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TARKUS

Emerson Lake & Palmer

Symphonic Prog


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Emerson Lake & Palmer Tarkus album cover
4.04 | 1204 ratings | 159 reviews | 44% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


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Studio Album, released in 1971

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Tarkus (20:43)
- a. Eruption (2:44)
- b. Stones Of Years (3:44)
- c. Iconoclast (1:16)
- d. Mass (3:12)
- e. Manticore (1:52)
- f. Battlefield (3:51)
- g. Aquatarkus (4:04)
2. Jeremy Bender (1:51)
3. Bitches Crystal (3:58)
4. The Only Way (Hymn)(3:49)
Toccata in F and Prelude VI (themes used in intro and bridge only)composed by: Bach
5. Infinite Space (Conclusion)(3:20)
6. A Time And A Place (3:02)
7. Are You Ready Eddy? (2:10)

Total time: 38:56


Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Keith Emerson / Hammond organ, St. Marks church organ, piano, celeste, Moog synthesizer
- Greg Lake / vocals, bass, electric & acoustic guitar
- Carl Palmer / drums, assorted percussion

Releases information

LP (1971): Cotillion/Atlatic-SD-9900 (Germany: Island)
Remastered CD (2004): Sanctuary SMRCD 056

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Snow Dog for the last updates
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EMERSON LAKE & PALMER Tarkus ratings distribution


4.04
(1204 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(44%)
44%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
38%
Good, but non-essential (15%)
15%
Collectors/fans only (3%)
3%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

EMERSON LAKE & PALMER Tarkus reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!! Too bad that there are all those throw-away numbers on the second side because if there weren't this could have achieved the fourth star no problem. This could've been a major classic, IMO and the public , of course , thinks very highly of this one . The sidelong suite title track gets 4.5 stars by itself and is a textbook case of progressive suite. Edward Macan makes a good analysis in his book Rocking the Classics . But the rest is really just a filler. I never owned the cd version as I still have the vinyl but simply never listen to side 2 . Bender is the first of many tracks written in Ragtime piano. And Eddy is a dumb rocker done as if to prove that they could rock. And I already said in other reviews what I thought of reworking the classic so the Bach number does irritate me.

Stiil the title track alone is worth the price of the album. On with the next album , Are You Ready Eddy?

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#14181) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, February 05, 2004

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Tarkus def. Half masterpiece, half not.

A game of two halves this album!

Side one of the LP was occupied entirely by "Tarkus", a magnum opus representing the cream of ELP's entire work. It is structured as a number of sequential sections, but in reality, it is the whole which far exceeds the sum of the parts. From the inaudible, gradually swelling intro, to the final bursts of the synthesiser over 20 minutes later, "Tarkus" stands as a composition to match any classical piece. It also represents prog rock at it's finest and indeed purest.

Greg Lake's voice never sounded better, Palmer's drumming is inspired (only the briefest of solos!), and Emerson's keyboards create stunning landscapes of sound. Rest assured, "Tarkus" will be performed live in future times in the way classical music is performed now. A true masterpiece.

Side 2 of the album appears by and large to be filler. It has the odd inspired moment such as the upbeat and dramatic "A time and a place". On the other hand, "Jeremy bender" and "Are you ready Eddy" are lightweight songs, pleasant enough but hardly worthy of an ELP album. While most of the tracks are listenable, with the possible exception of the rather tedious closing piano section of "The only way (Hymn)/Infinite space", they pale in comparison to the title track.

While the title track is an undoubted Masterpiece of progressive rock, overall the album is flawed by undistinguished supporting tracks. Most owners of the original LP probably have a very worn side one, and a pristine side 2!

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#14192) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, February 26, 2004

Review by lor68
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Well the first side is almost perfect, above the incredible first section of "Eruption", characterized by a special 5/4 time signature and the fantastic excursion at the Hammond organ by Keith EMERSON; nevertheless the team work in "Trilogy" is more important. The second side is a bit disappointing and this "4 stars" is due to the grandeur of EMERSON and PALMER only, than the rest of the music team composition, here including the uninspiring ideas by Greg LAKE!! Every keyboardist within such Progressive music, still in the recent times, has got this one as one of the most important references of all time, concerning the manner of playing the keyboards, so I accept a "4 stars"evaluation and also something more!

Recommended, despite of the defects I have explained to you (according to my opinion naturally)..!

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Send comments to lor68 (BETA) | Report this review (#14173) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, April 01, 2004

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Emerson seems to want to give us an overdose of dirty Hammond organ here! There are some piano parts (a few saloon piano parts too), but it is definitely less present an exuberant than on the "Brain salad surgery" album. There are many instrumental parts here. Greg Lake's voice is good though. The mood is as prog hard rock as symphonic: the dirty organ replaces the rare hard rock guitar by Lake, confirming its omnipresence. Like Eloy's "Inside album", "Tarkus" is a reference album for the organ sound treatment; nevertheless both albums have quite different organ sounds: "Tarkus" has less floating, more rhythmic, epic & melodic organ notes. Lake's bass is less elaborated here than on "Brain salad surgery". Palmer's drums are excellent, despite he is not at his best here. "Tarkus" has similitudes with the Triumvirat's "Illusions on a double dimple" album.

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Send comments to greenback (BETA) | Report this review (#14176) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, April 08, 2004

Review by Carl floyd fan
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Tarkus alone deserves five stars but the rest of the cd is only three stars. Still, Tarkus is an amazing epic with a lot of mood swings and a killer drum solo 10 minutes into the song. This is a must have cd for the first song alone!

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Send comments to Carl floyd fan (BETA) | Report this review (#14195) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, April 12, 2004

Review by daveconn
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars ELP heads into uncharted territory on "Tarkus", pushing the limits of music that a trio might aspire to (as opposed to achieve, where CREAM still reigned supreme). What it all means is anyone's guess, and it may be nothing more than a mosaic of highfalutin' instrumental workouts and pretentious pronouncements. Remarkably, none of that's really important. What is important is the faith that the music inspires in its musicians and, by extension, its audience. You get the sense that ELP approached "Tarkus" as their magnum opus (until the next magnum opus, anyway), and it's this spirit of elevated creativity that fuels "Tarkus".

The side-long "Tarkus" starts with a clear beginning, in the spirit of creation with a single sound that soon explodes into life, and from there the band fuses EMERSON's instrumental passages (often held together by improvisation) with Lake's songs (not far removed from his work with KING CRIMSON). The arrangements themselves are at best bone and sinew, Emerson's piano providing the color against Palmer's superlative, dry drumming and Lake's incidental bass lines. When the band does reach sublime heights, it's often on the strength of Lake's stalwart voice, resolute in a maelstrom of sound. Note that the inner gatefold features what purports to be a visual interpretation of the "Tarkus" story; if you can make heads or tails out of it, let me know.

The second side seeks to defuse the pomposity of the previous saga with the irreverent "Jeremy Bender", to be savored as a cherished oddity. "Bitches Crystal" returns to the haunting grounds of side one, and remains a favorite among fans. What follows next is a miniature epic: "The Only Way" (which questions God) and the instrumental "Infinite Space", which follows a more structured and restrained path than the explosive moments around it (they would revisit this style on songs like "Jerusalem", perhaps the remnant of some fiery country parson still in their blood). The wonderful "A Time And A Place" (file under epic) and "Are You Ready Eddy?" (which immortalizes engineer Eddy Offord) close the album, every ounce of energy drained.

By turns funny, profound and profane, "Tarkus" marks the arrival of greatness in the annals of ELP. That it's a self-proclaimed greatness seized by the sheer will of youth, and not the hoary crown passed down by the unclean fingers of doddering critics, no doubt hastened the band's downfall to its current, unenviable state of disrepute. But "Tarkus" is a reminder that ELP walked tall at a time when censorious hands had yet to stick a knife in their back.

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Send comments to daveconn (BETA) | Report this review (#14199) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, April 17, 2004

Review by Menswear
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars WHAT??? Only 4 stars?! 'Sacreligious! Blasphemy!' Not quite. I notice that a lot of reviews includes the sweet memories of seeing Emo, Big Lake and Palmer thrashing instruments à la the Who after a concert. Maybe this is why there's so much ruckuss over albums like Tarkus or Brain Salad Surgery. I'm just not seeing why so many people get excited over an album with so few to offer. I'm just saying that: YES, Tarkus deserves a spot over your fireplace. YES, the song Tarkus is punchy, complex and showing a 6000 turns per minute on the RPM. All agreeding on Tarkus? Good. But what about the rest? Man, it's like the're sitting on their huge butts saying: 'Yep, we gave all we got on one song. Whaddaya want?' ELP is capable of writing more than, at least, 2 good songs per album. They blow your mind (more or less) only one time in the album. Hey, admit it! After Tarkus and Karn Evil 9, what song deserves a standing ovation? I'm still searching. ELP is a lazy band. If they have so much talent, why their careers sank like stones after Brain Salad Surgery? Lake is with Ringo Starr? Phhft. Emo? Palmer? Talent? More showing off instead. Triumvirat at their best (first 3 albums) beats ELP anytime.Triumvirat has credit 'cause they've been more constant in producing quality records. Triumvirat = ELP clone? Shhyeah right...

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Send comments to Menswear (BETA) | Report this review (#14174) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, May 16, 2004

Review by richardh
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars After the promising debut album we now get ELP really delivering the goods big time....well on side one anyway.The Tarkus 'suite' is still one of the most innovative prog rock tracks ever.The interplay between all three players shows ELP to be the greatest rock ensemble of the early seventies.Emerson's mastery of the organ is self evident especially on the popping and clicking sounds that he conjures up.Keyboard wizard indeed! Palmers drumming never fails to impress at any point as he copes with all the tricky tempo changes as if it is second nature while Greg Lake has never sounded better on 'Battlefield'.I give this album 4 stars because of this peice.Unfortunately the second side (Vinyl wise) was and still is a big let down.Nothing reaches the peak of side one.Even the production standard takes a somewhat bizarre downturn.'A Time And A Place' sounds like a demo to me.Where was Eddie Offord when they did this?? And 'Jeremy Bender' and 'Are You Ready Eddie?' are jokey tracks that ELP seemed to have a penchant for doing.Oh well, buy it for the 'suite',forget the rest.

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Send comments to richardh (BETA) | Report this review (#14175) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, May 17, 2004

Review by Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars My introduction to ELP, "Tarkus" stands as one of Progressive Rock's absolute classics, mainly because of the brilliant opening title track that clocks in at 20 minutes. This track is by far ELP's greatest song along with 1973 "Brain Salad Surgery"s "Karn Evil 9". It's not a single boring moments on this track! The rest is all from OK to excellent. The OK tracks beign "Jeremy Bender" and "Are You Ready, Eddy". The excellent ones are tracks 3-6, while not up to pair with the fantastic title track, they're still highly impressive.

Highly recommended. 4/5.

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Send comments to Bj-1 (BETA) | Report this review (#14215) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Review by James Lee
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars ELP has always been the whipping boy for anti-prog diatribes, and with good reason; the music is most often characterized by emotionless virtuosity and an unflinchingly serious, if not pompous delivery. Luckily, Emerson seems to have backed off a bit from the "look at how talented I am" moments that bogged down the debut album, and "Tarkus" instead attempts to be a modern narrative symphony. Utilizing 1971's state of the art technology and a classical music repetoire that ranges from the romantics to modern atonal influences, Emerson sketches a grinding and tumbling sci-fi soundtrack that occasionally rocks and rarely bores. Both more polished than the first album and less accessible than the following works, this is probably the band's most intriguing piece. There's less carnival in the soundscape than in most of Emerson's works - in fact, "Battlefield" isn't too far from a PINK FLOYD style. Except for a bit of irritating synth noodling in "Aquatarkus", the shorter chapters within the piece keep the energy going and the approach to composition is appealingly unique.

Too bad about "Jeremy Bender"- this album's version of the goofy hoedown in "Take a Pebble" (or even the one in "Hoedown"). The barroom piano sounds like a joke, unlike the more realistically rollicking ivories on "Bitches Crystal". The latter is an interesting mix of scuttling drums and synth sweeps, but Lake's shouted vocals ride a fine line between expressive and merely harsh. "The Only Way"/ "Infinite Space" is another in a long line of synth classical adaptations, and honestly I don't even care for it when the more innovative Wendy Carlos does it. The musicianship is beyond reproach, but the lyrics are embarassing even for an agnostic like me and I'm relatively certain the deeply religious Bach would not have approved one bit. The harder "A Time and A Place" sounds much better, in fact sharing many positive qualities with the first side's epic. Unfortunately, the album closes with the really amazingly horrible "Are You Ready Eddy" which tries to be a lighthearted CREAM/ WHO rocker and instead sounds almost scary- and not in a fun way. I'm not even emotionally attached to the band and I feel bad for them for recording this song- I can't imagine how embarrased it makes hardcore fans feel.

Second side missteps aside, this is an important and innovative progressive rock album. It completely fails to move me on any emotional level, and virtuosity alone is rarely enough to do it for me, so I don't really enjoy listening to "Tarkus"...but on the other hand there's enough here to keep most progressive fans interested for a long time. It's much more consistent than the first album, and "Tarkus" is arguably more unique a composition than "Karn Evil 9" or "Pictures". Therefore, I'll give it three stars- the highest possible rating I can rationalize for an album that I don't actually care for.

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Send comments to James Lee (BETA) | Report this review (#14206) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Review by Watcheroftheskies
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Well this is an excellent album. Tarkus is of course the main feast here. This side of the album is excellent and is one of their greatest works. Tarkus shows the development as a group they will later display in "Brain Salad Surgery", Karn Evil 9 the example of greatness here. Back to Tarkus this album would have been another 5 if it weren't for the screw ups on side 2. Bitche's Crystal, The Only Way and Infinate Space are good songs, but the others leave you wanting. These flaws make this album 4 stars instead of 5. Jeremy Bender and Are you ready Eddy made my ears bleed. My ears bled and that made me very sad. 5 start albums do not bring sadness. However the moments of joy far outweigh the sad parts and thus it is 4 stars, just skip those 2 tracks.

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Posted Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Review by Fitzcarraldo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Without a moment's hesitation I can say that this is my favourite ELP album and, in my view, this is the band at their most innovative and creative. Unlike their first album, I find all three members of the group contributing equally and uniformly to a stunning album. The lyrics and Lake's singing really add to the music. This is progressive music in all senses of the phrase; remember that this album came out in June 1971, before many of the other progressive classics. At the time it reached no. 1 in the UK album charts and no. 9 in the US album charts.

Until I discovered this Web site I was not aware that the B-side of the LP (the track 'Jeremy Bender' onwards) is regarded by some - many, it would appear - as inferior to the A-side of the LP and in general. In fact I have since seen derisive comments about the B-side tracks on several Web sites. Well, if you have never listened to this album, please do not prejudge it based on any opinions you may hear or read. Listen to the album and make up your own mind. I have to say that I really like every single track on this album, and I hope you will see why from my summary of the tracks below.

The A-side of the LP is 'Tarkus', a twenty-and-a-half minute magnum opus comprising seven parts: 'Eruption', 'Stones Of Years', 'Iconoclast', 'Mass', 'Manticore', 'Battlefield' and 'Aquatarkus'. Three of these are songs interspaced between the other four instrumentals. 'Tarkus' is an allegory. As can be seen from the album's surreal cover and inner gatefold, the tarkus is half World War I tank, half armadillo, born from an egg that appears to have been spewed from a volcano. The tarkus fights and vanquishes three creatures that are half animal, half machine ('Stones Of Years', 'Iconoclast' and 'Mass'). But then the manticore appears, they do battle and the tarkus is vanquished and cast to the waters. A manticore is a mythical Persian creature, the embodiment of tyranny and evil, with the body of a lion, the face and ears of a human, and a tail with a sting at the tip like that of a scorpion. Lake's lyrics in 'Tarkus' are a diatribe against the futility of war, and apparently he stated that the lyrics are also about where past revolution has got us: nowhere, in his opinion. This would seem to fit with the defeat by the manticore at the end of the sleeve illustrations, although more recently Lake has said that 'Stones Of Years' has taken on different meanings for him over the years, and Emerson has said that the artwork was not purposely painted to fit the music. Anyway, the futility and misery of battle are certainly apparent from the lyrics of 'Battlefield'. Musically, 'Tarkus' is an amazing piece: the composition is complex, and certainly avant-garde for the time. The use of instruments is particularly impressive. Emerson's Hammond, Moog synthesizer and piano are (just) tools and, together with Lake's solid bass and guitar playing plus Palmer's percussion they produce a truly modern, sophisticated musical work which, to me, goes beyond the bounds of rock music. Several books (one having an 8-page analysis!) and at least one PhD thesis have discussed at length the 'Tarkus' piece. A superb piece of music.

'Jeremy Bender' is, in some ways, like 'Benny The Bouncer' on "Brain Salad Surgery" in the sense that it's a sort of flippant, seedy song that one could almost picture being sung around a piano in someone's vision (probably mine!) of a Victorian pub with bare floorboards in the East End of London. Described as "throwaway" by many, I still find merit in it. Emerson's honky-tonk piano and the band's hand clapping are the backing to bizarre lyrics about cross-dressing Jeremy Bender ("bender" being British slang for a homosexual man). What exactly Lake was trying to do with this track is a mystery to me, but it makes me curious as to his motives. Perhaps he was just casting around for words to fit Emerson's piano piece. Anyway, I like honky-tonk piano and the tune's fine by me, if no masterpiece.

'Bitches Crystal' is, to me, an excellent track and as good as any of the components of the 'Tarkus' piece. It starts with a very faint tinkling sound that slowly builds - I'm certain it's the celeste mentioned in the sleeve notes. The celeste is a small set of orchestral bells with a keyboard and sounds heavenly, hence the name, and it's used in other parts of the track too. Probably the most famous use of the celeste is in Tchaikovsky's 'The Sugar Plum Fairy'. This track also has plenty of honky-tonk and jazzy piano, some great, fat backing synthesizer, good drumming, and Lake's frenzied singing turning to guttural screams of angst as he belts out the lyrics: "Evil learning, People burning, Savage casting, No one lasting, Witchcraft, Sadness, Madness turning their minds." Just listen to Emerson hammering out the tune on the piano one minute, then gently tickling the ivories the next, then building up to a frenzied pace again with Palmer bashing away at the drums and one cannot fail to be impressed. This track rocks. And then a final honky-tonk tickle and a tap on a cymbal end the piece. Excellent.

