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WORKS VOL. 1

Emerson Lake & Palmer

Symphonic Prog


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Emerson Lake & Palmer Works Vol. 1  album cover
2.82 | 488 ratings | 57 reviews | 8% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Studio Album, released in 1977

Songs / Tracks Listing

DISC 1: 41:07
-- Keith Emerson --
1. Piano Concerto No. 1 {Emerson} (18:28)
a) First Movement: Allegro Giojoso (9:24)
b) Second Movement: Andante Molto Cantabile (2:12)
c) Third Movement: Toccata Con Fuoco (6:52)
-- Greg Lake --
2. Lend Your Love To Me Tonight (4:05)
3. C'est La Vie (4:20)
4. Hallowed Be Thy Name (4:38)
5. Nobody Loves You Like I Do (4:00)
6. Closer To Believing (5:34)
DISC 2: 46:16
-- Carl Palmer --
1. The Enemy God Dances With The Black Spirits (excerpt from "The Scythian Suite" 2nd Movement) {Prokofiev} (3:21)
2. L.A. Nights (5:47)
3. New Orleans (2:50)
4. Two Part Invention In D Minor {Bach, arranged by Palmer} (1:58)
5. Food For Your Soul (4:02)
6. Tank (5:12)
-- Emerson, Lake & Palmer --
7. Fanfare For The Common Man {Aaron Copland, arranged by Emerson} (9:45)
8. Pirates (13:19)

Total Time: 87:23

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

-- Keith Emerson --
Produced by: Keith Emerson
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Keith Emerson / Steinway piano
John Mayer / conductor
Keith Emerson, John Mayer / orchestration
-- Gregg Lake --
Produced by: Greg Lake and Peter Sinfield
Godfrey Salmon, Tony Harris - orchestral arrangements
Godfrey Salmon - conductor
-- Carl Palmer --
Produced by: Carl Palmer except "Food For Your Soul"
Co-produced by: Carl Palmer and Greg Lake
Special Thanks To:
Joe Walsh / guitar and scat vocal on "L.A. Nights"
Keith Emerson / keyboard on "L.A. Nights"
Andy Hendrikson, John Timperley / engineer
-- Emerson,Lake and Palmer --
Produced by: Greg Lake
Arranged by: Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Yamaha GX-1 featured on "Fanfare For The Common Man"
Keith Emerson, John Mayer - orchestration
The Orchestra de L'Opera de Paris
Godfrey Salmon - conductor
-- Album --
Released: March 22, 1977
Produced by: Keith Emerson, Greg Lake,
Carl Palmer and Peter Sinfield
Sound Engineers: John Timperley and Roger Cameron
Cover Design and Artwork by: Ian Murr

Releases information

Atlantic Records 1977; re-released 1996 on Rhino {USA / Canada}

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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EMERSON LAKE & PALMER Works Vol. 1 ratings distribution


2.82
(488 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(8%)
8%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(25%)
25%
Good, but non-essential (42%)
42%
Collectors/fans only (20%)
20%
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)
4%

EMERSON LAKE & PALMER Works Vol. 1 reviews


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by The Owl
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars Amazingly AWFUL is the only way I can think to describe this bloated abomination!

It was obvious that their over-fed egos had gotten the better of them at this point.

The "Piano Concerto" amounts to nothing more than a bunch of textbook post-Romantic Period cliches strung together, Keith, you are NO Rachmaninoff or Brahams! The Greg Lake stuff just wallows in sappiness, the Carl Palmer tracks are forgettable and the rest is just pure commercialized SCHLOCK! This almost makes Mannheim Steamroller sound like Stravinsky or Varese'! Worse, not a note of Hammond Organ to be found ANYWHERE, cheesy synth sounds in overkill mode and you get the picture.

Best possible use: clay pigeon substitute

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Send comments to The Owl (BETA) | Report this review (#14467) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, January 26, 2004

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
2 stars I thought it was awful when this came out but regarding what lays ahead in the future , this is still acceptable. No wonder , though , everyone laughed at prog excesses. The only thing I accept on here is this Common Man but even that is totally overblown while the rest is nearing ridicule in self-indulgence and self-proclamation. Talk about looking up their own arses.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#14468) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, February 05, 2004

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Taking sides

When this album was released, an number of music journalists, who by this time looked upon ELP with total derision, saw the small "Volume 1" notation on the sleeve as some kind of threat!

"Works" was a worthy attempt at keeping the band together by giving each member their own space. In a similar way to what Pink Floyd's did with Ummagumma, each of the three worked on their own contribution, The difference here is that, whereas the members of Pink Floyd got half a side of an LP each, Emerson Lake and Palmer each get a whole one.

