrics courtesy of one Mr William Blake) to the all-out progressive orgy that is "Karn Evil 9". < BSS is not an easy listen, despite the presence of the obligatory Greg Lake ballad, the much-maligned (especially in a lyrical sense) but moving and vocally stunning "Still...You Turn Me On", which offers some much-needed respite from the relentless bludgeoning of Keith Emerson's keyboards and Carl Palmer's percussion in the preceeding "Toccata". The piano-driven "Benny the Bouncer", instead, is undeniably the only weak link in the record, good for a few laughs but nothing more. However, silly and pointless as it may sound, it prepares the listener for the album's pièce de resistance, the 30-minute-plus "Karn Evil 9", one of prog rock's defining moments (for better and for worse). A weird sci-fi tale of man versus technology, it contains more than a stab at political and religious institutions, especially in the famed "1st Impression - Part 2", better known as "Welcome Back My Friends to the Show that Never Ends". Emerson and Palmer have a field day on this epic tour de force, creating all sorts of eerie, dissonant sounds, on which Lake stamps his presence by singing in a more assertive, even aggressive way than his usual, elegant delivery. < As with all ELP albums (with the possible exception of their debut), this one is not perfect either, containing as it does both priceless gems and disposable filler. So, why 5 stars? Because it's one of the absolute highpoints of its genre, and no one can say to know prog rock without having ever listened to it at least once. Call it pompous, overblown and outdated, it's still a hell of a record, one many contemporary bands can only dream of producing. Nowadays, no one would probably have the nerve...

Raff | 5/5 |


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