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

BRAIN SALAD SURGERY

Emerson Lake & Palmer

 

Symphonic Prog

4.13 | 1800 ratings

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Xonty
5 stars "Brain Salad Surgery" is the absolute apogee of ELP for me. All of their past albums were good, but in my mind they don't at all meet up to this standard. Whilst the album lacks some "true" experimentalism heard on tracks such as "Take A Pebble", I love the over-indulgence of this work, but still maintaining the unbelievable talents of Keith, Greg, and Carl; 3 progressive virtuosos all playing together as a unit to create some mind-blowing music. Hence, "Brain Salad Surgery" would definitely be in my top 10 albums of all time.

The album begins oddly with a rendition of the Hubert Parry's hymn "Jerusalem". They really adapt it and mould it into their own styles - immediately introducing such grandiose and atmosphere onto a superbly pretentious work. Some great melodies are added by Keith Emerson on here (the album containing his best playing in my opinion), with a brilliant delivery from Greg Lake and Carl Palmer's never-failing percussion. As the liner notes rightly say, the song is better the louder you play it. "Toccata", another cover (this time taken from Alberto Ginastera) is much more eccentric and progressive than any of the tracks. If you ever want to hear the ultimate talents of ELP, I would without a doubt recommend this. The time signatures, the dynamics, the very intricate passages, somehow delivered with a lot of personality coming from the artists. Seeing as Keith Emerson was only requested permission by Alberto to use this song by flying out to Switzerland, I'm so glad he did! They say prog rock bands don't consider the audience but I felt he truly did here, and I couldn't imagine the album without it!

"Still You Turn Me On..." abruptly interrupts the chaotic "Toccata" with its subtle guitar arpeggios played in drop D tuning, one of Greg's sort of trademarks I guess. Another excellent inclusion of Greg Lake's songwriting abilities, often forgotten on such musically immense works, but astonishing. The song is amazing when you let it roll over you - the basic melodies, lyrics, and keyboard licks (for ELP at least). Probably the most flowing acoustic Lake piece, as whilst "From The Beginning" is more sonically interesting, it doesn't flow at all as beautifully as this. Nothing quite like it really. "Benny The Bouncer" is again another genre ELP like to explore - humorous, short honky-tonk stories narrated by Greg that capture (me) instantly. Easily my favourite of these sorts of songs, and just shows off the versatility of the band terrifically. The imagery is tip-top, and the stuff they can do with a basic blues chord sequence is staggering! For me, the track is key to the album, acting as a prelude to one of the greatest prog epics of all time! :P

"Karn Evil 9" is undoubtedly very sophisticated musically, putting Keith Emerson more in the limelight than the others (notably in that astounding "2nd Impression"), although Greg and Carl definitely have their moments throughout. The rhythms, time signatures and chord progressions are so majestic and refined to produce a signature sound, and the lyrics add some light-heartedness to the otherwise overly-serious track. The amount of melodies, both on the keyboards and vocally are phenomenal. They all string in with each other, despite the numerous complexities that keep you even MORE hooked and allows you to experience the great qualities of the track. All of this makes that half an hour vanish in about 10 minutes, even though there is a potential of about an hour's worth material in there. They still manage to play out and indulge more into each key section of the piece; hence creating a LOT of incredible solos. The track(s) work much better live than any other album, as shown in the footage of "The California Jam" where they managed to reach "top spot", mainly due to this astronomical prog monster, astonishing the minds of an audience of 1 million! To my ears, still sounds very ahead of its time, and displays some of the greatest music ever written by 3 of the greatest minds in the world of music: Emerson, Lake & Palmer.

A+: More than a masterpiece to me - some kind of historical artefact that overwhelms me like nothing else in the world.

Jerusalem: **** Toccata: ***** Still... You Turn Me On: ***** Benny The Bouncer: ***** Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression, Pt. 1: ***** Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression, Pt. 2: ***** Karn Evil 9: 2nd Impression: ***** Karn Evil 9: 3rd Impression: *****

Xonty | 5/5 |

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