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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Tarkus CD (album) cover


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

4.05 | 1724 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars ELP is comprised of ex-King Crimson member Greg Lake, ex-Nice member Keith Emerson, and ex-Atomic Rooster member Carl Palmer. Together, they were at the forefront of the classically based keyboard dominated trios in the world. Their first album, a self titled debut, was a nice balance of group and solo efforts from each member. Their second album, titled Tarkus, featured one of the (arguably) greatest epics ever written. The first side of this album is comprised of the Tarkus suite, a song pertaining to lost soliders of war and a giant armadillo tank (sounds a bit bizarre, eh?), but the album is marred by a mediocre second side of somewhat silly material that really throws the mood of this album off a lot. The musicianship is superb here. Emerson continually shows that he deserves to be mentioned as rock's greatest keyboardist. His intricate and overly complicated organ patterns and soaring synthesizers are the main focus of the album. Greg Lake has always been a strong vocalist, but this album really shows his talents at their fullest. His bass work is also among his most intricate and interesting as well. And Carl Palmer is stunning on this album, keeping the band in time even during the most tricky circumstances. It's a recipe meant for success, but does it come out on top?

Tarkus opens the album with strong ascending organ runs and smooth bass lines all backed by precision drumming. The song goes through many different emotions, but the best part is definitely the Aquatarkus section, in which Emerson shows off his incredible synthesizer skills. The entire first side of the album is a masterpiece of progressive rock, in my mind at least. But the second side of the album is where things go from masterpiece to just good. Jeremy Bender has an interesting and winding piano motif, but a a bland Lake vocal and some uninteresting drumming really hurts the song from becoming a great song. Bitches Crystal is a pretty forgettable tune, nothing very special here. The Only Way and Infinite Space have this continuity thing going, where it would appear that the two songs link together. There are some recurring themes within the 6 minutes, but it's nothing terribly strong or memorable. A Time and a Place is another forgettable throwaway, expect nothing particularly special here, as well. Are You Ready Eddy? is the best song on the second side. It has this great feel to it that really shows the versatility of the group (as well as the jokey nature, as the song is dedicated to Eddie Offord).

Overall, Tarkus is a pretty interesting mixture of serious epics and jokey throwaways. If the album was solely comprised of songs in the vein of side one, I would have given it a masterpiece rating. But because that isn't the case here, and the songs on the second side are mostly forgettable, save for a few interesting tracks (Are You Ready Eddy?, and to some degree Jeremy Bender). In the end, most fans of symphonic prog should pick this album up solely based on the strength of the epic on the album. 3.5/5.

Cygnus X-2 | 3/5 |


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