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

EMERSON LAKE & PALMER

Emerson Lake & Palmer

 

Symphonic Prog

4.23 | 1399 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Atkingani
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Even arriving a little later than King Crimson, Genesis, Yes, Jethro Tull and others to the progressive scene, EL&P is doubtlessly one of the "Giants". Well, their members were all in a way or another involved with prog-rock and the likes for some time then when the trio appeared. They are also called the first prog super-group exactly due to the previous musical contacts and experiences of Keith EMERSON, Greg LAKE and Carl PALMER. Uh, too many epithets for a bunch of three men and what about the music?

EL&P were a very popular band in early 70s (not only for prog, but for the entire rock genre) who saw their prestige diminish since then except for some resurgent appearances, material re-issues and compilation releases. Unlike other 1st class bands which settled their record material on their own compositions, EL&P rotated around old erudite authors giving their opus new clothes and approaches. Yes, they produced their own stuff too, but the entire atmosphere sounded clearly imbedded in the classics. In a span of few years, the scheme aged just when prog-rock was suffering its adulthood pains and the general audience was aiming to less contemplative and qualified genres, led by label managers and media promoters, not counting the excesses and pretentiousness of prog spearheads (EL&P amidst them) that initially amused/amazed the public only to leave a boring feeling as long as time goes by.

Band self-titled first studio album is a fair effort, although unbalanced, with orchestral-like extravaganzas dwelling together with simple chord arrangements and with classical based songs joined by virtuoso keyboard exhibitions opposing soft and cool ballads. General production is half-way mainly if compared with band's output in years to come. The ever-present sensation is that for their first party together, members brought their own home-made liquors.

"The barbarian", the opening track, is a powerful beginning, reminding King Crimson's openings in their two first albums, being the great difference the absence of a singing segment, which could be even more noticed since the singer is the same either for Crimson and EL&P, the notorious Greg Lake. The song is credited for the triad but in fact is based on a Bartok piece named Allegro Barbaro and it sounds like an introducing card of band's philosophy.

"Take a pebble" has all the progressive spices we all pleasantly admire and consequently grabs the honor of being the best album's track. Lake's voice is superb, Emerson's piano solo and accompaniment is glorious and Palmer does rightly his work here. After the smooth balladesque intro we hear a very bucolic and sometimes psychedelic guitar passage mixed with folk backings that gives room to the mentioned piano part broken only by drums and bass tunes, the effect is magnificent, a great prime mover of the prog-rock style. Song closure returns to the ballad part with a slightly different touch which is very convenient.

"Knife edge", a song based on a Janacek composition, starts nervous and almost frenzy bearing the typical troika keyboards-drums-bass playing that should be a kind of band's signature. The following track, "The three fates" has a disturbing organ sounding a bit non-sense. Piano part is much more appreciable even resembling the previous track. The song leaps in quality when the band acts like a real combo. "Tank" has a rehearsal atmosphere which may have sounded fair when played live, however the final result is poor bordering asleep state.

Final track, "Lucky man" is probably the most commercial feature in band's career. While the song is hearable and agreeable, it breaches totally album's nature and its inclusion was initially rejected - what an irony! The now famous and recognized moog ending was improvised and player Keith Emerson wasn't satisfied, although he probably changed his mind when the coins erupted in his wallet.

As a first effort by EL&P, we should say that the this album is above average with prospects for higher flights (and that was the perspective back in 1970). Splendid "Take a pebble" track responds for the rating increases from good to essential. Total: 4.

Atkingani | 4/5 |

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