'The Only Way (Hymn)' is, as the name states, a hymn. But it's a hymn with a difference: an atheist anthem using the organ of St Marks Church to provide an ecclesiastic introduction using Bach's Toccata in F before the organ launches into the tune and Lake's initially angelic-sounding tenor: "People are stirred, moved by the Word. Kneel at the shrine, deceived by the Wine. How was the Earth conceived? Infinite space, is there such a place? You must believe in the human race." And then his voice fills with contempt: "Can you believe God makes you breathe? Why did he lose six million Jews?" And then a short bridge of Bach before the final verses with the message: "Don't be afraid, man is manmade." Whether or not you are a Believer, the lyrics make you sit up and listen and are as vivid in my mind now as they were when I heard this album for the first time in the early 1970s. What a way to deliver a message: a bit like putting poison in a bottle of Chateau Lafite. A superb piece of music, irrespective of how one feels about the message.

'Infinite Space (Conclusion)' is really the end part of 'The Only Way (Hymn)' and is an ostinato that, at over 3 minutes, is nearly as long as 'The Only Way (Hymn)'. Lake's bass lays the repeating theme, and Emerson's piano repeats over it with Palmer's understated drumming alternately following one then the other. This track may appear pointless, simplistic or even irritating to some: it certainly doesn't to me. It's actually good music and done for a purpose - it creates a mood in this case - and I find it very pleasing. I also find it impressive that the trio can carry this off for over three minutes.

'A Time And A Place' is a heavier piece again, in the vein of 'Bitches Crystal' but even heavier, Emerson pounding and dragging his fingers along the keys of the Hammond, and Lake again raucously shouting out lyrics full of passion: "Save me from this shallow land, take me out of temper's hand. Drag me from the burning sand, show me those that understand." Emerson uses the Moog almost like a clarion in places in this track.

And so to the last track, 'Are You Ready Eddy', possibly the most maligned track on the album: "filler", "throwaway track", you name it. Well, it's only a bit of *fun* for Pete's sake. Eddy "Are You Ready" Offord was the engineer on this album and this was the band's way of larking around. Perhaps it was their way of filling the remaining inner grooves of the LP's B-side but, to me, it's a great way of doing it. This is Emerson tinkling away on the piano like an R&R master, with Lake and Palmer pumping at the bass and percussion in the background. The track is a great jive. And the lyrics are a gas: "Are you ready Eddy to pull your faders down. Well, are you ready, Eddie, to turn your sixteen tracks on? Eddie edit, Eddie, Eddie edit. Are you ready, Eddie, with your sixteen tracks? A bit of vibing is all it lacks." and so on. You try putting that to a jive! And one of the guys says half way through "I've missed my last bus home!". Then at the end they lark around saying "What you got: ham or cheese [sandwich]?" It's a bit of light relief and fun at the end of the album, and the band's not-so-in joke with their engineer.

Coming back to the A-side, B-side thing: All right, 'Jeremy Bender' and 'Are You Ready Eddy' don't have the weight of the other tracks. So what? That still does not make them rubbish. And the rest of the B-side is excellent. I hear nothing but good - no, excellent - music in 'Bitches Crystal', 'The Only Way', 'Infinite Space' and 'A Time And A Place'. They complement well the 'Tarkus' piece.

To those of you who don't know this album, two words: buy it! Ignore everything you've heard or read about the music (including this). Make sure you listen to it on a good hi-fi or decent headphones, and consider that this album came out in 1971. If this album is not a masterpiece of progressive music then I don't know what is.

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Send comments to Fitzcarraldo (BETA) | Report this review (#14210) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, September 19, 2004

Review by Guillermo
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This album was recorded in 6 days in February 1971 (for more details about ELP`s history, see their official website).The most recent remastering of this album (re-issued again on C.D. in another label, Rhino Records) is so good that it shows some minor mistakes, and maybe the reason of these mistakes is that they recorded it in 6 days. But it is a very good album, with the musical piece "Tarkus" in the original Side One of the L.P. being the best song in this album. As I`m not a keyboard player, I don`t know how the Moog synthesizer sounds of the introduction were made, as the technology for this kind of keyboards was still "primitive" in the early seventies. But with keyboard players like Emerson, Wakeman, Moraz, Banks and others, who were experimenting and creating new sounds with this early synths, Progressive Rock developed a lot in creativity. Anyway, the main keyboards in this album are the Hammond organ and the piano. Emerson plays his Hammond organ with a lot of speed in his fingers. He really never needed a lead guitarist, but Lake plays some guitars in the "Battlefield" section of the song "Tarkus". Palmer is a very good drummer and percussionist. The song "Tarkus" has some instrumental parts and some parts with lyrics. "Jeremy Bender" is an humorous song, simply played with piano, drums and bass. Again, I don`t know how Emerson made his piano sound like a "Saloon Piano from the Old Western Pictures" (are there "special" pianos which sound like that?). "Bitches Crystal" has very good bass parts by Lake with a complicated time signature by Emerson and Palmer. In "The Only Way" Emerson plays a Church Organ, and he also shows his talent in this instrument. This song also has a "jazz section" after the Church organ part, played by the trio."Infinite Space" is the "conclusion" part of the previous song, an instrumental piece where the piano and the drums are the main instruments. "A Time and a place" has an "orchestral" synthesizer arrangement. "Are You Ready Eddy?" is a Rock and Roll piece dedicated to their producer (and also then YES`producer) Eddy Offord.This is one of their best albums.

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Send comments to Guillermo (BETA) | Report this review (#14212) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, October 10, 2004

Review by penguindf12
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Okay, so ELP's songs on side two of the album aren't that bad. The "Tarkus" suite is a masterpiece, pure and complex. The other songs range from pure crap to mediocre, but aren't quite as bad as I originally thought.

"Tarkus" enters with "Eruption," an 5/4 barrage of keyboards which depicts the birth of the half-tank,half-armadillo creature that is Tarkus (as pictured in the album's little inner booklet thingy) from a volcano. This song is apparently about "de-evolution" or regression through primitive and thoughtless acts. Anyway, after the dramatic eruption, things calm down for "Stones of Years," where a sympathetic narritive entity sings of Tarkus' ignorance in ruthlessly killing for no reason (again as shown in the booklet). Anyway, after the instrumental barrage that is "Iconoclast" ("kill your idols"-- the punk "attitude", being made fun of by none other than the largest target of punks -- ELP), a catchy guitar enters courtesty of Lake, and we roll into "Mass," which could be called so for two reasons: the lyrics mention "the weaver and the web that he made," and "mass" could mean the mass of webs and traps Tarkus has set for himself; also, there is heavy religious imagery in this part of the song, and "mass" also means the Catholic gathering on Sunday. After this great song, we enter another battling instrumental, "Manticore," in which Tarkus is fights a creature and loses. This slows down into the sympathetic and sorrowful "Battlefield," in which the narrator mourns Tarkus' stupidity. What goes around, comes around, and this is especially true for Tarkus. After this is the quirky and muffled "Aquatarkus." This odd instrumental builds up, then a crash of the cymbals and we hear a reprise of "Eruption." Then the song closes after a huge instrumental buildup. Excellent.

...and now the filler material. "Jeremy Bender" is a half-hearted bar piano song, with obscene and nonsensical lyrics about some trailer trash guy. Luckily, this joke is very short. Afterwards is "Bitches Crystal," which, despite its name, is the best song on the second side. Rollicking keyboards and some haunting lyrics for a nice 3 minute song. Afterwards is the lyrically confrontational but instrumentally ho-hum song "The Only Way (hymn)," followed by the basic 7/4 instrumental "Infinite Space." "A Time and a Place" is another okay song, but nothing interest-grabbing. "Are You Ready Eddie" sounds like an Elvis song, another yawner...but if it is any consolation, this one is MEANT to be a joke -- a jest at their producer, Eddie.

Overall, the first song and "Bitches Crystal" alone are worth buying this album, but the rest is ho-hum. It serves as a fairly good introduction to them, however.

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Send comments to penguindf12 (BETA) | Report this review (#14214) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Review by Yanns
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Well, I'm going against the common view on this one. It seems everyone here finds the song Tarkus a huge masterpiece, while side 2 disappoints. I couldn't disagree more about the second side. I mean, Tarkus is Tarkus, there isn't too much you can say about it, other than the fact that it is one of the greatest compositions ever. But side 2 is incredible. It truly is.

Tarkus: Like I said, it's hard to describe. a) Eruption: Hard to think of a better opening to an album. That 5-beat-per-measure riff blows you out of your seat. b) Stones of Years: The first time I heard it, I thought, "Oh man, why is it mellow? Eruption was awesome!" But then, maybe 4 or 5 listens later, I realized that this second section is as good as or better than Eruption. Lake appears here (and very well at that), and the organ solo in the middle is especially awesome. c) Iconoclast: Goes back to the Eruption theme. Perfect entryway into... d) Mass: Again, Lake sings again, with another keyboard solo in the middle. Both are perfect. It's tough to go too far into it, because a word has not yet been invented to describe it. e) Manticore: Another instrumental section, with a really cool 3-beat keyboard riff, and then into... f) Battlefield: Possibly.... possibly... the best section here. Maybe, I'm still not sure, even though I've listened to the album at least 300 times. All I know is that Battlefield, on its own, is a towering masterpiece. g) Aquatarkus: ELP goes out on a bang.

Jeremy Bender: Ah, here it is. Side 2. Well, JB is under 2 minutes long, but it is still better than 99% of music out there.

Bitches Crystal: No one can deny the quality of this song. Kicks off fast and never looks back, ELP having a good time.

The Only Way (Hymn): Very, very overlooked song. Organ and piano here are fantastic. Lake also delivers a very captivating performance here.

Infinite Space (Conclusion): Instrumental, with an alternating 3-beat then 4-beat per measure riff. Piano takes lead here (as always), and it follows up The Only Way well.

A Time and a Place: The rocker on the album. Nice contrast to the other songs. Rocks harder than the others, while maintaining the ELP quality.

Are You Ready Eddy?: This song makes me laugh every time I hear it. This is ELP having a blast playing their music, and it also shows Keith Emerson randomly hitting his piano, but somehow, it works. This is the ultimate contrast on the album. It ends the album differently than you would have expected, but eventually, you realize that it couldn't have been done any other way.

This is a 5 star album, no matter which way you slice it. 5/5 stars.

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Posted Thursday, May 12, 2005

Review by frenchie
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Tarkus is my favourite album by ELP. This is an essential piece of music for any decent prog compilation that so very nearly achieves the five star rating. This album is let down by "Are You Ready Eddy", although this is just a mess around track, I find it quite disturbing even if it was the early seventies and could probably have been left off. A very bad closer to such a good album.

"Tarkus" is one of the best epics I have heard alongside "Echoes" and "Supper's Ready". This piece has a very warm and uplifting intro which really pulls me in. This suite is a fantastic journey of great keyboard and bass sections. It doesn't get overblown or dragged down by extensive solo sections, which was my main complaint of the debut album. There are some very emotional vocal, guitar and keyboard parts on this track. This is probably the best ELP work I have heard and this track is a masterpiece.

"Jeremy Bender" is a nice piano tune with some great vocal work. It's very happy but compared to the incredible epic that it follows it definetly does not seem as good. "Bitches Crystal" and the other tunes before "Are You Ready Eddy" have the same fate although they are really good pieces of work. These are only short pieces so it is nice that they have been included.

Overall, this is an excellent piece of prog rock. ELP get an amazing sound from just a three piece band. The production is flawless. It can be a stretch to listen to but not really much more than any other major prog pieces. It took longer to click with ELP then when i listen to bands like King Crimson, Pink Floyd and Yes. Greg Lake is definetly the strongest member on this album but it is a great group effort. Just misses out on a 5 star rating because of the last track and perhaps if the shorter tracks had been placed before the epic 20 minute opener they would have seemed more impressive. Still this is very close to being a masterpiece and is essential for any good prog collection, don't listen to the doubters like I did.

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Send comments to frenchie (BETA) | Report this review (#14231) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, May 23, 2005

Review by Snow Dog
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Errors & Omissions Team
4 stars The second ELP album is a far more cohesive effort than the first. First you have the master work of Tarkus on side 1. What can be said other than that it is essential keyboard led Progressive Rock! Side 2 though is the bone of contention for many! On first hearing I was also a little dissapointed, but theres gold in them hills if you listen! Ok Jeremy Bender is there obligatory jokey song, a minor piece, but fun nevertheless. Bitches Crystal is a rocker, with great performances throughout. The Only Way/Infinite Space I really love. It starts with Church organ accompanied by Lakes Church Choir voice and finishes in a piano/bass/drums played theme which is reiterated and explored.Brilliant! A Time and a Place follows, which is another good band piece with a howling Moog ending That reminds of Tarkus itself. Ok the last track Are you Ready Eddy? aint so hot, but Its not rubbish either as its nice to hear ELP loosen up a bit.

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Posted Sunday, May 29, 2005

Review by Blacksword
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The best ELP album, IMO, although I admit I have not yet experienced the much maligned 'Love Beach' Like many other prog bands ELP enjoyed the prog glory days, with a string of strong albums which staked their place in the genre. Tarkus, for me is where the classic Hammond driven sound of ELP, much in evidence of their their excellent debut album, meets the excitement of Brain Salad Surgery. The Tarkus suite itself is how I would selfishly like ELP to sound most of the time, and I guess this is why I'm not really a fan; too many ballards and throw away songs in their repetoire.

However, Tarkus is a triumph. It grabs your attention from the outset and leaves you breathless, wondering how on Earth Keith Emerson managed to play the whole thing from beginning to end, without sustaining some kind of injury!! Tarkus is a work for peace, taking us through musical chapters and a variety of moods and changes of style, and pace. It's one of the best prog epics there is, and sits alongside the likes of 'Close to the Edge' by Yes and 'Suppers Ready' by Genesis as an all time classic.

I award four stars for this suite. After the title track the albums takes an unfortunate nose dive IMO. With the exception of the excellent 'Bitches Crystal' and 'A time and a Place' the rest of the album is comprised of time wasters like 'Jeremy Bender' and 'Are you ready Eddie' and pompous innapropriate excursions into the realm of dubious taste and ill judgement with 'The Only Way' (a Hymn)

Tarkus is worth getting for the title track alone, which wont let you down, which with the other two good tracks is a respectable amount of material overall, to justify the rating for the album. It's a shame ELP were generally so inconsistent, their potential and talent was enormous.

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Posted Friday, June 03, 2005

Review by Philo
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars After seeing and hearing ELP'S version of "Fanfare For The Common Man" on TV one evening I swore I laughed and swore again that I would never purchase an Emerson Lake Palmer album. EVER! But curiosity has got the better of me and after all I was only 16 at the time and engrossed in the world of head banging bull[&*!#] for all my sins. Now, I'm not the worlds greatest progressive rock fan but as a fan of King Crimson decided to get Tarkus due to the presence of Greg Lake. I have always been drawn to his vocals and like the quality of his voice, as pompous as it may have seemed drenched in the orchestration and overblown arrangements of "In The Court Of The Crimson king", "Epitaph" to name but two. Tarkus is different. For me the quality of the music is not as strong and distinctive as the Robert Fripp envisioned King Crimson or even those other prog heads Yes. Some of the patterns on the first side were interesting, even enjoyable with some excellent keyboards and time shifts but as the album wore on the more bored I became and the less adventurous the music would drag. As has been noted many times before the second half of the album is an average minus. "Are You Ready Eddy" might have been a bit of farting fun in the studio getting ready for their producer Eddie Offard, but what was the point in adding this to the album? Point? None in my book. In stark contrast,"Eruption" starts us on what could have been a wonderful journey but by the time we get to "Are You..." I for one felt short changed, mugged in fact... Tarkus might have been a good idea but it is an unfinished and loosely thought out idea, very uneven. Sure they all may be great musicians but they might have went off a little here, even a bit out there. Just like the cover art work. What the hell is that all about? It might take a few years to get the point behind Tarkus but I think I'll let it pass me by.

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Posted Thursday, June 09, 2005

Review by Eetu Pellonpää
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Quite good aggressive music on this album! I don't see this as a complete masterpiece, as there are some annoying numbers on this one like "Jeremy Bender", and also "Are You Ready Eddy?" sounds bit like a joke, though I'm not against good ol' rock'n'roll. "Bitches Crystal" is maybe the best track of this album in my opinion, it's quite short but it has good ideas and the piano playing is just so great! "The Only Way (Hymn)"/"Infinite Space" is a fine suite, and it's lyrics have caused some heated debates! "A Time and A Place" is again a fine aggressive composition. The title epic "Tarkus" is also very good, but not maybe the greatest epic that I have heard. There are lots of weird percussion sounding keyboards, and along with Carl's furious drumming these create a very violent and imaginative sound worlds. Some of the short middle parts sound like Weissmüller's Tarzan riding on the back of a rhino stabbing it. At the finale we can hear the legion of Daffy Duck clones marching to the sea, and we are left alone at the shore thinking what it all was about.

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Posted Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars For many years I could not listen to ELP because I never considered them as really important artists partly due to this album. I owned this LP but never liked it and never really bothered to acquire the taste for it. I always considered Emerson as a technical showman rather than a musician or composer, and a sort of "hendrix of the keyboards" virtuoso who could appeal only to teenage fans starting to explore the prog music. Thus the sound of ELP never had an important dose of emotions and "poetic" touch that sported the works of say GENESIS or YES from their peak. However I liked the Lake's vocals and his easy ballads accompanied by guitars which gave more emotions to Emerson's technicality. "Tarkus" has both good and bad moments, the epic title suite is interesting but fails in comparison to "Suppers Ready" or "Close to the Edge", having best moments in "Mass" and "Battlefield". "Jeremy Bender" sounds like THE BEATLES piano- music hall tune, while the closing "Are You Ready Freddy" is a dumb rock'n'roll cliche. Again Lake saves the quality with "Bitches Crystal" and "Time and a Place". Overall, listening again today I can more appreciate some overlooked moments of this album, but still I cannot say this is essential piece of prog.