Keith Emerson chose to dedicate his entire side to a piano concerto, complete with full orchestra, and devoid of any "rock" instruments. The piece stands up well as a classical composition, partly inspired apparently by watching his own house burn down. Emerson does at times tend to fall into the trap which has caught many rock musicians when they attempt to move into serious music, by tending to be over enthusiastic with the percussion and volume. The music is not however what you would expect from ELP, and it would perhaps have been wiser for Emerson to release this as a solo venture.

Greg Lake's side is more faithful to the ELP brand, or at least to his contributions to it. The tracks are all 4 to 5 minute songs in the mould of "Still you turn me on", and "From the beginning". The best tracks in this section are the ballads "C'est la vie" and "Closer to believing".

Carl Palmer's side is inevitably percussion based, but by and large he avoids over indulgence. "Tank" is reworked as a jazzier piece, the rest of the tracks following in a similar vein.

The final side consists of 2 more traditional lengthy band tracks. "Fanfare for the common man" is effectively "Trilogy part 2", an excellent Emerson led instrumental, which succeeded as a single in edited form. The final track "Pirates", includes orchestral accompaniment. The track has a stage show feel to it, but rambles rather aimlessly though its story. At about 14 minutes long, it outstays its welcome considerably, and makes for a rather disappointing end.

As an ELP album, "Works volume 1" sees the band moving away from the formula which had brought them fame and fortune on preceding albums. It was a brave, but probably necessary change which, while serving to give the band members' egos the space they needed, alienated many fans, and in retrospect signalled the beginning of the end.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#14469) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I always believed the best progressive rock albums are the ones having orchestral arrangements. This double LP has some of the best ELP tracks: the ones having a very participating orchestration: "Piano Concerto No. 1", "Pirates" and "The Enemy God Dances With The Black Spirits", among others.

Side one is Keith Emerson's side: "Piano Concerto No. 1", lasting around 18 minutes, has an excellent mix of piano and strings + horns arrangements, very lively, heroic, sometimes joyful and sometimes mysterious. Actually, one cannot ask more such an orchestra to participate to the overall music: GRANDEUR and NOBILITY are just normal qualifiers for that chef d'oeuvre!

Side 2 is Greg Lake's side. The tracks are shorter, they are more accessible and they have some acoustic guitar parts. Unfortunately, this side is the weakest one. "C'est la vie" is a very well known easy listening acoustic song, a bit boring but nevertheless good, ending with a very European accordion part. "Hallowed Be Thy Name" is a bit weak, being not really catchy and addictive, having some irritating dissonant classical arrangements. "Nobody Loves You Like I Do" is another mediocre track: uninspired, I think it contributes to demolish this Greg's side!! Finally, "Closer To Believing" has some very good relaxing orchestral and choir arrangements, and it is probably the best track on this side, slightly reminding me the mystical side of prog rock band Renaissance.

The side 3 is the Carl Palmer's side: The tracks styles are varied, and there are still some excellent orchestral arrangements, especially on the very complex "The Enemy God Dances With The Black Spirits", by Prokofiev. Carl Palmer shows his skills on the percussions like xylophone, especially on "Two Part Invention In D Minor". He drums at his best on "Food for your soul": VERY impressive! The first half part of "Tank" is excellent: OUTSTANDING orchestral arrangements, followed by delightful jazzy sax parts a la Eberhard Weber (the "Silent feet" album)! "L.A. nights" is very unusual, for party people.

The side 4 has 2 tracks: "Fanfare for the common man" sounds more like early ELP, being sometimes experimental, sometimes heroic. The drums are too repetitive. The last track, "Pirates", has a delightful mix of contemporary classical epic music and lively keyboards : very melodic, progressive, dynamic, charming and complex. Even Greg Lake sings with passion on this track. The only weak point of "Pirates" is that it takes time to really start.

Rating: 4.5 stars

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Send comments to greenback (BETA) | Report this review (#14482) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, April 08, 2004

Review by daveconn
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars ELP returned from an extended hiatus in 1977, sweetly oblivious to the fact that progressive rock was on the decline. Many bought the double-elpee set just the same (temporarily forgetting the substantial investment that Welcome Back was) to find that "Works Volume 1" was in fact three sides of solo music fused together with a token "band" side at the end. No doubt it's this sort of tinkering with the affection of fans that resulted in the backlash against the band in later years. For their trouble, the faithful were treated to predictably ambitious classical rock: Keith Emerson's "Piano Concerto No. 1", jazz and classical rock hybrids from Carl Palmer, a handful of winning ballads from Greg Lake, and two extended works credited to ELP at the end. Sure, it all requires a little patience, but the rewards are manifold: the second and third movements in Emerson's concerto, the familiar "C'est La Vie" and the undiscovered "Nobody Loves You Like I Do", Palmer's playful "Two Part Invention in D Minor", the band's arrangement of Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man", and the last great epic in their oeuvre, "Pirates". Because this album plays up the band's classical aspirations, it may alienate some listeners (e.g., those that felt "Pictures At An Exhibition" was an unnecessary exercise).

