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

BRAIN SALAD SURGERY

Emerson Lake & Palmer

 

Symphonic Prog

4.11 | 1293 ratings

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clarke2001
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars After reading the reviews of this album for more than half an hour, I started noticing sentences like "What can I add that was not already mentioned before?"...and I was only halfway through the scroll bar. So, after more than 200 reviews so far, what can I contribute?

Let's see. This is not ELP's best album. "Brain Salad Surgery" is a starting point of long (and painful) slope downwards both in band's career and imagination. In my opinion, "Trilogy" is better, and "Tarkus" is the best, beating "Brain Salad Surgery" for 2 stars in ratings. Every ELP's album contains some inconsistency and this one is no exception. The point is, the inconsistency in predeceasing albums is, so to say, normal, because even the masterpieces can show some weaker moments here and there, and the composers, no matter how intelligent they are, are human beings and therefore not prefect. But the term "inconsistency" is not the same one if we are talking about the rest of the ELP's career - albums like "Works" and "Love Beach". The sad atmosphere provided on their later works started sneaking in on "Brain Salad Surgery". I don't have an impression that they made "Benny The Bouncer" for the same reason they made "The Sheriff" or "Jeremy Bender". In their earlier days somehow they managed to represent their open-hearted attitude and sheer joy of creation (despite the fact that most of the songs are quite dark) no matter whether they were composing glorious epic or 3-minute cowboy silliness. Therefore, I'm considering this album "beginning of the end" of their career rather than "the end of the beginning". The difference between "Surgery" and the other ELP's albums widely accepted as weak ones is set of good tracks. This is the MAJOR difference, and this set do not only help the whole album prevent from being drowned, it actually launches it into a stardome within other constellations of masterpieces.

I wouldn't describe how "good" or "breathtaking" the tracks like "Toccata" or "Karn Evil 9" are, but there are few things that are usually not mentioned.

Keith Emerson is using - along with his ubiquitous piano and Hammond - a Moog synthesizer. This is nothing new, Keith played various types of Moog Modular before, but for the first time Moog Polyphonic Ensemble saw the light of the day.

But wait a second...there is no such thing named "Polyphonic Ensemble" in the whole Moog Inc. catalogue at all! It was never produced! Indeed, no. It was produced in the factory specially for Mr. Emerson,. the man who had been requesting new sounds and sound explorations. Now, that's what I call progressive! The whole production line went improved because of one musician. As far as I know, only Peter Baumann did the similar thing, ordering E-Mu Proteus in 1979. (I'm not counting the Wakeman's Birotron because at the time it came in, digital samplers already hit the market.)

Carl Palmer experimented with electronic percussion...and I love that sound of still drums in "Karn Evil 9". Although I'm not sure are they real percussions, or some sort of electronic treatment - on live version they sound quite distorted (you can hear the similar thing in LED ZEPPELIN's "Bonzo's Montreaux" tune). Speaking of electronic percussion, I will dare to make a stupid comparation...some moments from "Toccata" could easily wipe the floor with every frenetic break-bit that Prodigy did 20 year later. These guys just set too many standards, and if I may say, they founded so many genres that will be explored in years and decades to come.

There is not much to say about the music itself, simply because it's way beyond any description. It is daring, imaginative, unique, ranging from beautiful to nasty. You will rarely experience such a wide palette of musical genres: from calypso & ragtime to classical & techno. You can even find a traces of flamenco. Therefore, although I said that this is not the best ELP's album (neither the second best), I'm rating it with five stars. Six stars to "Trilogy". Seven to "Tarkus".

Am I being childish? Who cares. Certainly not me when I am talking about one of the finest pieces of music in the history of the mankind.

clarke2001 | 5/5 |

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