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Posted Saturday, June 18, 2005

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars A masterpiece of prog that every one should NOT miss .

This album is definitely a masterpiece of progressive rock from the glory days of seventies. The epic Tarkus that opens the album is really the thing about this album. It comprises seven parts that connect beautifully as one cohesive whole. It stands out excellently as a legendary epic with twenty minutes plus duration. Amazingly, every time I listen to this epic I never feel that the track consumes that long as at the end I always feel like "Is that it? How come so fast it reaches the end of the epic?" And you can guess what I usually do. Yes, you bet! I repeat this epic for second time before I proceed with next track. Why? Simply put this epic delivers fabulous musical experience for me from first part "Eruption" where I usually amazed with the fact that it's played by three gentlemen - how can three people can produce a music with very high density? The Hammond organ and keyboard played by Keith Emerson is really stunning - dynamic and inventive. The bass line by Greg Lake is also excellent. Carl Palmer delivers his machine gun drumming flawlessly. Enuff to say that this is an excellent outfit. The music flows dynamically with frequent tempo changes to second part "Stones of Years" where Lake delivers his powerful voice with various style. This part is dynamic and energetic, composed and performed in symphonic prog style with soaring organ works and inventive drumming. It then moves dynamically to "Iconoclast - Mass - Manticore" with energetic style and it slows down in "Battlefields" with great vocal. The "Aquatarkus" concludes the epic wonderfully.

"Jeremy Bender" is a short track with piano as main rhythm section, performed elegantly with an excellent combination of vocal and drumming. It's not typical ELP song but I do enjoy this track. "Bitches Crystal" sounds like opening of Tarkus at the beginning but when the vocal enters it sounds differently; combined beautifully with inventive piano outfit. Greg Lake sings in unique style with high register notes. The piano solo is amazing, combined with solid bass lines and great drumming.

"The Only Way" is a mellow track with killing melody. It starts with melodic organ solo opening in classical style. When the tiny vocal enters the music, it even makes the music much more melodic with killing notes on vocal. In the middle of the track the piano solo turns into jazzy style. Marvelous! It continues seamlessly to "Infinite Space (Conclusion)" where the piano / organ expands its inventive work beautifully. It continues with "A Time and A Place" with great vocal and soaring organ sounds. These three tracks must be listened continuously as they form like a small epic if you listen to them eventually. Even, I recommend you to listen to this album in its entirety from first epic to last track.

The concluding track is the band's interpretation of rock'n'roll and an appreciation and tribute to Eddy Offord - the Engineer of this groundbreaking album. It's kind of loose leaf if we compare with other tracks but as I have listened to this album for years it finally has engrained as part of the overall theme of this album.

Simply put, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED man!

Progressively yours, GW

The Context: I remember vividly that I knew this album years after I was so familiar with Brain Salad Surgery where one of the songs "Karn Evil 9" really BLEW me away and has become my all-time favorite. I owned Tarkus through Monalisa cassette (which I still keep it until now even though I have the CD issued by Rhino). Whenever I listen to this album I always remember my childhood where rock music was like daily rice (bread is not common in my country, especially my childhood in small town Madiun) and nothing in life so interesting than rock music - not to mention the boring thing about studying uughh ... So, I must admit that even until today I'm still touched with this album. To put precisely on what I feel about the impact of this album to me, I would rather put it with my locality term: nggeblak! Yes, you bet! This album makes me stunned; my mind seems paralyzed enjoying the wonderful harmony this album has infused into my ears, my mind and my heart. Thanks ELP! You make me delighted.

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Posted Saturday, July 02, 2005

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars For their sophomore album, ELP had become a tighter musical ensemble, a factor that allowed them to create a more varied and more interesting album than its predecessor (which was quite brilliant, per se). The fact that the band evidently felt tighter was accompanied by the overall increase of their musical imagination - how can you lose when you've got solid companionship and excellent writing, all at once? You can only win, and a real winner the 'Tarkus' suite is, indeed. Labeled as one of the most definitive moments of the golden era of prog, I must say that there is no way that you can overrate this amazingly electrifying seven-part sonic monument: the only mistake you could eventually make is underrate it, and that I won't do, no Sir. Lyrically centered on the subjects of war, oppression and social alienation, this suite's structure is focused on its instrumental components - 'Eruption' provides from second one the incendiary spirit that will burn the air the listener is breathing for the following 21 minutes. 'Iconoclast' and 'Manticore', each in its own turn, will recapture that same spirit relentlessly and mercilessly, with the closing 'Aquatarkus' bringing an added touch of psychedelia and the ultimate 'Eruption' reprise. The sung parts, meanwhile, go flowing through different moods: contemplation ('Stones of Years'), subtle irony ('Mass') and sympathetic sadness for the fate of all mankind ('Battlefield'). These sung sections are not without bombast, although 'Stones' and 'Battlefield' obviously bear a more melodical structure; it is the instrumental interlude of 'Mass' that is more related to the explosive drive of the non-sung sections. To cut this long story short, the 'Tarkus' suite is the defining moment for ELP as a major prog statement, since it epitomizes the energy, the aggressive bombast and the challenging musical intelligence that this paradigmatic trio used to deliver at their peak. and let me tell you that this band has many peak moments in their overall repertoire. The second half of "Tarkus" is far less epic, finding the band exploring other musical trends that they gladly incorporated into their prog input. Unlike some other reviewers who find themselves a bit let down (to say the least) by what they find after the opening suite, I happen to think that side 2 is equally impressive, although in different terms. The diversity of sonic sources that are featured from 'Jeremy Bender' all the way to 'Are You Ready Eddy?' is delivered by ELP with ease and technical prowess, even when they leave seriousness behind and let themselves go in a sort of musical fun fair. The display of piano-based jazz rock that appears in 'Bitches Crystal' proves that Emerson doesn't necessarily need a Hammond or a Moog to create sheer keyboard energy. Also jazzy, but rooted in the old days of 50s beat clubs, and occasionally combined with Baroque nuances, 'The Only Way'/'Infinite Space' shows the band driving things down a notch, but still portraying a ballsy feel to it. A special mention has to go to the well ordained dialogues between the grand piano and the drum kit. 'A Time and a Place' sort of reminds me of The Nice at their best, but of course, since Emerson is a more matured musician and his companionships is more brilliant, you can tell that this song surpasses the boundaries of the seminal days of prog and gets allocated on a more robust realm. 'Jeremy Bender' is a down tempo Cajun number that serves as an excuse for some humor: this one should be enjoyed as a taster for the more accomplished (and equally frivolous) 'The Sheriff' and 'Benny the Bouncer'. 'Are You Ready, Eddy?' is ELP's 'Great Balls of Fire', making it a tribute to their hard-working sound engineer - now we've got humor plus a warm touch of camaraderie. Conclusion: "Tarkus" is one of the most relevant masterpieces of the essential era or prog rock, and as such, it deserves no less than the maximum ProgArchives rating.

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Posted Saturday, July 30, 2005

Review by Zitro
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A mediocre album with one of my favourite songs of all times (Tarkus). So, if you want to get this album, get it for that track alone, because the rest is not that memorable.

Tarkus (11/10) is my favourite ELP piece, and may be in my top 5 songs of all times. Starting with a great jam, it sets the tone of the long piece of art. Then it switches back and forth the overly beautiful Singing sections with great ELP jams. The second half of the song is my favourite, which has my favourite organ solo of all times (the hammond organ used in a percussive way, until it goes berserk and accompained by a screaming electric guitar line). This is also the first ELP song that has military-like percussion. Another highlight has to be the cheap-sounding keyboard riff that really works, followed by a funny sounding synth solo that is very entertaining over a military rhythm. The song ends with a reprise of the intro.

Side B (5/10) : All songs are really mediocre, and some are downright awful 'are you ready eddy' 'jeremy bender', etc. However, some songs are good such as the hammon-organ showcase of ''a time and a place'/ I barely listen to side b anymore, only the amazing Tarkus suite

My Grade : B

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Posted Friday, August 05, 2005

Review by Garion81
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I can remember the first time I had heard this. I was a young man then just starting on a quest to listen to the best musicians. I had been listing to the self titled and just had obtained Trilogy when my friend said "you have to hear this".

From the Eruption to Aquatarkus it just blew me away. I listened to it over and over for about 2 weeks. The first thing that struck me was how complete this piece of music was. The jazz overtones in Eruption to the almost perfect vocal line in Stones of Years the first two passages fit together like a lock and a key. Then the organ solo in Stones of Years made me first realize you can play rock without a guitar! To the Iconoclast to Mass with that torrid organ and percussion solo, outstanding, Building, Building until its release of the note held by the organ fading into a synth fading into a Guitar, Magnificent! Battlefield still as haunting today as it was then. Aquatarkus booming across the speakers to the final fanfare. Whew! What more do you need.

That song is for sure one of the top three examples of what Progressive rock is. The other 4 songs are ok but really have nothing to do with the fact that Tarkus is essential piece of prog history, development and a definition you could hand to someone and say this is prog. 5 Stars no question

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Posted Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Review by Progbear
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars One of the most lopsided albums in the history of prog. Make no mistake, the "Tarkus" suite is one of the defining moments of progressive rock, with Emerson's Hammond organ playing and highly inventive layers of Moog continuing on admirably from the first album, building their legend. It's not only their best extended piece, but it also shows that they could do long-form original works and do them well, showing that they were about more than rocked-up classics.

Still, there is the matter of the B-side to contend with.

It's not a total wash. "A Time And A Place" is a nice attempt at writing a new version of "Knife-Edge" based on original themes, and if it has any sort of fault it's that it's too short. And "Infinite Space" spotlights some wonderfully dissonant (he loves that tritone!) piano playing from Emerson. Unfortunately, you have to make your way through the dull, Bach-sweetened church organ ballad "The Only Way" to get at it. The infamous ELP bad lyrics rear their ugly head here, but not for the first time. That dubious honour goes to "Bitches Crystal", a morass of detuned toy-box piano and embarrassing screaming vocals from Lake (who is many things. A hard rock vocalist is not one of them). And the less said about the lame, unfunny "joke" songs that bookend the B-side, the better.

Sadly, it looked like the B-side was to become the rule rather than the exception for ELP in the future. Bad precedent to set, guys.

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Posted Sunday, September 04, 2005

Review by Raff
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars "Tarkus" is arguably ELP's masterpiece and one of prog's finest moments. So, why a mere four stars, and from someone who's an unabashed fan of the group? Because, as many ELP records, it is a flawed masterpiece. The sheer magnificence of the title track, 20 minutes of pure prog glory, is somewhat marred by an excess of filler in the rest of the album - namely, the tracks called "Jeremy Bender" and "Are You Ready Eddy". Mind you, I find them both amusing, but also quite out of place on the same record as a career-defining tour de force like the awesome title track.

"Eruption", the first movement of the "Tarkus" suite, builds up until Emerson's synths literally explode from the amps, backed by Palmer's precise, intricate drumming; then things slow down for Lake's first showcase, the wistful "Stones of Years", in which he proves himself once again to be one of the greatest vocalists on the scene. After this moment of relative quiet, things heat up again with "Iconoclast", "Mass" (another Lake showcase, complete with bitingly ironic lyrics) and "Manticore", leading up to the two final movements, the real triumph of the album. In "Battlefield" Lake shows he can play a mean lead guitar (his solo reminds me in a way of Gilmour's style), though the track is best remembered for his utterly wonderful vocal performance. Then "Aquatarkus" (one of the greatest instrumentals of all time) brings everything to a close, with Emerson and Palmer again involved in a show-stopping demonstration of their respective skills.

I know opinion is divided on the remaining tracks on the album. Personally, I think "Bitches Crystal", "A Time and A Place" and "The Only Way/Infinite Space" are all more than adequate tracks, though no masterpieces. On the first one, Lake's vocals sound a bit strained, as the track would have been more suitable for a voice such as Ian Gillan or even Glenn Hughes - though musically it is a very interesting experiment of blending prog with jazz and hard rock. "A Time and A Place" is also quite good, though nothing earth-shaking; more interesting is "The Only Way/Infinite Space", with Lake singing his rather controversial lyrics while accompanied by a church organ! Of the other two songs, the so-called 'funny' ones, I think the less said the better.... As I stated before, they might sound nice on a completely different album by a different band. Why ELP needed to include that kind of 'light relief' in most of their records is quite beyond me. So, if I could I would give "Tarkus" 4,5 stars. As someone wrote on this website, the suite alone would deserve 6, but those two tracks prevent it from being the essential item it should have been. Nevertheless, you should get it, if only to lose yourself in the utter bliss provided by the title track!

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Posted Thursday, October 27, 2005

Review by Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Let me express my great appreciation to the most classic ELP's album! Not the most coherent, though, since the six short tracks that constitute its second half. Nor my favourite one, by the way, being the best Trilogy.

I've heard it for the first time fifteen years ago and still having great pleasure every time I put my headphones on...

...the Tarkus suite was recorded in just six days... ...Tarkus...passion and turbulence!

4,5 stars!

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Posted Monday, January 16, 2006

Review by belz
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars 4.5/5.0

What, this masterpiece is number 97 in the top 100!? I just can't understand why this album is that underrated. This is clearly a masterpiece, whatever one could say! I mean: if in 100 years you wanted to show someone what the prog-music of the 70s was like, you have to listen to Tarkus!

There are many groups which took a lot of influence from Emerson, Lake and Palmer (groups like Pär Lindh Project, as an example), because ELP was original, creative, and there music is imaginative, with a huge drum, MONSTRUOUS keyboards and what a voice! I vae a DVD of them in a show in 1973 and it's simply amazing. ELP is not nly about music; it's an experience!

Musically speaking, my vision of a post-apocalyptic Earth is approximately what Tarkus makes me think of. And whatever some people may think, music is all about this: recreating emotions and travelling through music in mind or time. This music is emotive, rude, violent, yet in all its dysharmony there is some symphony in the chaos.

Tarkus is not only an album: it is an experience. Sure it is not perfect, but not many albums are perfect. However, on balance this is close enough from perfection to be described as a masterpiece!

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Posted Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Review by Peter Pan
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars "Tarkus" is the Opus magnus of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. The intense over 20 minutes long title track with its ever changing rhythms and harmonies is one of the absolute highlights of progressive rock music.

I experience "Tarkus" as a kind of train which rolls and pushes forward through ongoing changes like different landscapes, different rails and switches but keeping its direction and power.

The core of the instrumentation are Keith Emerson's virtuously played Hammond organ and a dynamic rhythm section with Greg Lake's bass guitar and Carl Palmer's drums. Synthesizers, electric and acoustic guitar, and vocals set decent accents. Thus the arrangements of "Tarkus" never seem overdone and don't veil ELP's musical identity as a trio.

On later albums the trio broke into inconsistent pieces like pretentious piano works or overarranged synth orgies. But this work here sweeps you away and leaves you sad after 20 minutes that it has ended.

The former side B sounds rather irrelevant, though "The Only Way" and "Infinite Space (Conclusion)" are really nice and could have well been part of Emerson, Lake & Palmer I.

Remastering of 2004 did a great job.

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Posted Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars ELP is comprised of ex-King Crimson member Greg Lake, ex-Nice member Keith Emerson, and ex-Atomic Rooster member Carl Palmer. Together, they were at the forefront of the classically based keyboard dominated trios in the world. Their first album, a self titled debut, was a nice balance of group and solo efforts from each member. Their second album, titled Tarkus, featured one of the (arguably) greatest epics ever written. The first side of this album is comprised of the Tarkus suite, a song pertaining to lost soliders of war and a giant armadillo tank (sounds a bit bizarre, eh?), but the album is marred by a mediocre second side of somewhat silly material that really throws the mood of this album off a lot. The musicianship is superb here. Emerson continually shows that he deserves to be mentioned as rock's greatest keyboardist. His intricate and overly complicated organ patterns and soaring synthesizers are the main focus of the album. Greg Lake has always been a strong vocalist, but this album really shows his talents at their fullest. His bass work is also among his most intricate and interesting as well. And Carl Palmer is stunning on this album, keeping the band in time even during the most tricky circumstances. It's a recipe meant for success, but does it come out on top?

Tarkus opens the album with strong ascending organ runs and smooth bass lines all backed by precision drumming. The song goes through many different emotions, but the best part is definitely the Aquatarkus section, in which Emerson shows off his incredible synthesizer skills. The entire first side of the album is a masterpiece of progressive rock, in my mind at least. But the second side of the album is where things go from masterpiece to just good. Jeremy Bender has an interesting and winding piano motif, but a a bland Lake vocal and some uninteresting drumming really hurts the song from becoming a great song. Bitches Crystal is a pretty forgettable tune, nothing very special here. The Only Way and Infinite Space have this continuity thing going, where it would appear that the two songs link together. There are some recurring themes within the 6 minutes, but it's nothing terribly strong or memorable. A Time and a Place is another forgettable throwaway, expect nothing particularly special here, as well. Are You Ready Eddy? is the best song on the second side. It has this great feel to it that really shows the versatility of the group (as well as the jokey nature, as the song is dedicated to Eddie Offord).

Overall, Tarkus is a pretty interesting mixture of serious epics and jokey throwaways. If the album was solely comprised of songs in the vein of side one, I would have given it a masterpiece rating. But because that isn't the case here, and the songs on the second side are mostly forgettable, save for a few interesting tracks (Are You Ready Eddy?, and to some degree Jeremy Bender). In the end, most fans of symphonic prog should pick this album up solely based on the strength of the epic on the album. 3.5/5.

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Posted Friday, June 23, 2006

Review by Australian
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars "Tarkus", as a whole doesn't match up with its brothers (or sisters?) in that it seems to have two sides to it. One side is serious and epic like the "Tarkus Suite" and the other is kind of joking around with songs like "Jeremy Bender." These bear some resemblances to early, Syd Barret- era Pink Floyd and carry the same humour. Of Course, the "Tarkus Suite" is arguably the very first Symphonic Progressive Epic written at least a year before counterparts Yes and Genesis constructed their first epics. The "Tarkus Suite" in its self is different to most other epics as it is very heavily keyboard based and like many epics carries a vague concept. "Tarkus" is basically about a half- tank half-armadillo creature named Tarkus, and the suite shows some of his enemies and also the effects of war.