The side from Greg Lake deflates the album's pretensions somewhat, but even his ballads go over the top sometimes ("Closer to Believing" is a little precious, for example). And Emerson's piano concerto sounds to these ears like a pastiche of ideas rather than a traditionally structured piano concerto where you might expect the piano to introduce and expound on a dominant theme. Likewise, the band's extended take on "Fanfare" will test the limits of most listeners (the edited single version at least recognizes the ephemeral novelty factor of the idea). Ultimately "Works Volume 1" succeeds at sounding like an ELP album rather than a collection of solo material. It's not the tour-de-force of a "Tarkus", "Trilogy" or "Brain Salad Surgery", but a longing gaze at a band many loved (and many loved to hate). It's ambitious, brilliant in fits, tiresome in patches, and unrepentantly Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

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Send comments to daveconn (BETA) | Report this review (#14463) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, April 17, 2004

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Prog Specialist
3 stars The problem with the bands that are based in the ego of their members more than in the music itself is that they reach the point when each one tries to be the leader, and nothing can work with two or three heads even when all the members are virtuoso musicians and talented composers as in this case.

It's worthless to describe this album song by song because it was released in the old LP format to be listened side by side or more precisely author by author.

Keith Emerson's side consists in Piano Concerto N°1, which IMO has no head or feet, of course the listener notices the talent of Keith, but the structure, influences and development of the concerto are not clear even to the author. I believe Emerson has by far more talent and imagination than it's revealed in this pretentious concert.

Greg Lake's side is full of soft songs that try to recreate the more successful and commercial ELP songs like Lucky Man or From the Beginning, but without the force and quality of their previous hits, "Ces't La Vie" and "Closer to Believing" are the strongest tracks of the side.

Carl Palmer's side is IMO the stronger of the three first ones, he plays Bach and Prokofiev's music with amazing quality and imagination, plus his own music with a clear jazzy edge, his strongest tracks are "The Enemy God Dances with the Black Spirits" and "Tank".

The last part of the album contains two ELP epics (It was about time to listen some songs created by all the band), "Fanfare for the Common Man" adapted from Aaron Copeland, a song that has turned into a classic played in most of their concerts and the endless "Pirates", a good song with Orchestra that would have been much better if it only lasted 7 or 8 minutes, sometimes less is more.

A good album released when the peak of their creativity had already passed, not a masterpiece but has a place in every prog' collection.

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Send comments to Ivan_Melgar_M (BETA) | Report this review (#14472) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, April 30, 2004

Review by richardh
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars After a break of 3 years during which Greg Lake pens a famous Christmas record and Keith Emerson hits the charts with ragtime music,ELP return all guns blazing....um sort of.The format of 3 solo sides allows ELP to indulge themselves fully.Keith Emerson's Piano Concerto anyone? No I didn't think so.And then there's Greg Lake's acoustic ballads.Very nice but what the heck are they doing on a group album?? It's up to Carl Palmer to save the day with some impressive jazz funk fusion stuff in cohorts with Joe Walsh among others.The reworking of Tank is preferable to the original IMO as well.Love the big band approach somewhat inpsired by Buddy Rich.The group side (yes is there is one amazingly!) includes the very wonderful 'Pirates' which is the best band plus orchestra track ever (again IMO) and a 9 minute improvised version of their hit record 'Fanfare For The Common Man'.I think the only fair way to rate this album is to take each side individually.So from a prog perspective -Keith Emerson's side (1 star),Greg Lake (2 stars) ,Carl Palmer (4 stars), Group Side (5 stars).That gives an average rating of 3 stars by my reckoning.Seems about right!

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Send comments to richardh (BETA) | Report this review (#14474) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Review by Fitzcarraldo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars A million copies of the double-LP "Works Volume 1" shipped in the first week after it was released in 1977. Clearly the then-large ELP fan base was 'hungry' after waiting more than three years for the band to release a new studio album to follow the excellent "Brain Salad Surgery". Three of the four LP-sides of "Works Volume 1" were each allotted to an individual band member; the fourth LP-side was a collective effort. The double-CD release puts Emerson's and Lake's works on the first CD, Palmer's and the collective works on the second.

