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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Tarkus CD (album) cover


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

4.06 | 1663 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars My reviews are always medium-sized to long.... I think you have to make your point clear when you are arguing something. But in this case, more than a hundred of past reviews have already described the contents of this album in an excellent manner, and although there's always something new to add, I'm feeling the pressure to get to the point inmediately: I didn't like Brain Salad Surgery, found it too "un-rock", with too many fillers, and even "Karn Evil 9", the main piece, came up as lackluster to me. So my approach to this album which preceded BSS was obviously reticent. In fact, I was NOT going to buy this but I made up my mind just having my collection in mind: what good prog-collection can be without at least two ELP albums? Then I bought it.

The album is 39 minutes long. Let me tell you from the start, the second 19 minutes are decent but nothing great. We get the usual piano-bar piece, the usual classical- adaptation, the usual (in this case great) jazzy piece, and also, the usual pointless joke (are you ready eddy?)... 19 minutes of music not worthy of much attention. Usually that would mean that the album cannot get 5 stars rating, if almost half of it is only slightly above-average. Well, what happens in the other 20 minutes?

Nothing, except that you'll listen THE BEST PROG-ROCK EPIC OF ALL TIME. Period. Bar none. Above Close to The Edge, Supper's Ready, and all contemporary masterpieces by The Flower Kings, Dream Theater and others, Tarkus stands tall. Tarkus, Tarkus, I can't make justice to that song. It's the only prog-rock song I've ever heard that for moments feel CLASSICAL in its quality level. Yes, at times ELP achieved here what has never been achieved since, and that is: for a few seconds, reaching the level of the Greatest Music with an original ROCK composition. The keyboard playing by Emerson is just out-of-this- earth in here, whether is the Hammond, the piano or the Moog, Keith just shows us he had reasons to be such an arrogant prick. Lake's bass playing is nothing short of spectacular, and EVEN HIS SINGING, which I bashed in BSS, is used to GREAT effect here. Palmer dazzles us as always but with such self-control, with such a level of musicianship that just defies comparison. The song itself is incredible, so long yet so coherent, everything feels connected, there's an actual "leitmotif" derived from the opening and closing statement by Emerson in keys: that theme, altered, reappears constantly to give the song a sense of unity rarely seen. There's ambiguity, there's power, there's calm, there are storms, there are military sounds, there's a hard-rocking part (Mass)... There's a great use of jazz scales and unusual harmonies. This song has it all: performances, musical-complexity, emotion, beauty. It's perfect.

If you don't own it, go get it NOW. If you have listened to ELP's other releases and didn't like them, give the trio another chance, you're missing the best prog-epic ever.

So, let's break mathematical rules here: half the album gets 3/5 starts, the other... 7/5, that would add to what we need to give this album the rating it deserves: 5 starts.

ELP could've only had released Tarkus, the song, and nothing else in their entire career, and they would still deserve a special place in the hall of progressive rock... and music, for that matter, for they actually achieved what they set out to do: MAKE ROCK A SUPERIOR ART FORM.

The T | 5/5 |


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