The "Tarkus Suite" is very moving, especially in "The Battle Field" in which Greg Lake shows us that he can play guitar. This section in particular conjures images of a revenged battlefield and fallen/massacred people strewn in the midst of war. Similar to Yes's 'Gates of Delirium', but in this regard "Tarkus" is more effective. The piece begins with an intro into Tarkus, which is rightly named "Eruption" and is the birth of Tarkus and of war. The song then moves into "Stones of Years" in which the first set of vocals come in as "Has the dawn ever seen you eyes." This section is accented by an electric organ and moog synthesizers and is quite moving. Following this is "Iconoclast", a violent instrumental section with furious percussion, bass and stabbing keyboards. Next comes "Mass", a sort violent jazzy section with flowing lyrics and grand synthesizers. Next is another short instrumental section called "Manticore", a Manticore being a half-human half-lion creature. Manticore is one of Tarkus' greatest enemies and what follows is a fight between the two creatures. "The Battlefield" comes next and brings with it a truly epic feel with excellent musicianship which must be heard to be believed. The closing section has two parts, the first is a military sounding march which is brought on by a snare drum and synthesizers, the second part is the re-birth of Tarkus and is a repeat of the beginning of the song.

"Jeremy Bender" is next, not much to say about it, very average and is one of two out of place songs. Next is "Bitches Crystal" another song following the "Tarkus" concept, except with no references to the actual creature. This song and the next three to follow seem as one song as they all follow a theme of war and destruction. Real Post-war music. Lastly is the comical "Are You Ready Eddie", the other out of place song, not bad though!

1. Tarkus Suite (5/5) 2. Jeremy Bender (1.5/5) 3. Bitches Crystal (3.5/5) 4. The Only Way [Hymn] (4/5) 5. Infinite Space [Conclusion] (3.5/5) 6. A Time and a Place (3/5) 7. Are You Ready Eddy- (3/5) Total= 23.5 divided by 7 (number of songs =3.357 = 3 stars

Good, but non-essential

In the end "Tarkus" comes in as a healthy three stars, good stuff and although "Are You Ready Eddy" may seem out of place on "Tarkus", it is a mood lifter from the rest of the album which is dark and mournful. "Tarkus" is truly a ground breaking and meaningful album and it has the potential to be a rewarding album to all, though many may not see it. I'd recommend "Tarkus" to Symphonic Prog Fans to get a glimpse of the very first progressive epic (to my knowledge.)

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Posted Sunday, September 17, 2006

Review by Atkingani
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars I had the opportunity to listen to TARKUS au complet probably 4 or 5 years after its release. Certainly the early hearing of band works like TRILOGY or BRAIN SALAD SURGERY, chronologically newer, may have affected my discernment, I think but it didn't impress me too much, then, and even today it says very few to me. Well, with age I've become more condescending and I've spotted some points in this album that are really pleasant.

First, the cover, impressive, haunting, well in accordance with the times when the album was released. The battle between the hybrid Tarkus and the hero Manticore is nicely displayed. Second, and more important, the suite which bears the album name: "Tarkus", a epic-like song that has grown intensely in my taste. The more I hear, the more I like the opening track. It contains fine moments, even discounting the intro, with its arrangement resembling a kind of soundtrack. As the song continues EL&P show their higher musicianship and the listener is introduced to a series of enjoyable parts, very melodic and symphonic, all backed by some of the most luxurious Greg Lake's vocals, who personally provides another great moment, with his rare guitar solo, in the segment 'Battlefied', a peak, doubtlessly.

Other tracks are less inspiring: "Jeremy Bender" has a mixed western-vaudeville atmosphere, which is funny, cheesy, and nothing more. "Bitches crystal", has good instrumentation, especially Keith Emerson's keyboard playing that disguises song weakness. Vocals are disappointing with Lake screaming more than singing.

"The only way", a hymn based upon some Bach's theme, is fair but lyrics are catchy and indulgent, even being beautifully soothed. Greg Lake compensates here greatly the flaws noted in the previous track. Maybe if this song should be extended it could be better appreciated. "Infinite space" seems more a rehearsal than a full track. The jazz connotations add few, the song is poor - a waste of time.

"A time and a place" brings again Lake screaming instead of singing, which is a shame, considering his marvelous and tuned voice. Emerson's keyboard acrobatics are a clear attempt to give some soul to a completely tasteless song. Final track, "Are you ready, Eddy?" brings some amusement with its rockabilly style, and that's all.

In the end, we have to recognize that "Tarkus", the song, saved TARKUS, the album. The splendid epic makes this album good, even not being essential. Final rating: 3.

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Posted Saturday, October 21, 2006

Review by 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.

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Posted Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Review by OpethGuitarist
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars As others have said, it's half an album.

Tarkus is a suite that represents some of the best ELP material, for 20 minutes anyways. The second half of this album is completely and utterly useless unless you're in a laughing mood. The well known themes combined with ELP's idiosyncrasies on the 2nd half may have been intriguing at the time, but are impossible to take seriously now. On the other hand, Tarkus is a wonderful little piece and quite possibly the best of all of ELP's material.

Greg Lake's vocal work really stands out here, and I believe it's what really makes this track even better than the intriguing instrumental interplay. The production makes the keys/hammonds have a distinct flavor, a sort of vintage quality to the music that's perhaps unreproduceable. I find Tarkus much better than Karn Evil 9, which I found more aimless (and not really cohesive as a suite to begin with).

If some elements of the debut had been incorporated into the B-side of this record, it is very possible it would be looked at as one of the defining pieces of the genre. Unfortunately, the 2nd half is marred with inexcusable rubbish. Good to have for one track and to see the genius the band did possess, as Tarkus is a hell of a song.

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Posted Thursday, December 28, 2006

Review by clarke2001
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The progressive rock.

There it goes, my 100th review is dedicated to my desert island record - to an ultimate masterpiece: the immortal Tarkus. And I will rate it with highest possible rating without letting the side-long suite, "Tarkus" to affect my rating.

I discovered this gem in my late teens, and now at the age of 30 I'm still discovering new details and hidden chapters of this monstrously spectacular story. My first rendezvous (or shall I say: impact?) with this album happened when a friend borrowed me dull-sounding copy's copy's copy's copy of Tarkus on an old BASF tape. It struck me hard and changed my life.

And than it struck me again, when I finally obtained my own copy, I realised that the album cover (which I never saw before) is exactly the same as I expected it to be. Do you believe in coincidence, destiny or supernatural powers? However, this record changed my life indeed. I was convinced (well, still I am) that every note and sound on the album is telling the story and painting the picture exactly as I imagined them in my head. I would like to say: this album is mine, interacting with me in some parallel universe. I don't want to sound like Charles Manson, but I hope you get the picture how strongly this piece of art affected my life.

Armadillos, hymera, the battle between good and evil, war, science-fiction motif? Everything is here, and none of the above.

Thousands of Tarkus reviews are done in the last thirty (and more) years, with many of them utilising deep dissection of the plot, focus, musicianship, lyrics, concept and everything else that could possibly be related to the album. Thesis about Tarkus is not uncommon thing. More than half a dozen doctorates were written about Tarkus' length. That's right, people gained PhD title because of this record.

And all of them presented less then one percent of knowledge to an average listener who never had a chance to be purified by listening to the album.

Perhaps it's time for a philosophers to start writing reviews. Or lunatics.

The main motif of ELP's career is humanity and human being itself, and Tarkus is the core of ELP's career. That is precisely the same motif present in all the art that human race created during the history. The motif is often represented by demonstrating different aspects of human madness - usually through the typically human sociological phenomenon - the phenomenon of war. These two parameters are interacting, and the link between them could be considered a root, while occasional branches are questioning and examining all other aspects of human nature and society.

Why that war-madness relationship? I got that idea while listening thoroughly Tarkus, and later, when I discovered other ELP's albums, that theory was confirmed several times. Let's take a chronological look: on their debut, we have "Three Fates", for example - but finding the same motif there could be a huge stretch, and it will probably sound as "Paul is dead" theory during the Beatlemania; and if you want to find an ambiguous proof, you can find it anywhere. No. The picture is worth one thousand words, but the music can evocate an infinite number of pictures. But let's try with another example: Tank. It's not only the three-part showmanship, actually you can trace the development of a story of tank (and a tiny soldier-driver inside), where the first part is introduction and training if you want, drum solo is, of course, a battle with enfilades, and third part is discovering lunacy, the absence of fear, and a pure destruction. The similar motif reached its peak on Tarkus, and on Trilogy you can experience the same story while listening Abbadon's Bolero. Speaking of wars and battles, should I mention Karn Evil 9 too? Even during the days of ELP's reformation, when their inspiration batteries were worn off, you can find similar plot in Changing States, for example.

Considering the music itself: it's impossible to describe it. Before any possible jumping into conclusion that I am defending "Tarkus vs. rest of the world" attitude, I will say that every piece of music is indescribable; you can only describe your own impressions and emotions, or do the analysis of the matter or compare it and observe who influenced who - but for the music, even the best reviewer in the world will always be in the gray area. That especially goes for good music.

From the historical, and, I must say, mathematical point of view, I can't cope with this masterpiece. As I said, there are numerous analysis around, published on the web, in the books and elsewhere, with different amount of "dissection depth". I remember that I've found several sheet music transcriptions of Tarkus, each of them slightly differing from another. No surprise there's no many Tarkus sheet music books around.

The music on Tarkus is new, fresh, innovative and groundbreaking. The roots of it could be found in the works of THE NICE, of course, in the classical (and contemporary classical) scores, and in the jazz. I am often foreseeing traces of Thelonious Monk in Emerson's piano pieces. There is a perfect amalgam between classical and jazz approach in the "Infinite Space (Conclusion)", where bass and piano are playing the pattern that is almost entirely unison, except for the last note in the sequence which is played in the semi-note interval, producing brilliant dissonance and creating an extraordinary mood. "Jeremy Bender" is also worth mentioning, with a ballad mellow melody with an influence of music from a Romanticism period, but the whole thing was actually derived from relatively simple ascending chords with occasional spices of jazz.

There are many details that could be observed through the lenses and offer another proof that Tarkus as a whole is a piece done by three musicians, each of them undoubtedly bearing the title of genius. But since we, mortals, are seeing only the top of the iceberg, I wouldn't observe the piece in its entirety. I could mention "The Only Way (Hymn)" - where Lake did an extraordinary vocal performance, and lyrics once again fit into my theory of war-madness thread. Emerson's intro on organ, with hypnotic pedal tone and absolutely weird but gorgeous approach to the fugue is incredible. I really doubt I will hear something half as good in my lifetime. And they dared to overdub their vocals underneath the pedal tone (although quietly) and gave the song a scent of rock music and, I dare to say, banality? But I never heard anyone complained about it. And why complaining? It works perfectly.

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Send comments to clarke2001 (BETA) | Report this review (#114423) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This was the album with which I discovered ELP on my hospital bed in 1972. There was a very good programme called "Impédance" on the Belgian radio (thanks Jacques and Pierre). It was broadcasted very late on Saturday nights. To air numbers as "Tarkus" was rather audacious for the time (not only the lenght but as well the genre).

So, let's start reverse with this album : first B-side because there is also a B-side you know! About eighteen minutes long, so not too long to suffer as a lot of us have done while listening to this portion of the album (which is not too often in my case).

IMO, "Jeremy Bender" is the poorest number of the album (and one of the all-time ELP worst one). "Bitches Crystal" is a mix of the traditional ELP sound and jazz. It might well be one of the best number of this side. "The Only Way" is very pompous in the first part and jazzy again during the second. Not too bad an interpretation, after all. The jazzy mood also prevails in "Infinite Space". But the whole of this number is pure repetitiveness.

"A Time And A Place" is the first and only full true ELP number on this side of the record. Very powerful band with Keith playing at his best. Carl hitting the drum kit like a master (which he is) and Gregg singing a bit more rageously than usual. It reminds me the title track. Great number, really. The funny and revival (!) "Are You Ready Eddy ?" closes the album very strangely. Not really within the ELP standard to say the least.

Like most of us, I hardly listen to this side. I had completely forgotten that it held even average songs (not to speak about a very good one). At least, thanks to this review I have discovered the other side of this work again.

Of course, there is one number on side A. And what a number ! A fabulous and all- mighty intro featuring an explosion of sounds (hence its title : "Eruption"). ELP could not have found a better title. The band truely erupts the music with all their energy. Fabulous.

"Stones Of Years", on the contrary is all subtlety and harmony. ITCOTCK sits just aside. The instrumental section will, again be very energetic. Two wonderful moverments in this seven-piece suite. "Iconoclast" reminds "Eruption" and is all violence again. No time to relax so far.

"Mass" is a bit weaker, somewhat hectic. "Manticore" is again a strong and short piece. It takes some of the "Eruption" mood to give some consistency to the whole.

"Battlefield" features again some very nice vocals. I have always like Lake's voice. This track is a brilliant showcase for him. A good guitar break (there won't be many in ELP's work) will add a special flavour to this section.

These short parts flow brilliantly the one into the other; making this number a great piece of prog music. The band sounds very unified. This is really an exceptional number. What if, like Tull, they would have expanded a bit further on side B ?

Well, I'm not really sure it would have lead to something like TIAB, since there are some weaker moments during the last part "Aquatarkus" (the intro of it, actually). The finale is as powerful as "Eruption". This song which lasts for more than twenty-minutes is so great that the listener will never get the impression that it is so long. This is the mark of the greatest.

This number alone is worth five stars of course. It ranks to the greatest epics of the genre and defines ELP style perfectly. I could listen to this one endlessly. But I can honestly not rate the album so high. For stars for the whole.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#120687) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, May 03, 2007

Review by b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars ELP revolutionized the 70's rock scene by developing a new standard in exploring the keys sounds.The geniality and unlimited talent have no borders here on this album, and put together, generated a level of music never achieved by anybody else as of yet. This is simply a masterpiece, a 5 star without question. This album stands in time, even now after almost 40 years, and an essential for many musicians from today. Tarkus made me opens my eyes in prog, was not Nursery Cryme, not Pawn hearts, not Aqualung not even Look at yourself (witch i love and respect all these albums), was Tarkus with his unbeliveble key parts. Absolut every track is mind blowing. 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. This is a classic of classics of prog, the best ELP. 5 stars

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Posted Friday, May 04, 2007

Review by Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars "Tarkus" is an mixture of epic excellence and head-scratching zaniness, the title track being one of the band's best songs ever while later songs range from bad to mediocre.

Starting with the good, "Tarkus" features all the soaring bombast and dynamic compositions one should expect from any classic prog band worth their salt, featuring some killer playing from all memebers. Lake's voice is featured more evenly throughout, but Emerson's dexterous keyboard dominates the melody and instumental passages... maybe a little overtly, but its hard to deny his talent.

As for the other songs, they may be fun for an occasional listen but don't come close to the quality of the title track. "Jermey Bender" and "Are You Ready Eddy?" are just fun for the sake of it, but hardly demonstrate the band's talent. This, and the sometimes overwhelming organ/keyboards of Emerson make for a good, but not great listen overall.

Songwriting: 3 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 2

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Posted Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Review by Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars After bedazzling the music world with their brilliant debut, this terrific trio set out to do something even more challenging. Follow it up with an album that was just as good. And, to their credit, they almost did. "Tarkus" is a well constructed record that further advanced their reputation as progressive music trailblazers in the early 70s. You gotta admit, no one else was doing it quite the same way as Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

Side one of the LP consists of the adventurous and legendary "Tarkus" suite. The first segment, Keith's "Eruption," is one of the most intense, jam-packed 2 minutes and 43 seconds in prog rock. The 5/4 track is tighter than Pavarotti's waistband and it is a textbook case of organ, synthesizers, bass and drums working together like a well- oiled, high-torque machine. On top of all that its extremely complex arrangement will make your head spin. Few albums start this splendidly so it's not a big surprise to find that the next phase, "Stones of Years," struggles a bit to keep the momentum rolling on that spectacular level. It's a heavy, slower-paced tune with Greg singing cryptic lyrics about a metallic armadillo but, while Emerson's organ solo is interesting, things take a much-appreciated swing upward when they rip into Keith's "Iconoclast" and tear it up again. It's got a supercharged riff that they steer through difficult and intricate changes, showing how amazing these guys are when they're in sync.

Next Greg sings "Mass" with conviction yet it's the staccato organ lead that gets your attention as the spicy interplay between Keith and Carl grabs the spotlight. After the short-lived "Manticore" section we get a brief taste of Lake's still-developing electric guitar skills that mark a low spot in the proceedings (He would get much better in the years ahead, thank heaven). The pity is that his amateurish noodling takes away from the majestic theme of "Battlefield" going on beneath it. An unusual Moog sound performed over a marching drum beat takes us into the finale of the piece, Emerson's "Aquatarkus," which also reprises the stupendous 5/4 power hook of the opening salvo that got things off to such a wild, driving start. The big finish is suitably flamboyant but somehow I get the feeling that the side-long saga just didn't come off as well as they had hoped it would. Having said that, however, if they would have had six weeks to polish it in the studio instead of six days I have no doubt that it would be near perfect.

Displaying what would become a distracting habit for this band, "Jeremy Bender" is a detour into corny playfulness that stumps me to this day. It's pretty much a nutty saloon-style drinking ditty complete with honky-tonk piano and silly limerick phrases that must have amused them no end. Whatever. At least the next song redeems them as it's one of the highlights of the album. "Bitches Crystal" is a jazzy piano-driven number that benefits greatly from tasteful synthesizer work and mood-changing dynamics to create a fascinating kaleidoscope of musical colors. On top of that, Greg's passionate and almost furious vocal is strikingly arresting and shows a completely different side of Mr. Lake.

