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

EMERSON LAKE & PALMER

Emerson Lake & Palmer

 

Symphonic Prog

4.24 | 2376 ratings

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Axel Dyberg
4 stars 4.4

Oh yes. The long awaited debut of the super-group Emerson, Lake & Palmer was titled after nothing more but the bands own name. And of course, this would mark the beginning of what we know would be the most popular prog band of the seventies, taking Genesis, and even Yes with storm. This album lets you understand why they were so big.

''The Barbarian'' rips up the album, starting out with a heavy distorted bass tone brought to us by Greg Lake. It doesn't take long for Carl Palmer to band the snare drum and lay a beat. And of course, we soon have Keith Emerson fiddling with the organ keys. The Barbarian is chaotic and Keith Emerson goes a bit nuts on the keyboard. Carl Palmer's drumming is very technical, and hills fills are outstanding. Keith is of course, great on the organ and lays down some great and chaotic organ lines every now and then. Soon that distorted bass tone is heard again, followed by acoustic piano while Palmer plays a fast line on the drums. This section is more of a happy section. Strange chords are played, and of course as we know, Emerson plays them 10 times faster than other people would. Great virtuosity is displayed here, both by Palmer and Emerson. Lake keeps the bass going strong throughout. The chaos soon erupts however, with Keith delivering the distonal chords to us. A heavy gong smash by Carl gets the chaos going again. Loud distorted bass tones are heard, and that creepy organ hops in again. The first section is repeated here, and the fills by Carl are even faster now than before. Pure chaos erupts soon after that, with Carl playing like a madman and Keith playing whatever fits into the key the song is in. The song ends abruptly.

''Take A Pebble'' is if I may, the best song on this album. The intro consists of Keith Emerson dragging a plectrum over piano strings, and I admit, it does sound pretty weird, and unfitting. However it doesn't take long for Carl to give us some soothing ride cymbals, and soon Lake joins on the bass. After that, we are blessed with Greg Lake's beautiful vocals, so soft and mellow. The piano here is great, while Greg sings emotional vocals to us. The chorus is perfect, however after the chorus more dragging a pic across piano strings pops in. But don't worry, Greg soon takes control again. The vocals are again just superb. Keith delivers fills on the piano that makes the verse even more emotional. A new chorus comes to us. Soon, beatiful piano is played by Emerson, and I don't know why, but this section is Emerson's best one on the entire album to me. This could easily be in the opening of some fancy movie, and everything flows so perfectly. Not one single note that screws up. After a while, the piano slowly stops. This leaves place for a quiet acoustic section. This is Lake's most beautiful guitar work ever to me. Gently playing the notes at high frets, he plays the chords every now and then. Simply gorgeous, and the emotion put into the work here; you can really hear and feel it. After some gentle strumming and notes picked in a beautiful way, the song evolves to Keith and Carl clapping their hands (keepin the beat I suppose) while Greg plays the chords. Pretty cool section, with some whistling and talking heard. The clapping turns into an applause, and more beautiful guitar work is gracing our ears. Soon Greg plays very fast, displaying what an underrated guitarist he really was. After the last soothing guitar note, Emerson's crazily beautiful piano is brought to us. Played at a fast speed, he makes the music feel really alive. Such a soothing section this is. It's something you can just sit back and relax to and say ''Damn. That is some crazy piano skills''. More hyper speed notes are given to us, however now Keith focuses more on the chords, and the fast fills which he somehow doesn't mess up. Carl soon joins with ride cymbal and the snare, with the fills getting heavier, and so does Keith's piano playing. After one hell of a ride, Greg comes in with the bass. This is the climax of the song, with all three members giving their best. Carl doesn't overplay here, which I enjoy. Neither does Greg (Which is great, since the group was accused of being people with nothing but gigantic ego's. More on that later) Keith delivers the last hyper fast piano playing, and the main theme of the song comes back to us. Heavy tom-tom playing by Carl is followed by Greg's once again soothing vocals. So clean and beautiful, you just can't dislike it. After the last gorgeous chorus the song ends at 12 minutes in length. One hell of a ride ey?