"The Only Way (Hymn)" has Keith manning a huge cathedral organ as Greg sings some virulent anti-religion lines that include a strange reference about God losing six million Jews before telling us that we have to do it ourselves (or something). Emerson manages to throw in a little bit of Bach to liven things up halfway through but the best thing occurs when they segue into "Infinite Space," a 7/8 piano-led instrumental that moves at a fast clip. As much as I like Keith's organ virtuosity, his skill on the eighty- eights is often breathtaking and that's the situation here. Excellent job. The mighty Hammond B3 makes a triumphant return on "Time and a Place," a typical ELP tour de force that rumbles like a freight train for three thrilling minutes. "Are You Ready Eddy?" is a stress-relieving, spontaneous session outtake aimed at their burgeoning engineer, ending the album on a lightheartedly loose but undeniably rock & roll note.

I can't help but think that this record might have sold a few more copies if it weren't for the horrendous cover and inside liner art. It's ugly and it certainly made me (and probably others) think twice when I first saw it in the racks in 1971. When compared to the other beautiful and stunning pictures that adorned their debut and the incredible "Brain Salad Surgery," this cartoon-ish nightmare looks like it was done by a kindergarten toddler. Inexcusable. Anyway, as far as the dreaded sophomore jinx goes, "Tarkus" beats that superstitious myth to a bloody pulp. While it's not the acme of their career, it still has the ability to make your hair stand on end time and time again. You could do a lot worse than to spend forty minutes with this impressive collection of progressive rock, that's for sure. 4.2 stars.

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Posted Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Review by fuxi
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Talking about 'a giant leap for mankind'. (Or at least for three of us!) TARKUS' A-side was almost as stunning an advance on ELP's debut album as YES ALBUM was on TIME AND A WORD. Keith Emerson's composing and keyboard playing (particularly his Hammond organ soloing) suddenly reached exciting new levels. You can tell how happy he was that he'd finally found a drummer and a bassist with whom he could develop his most audacious ideas. Many, many moments still leave me speechless, and even one of ELP's actual SONGS still sounds majestic ('Battlefield', in case you'd like to know) - in spite of those ghastly Lakean lyrics. Strangely enough there's little use of synths: they would really only come into their own in 1972.

I completely agree with most other reviewers that the original album's B-side is a bummer, so if you're just after the 'Tarkus Suite' and want virtually all of BRAIN SALAD SURGERY into the bargain (together with loads of other material), buy THE ATLANTIC YEARS (1992) instead. It's still available secondhand, but I warn you: it has one of the cheapest cover pictures I've ever seen...

Rating: Four stars for the A-side; two for the B-side.

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Posted Thursday, August 02, 2007

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Prog Specialist
2 stars I always believed it's unfair to use ELP as the example of the most self indulgent, excessive and pompous Prog, people like to blame them for how much mainstream critics and audience hate or ignore our beloved genre, but I tell this people get "Trilogy" and if you find it too complex, go and buy "Saturday Night Fever" because Prog is not for you.

But each time I listen "Tarkus" I feel closer to the people who believe ELP are sometimes excessive, after a soft but good debut and because people expected too much from the first Prog supergroup, they valued more complexity and empty virtuosity over musicality, Palmer and Emerson seem to be in a ciontest trying to prove how fast they are and lake has troubles with some tracks (Something I never expected from him),

Of course if they wanted to be a Prog band they had to do a pompous and overblown epic, better if multi part and better if they created an almost impossible to understand concept, this may work for Genesis because Peter Gabriel is a hell of a lyricist and has an incredible imagination, but that's not the strongest point of Emerson, Lake, Palmer or Sinfield when they recruited him.

The band starts the album with the supposed "Piece de Resistance" the overblown Tarkus, divided in seven parts all created to prove how proficient they are at their respective instruments, the Sci Fi mythological concept is secondary, it's only an excuse, I find no coherence or melodic support, the more complex the better, except for the vocal sections by Greg Lake, pretty forgettable.

They blend Symphonic, Jazzy sections, Crimsonian references and of course lost or organ and drum solos, they proved they are excellent performers but the composition is less than average IMHO, in some moments they seem to regain control but they loose it almost instantly in their desire of being better, louder and more complex than anybody else, goals that they never achieve.

Jeremy Bender is simply a nice saloon tune with a vertical piano, catchy but nothing special.

Bitches Crystal is the point where I use the skip button, no feet or head, they got lost between Pompous Prog and Free Jazz, even Greg who gives coherence to the most bizarre tracks is unable to make this track barely decent, Keith butchers the piano and maybe the highest point is Palmer who remains accurate as always.

The Only Way starts as a good (at last) atheist hymn paradoxically performed using the St. Mark Church Organ. They try to be original and irreverent but the phrase "Why did he lose six million Jews" would be laughable if didn't sounded so racist and disrespectful to the holocaust. What started strong ended being ridiculous.

The Only Way is a relief, very good track, martial, rhythmic, well developed and solid from start to end, a "rara avis" in this album without feet and head. Nothing spectacular either but above the level of the album despite is mostly a long introduction that leads nowhere.

A Time and a Place is another song that doesn't make sense at all, it's so badly done that he band plays highly above the vocal range of Greg Lake, letting us notice that his voice has severe limits, the rest is mostly organ and Moog masturbation with Palmer bombing us with his accurate but worthy of a better album drumming.

Are You Ready Eddy? is only a joke and nothing more, entertaining Rock & Roll just in the way any band from your local pub could have played, the album starts as it begins..weak.

Compared with "Love Beach" or "In the Hot Seat" , "Tarkus" is a masterpiece (well, almost any album wins with this comparison), so I can't rate it with one star, now compared even with the naïve and relatively simple self titled debut, "Tarkus" looses, so I have to go lower than 3 stars.

To be fair, it's an average album which would mean an impossible 2.5 stars rating in our system, so I will have to go with 2 stars, very disappointing, because average for other bands is poor for a supergroup as ELP,

Still I can't understand all the noise and praises I heard about it, but being that everybody seems to enjoy "Tarkus" except me, so i won't dare to say avoid it, only wiill say that for me is one of the weakest ELP albums and I wouldn't buy it again even if somebody steals my CD.

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Send comments to Ivan_Melgar_M (BETA) | Report this review (#134659) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, August 23, 2007

Review by jammun
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Let's agree not talk about the amateurish album cover art, which has to be, to this day, amongst the worst ever created. It's sad: Yes, and for God's sake even Uriah Heep, had Roger Dean and his surreal 'scapes. ELP had this crap. Fortunately, there's the music...

The twenty-minute title track is about as good as prog ever got. Ya want some 5/4 rhythm ya got it, and they make it sound so effortless, just another little song they're playing for us. If you had a chance to see them live during this era, you know it WAS effortless. Man, were ELP dealing. Emerson's percussive C3 just drives the songs, Lake is as good a bass player as there was at the time, and Palmer is no slouch. A pompous critic would say something like 'this is arguably the first extended prog masterpiece." I'll forgo the 'arguably' and state, this is the first extended prog masterpiece.

As Hendrix was to the Stratocaster, Emerson was to the Hammond, but not merely in terms of mastery of the instrument. Emerson unleashes the catalogue of sounds that every organ player henceforth would strive to duplicate. It's that innovative, and that good. And it's that hard to duplicate, because not every Hammond player had Rocky as a keyboard tech. There's more synth on Tarkus than on the first album, but still it's the Hammond that dominates. I hadn't listened to this in a while, and it's my loss.

Unfortunately, as is common with ELP albums, things flag a bit on what was the second side of the LP. Jeremy Bender is fun, but nothing special. The Only Way is Emerson's obligatory pipe organ thang. But Time and a Place is ball-crushing hard rock in the vein of Knife-Edge from the debut. But basically most of this is filler -- wouldn't do to release a one-sided LP.

Once again, only a 4. But you wouldn't want to be without this one.

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Send comments to jammun (BETA) | Report this review (#137037) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, September 07, 2007

Review by sean
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Quite a few people say that this album can be divided into two parts: the excellent suite "Tarkus", and the rest of the album being mediocre filler tracks. Let me just say that the "Tarkus" suite in itself is a masterpiece, and if that were the entire album, I would give it five stars. However, while I agree that the second half is weaker than Tarkus, I wouldn't go so far as to call it filler. While none of the songs are masterpieces, none of them are completely bad either. The standouts on this side are The Only Way (Hymn)/Infinite Space (Conclusion) and A Time and A Place. Jeremy Bender, Are You Ready Eddy?, and Bitches Crystal are all weaker, piano driven tracks with a pseudo-ragtime feel. Again, not bad, but in light of the fact that they follow a piece as magnificent as Tarkus, it's really impossible for any song to appear to be a masterpiece.

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Posted Thursday, October 18, 2007

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3.5 stars. Well I do like this better than "Brain Salad Surgery" and the title track in my opinion is one of their best ever composition. It's just too bad the final 6 tracks weren't a lot better.

"Tarkus" opens with some incredible interplay between Emerson and Palmer. Emerson is the star of this first section though. Just incredible ! When Lake starts to sing a calm arrives in the "Stones Of Years" section. This reminded me so much of KING CRIMSON's debut album when I first heard it. Lake's vocals had a lot to do with that, and how mellow it is. The "Mass" section is another amazing instrumental piece. Kind of cool to hear Lake playing some electric guitar on the "Battlefield" section, and he's not half bad either. Nice sound during this passage. "Aquatarkus" ends this epic track with Emerson again taking the lead.

"Jeremy Bender" is a silly song like the final tune "Are You Ready Eddy ?". "Bitches Crystal" is an uptempo song with aggressive vocals. Check out the piano 2 minutes in. Not a fan of the song though. "The Only Way(Hymn)" features church organ and seemingly anti-God lyrics. "Infinite Space (Conclusion)" is a tasteful drum / piano instrumental. "A Time And A Place" features some incredible organ.

This is certainly worth tracking down just for the title song alone. Another inconsistant record though.

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Posted Sunday, December 09, 2007

Review by TGM: Orb
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Review 2, 1971, Tarkus - Emerson, Lake And Palmer

StarStarStarStar

Tarkus, though it doesn't (for me, at least) have the same consistent quality and emotional impact as their debut, is the album that really fixed the future of ELP, and the title suite is definitely vital listening for any progger. Although I can see where much of the criticism for the rest of the album comes from, I think it's not as bad as some make it out to be. Even the much-maligned "filler" Are You Ready Eddy and Jeremy Bender have charm, energy and sarcasm, which works for me, and only the fairly cold 'Infinite Space' and the organ intro to The Only Way fall down a little. Lake's sometimes guilty of producing dubious lyrics, and in particular the words to the atheistic The Only Way are too confrontational and feeble for me.

The second side begins with the whimsical Jeremy Bender. The light elements might grate a little with the dark, brooding title track just before it, but if you see the second side as a completely separate entity, it opens it nicely. Lake's lyrics are amusing enough, the piano is good. Palmer is obviously able to merge his drums impeccably with just about anything, and this track is no exception. Lake's voice is good, and the clapping doesn't spoil it at all.

Next we have a winner, the unfortunately named Bitches Crystal. It enjoys a twisted sense of humour, with the nursery rhyme introduction and reprise hilariously contrasted with the main drums, bass and heavier piano theme. Lake's voice, though not as sublime as usual, and occasionally overstretched, and bits of moog and overblown lyrics thrown in for good measure. It ends well, and is a great track in its own way, and perhaps the real proof for me that ELP did have a sense of humour.

The fourth track on the album is of a different sort. There's a classical organ intro, apparently Bach, but, as with most classical organ I'm not particularly fond of it. You then have a less showy organ part subordinated neatly to Lake's superb voice and slightly tacky atheistic lyrics (I don't care, if he can write Just Take A Pebble, he can do more than brief couplets and triplets :p). They're probably too strong/tacky for some people, I've learned to tolerate them. However, that's where it picks up. Palmer and Lake come in, and Emerson switches to piano, to create a beautiful, memorable trio. If it wasn't for the opening and lyrics, this would be ELP at their best. Still a great track.

The conclusion, infinite time and space is mostly a trio, with the briefest of drum solos, and a quick piano solo too, but, without Lake's voice, sort of cold. It also feels a little too deliberate at times, but Emerson's piano overlaying over an already stand-alone part nearish the end is quite neat. Compared to Emerson's usual prominence, it feels like Frippertronics. The song's got some character. Still good material.

Hammond organ, moog and drums drive the next song to a decent synth-and-drum based conclusion that sort of reminds me of some of Toccata. The lyrics are mostly nonsense, but sound good, and Lake's voice is again strong. Unlike in Bitches Crystal, the song is serious enough that Lake over-extending his voice to what basically is screaming doesn't help. The hammond riff is solid and overblown. The drumming here's particularly noteworthy, and the heavier keyboards provide a nice break from the acoustic-dominated second side. If you're a big BSS fan, this is probably the second-side track for you.

Are you Ready Eddy is a quirky rock and roll song with absolutely hectic piano, loads of energy, excellent drums and entertaining, sarcastic lyrics. It may not be the most complex, soul-searching prog song ever, but its fun (and partly inappropriate) to sing along to. The vocal effects only enhance this. This and Jeremy Bender sort of acts as bookends for the second side, and they give a relief from the pomposity of Tarkus much more effectively than some of their other light songs.

In conclusion, I like the second side. It's got a lot of great material, and nothing really intolerable. It's not as superb as ELP, or as progressive and overblown as Brain Salad Surgery, but it shows a lot of development in the band, and their musical direction, while never being really pretentious and humourless enough to lose the listener.

Oh, and the first side's quite good.

Rating: Tarkus is a masterpiece, the rest is good. Four Stars.

Favourite Track: Tarkus (surprise!), more specifically Battlefield

--- More seriously:

The Tarkus suite is really essential listening for any progger. It feels very deep, switches mood frequently, has Lake's best lyrics, nicely used vocal effects, great bursts of lead guitar on battlefield, changing Hammond sounds everywhere, moogs occasionally added in for good measure, and the unique drumming that fits this bizarre mix. Eruption begins with Lake's voice multi-tracked and slowly rising in number to meet the cymbal crescendo, Hammond organ to fit the track's name, moog that evokes the lava depicted in the album booklet. The bass is there, but only really as an atmospheric and rhythm section addition, and that works great for the song. This moves on the quieter hammond and bass section beneath Lake's beautiful vocals on Stones of Years. Everything is here, all working together, and nothing too dominant. The bass becomes a little more pronounced and provides the real rhythm while Emerson and Palmer overpoweringly provide the main tune. There's another similar vocal section. Iconoclast is solid and instrumental, while the following Mass is a bit acquired, but good once you get into it, and the trite Moog and low vocals defuse some of Tarkus' pretentious aspects. The instrumental section in the middle is great and Lake's guitar 'solo' is good.

Manticore is a fairly intense instrumental with masses of quirks, and music that suggest a battle more skilfully than The Gates Of Delirium (*beats off Yes fans with hammond organ*) ever did. Battlefield is the best section of a superb suite. Surprisingly emotional and dominant drumming, soul-wrenching lead guitar, beautiful singing with deep, war-related lyrics, and haunting organ-work that manages to somehow lead *as well*. Aquatarkus is a good return to the main theme, sprinkled with bits of moogage, and a great conclusion. This suite is essential prog listening.

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Posted Friday, January 18, 2008

Review by ExittheLemming
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Tarka the metallic otter (sent for an early bath) 0 - A very badly drawn mythical beast 1

'Tarkus' - The title 'suite' has now quite rightly entered into history as a hitherto unprecedented measure of how we now appraise those occupied in the creation of progressive rock music of any conceivable style, and is perhaps this records greatest and enduring legacy. It served almost as a 'blueprint' for much of the Italian symphonic Prog movement and has been a source of inspiration for musicians and composers ever since.

I do think it significant that Emerson's compositional style has been an acknowledged influence on other instrumentalists apart from just keyboard players, in contrast to Rick Wakeman, Patrick Moraz, Tony Banks, Dave Greenslade & Rod Argent etc.

There are palpable traces of Bartok, Ginastera and perhaps Zappa throughout Emerson's creation and he chose wisely in allowing for the danger of the whole 20 minutes alienating his audience, to contrast the 'Eruption - Iconoclast - Manticore - Aquatarkus' instrumental sections with some more conventional song based material utilising Greg Lake's vocals. This technique served ELP well throughout their career and the overwhelming success achieved by Tarkus simply endorsed its repeated use on subsequent albums.

The material that comprises the remainder of the album is often either overlooked or dismissed as inferior to the Tarkus composition, but I feel that this is unduly harsh and think it long overdue for reappraisal.

'Jeremy Bender' - Where Floyd Cramer meets a defrocked cross dresser and after a boisterous night on the turps, duet on this whimsical number at 3 am before being led away to the cells in preparation for the trial. Often dismissed as ' filler' but good fun and Emerson's piano is always worth some of your time.

'Bitches Crystal' - The waltz rhythm's stubborn refusal to 'kick ass' has been a constant source of frustration to many a rock muso, and it took Palmer and his two buddies to teach them how to make this normally 'effete' pulse decimate hindquarters. All manner of stylistic bases are covered from jazz piano, blues rock, classical and even that tinkling 'ice cream van' music alluded to in the title. I also love the way ELP achieve a satisfying blend of the acoustic instruments and the Moog. Judging by some of their contemporaries efforts at around the same time, this is not as easy as they make it sound here.

'The Only Way' - The lengthy Bach quote is used I suspect, not for any musical purpose but to set up the right 'pious' atmosphere for Greg Lake to subvert with his attack on religious hypocrisy and self serving belief systems. It's not very often that ELP ever strayed anywhere near political, religious or social controversy as they do here, and whether they got their fingers burned or not, I do wish they had been as forthright with their views as they are on this very moving atheist rallying call. Compared to Greg's usual preoccupation with mythical beasts, love affairs that throw the planet off its axis and fantasy literature, this is 'gritty realism' by comparison.

'Infinite Space' - A criminally ignored track in their repertoire, probably because of its pungent Bartok harmonies and incessant bludgeoning 7/4 meter. I love this unreservedly for its sheer immovable force and the way Emerson harnesses some startling (Hungarian?) modes and scales in the creation of what seems at the outset, an extremely unlikely melodic denouement.

'A Time and a Place' - Starts off rather unpromisingly as a simple syncopated hard rocker but improves significantly once we reach the solo and the glorious ending. The former contains what must be the most visceral and 'bowel emptying' organ sound since records began while the latter is a classically hued feast of Moog synth that you just wish would never end. Stunning. The cake ain't too hot but Emerson's icing makes up for it.

'Are You Ready Eddy? - If only the answer had been 'No'...... we would at least have been spared this sub Pythonesque 'dicking about' that has become the ultimate ELP stocking filler. File under 'hammy' AND 'cheesy'

If memory serves me correctly, I think this was the unholy trinity's sole Number One album in the UK, and on the evidence of what is presented here, seems slightly ironic that such widespread endorsement was granted to what is perhaps the weakest of ELP's first five. That it not to say it was undeserving of such sales figures, but of all their early 70's records this is the one that has aged the least gracefully.

I would guess that the reasons are mainly down to the use of some rather dated studio techniques and effects which although de rigeur for the time, stamp '1971' indelibly onto the production to its detriment. Lake's multi-tracked harmony vocals and Palmer's phased drum kit rolls are two such instances, together with some rather kitsch and self-parodying 'freakout' rock guitar. From what little documented evidence I can gather, there was apparently considerable pressure brought to bear on the band by their record company to get the album out and into the shops as quickly as possible to appease fan demand, so this may have engendered some production 'short cuts' being used.

However, what has always been abundantly clear, is that we are not going to pull down the Taj Mahal just because it does not conform with our idea of modern architecture.

PS Tarkus really IS named after Tarka the Otter (check Emo's autobiography if you don't believe me)

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Posted Monday, May 05, 2008

Review by ProgressiveAttic
COLLABORATOR Eclectic Prog Team
5 stars Every time I listen to this one and read the reviews here I can't help asking myself, how can someone rate this album under 5 stars? Because for me this is the most impressive and best prog album in history + it is somewhat underrated .

Tarkus summarizes all the aspects that make prog what it is and takes them to the extreme: highly pretentious and pompous; meaningful and well written lyrics (both serious and humorous); top-notch and highly precise musicians; and a 20 minute suite (I think this fits the pretentious category...).

The lineup is really impressive: Greg Lake (King Crimson): with his distinctive and beautiful voice added to his strong bass support to the music; Keith Emerson (The Nice): the man who helped to revolutionize the use of keyboards and one of the founders of the symphonic prog genre; Carl Palmer (Arthur Brown, Atomic Rooster): a highly skilled percussionist (almost orchestral) who is also capable of playing (as shown on this record) jazz and rock; and Peter Sinfield (King Crimson) as lyricist and lyrics play a major part on this album.

The Tarkus suite presents quite a mix of styles (as most prog does): here we have some 20th century classical music (mainly Bartok and Ginastera, both composers with which Emerson seems to be somewhat obsessed) fused with jazz ala Oscar Peterson and the rock element is always there (this is progressive rock after all!).

What can I say? here we have some of the iconic and most acclaimed musicians in prog at their best: It has some of the best vocals that I've ever heard, the legendary moog and organ sounds leading the music with some piano and a drummer/percussionist that changed the way I see a rock rhythm section. Added to all that we have some of the escence that made In The Court of The Crimson King a masterpiece(brought by Lake... but this is for another review), it has at least 20 over 5 stars in my book.

OK, the second side is nothing compared to the first but it isn't bad at all, from Bitches Crystal to Time and a Place we have a bunch of magnific tunes:

Bitches Crystal with its crazy atmosphere and vocals, great piano work and strong drum work deserves being hailed as a classic prog song.

The solemn The Only Way/Infinite Space combo is worth listening to experience the grandeur of Emerson playing a church organ and some jazzy lines on the piano; Lake's voice isn't bad at all , while Palmer is more on the background but still powerful. (this is the kind of pompousness that I love!).

A Time and A Place closes the "serious" part of the album with a great team effort that again is pretentious and pompous but well played and fun to listen.

The touch of humor provided by Jeremy Bender and Are You Ready Eddy? help digest the dense content of the rest of the album... and I think they are a valuable addition to the record because I think that nothing should be taken to seriously (and people such as Zappa, Wyatt, Hillage and Sinclair would probably agree with me)

This side might not deserve a 5 star rating but at least 3.5 (or 4...or maybe even 4.5....).

Lyrically its just amazing: antiwar message (Tarkus)+ "political" and religious criticism (The Only Way) + humor (Are You Ready Eddie and Jeremy Bender) + mysticism (Bitches Crystal) + confusing and apparently meaningless philosophical lyrics (Time and a Place)

The average between 20 and 3.5 (+bonus 1 for lyrics) gives 12.75....still a 5!

People normally assume that being pompous and pretentious is a bad thing... but I consider it to be a compliment when the artist delivers enough quality to match his pretensions and pompousness (which is the case with most ELP albums). And this is one of the reasons why I love prog....

If you like prog and don't mind it taken to the extreme this is an essential!

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Posted Thursday, May 08, 2008

Review by progaardvark
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars ELP's second album, Tarkus, suffers from the same problem their debut had, but there's more of it now. That problem is basically filling up an album with stuff when you don't have enough well-written material to complete the job. Probably the best example of this is the entire side two of Tarkus, consisting of six short tracks. The first side of the album contains the amazing seven-part suite, 20+ minute title track about the military-industrial complex and the futility of war. It's a bit deeper than that and worthy of a critical study by academia.

So what this album ends up doing is giving the listener the best and the worst of ELP on alternate sides. It really does have that Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde feel to it. But what is most disappointing about it is that when you are finished with the Tarkus suite, it's a steep downfall into mediocrity and at best laughable fodder from what are supposed to be skilled craftsmen of their art. Oddly enough, Greg Lake was not pleased with the Tarkus suite when Emerson first brought it to the group, as he apparently saw a different direction for the group. This conflict between Lake and Emerson would continue to grow.

Because half this album is sub-par at best, I can't really give this more than three stars. But I must say that the Tarkus suite alone is worth getting this as it is probably one of the best tracks ELP ever created. A must-have for ELP fans. Newcomers to the band should get their debut, Trilogy, and Brain Salad Surgery before considering getting Tarkus.

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Posted Monday, June 23, 2008

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
4 stars I took the Tarkus test when I first heard ELP many years ago doing their ultimate epic on a live album. I sought this album out to add to my collection as it certainly is one of the best this band has to offer. In every department the 20 minute Tarkus epic is mind blowing, and a prime example of the progenitors of symphonic prog with the virtuoso musicianship of the three band members. Tarkus is in many parts which makes perfect sense on each listen as there are defined breaks in structure as each movement begins. The track acts as a type of multimovement suite in the same way a classic piece of Vivaldi or Beethoven is structured. There are times of serene beauty and these are complimented by washes of synthesizer and cymbal splashes. The pace gets hectic with each movement progressing into jagged guitar solos and percussive showmanship. The vocals are memorable, and burst in and out of the cacophony of sound.

Tarkus is quite simply quintessential prog and if you have not heard it, treat your ears to a listen at your nearest convenience - you will be astounded by this bombastic masterpiece. The other tracks on the album are surprisingly ordinary when compared to the title track.

We have 'Jeremy Bender', a satirical piece of nonsense that is annoying at best, though is not as bad as the Elvis impersonation of "Are you ready Eddy?" - actually the less said about this the better.

'Bitche's Crystal' is a great track that rocks out. And the other tracks are passable. So it is a flawed masterpiece, experimental and, as most ELP albums are, full of brilliance and yet scattered throughout are cringe-worthy moments. I still think this is a worthy addition to a prog collection because 'Tarkus' is one of the best tracks I have ever heard, and in 20 minutes never manages to become boring.

Better than this album however is the brilliant album you must hear before you die, 'Brain Salad Surgery'.

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Posted Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars This is one of those cases where one masterpiece carries an entire album, not just making it worth having, but making it essential. This is not to say that there is nothing noteworthy on the second half, however.

"Tarkus Medley" Rivaled only by the incredible "Karn Evil 9," the title song is their musically tightest composition. Even though the title would suggest that the song features several distinct but related pieces strung together, it is sometimes difficult to know when one segment ends and another begins. The song begins in a deceptive way: A smooth wall of Greg Lake's vocals build tension until the volcano gives birth to Tarkus, a half-tank, half-armadillo monstrosity. This birth is represented by a bombardment of keyboards, bass, and drums in 5/4. The first verse is somewhat sedated and immediately memorable. Emerson's organ runs clicks away in a percussive frenzy. Lake's bass notes are appropriate for each and every chord. There are brief but pleasant electric guitar bends with a tone that would be heard again on their hit "From the Beginning." Palmer bashes away. When not relying solely on organ, Emerson pulls some attention-grabbing sounds out of his Moog. Thirteen minutes in begins what I would consider to be the most fascinating part of this song; the recurring motif between verses is one of the best bits of music ever composed in progressive rock history. A variation of that melodic idea is used to usher the song to its conclusion, which is a reprise of the beginning. While the mythology behind this song may not be all that clear, what is perfectly clear is that this piece is an extraordinary example of progressive rock of an epic magnitude.

"Jeremy Bender" This extremely short song has honky-tonk piano playing throughout, with Jim Croce-like lyrics, only more flippant. The words are about cross-dressing, and after listening to the giant wonder that came before, it makes one question how the band could reasonably follow it up with this.

"Bitches Crystal" Had the band put more effort into it, this song could have been reworked to be a shining example of progressive rock. The makings are there- groovy bass, ranting lyrics, powerful drumming, excellent keyboard work in between lines. Throughout the verses, the piano is repetitive, and would have worked better as an organ part. Most of the time, the band would have been better served if Emerson's contribution consisted mainly of organ and Moog instead of tacky chorused piano.

"The Only Way (Hymn)" Lake sings a pleasant melody over Emerson's church organ. The anti-theistic lyrics are cynical, almost to the point of being snide ("Can you believe God makes you breathe? Why did He lose six million Jews?). Soon after, the group plays together, a lively bass and piano part, but there's little more to this one.

"Infinite Space (Conclusion)" Compared to everything surrounding it, this "conclusion" is rather plain, mostly using a 7/4 structure for Emerson to tinker with the piano over. There are some interesting runs, both on the piano and the bass, but overall, this is a tedious track.

"A Time and a Place" Like "Bitches Crystal," this song could have easily worked as part of a longer piece. Emerson is back on his percussive organ, and they give a sound similar to the Tarkus Medley. This is a very good effort.

"Are You Ready Eddy?" This tribute to their producer is, frankly, a terrible way to conclude the album. If someone had heard this before anything else, they would likely assume that ELP were clones of Jerry Lee Lewis. With its boogie-woogie piano playing and cheesy reverb on the vocals, this song can't be taken seriously.

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Posted Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Tarkus is the second studio album from symphonic prog rock act Emerson Lake & Palmer. I remember when I purchased the LP in a second hand store back in the nineties. I was drawn to the album by the strange Armadillo/ Tank cover artwork and I remember thinking to myself that it had to be some really weird music. As it turned out the music on Tarkus isn´t that weird, but it certainly was different from anything I listened to back then.

As on all releases from Emerson Lake & palmer Tarkus is dominated by Keith Emerson´s organ, piano and synth work ( Moog). Lots of bombastic classical influences and fast runs. Every keyboard players wet dream. Carl Palmer´s drumming is also extraordinaire and really exciting most of the time while as always with Emerson Lake & Palmers releases I don´t enjoy Greg Lake´s input much. His bass playing is good and he also shows some average guitar skills but his singing never suited my taste. Every time he starts to sing the music falls flat on its face IMO.

Tarkus is dominated by the side long title track which is by far the most interesting piece here. I really enjoy the fusion like opening. Greg Lake´s singing is tolerable on this song. The short songs on the album vary in quality. Jeremy Bender is an absolute horror. It´s ELP trying to be funny, but it seems a bit humourless to me. The last song Are You Ready Eddy? is just as bad. Again the so called humour is waisted on me. Bitches Crystal, A Time And A Place and The Only Way (Hymn) are all good tracks while Infinite Space (Conclusion) is a bit too repetitive.

The production is excellent and very enjoyable. I especially enjoy the sound of the organ and the perfect drum sound.

Emerson Lake & Palmer has never been my cup of tea. I´ll acknowledge their outstanding musicianship anytime, but their compositional skills are questionable IMO. I´ve always considered their music to be a bit cold and emotionless. Tarkus is one of their best albums though and it deserves a 3 star rating.

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Posted Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Review by crimson87
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars How to qualify an album like TARKUS? While the first side contains the best epic of all time , the other one is supposed to have the so called filler songs.Does the proficiency of TARKUS make it up for the B- Side , or is the B-Side as good as the opener? Stay tuned.

Actually , it's none of the above. The much maligned B-Side it's pretty good , it just does not feature a monster epic but 6 short songs that shows us all that ELP were capable to do at the time. This goes from joke songs , classical adaptations and hard rock numbers.

The album opens with a cute little song called TARKUS. This pompous , overblown , self indulgent and pretentious epic , has the quality that distinguishes the memorable ones from the forgettable ones: This 20 minute song feels like a 3 minute Top 40 hit single to me. And you know why? Because of it's cohesiveness , every note is where it should be , every section has a purpose and even Lake's vocals fit with the mood of every section perfectly. But... the story regarding Tarkus is quite dull actually , everyone knows it : A tankmadillo that was born from an egg from a volcano and is beated by a manticore. Even if it was made to be a critic about war and the cruelty of it ( which you can tell mostly from the Battlefield section) the quality of the story is sub par. But this guys are musicians , not novelists so I guess I can't blame them and I will not. Since their main concern was the music and it was exellent I will award side A with the highest mark.

Now to side B. After such an effort as TARKUS , did they have any fuel left in the tank? Not much , but it still well administrated. First joke song in ELP's career is called Jeremy Bender and I like it since it's relaxing and if I am in the mood ,may even sing it. It reminds me of the shorter songs of the White Album for it's western motif , probably Rocky Racoon or Don't pass me by. C'mon it's just a minute and a half , don't be so harsh!

Bitches Crystal , it's a fast hard rocker in which Emerson plays a great acustic piano solo. And Lake gives his most over the top performance ever , one thing is certain: He is not Ian Gillan. Fourth song it's called The only way/ Infinite space .Musically it's exellent , it features a church organ like the The Three fates but not as loud I think this makes the song more enjoyable. However , the lyrics are some of the worst in ELP's 70's period. I am lucky since I like in a spanish speaking country and nobody cares but I guess that hearing such cheesy lyrics in the UK or the US must be either pathetic or hilarious.

The album closes with two songs that run under the 3 minute mark: A time and a place and the infamous Are you ready Eddy. The first one is a hard rocker much like Atomic Rooster or Uriah Heep , nothing spectacular but still a nice track. The last one is just a joke song about ELP's album producer. Like I said with Jeremy bender , don't be so harsh!

Suming up , the B side can't be regarded as a landmark in progressive rock. I would award it 3 stars. However , the magnificence of TARKUS takes this album to legendary status. What would have been of our beloved genre without 20 minute monster epics?

NOTE: In Tarkus's case PLEASE don't judge a book by it's cover!

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Posted Saturday, December 20, 2008

Review by Gooner
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Personally, there aren't many prog.rock bands that can hold my interest for more than 10-12 minutes per piece of music. ELP, YES, GENESIS and RUSH are the few exceptions. The _Tarkus Suite_ is one of the finest examples of the prog.rock suite out there(over 20 minutes)...the others being YES's CLOSE TO THE EDGE, GATES OF DELERIUM and AWAKEN, as well as RUSH's _Hemisphere Suite_ and GENESIS's _Supper's Ready_. Others being Caravan's _For Richard_, _Nine Feet Underground_...and the 2 Matching Mole and Hatfield & The North studio recordings(collectively). Some of the German electronic bands can manage the 20 suite competently, as well(Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, Ashra, etc.). Not much to add here about ELP's _Tarkus_ that hasn't already been written other than it's a keyboard lover's delight. I haven't heard anything since that has brought to that mysterious gothic place since. The only low point of this album is _Are You Ready Eddie?_, but it's joke track to begin with and they placed that turkey at the end of the album. Had they placed at the beginning of Side B, it would be questionable(as in...wow, you've just killed a classic album, guys!). The other classic here are the heavy duty _Bitches Crystal_ and the spacious _Infinite Space/The Only Way_ which reminds me of ELP meets Thelonius Monk. Nice time changes. The heavy rocker _A Time And A Place_ would not be out of place on something like Deep Purple's _Fireball_. Another great track. Jeremy Bender? A competent short track, sounding Pete Sinfield-influenced lyrically, but nothing amazing. Nothwithstanding the flaws of Tarkus, this gets a 5 star rating since the annoyance factor is very limited. Another great starter for those wanting an introduction to prog.rock. You can't go wrong with TARKUS>

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Posted Sunday, March 08, 2009

Review by CCVP
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Sometimes the involution can be pretty awesome

Tarkus is one of Emerson, Lake and Palmer best-selling albums and their best-selling studio album. Tarkus was one of the key albums that made the band famous, along with Pictures at an Exhibition, and, in my sincere opinion, is the band's best album, being followed by the also excellent and all-time favorite of almost every ELP fan Brain Salad Surgery.

Despite the importance of Takus, the album is seen today with indifference by many and, dare I say, as a frugal and minor release by the band. All of those opinions, which, I might add, are mostly erroneous, tend to support, overall, that this album was not so important because the only relevant thing it had was the epic side-long song with the same name as the album. Indeed Tarkus is, by far, one of the best songs ever recorded by Emerson, Lake and Palmer, but that does not outshines the other half of the album, which, I might add, is just as good as the said epic. The thing is that the second half of this very album is not as easy to listen or as catchy as the epic, so people tend to put the second part of the album aside and only value what they can get more easily, and as a result you have so many unfair reviews and ratings (to say the least) of the brilliant album.