''Knife Edge'' is another chaotic song. Kicking right into gear, it opens up with heavy drumming and a loud Hammond organ by Keith. The bass is soon the only thing heard. Greg soon sings strange vocals, with the drumming being jazzy. After the first verse, Keith improvises around the notes that cover the key the song is in, and the result is bloody brilliant! Another verse pops in in, with Greg's voice being reverbed, and after that, another organ section is brought up. Carl delivers heavy fills here, and a bridge joins shortly thereafter. Vocals being shouted here, pretty great section. A fast drum fill leads into more organ driven sections here, and they just have such an awesome sound. Marching-like drumming is played while Keith goes mad on the organ. Great virtuosity here. After that a strange section comes into play, sounding medeival and displays some cool drumming by Carl. Another bridge comes in, this one being longer than the previous one. More organ driven sections arive. The song ends in an awesome way; the tape of the record slowing down and down until stopping completely. It sounds really wicked.

''The Three Fates'' is the reason this album got 4 stars instead of five. The song starts out with an annoying melody played on a church organ. Keith is really just having fun here, and the result is pure boredom to the listener. However, after that, a pretty cool section comes with very fast organ playing. Unfortunately, more of those opening organ notes are played thereafter, and just leads me wanting to skip the track. However, since this is a review I must go through the whole song. But oh yes! More of that cool intermission is played, and some heavy organ chords are brought to us. Soon the only really good part of the song kicks into play, Lathesis. Hyper-speed piano is brought to us with cool chords and notes of course, and somehow this section reminds me of that of Take A Pebble. But unfortunately it doesn't take long for Emerson to get ahead of himself and he starts playing random notes sounding like absolute bull****. However, at 03.13 perhaps the most beautiful section on the entire album is played. Sad chords are played with fast, clean fills by Emerson. Just so beautiful that it's barely true! But again, Emerson starts playing random crap again and just ruins the whole thing. But it gets a bit better after that, but then turns into a sloppy soup of random notes again. The song kind of continues like that throughout until the next section, Atropos. This is the... worst section on the entire album. It's more of the random crap, but now there are THREE PIANOS! Not only that, but Keith drags out on it for 2 bloody minutes, which seem like an hour and 30 minutes. It gets very boring very quickly, and you're thanking God when the song finally ends at 07.43.

''Tank'' is the albums way of showcasing Carl Palmer's skills. Starting out with jazzy drumming and heavy bass, this evolves into some synthesizer playing by Keith. Very cool section, pretty funky overall. A new section comes up after that, with a more ''happy'' feel to it than the last one. Carl keeps the drumming very steady throughout. Great synth playing by Keith here. Kudos to him. Then you get a kind if synth-drum-synth-drum section. Keith plays his line on the synth, followed by hyper-fast fills by Carl. This is played for a while, and it's the coolest section in the song. Soon a crazy fast drum solo is delivered, with super speed snare drum playing and heavy tom playing is delivered to us. This sounds like something Neil Peart would play, only with more emotion. A more 'march' like section comes in, however this is followed by more fast snare drumming and some cool hi-hat work too. Incredible snare work with heavy bass drumming is played after this, and it's the coolest section of the drum solo. Some gong playing is done, and then Carl goes mad on the cymbals, and the bass drum as well. More of that cool section comes, and then more mad cymbal playing and then some snare drum playing with cool effects on it. At 04.12 the song goes back to normal with the jazzy sections, however Carl's drumming is not nearly as technical now as it was in the beginning of the song (A bit of a dissappointment when you think about it). The song carries on with some crazy synth playing by Keith, while settling down at 06.51. Pretty cool song.

''Lucky Man'' is the albums closer. It's pretty beautiful and features what would become Greg Lake's trademark acoustic guitar work. A very cool first verse is followed by the songs widely known chorus with the line ''Ooh, what a lucky man he was.'' Another beautiful verse is brought, with Greg's emotional vocals sung. Another great chorus comes in after that, and leads to the pretty awesome guitar solo. Although it's nothing technical, it's just great. Some ''ahh''s by Greg leads into the third verse (Where the lyrics are extra interesting) and after that comes another chorus. This leads into the absolutely awesome Moog synthesizer solo in the end. Effing awesome I tell you! So this solo of course ends the song at 04.36.

This album is a fine work of music, indeed and by all means, if you want to buy any Emerson, Lake & Palmer album then this is a good way to see what they're like. However, this album is hard to get into at first. But later it will grow on you.

Axel Dyberg | 4/5 |

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