Regarding the songs, musicianship and other features, there are somethings I would like to say

In Tarkus we have the debut of the classic Emerson, Lake and Palmer sound, as the music they presented in their debut was way too experimental, heavy and acid, when compared to their other albums. So it was in their 1971 album that the pace was set for their later albums such as Trilogy and Brans Salad Surgery. Blues and jazz influences, heavy classical music influences, moderate usage of dissonances and atonalism (though they were pretty common in their music), great deal of virtuoso playing, usually uplifting musical themes in major keys and western/country American musical themes.

The epic song Tarkus is a concept song that tells the story of a creature of some sort named Tarkus and its journey. It was born from an egg / stone erupted from a volcano. When the egg / stone hatches the armadillo tank starts its journey and fights and defeats a series of strange animals during it, including a manticore. At the end of its journey, Tarkus goes to the sea. This concept's main theme is the involution: life came from land (instead of coming from sea) and then went to the sea (instead of going to land), so its a reverse evolution, an involution.

In the second half of the album we have a series of small songs with varied themes, usually regarding small stories. The second half of the album also have a wide array of musical themes, going from traditionall rock and roll, like in Are You Ready Eddy?, to classical music, like in The Only Way (Hymn) and Infinite Space (Conclusion).

Grade and Final Thoughts

Tarkus is my favorite Emerson, Lake and Palmer album and one of my all-time favorite albums, so it shouldn't be hard for me to give a high grate to the album. Besides, Tarkus was a historical album for progressive rock whose importance MUST be noted at all times. For all those reasons, and many more, 5 stars to this fantastic and revolutionary album.

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Posted Sunday, April 26, 2009

Review by Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars If you really think hard, everything you could possibly love about prog rock is all present on the title suite, and everything you could possibly hate about prog rock is here as well. Why such a paradox?

Listen to the ''Eruption'' theme and you'll see what I mean. Given any person, they'll either cry foul and say that ELP have lost their minds wallowing in pretentious excesses or become absolutely blown away by everything presented. Every last trait that any progger could love is presented on this piece; the length (barely over 20 minutes), an odd metre here and there, massive amounts of keyboards, an epic story, blistering drumming, intricate bass, powerful vocals, etc.

I really enjoy ''Tarkus'' simply because of how well I thought it was pieced together; the instrumental-vocal-instrumental type of setup may be typical, but it's enjoyable. My favourite bits are the instrumental sections as the vocal sections contain solos that drag out too long. And unlike most epics, I can't wait to get to the end of the piece (''Aquatarkus''), and when it's all over, I wish that it couldn't end. Even with all of the over-pretensions, even if I have wrote off other epic pieces, ''Tarkus'' just seems to grip me in nearly every possible way without explanation.

The rest of the album is just throwaway. Reminds me of Rush's 2112 album but with a stronger epic piece and overall weaker B side tracks. I admit to liking ''Jeremy Bender'', but everything else has either boring stuff, redundant ideas, awful vocals or outtake-like humour. It drags the whole album down.

Remember kids, overplaying anything is bad for your musical health. That's why it only gets three stars despite the awesome epic piece. Say 3.5 if you want to push buttons.

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Posted Sunday, July 12, 2009

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
5 stars Tarkus, Emerson Lake & Palmer's second album is one spectacular, if flawed, piece of work. The title track remains, even almost forty years later, as one of the most fantastic, and most cohesive, prog rock epics ever recorded. Many long epics sound like many songs joined together to make them into one long song. But this one, with it's complex interwoven themes that pop up throughout the work, flows perfectly from one section to the other, often referencing back to previous ideas, or previewing sections to come. This is just a work of genius.

The second half (or slightly less than half) of the album is not bad either. While the songs are not as spectacular as Tarkus, they display the inventiveness and versatility of this remarkable band, whether in the honky tonk of Jeremy Bender, the more straight forward rock of Bitches Crystal, or the solemnity of The Only Way. And how can you not love the bravery it took to write a song espousing atheism, as the latter title did?

The only blemish I find on this album is the closer, the annoying Are You Ready Eddy?, an homage to the fabled engineer, Eddy Offord.

4.5 stars, rounded up.

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Posted Thursday, October 08, 2009

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Second ELP album isn't as good as the first was. First album part is all "Tarcus" medley - long 7-pieces composition in ELP classic tradition. It means, based on keyboards sound with some piano and bombastic drumming. Being a best album part, this composition for me isn't all bad, but is too cold and uninspired. And often too long.

Another LP side is filled by six short and more simple and rhythmic compositions. Still nice in some instrumental places, they are all r'n'r, jazz or even rag-time based,sometimes King Crimson alike sounding. Common sound in general and Lake's vocal in particular is more energetic,even aggresive, but it isn't for band's good.

Still strong album, but step back from great debut.

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Posted Friday, October 16, 2009

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
4 stars This is a hard nut to crack. It's nothing less then essential but it's not really very good. The band was sure at the peak of their game but didn't have much left to say after their defining debut. ELP was a tightly rocking but guitar-less unit: led by Keith Emerson on organ and synths, with ample room for drum demonstrations from Carl Palmer and with good bass and vocals from the ever adorable Greg Lake.

One of the remarkable aspects of the epic beast Tarkus that makes up the bulk of this album, is how rhythmic this music is. Especially from a band in the symphonic field, the cascading sequence of heavy marching rhythms and fast tempos is exceptional. It's nothing danceable of course; it's rhythm for the mind with unusual time signatures and whopping organs. But it sounds massive and entirely original. Good to hear a symphonic prog piece that goes so far beyond just melody alone. Greg Lake is the one that adds some melodic elements to it, with his commanding vocal hymns and even a bit of lead guitar, but the bulk of this piece is pumping organ, vibrant bass and Palmer's frivolous drums that dash all over the place.

Being a bit of a drum & bass kind of guy, I used to love this piece to death, but over the years, time has not been gentle to these baroque and fairly predictable war rhythms. There have been numerous more challenging bands working around rhythm since then. Magma, to name just one, has proven to maintain a more timeless and universal appeal. They could thrash this Tarkus armadillo with any of their söngz in no time.

Anyway, a monster epic it is and side B comes off disappointing in comparison. Only A Time And A Place rouses above the average filler around it. This album also really misses one of those typical amazing Greg Lake ballads.

Tarkus is a milestone of prog, few will argue with that. The question is whether we would want the classic prog style to be represented by this piece rather then by an epic from Floyd, Yes or Genesis. For me that choice is easy. Still, you got to own this one if you want to make any claim of being a prog fan. 4 stars but I won't be as gentle next time.

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Posted Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Review by progrules
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Just did the review of the BSS release and referred there to this album. I compared the two epics for instance and concluded that the title track of this album suited me much better than Karn Evil as a whole. Well, in fact the difference in appreciation is not really black and white. Karn Evil also had good moments same as this Tarkus is far from perfect to me. But I agree this is a milestone in prog history. And the magnum opus for the band as well. This is a very versatile epic both in melodic aspect as in tempo shifts and alternation between vocal and instrumental passages. It all secures that this epic is far from boring. All things considered it scores about 4 stars in my book.

The short songs on the other side of the vinyl are a different matter though. Less experimental, so more mainstream than those on BSS but not much better I have to say. Some ragtime piano on Jeremy Bender, again piano on Bitches Crystal as main feature, the nice hymn tune The Only Way (my favourite of the short ones), Infinite Space proves that this album is mainly about Keith Emerson. I wonder when Mr. Lake steps up to take his turn (!?) , A Time and Place is a bit heavier than the others but the vocals are at least debatable, Are you Ready, Eddy ? is a short rock 'n roll track in Jerry Lee Lewis style. On average these short tracks score about 2,5* for me. So this can only result in a 3 star outcome for Tarkus (3,25).

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Posted Thursday, February 04, 2010

Review by friso
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Emerson Lake & Palmer - Tarkus (1971)

An evolutionary sound!

I'm not a big fan of ELP must I must admit side on of Tarkus is absolutely amazing. It's hard to find a better recorded album dating from '71. They key's play a centrol role, but they sound is extremely heavy on side one. It might even get heavy metal fans excited! The adventurious sound of the Tarkus suite is great. The vocals Greg Lake give me a warm feeling due to it's link to early King Crimson. The drums are great too, this is technical drumming on the right moments. The magical sound of the lyrical parts have that 'progressive' feel I really enjoy. Throughout the suite I can keep my attention on the music. The keysolo's are better then on most other albums and the bluesy guitar solo of Lake is nice too.

On side two their are a buch of weak B-tracks. This is the problem of this record: A great first side and a semi-amateurish second side. I'm not going to disuss the second side to much. The songs sound un-inspired, have losely gathered concepts, are recorded less intelligent and are never as interesting as the Tarkus suite.

Conclusion. This record will always be a mixed bag. The first side is legendary and esential for any progressive music collections, whilst the second side is an uncomfortable affair. I really don't like unbalanced albums, so I myself only listen to side one. I'll give this three stars as a rating, but those who actually reed reviews got the point of how interesting side one is.

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Posted Saturday, March 13, 2010

Review by thehallway
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Tarkus, for me, is not an album. It is a song (probably the best song ELP have to offer, but a song nonetheless). And this song happens to have six b-sides...

Looking at the overall package, it is clear that everything revolves around the title track: the name, the outer artwork, the inner-gatefold images, the fonts, even the name of the record company these guys would subsequently set up. Tarkus, the song, is worth 5 stars hands down, but I won't attempt to justify the merits of this prog epic because hundreds have done so already in previous reviews. Lets just say, for arguments sake, that it is perfect. Within ELP's catalogue it certainly is. But then theres the other 20 minutes.

Now most prog bands who have released a side- long song have at least focused some of their attention to the other tunes. Lizard, Meddle, Relayer, Foxtrot... all these albums (and many more) are great examples. Obviously the epics are intended to be the best songs, and they are, but there's always some good tunes on the other side as well. Some have filler, but the only "other side" that I've encountered which contains NOTHING BUT filler, is Tarkus here. After reading the recent forum thread about whether humour belongs in progressive music or not, the conclusion is that it does if it's actually funny. 'Jeremy Bender' and 'Are You Ready Eddy' are NOT funny. Thus, their purpose (other than for fulfiling Emerson's boogie woogie cravings and ragtime addiction) is rendered obsolete. On top of this there are two below-mediocre rock shorts, a stolen hymn, and another pointlessly repetitive instrumental. It's not just me who hates these tracks; it's fair to say that everybody with remote taste, ignores them.

Tarkus is a 5-star song, but this site its for rating albums, not songs. At best, this is half an album (or a very short album). It's like an extended single with too many b-sides. So, for an album which I consider to have one, albeit good song, the overall package has to be deducted accordingly.

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Posted Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Review by EatThatPhonebook
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars ELP 's second album could have been one of the very best prog albums ever made. It could have really: like the typical progressive rock album, there is a very long suite that occupies a whole LP side, all the songs are 100% progressive, all of them inspired by classical music, and the whole album is a concept.

So what went wrong?

"Tarkus" is probably the best ELP song of all time, and one of the best prog songs ever. That's how much I love. Every single second is pure genius, all three musicians do an outstanding work and performance as a group, but even each of them singularly (Emerson is absolutely wild, and so is The legendary Carl Palmer, one of my favorite drummers.). A fantastic song, I never get sick of it.

"Jeremy Bender" is just a kind of silly song without too many credits and acclaims.

"Bitches Crystal" is the best song of this album after Tarkus. Very catchy and original, with an awesome riff.

The rest is pretty forgettable (but I like the last song. "Are You Ready Eddy", even though it is pretty silly). The tribute to Bach is a little interesting, a Time And Place has some nice moments, but that's all.

I think it's pretty clear now what went wrong.

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Posted Sunday, April 25, 2010

Review by tarkus1980
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Look at that cover! That, my friends, is an ARMADILLO TANK. Now, there have been many weird, weird album covers in the history of rock music, but for sheer psycho and bizarre effect, Tarkus has to take the cake. Plus, the theme extends to the pictures on the inner sleeve, which apparently are supposed to illustrate the 'epic story' told by the side- long title track. Basically, this creature is born on the side of a volcano, kills a giant grasshopper with a ... something-shaped head and a large robot pterodactyl, does battle with a metal manticore, and afterwards retreats into the safety of a nearby river....

But never mind all of the weird imagery and insane story, one that confused Lake so much that he came close to quitting during the album's sessions. What matters is that ELP solidifed their greatness amongst early prog bands by immediately following their best ever album with their best ever song, one that has had a longtime solid hold as my favorite ELP track. And it wouldn't be if it were totally faithful to this story (well, maybe it would, but I'm trying to make a point here). See, although the seven sections of the track have names like "Eruption," "Manticore," and "AquaTarkus" (?), the lyrics have almost nothing to do with the 'story.' Rather, the whole piece, when you get down to it, is (as stated in the intro) nothing more than three Lake ballads and pop songs highly augmented by complex and VERY interesting arrangments. Not that the instrumental themes are bad either. For instance, the opening "Eruption" has a terrific groove, with highly aggressive drum playing and Emerson's amazing keyboards leading the way and setting the tone for the rest of the piece.

Following that, we get the very solid "Stones of Years," which has yet another great melody, good singing, and of course lots more of Keith. Actually, come to think of it, that's probably what bothers people most about this song. The playing is fantastic, sure, but Emerson was in a highly experimental mode when it came to the various tones he could coax out of his mellotrons and other keyboards. This unfortunately causes many to denounce the piece as dated as anything can possibly be - I mean, these keyboard tones really have no equivalent to anything that had ever come in ANY format of music to that point. But dagnabbit, they're novel, and if you're a dork, they're so freakin' fun to listen to. And speaking of fun to listen to, next comes the instrumental "Iconoclast," which it does a great job of creating in your mind the image of a psychotic tank moving through the countryside and blowing things to bits (all of those tight rolling keyboard lines with fast martial drumming actually can create imagery, fancy that). Plus, it's short, so one can never accuse it of becoming boring vis a vis an overstay of welcome.

But then ... what the heck?? "Mass" has NOTHING to do with the story, but that's just fine with me. It's too bad that Greg couldn't be in a band with less, um, ambition, since with a less intimidating arrangment it most likely would have been a hit. I mean, that melody, regardless of how annoying Keith's synth tones might be at times, is SO CATCHY AND SO MUCH FUN. And besides, I don't want to give the impression that this part is an otherwise great track marred by Keith, because that's not how I feel at all; the insane amount of energy and intensity and energy that goes into the keyboard playing is quite a sight to behold, weird tones or no, and that gives it a license to stick around me as much as it would like. And besides, Lake gets in some really nice guitar licks in the middle (ah, Lake's guitar, the great forgotten ELP asset), so you can choose to listen to those instead.

After yet another solid instrumental reprise of "Eruption (Manticore)," we get piece number three, the majestic "Battlefield." The lyrics rule, Lake's voice makes them come to life, and his guitar (dig that weeping solo in the middle, especially when it doubles up!) complements Emerson's organ and piano chords perfectly, which present an enjoyable sort of bizarro dignity to the proceedings (a compliment, of course). Yup, Lake makes the words come to life in that good ole "Take a Pebble" and "Epitaph" manner once more, making total nonsense find a way to resonate in a way only he can. And, of course, no symphony (heh, rock-symphony) would be complete without an extended, grandiose finale, and for that we get the synth-fest "AquaTarkus." Now, if you want to punch a hole through your stereo while listening to Keith conjure up all of the most annoying synth tones possible (while Palmer plays his military rhythms, heh), I won't blame you in the slightest. I myself once felt that way, but now I wouldn't think of it. Maybe my tastes have just down the drain through the years, I dunno, but it's so funny. Genuinely funny. Besides, it ends eventually, and we close out with another short reprise of "Eruption" and the huge, important-sounding conclusion. And there you go; seven entertaining and short parts, with a good balance of original themes and timely reprisals, showing all of ELP's good sides and none of the bad (except for the key tones, but that's not so much bad as it is "just part of ELP.")

Oh, by the way, there's a second side to this album too. And it's good! The opening "Jeremy Bender" introduces to us a side of the band that we hadn't heard before, the lightweight cabaret-style piano band. I used to not be very fond of it, considering it too lightweight and even bland, but now I don't see much reason for that; the lyrics are amusing, talking about a guy who decides to become a nun, among other things, while the vocal melody and piano lines are perfectly enjoyable during its two minutes, so what else should I ask for? Well, actually, I guess I'd want something that sounds like a "Tarkus" outtake, like the very next track, "Bitches Crystal." Yup, the synth-drum-bass pattern is quite like "Eruption," but is also augmented with much more piano than the majority of "Tarkus" has, and whenever Lake brings out that insane "Knife Edge" belting, it's just ELP heaven for me.

Unfortunately, we finally crash into a low point of the album with the next two tracks. The seven minute "Only Way"/"Infinite Space" suite is quite on the dull side, and the anti-religion lyrics are absolutely pathetic and childish. In fact, I feel no choice but to subtract a full point from the album for this lame and dreary piece of crud. Sorry, Greg, you should've known better - if you want to put together an anti-religion rant, that's fine, but you'd better avoid such tasteless lines like the one about six million Jews. Give me "Aqualung" RIGHT NOW... To be fair, though, the "Infinite Space" part is alright on its own, with some low key discordant piano wanking that's pretty moody, so this part isn't as much a black hole as it could potentially be.

Let us forget the bad things of this world, though, and think of the good. The next track, "Time and a Place," RULES. Greg is belting his lyrics like there's no tomorrow, and Keith is playing his synths and organs LOUD and AGGRESSIVE (of course Palmer is great, but that just goes without saying). Like I've inferred before, I like the majestic Lake as much as anybody does, but when the band gets into a "Knife Edge" mode like this, giving Lake a chance to have screaming moments like "Show me those that underSTAAAAAAAAAAAND!" this is when ELP becomes a great band for me. Three minutes of aural bliss.

And finally, to remind us that they're not all serious, though, they close out with the absolutely HILARIOUS 50's R&B parody, "Are You Ready Eddy?." It's just neat to hear one of the most serious and majestic singers in rock belting "Bop me Eddy, bop me all night long." Or maybe it's just me. "Sock it to me"!

A great album this is. An acquired taste, yeah, and a VERY guilty pleasure, but once you can realize just how funny the title track is despite all of its pomp, and how neat these second half tracks mostly are, you should have a blast. Unless, of course, you can't get past all of those weird synths, in which case you should just give up ELP for good.

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Posted Sunday, June 13, 2010

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
4 stars I honestly can't find another album in my collection that has such a weird mixture of material where the best songs are mixed with the worst. What makes it even weirder is the fact that it manages to come out on top in the end! The best comparison that I can think of would be that of Rush's 2112 album since it also features, what I consider to be, their best suite on side one while side two is a mixed bag. But unlike that release, Tarkus has an even worse side two and still manages to maintain its dignity when taken as a complete album experience.

I'm really not sure how much I should say about the album's title track outside of the fact that it's easily my favorite composition by ELP since it combines all of the collectives best qualities. By that, I'm not talking about the tight collaboration work between the band members, since that idea was lost even on this relatively early release. It's all about striking a balance between the erratic personalities within the collective and Tarkus is a perfect example of just that.

Even if the Tarkus suite wasn't the first progressive epic, Procol Harum's In Held Twas In I is the earliest really mature epic I've discovered so far, it is a definite milestone of progressive rock. So if you are a progressive rock fan you should probably have already acquired this album and shouldn't bother with my tedious review. As for you others I don't pity you since the album is a downhill slide from here on! Most of the remaining tracks are fillers. Keep in mind that almost anything feels like a filler when it's compared to the title track suite. Notable mentions go to The Only Way (Hymn) and its followup Infinite Space (Conclusion), but otherwise the rest of the tracks are not in the same league. On a side note, I do realize that Are You Ready Eddy? is supposed to be a joke, but it's not even close to some of the lesser Genesis/Zappa-jokes from the same era and that pretty much says it all.

With Tarkus you basically get 21 minute of solid music followed by 17 minutes of mostly filler but its that first part that weights up the album. In the end, this album is still an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection and a must have for all Symphonic Prog fans.

***** star songs: Tarkus (20:42)

**** star songs: The Only Way (Hymn) (3:49)

*** star songs: Jeremy Bender (1:51) Bitches Crystal (3:58) Infinite Space (Conclusion) (3:20) A Time And A Place (3:02)

* star songs: Are You Ready Eddy? (2:10)

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Posted Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Review by colorofmoney91
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Tarkus is one of the best of early era ELP, and really shows their chops nicely. I've stated before that I'm definitely not an ELP fan, but the title track is a very enjoyable epic piece from the classic era of progressive rock. It is a bit noisy and random occasionally, but also contains some soulful vocals and catchy melodies. ELP has always had a way of writing technical music over musical music, which suits them well, but I definitely hate the pretentiousness of it. Most of the title track consists of the pretentious jamming rather than actual song structuring, and the following songs are ultimately forgettable in my opinion.

This is not very good progressive rock as much as it is a great album for people who like hearing people play pretentious technical nonsense.

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Posted Monday, April 11, 2011

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars If this album consisted of Tarkus on Side A, and then Tarkus again on Side B due to some sort of horrible manufacturing error, I'd give it five stars. The title track to this one is a classic, easily the best track ELP ever recorded, wonderfully original and a showcase for all the band member's talents.

But oh, that second side...

First off, the guys decide to include not one but two comedy songs. One is pushing it for any band which otherwise tries to adopt a serious tone. Now, comedy is a very personal thing and everyone has their own likes and dislikes. But personally, I find ELP's comedy songs incredibly grating. To me, they come across as though they are trying really hard to be funny, as opposed to just naturally being funny, and that's just fatal to comedy. Are You Ready Eddy is a simplistic rock and roll tune - if it took the guys more than five minutes to write and record it, it's bloody shameful. Jeremy Bender, meanwhile, is a corny piano ditty that's dated horribly not just in its style but also in its lyrical content - alluding to homosexuality for a laugh might have been socially accepted in the early 1970s, but these days it just comes across as homophobic.

Then there's The Only Way/Infinite Space, which isn't a comedy song but I kind of wish it was. Now, I have nothing against atheism - it'd be odd if I did, considering that I *am* an atheist myself - but the lyrics to this one sound like the sort of thing an angry teenager would write. "How did he lose/Six million Jews?" is not just a simplistic restatement of the essential problem of theodicy which is far too complex for the lyrical abilities of the band to really grapple with; it's also just plain crass.

The second side isn't completely meritless - Bitches Crystal is a good fast song and A Time and a Place is quite dramatic - but it has few saving graces. There is no way in good conscious I could give this album five stars, even though its title track is legendary, and side B is *so* bad that I can't even justify four. I'll give it three and no more.

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Posted Friday, July 01, 2011

Review by Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I suppose I do agree with most reviewers here at PA about ELP´s sophmore studio release, in some aspects. There seems to be little doubt that the title track is one of their best - if not their very best - epics. The Tarkus suite is a stunning combination of fine songwriting, clever and tasteful arrangements and superb performances. One fo the few groups that were talented enough and skilled enough to produce a 20 minute opus and make it sound as pleasant and interesting as a three minute song. There is not a single boring moment in the whole seven movements (the band had yet to get into their self indulgente period). A real masterpiece of prog music and astonishing achievement for such young group. Greg Lake have never sang so good and the band is reaching their pinnacle as a team efford. A real classic that never seems to age.

However, I disagree with most of the other writers about the record´s second side. While nowhere near the accomplishment of side one, it is still quite good. I guess anything would pale when compared to Tarkus, but the short stuff is not filler in any way, as far as I can see. The group was accused of being too serious and forget the basics of rock, i.e., good fun. Well, they had their humurous stuff too. Jeremy Bender is a nice piece of fun among other more ´straight´ material. Even the obviously simple Are You Ready Eddy (their homage to engineer Eddie Offord) is not a throway song, thanks largely to Emerson´s elegant piano and the band´s great technique. When somebody tells me ELP has nothing to do with rock´n rall, I show them this track. Besides, I always thought that A Time And A Place, Bitches Crystal, The Only Way and Infinite Space were very fine songs on their own. Not up to ELP´s best stuff, ok, but that doesn´t mean they are bad or even weak. They are good, just not great. And quite versatile. People do expected too much from them!

All in all, Tarkus is a terrific album. The band proved they were no fluke and they came to make an everlasting impact on the musical scene of the time. Maybe its impact was not as great as their first album, but it was a milestone in prog music, no less.

Final rating: 4,5 stars. Highly recommended!

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Posted Thursday, March 22, 2012

Review by octopus-4
COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
3 stars This time I'll start from the rating: a half masterpiece values 2.5 stars plus some good moments here and there on the B side leads to three.

This is a very synthetic judgement about an album that can appear overrated if you look at its entirety and underrated if you thin to the side long title track only.

Let's start from that: I'm almost sure that Emerson is not using a sequencer. He plays all these notes with his left hand while Lake plays the same on the bass. The keyboard's sound is the Emerson's trademark and one of the biggest source of pleasure in ELP music. This is how we wanted them to sound forever. Who could have imagined that just few years later they would have given us "Love Beach"? Everything in this epic is great. The melody sung by Lake with his unmistakable voice, the many changes underlined by Palmer's drums, the many instrumental solos of Emerson. Should somebody ask you how ELP sound, this is the song. All the best of the ELP music is in this epic track, even something reused, as a short sequence of notes taken from Nice's 5 Bridges Suite. Some sudden changes apparently break the continuity, but they are placed in the right place. What I think is a defect in Mike Oldfield's long composition which are often patchworks of short things recorded at home, is not under discussion with ELP. Tarkus is a consistent song made of different parts but all really connected and when a sudden change arrives it's because it sounds well in that place. There's also one of the very rare electric guitar solos played by Lake. Nothing special honestly, just a curiosity, but he's a master with bass and has one of the most beautiful voices of the prog world IMO.

Now the bad: "Jeremy Bender" is a short joke. Emerson will later become famous in the mainstream public with his incursions in ragtime and country-western music. This is I think his first one. Not the worst album's thing, precursor of The Sheriff which will appear on Trilogy but it's an ant compared to the Tarkus giant. I won't mention the poor lyrics.

"Bitches Crystal" is not bad, too. Relistening to it after long time I think I may have underestimated this B side, as this is still classic ELP. It's possible that my impression is conditioned by the greatness of the epic. Probably inverting the two sides would have been better even though an identically structured album like Pink Floyd's Echoes doesn't make me this effect.

"The Only War" is a song that I had forgotten. Now that I'm listening back to it, I'm surprised of how good it is. I thick I can consider it another ELP classic. "Infinite Space" is quite an instrumental follow-up of the previous song. In my tape memories they were the same song effectively, and I must say that I find this "second part" a bit boring, not so boring to skip it but not a listening pleasure.

"A Time And A Place" is the rock moment of the album and does here what "Living Sin" does on Trilogy. A heavy rock moment which plays its part effectively even if Living Sin is miles better.

If the epic on the A side hasn't helped me in appreciating the B side, a song like "Are You Ready Eddy?" as closer is the worst possible choice as closer. The album ends after this useless piece of RnR leaving the listener astonished. What is this song doing here? Eddy was a guy of the crew in the studio. I have read somewhere that he was eating a sandwich while he was at the mixer and the trio improvised this song as a joke. It should have been a bonus track, or a ghost track if we were in the CD era, but not the album closer.

Saying that a song like Tarkus is non-essential is a crime, but saying that Are You Ready Eddie is an excellent addition is a crime as well. Let's stay on the average rating.

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Posted Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Neo Prog Team
3 stars ''Emerson, Lake & Palmer'' was a marvelous and quite succesful debut for E.L.P., what though really established the trio as one of the most iconic Progressive Rock bands of the time was their brilliant performance at the legendary Isle of Wight Festival in 1970.With a heavier dose of ambition E.L.P. moved on to the recordings of a second, more complex album in January 1971.''Tarkus'' was recorded at the Advision Studios in London, featuring the paintings of graphic designer William Neal and dealing with the evolution theory in reverse.It was released a few months later on Island.

The eponymous 20-min. track, recorded in just four days, was the first attempt of the band to create a long and multi-part composition with lots of complicated themes and shifting moods.It is a great piece of music, quite tight and carefully structured, split in seven movements, really one of the milestone compositions of keyboard-based Progressive Rock.It is filled with Keith Emerson's frenetic and adventurous keyboard work with dominant Hammond organ pyrotechnics, often duplicated by his symphonic moog synthesizers, while the smoother and low-tempo moments have still an early KING CRIMSON aura, maybe because of Greg Lake's sensitive singing lines.However the band definitely moved away from the deeply Classical roots of THE NICE and had now fully established a virtuosic style of Symphonic Rock with impressive and unexpected changes.

The flipside of the album is pretty pleasant, but certainly not on the same level of the grand opening opus.It contains six very short tracks, often sounding a bit in the commercial side of Progressive Rock with ''A Time and a Place'' having a strong DEEP PURPLE influence on the Hammond organ work, while ''Are You Ready Eddy?'' is 100% Rock'n'Roll and ''Jeremy Bender'' has evident Pop/Psych influences despite Emerson's lovely piano work.The rest of the tracks are quite good and fairly based on E.L.P.'s established style of bombastic organ-driven Progressive Rock with powerful drumming by Palmer, nice, dramatic vocals by Lake and of course Emerson dual keyboard/piano exercises in full display, with even some grandiose Church organ appearing in ''The Only Way''.

To my ears the debut of E.LP. sounds more consistent with no weak moments.''Tarkus'' is highlighted by the very good eponymous epic, but the rather uneven second side leaves much to be desired.Still it remains a very good album, among the strongest releases of the time...3.5 stars.

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Posted Sunday, January 13, 2013

Latest members reviews

4 stars Tarkus would have been enough! The composition "Tarkus" is so complete. It defines progressive rock and contains all of what I love with prog rock music. That only track by itself is better than ELP's first record. But, the record "Tarkus" has also a B-side which is not at all as good as the ... (read more)

Report this review (#1126912) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Tuesday, February 04, 2014 | Review Permanlink

4 stars ELP's second album is somewhat unbalanced. You have the multi part song suite of the title track on side one, which is excellent, and then you have the other songs on side two that feel a bit underdeveloped. Some of the other tracks are kind of throwaways. They don't match up to the main feature. ... (read more)

Report this review (#1117609) | Posted by thebig_E | Wednesday, January 22, 2014 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Albums like this are far from my favorite to review. By "albums like this," I mean ones in which there is an exemplary track that stands alone as a masterpiece and the rest of the material is not up to snuff. This isn't only because the other songs aren't as good by comparison, but also becaus ... (read more)

Report this review (#1064047) | Posted by Neo-Romantic | Monday, October 21, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is my favorite album ever, so don't mind, I will praise it. I will not explain the Tarkus "plot", because you could find it here or anywhere else at the web, and the most of the plot involves you stare at the paintings, listen to the song, and let your mind do the rest. This was the al ... (read more)

Report this review (#946102) | Posted by VOTOMS | Thursday, April 18, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Emerson Lake and Palmer's second album Tarkus reveals somethings that point to the future sounds of ELP, while also causing one to shake one's head. There are a great number of ups and downs on this album. Side one of this album is ELP's magnum opus - Tarkus. The story is strange, to say the ... (read more)

Report this review (#912511) | Posted by wehpanzer | Monday, February 11, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Tarkus is a good album, but in my mind it is nothing but a road stop on the way to better things. The album is a technical success and it is consistently better than its rawer more experimental predecessor. It does however lack a measure of soul. The album is cold and at times tedious and preachy. ... (read more)

Report this review (#850930) | Posted by R-A-N-M-A | Sunday, November 04, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars From reading many other reviews on this album, one would know that this is a very divided album where the first half is quite different from the second half. The first half, "Tarkus" is quite possibly one of the greatest progressive rock epics ever written. Not only is it progressive rock, ... (read more)

Report this review (#801268) | Posted by Amilisom | Monday, August 06, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The year was 1971, a blessed year for progressive rock, with works like "Nursery Cryme" from Genesis, "Meddle" from Pink Floyd, "Pawn Hearts" from Van Der Graaf Generator, "Aqualung" from Jethro Tull and other great works. The second album from Emerson, Lake & Palmer, "Tarkus", defines the bases of ... (read more)

Report this review (#591457) | Posted by Catalani | Monday, December 19, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Well ELP got half the album right. With this one they decided to write as a group this time and made a side long track before Genesis and Yes to the punch. With the title track ELP showed us how to do it and still holds up and is a fantastic track. On the flip side they kinda falter a bit. Som ... (read more)

Report this review (#472154) | Posted by criticdrummer94 | Wednesday, June 29, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I really like some of ELPs acoustic pieces but Tarkus pretty much sums up all that is great about the band. Few bands can bring you into another world the way these guys can and Tarkus is one of the best examples of that ability. The title track attacks the listener and is very engaging. ... (read more)

Report this review (#452421) | Posted by Gyges | Thursday, May 26, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The Nice promised and excited, but never quite reached their goal, but when Emerson joined forces with Greg Lake and Carl Palmer, a true supergroup was born, and the era of prog began. It seems strange that a band owed so much by the genre it helped to create gets so much flak and hostility. It may ... (read more)

Report this review (#447433) | Posted by JeanFrame | Friday, May 13, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Tarkus ? 1971 (3.4/5) 11 ? Best Song: Tarkus (not because it's amazing, but because it's better than side two) This album, along with a few others by this band, and a few other bands doing basically the same thing at the time, have been heralded as masters of their craft, true wizards, and I go ... (read more)

Report this review (#441635) | Posted by Alitare | Monday, May 02, 2011 | Review Permanlink

1 stars The debut self - titled Emerson, Lake and Palmer had his faults, but it was still an enjoyable piece to listen to. However, it is defective in "Tarkus", his arrogant and horrible follow-up album. I'm the kind of guy who can see something good in any kind of album you listen, no matter how bad it ... (read more)

Report this review (#427225) | Posted by voliveira | Sunday, April 03, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Tarkus, as you may already know, is the exciting tale of an adventurous armadillo tank popping out of a volcano and going to war with some other Greg Lake (presumably) drawings you can see on the album's inner sleeve. Actually, as goofy as that concept is, NONE of it comes through in the lyri ... (read more)

Report this review (#401225) | Posted by KyleSchmidlin | Tuesday, February 15, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars People often talk about the 'masterpiece' that is Tarkus but criticise the album for lacking on Side 2. Well this can very much be the case on first and even second listen but when you really delve into the whole album it is easy to see that they didn't get writers block after the albums majesti ... (read more)

Report this review (#395961) | Posted by topographicbroadways | Monday, February 07, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I would really like to give this, and all ELP albums, higher star ratings, but...there always seems to be at least a track or two of "gimmicky" throw-away songs on all their releases. The examples here are "Are you Ready Eddy?" and "Jeremy Bender", both fortunately short, but both annoying as ... (read more)

Report this review (#394051) | Posted by mohaveman | Friday, February 04, 2011 | Review Permanlink

2 stars The strange (....and beautiful?) story of a tracked armadillo. Complexity is certainly one of the characteristics of prog music and, as you can imagine, progressive rock is without a doubt my favorite kind of music. Not always, however, the complexity meets my personal tastes: sometimes, even ... (read more)

Report this review (#356006) | Posted by Dark Nazgul | Friday, December 17, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I call it "The Tarkus syndrome" You have one side of a record with an epic that sounds truly groundbreaking, that embodies all the qualities in prog rock, well, in music really. A true statement, showing that ELP was not all about self-indulgence, excess and flashy technique. Well, mostly ... (read more)

Report this review (#344245) | Posted by Hedenman | Sunday, December 05, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The prog rock community, and the music community as a whole, seems to fall on two sides in regards to Tarkus: Depending on who you talk to it is either a masterpiece or complete, worthless dreck. I submit that it falls in the middle-Tarkus is a perfectly adequate album that doesn't quite achie ... (read more)

Report this review (#297669) | Posted by 40footwolf | Monday, September 06, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Ah, my personal favorite Emerson, Lake, and Palmer album. And what a great album it is. It has my second favorite ELP "epic" on it (right behind Karn Evil 9). Before I get into the track by track review, I'd just like to say that it is a shame how much the second half of this album is underrat ... (read more)

Report this review (#294694) | Posted by skihero45 | Sunday, August 15, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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