For 'his' LP-side, Emerson decided to write a classical concerto for piano and orchestra: 'Piano Concerto No. 1'. Whilst it's impressive that Emerson was even able to attempt a substantial classical work, he only partially succeeded in my opinion. Listening to the result it sounds as if Emerson, consciously or subconsciously, emulated Copland, Sibelius, Elgar and Gershwin. The music seems to jump in fragmented fashion between these composers' styles and between different themes. Near the end of the piece the music even sounds to me a little like a Hollywood movie soundtrack. Ultimately I find 'Piano Concerto No. 1' mediocre, I'm sorry to say.

Lake's five contributions are all pleasant enough songs, albeit not up to the standard of his writing on previous ELP albums in my opinion. I feel the five songs are over-orchestrated; the violins in particular are over the top. I get a picture of Lake in a white tux crooning with a big band behind him. Try getting that image when you listen to any of the band's previous albums!

With the orchestral backing (plenty of strings to the fore), 'Lend Your Love Tonight' to me is pure pop and sounds like the sort of thing one could hear playing quietly in an elevator, hotel lobby or restaurant.

'C'est La Vie' is probably the most similar in style to Lake ballads on earlier albums. I can certainly hum along to his pleasant tenor voice and to the catchy tune, laden with strings and plucking acoustic guitar, but again this sounds to me like elevator or restaurant music (not a sin in itself, by the way!). The very Gallic-sounding accordion in the middle of the track does border on the corny, though. Clearly that famous Frenchman Johnny Hallyday thought the song was worth covering, and his version with lyrics completely in French was a no. 1 hit in France. Could you envisage Hallyday covering an earlier Lake piece?

'Hallowed Be Thy Name' is again a pleasant enough song, but I do find the prevalent strings irritating. The sawing strings are presumably intended to create an effect, but to me the song could have been much better with a completely different arrangement.

'Nobody Loves You Like I Do' is a song that I would not have been surprised to hear ROD STEWART singing. Yes, it's that sort of song, complete with harmonica backing. I can almost see an audience waving their arms in the air from side to side in unison to this song.

Lake's tenor on the ballad 'Closer To Believing' is as good as it is on 'C'est La Vie'. A pleasant, harmless love song, it would probably have made a nice backdrop in Pretty Woman II. Or perhaps it's even too twee for that; maybe a children's movie would have been a more appropriate vehicle. Actually, cynicism aside, this song could easily be played to a baby or young child at bedtime to lull it to sleep.

The Hollywood-style musical arrangements continue with Palmer's 'The Enemy God Dances With The Black Spirits': it reminds me of one of those John Wayne movies with the Indians (or should I say "native Americans"?) on the warpath. Ironically, this piece sounds more genuinely classical than Emerson's concerto, which turns out to be the case as Palmer borrowed it from the 2nd Movement ("The Enemy God And The Dance Of The Dark Spirits") of Prokofiev's Scythian Suite (which Prokofiev rescued from the ballet score "Ala And Lolli" commissioned, but subsequently rejected, by Diaghilev). The musicianship is very evident but the arrangement not quite right somehow.

The first part of Palmer's 'L.A. Nights' sounds like it was lifted straight from an episode of Miami Vice (if it weren't for the "L.A.", that is). The second half turns into an R&R ditty, complete with sax and JOE WALSH guitar (and I really do mean JOE WALSH: he played on this track). Quite a foot-tapper: think THE EAGLES. 'New Orleans' is another rocker, which would have been more at home on a JOE WALSH album. It comes complete with wah-wah bag (a.k.a. talkbox) accompaniment, which JOE WALSH made so famous on 'Rocky Mountain Way' (great track, by the way).

'Two Part Invention In D Minor' is Palmer's percussion arrangement of the Bach piece, with Harry South's arrangement for the strings. It's pleasant enough. Palmer taps away on the xylophone and vibraphone while the violins meander baroquely behind.

'Food For Your Soul' sounds like a big band on steroids. Trumpets blaring, some fat synth sitting in the background and Palmer bashing away (expertly, it should be said) on drums and other percussion. I could happily sit and eat my popcorn in the intermission listening to this stuff. Whoops, there I go again about the movies.

For his final piece, Palmer resurrects 'Tank' from the band's eponymous first album, but it gets the 'big band' treatment this time around: trumpets, sax, flutes and violin instead of synthesizer. My ears only briefly breath a sigh of relief (!) when, half way through the track, Palmer's spacey drum imitates the original track and Emerson's synthesizer, albeit in a somewhat twee fashion, sounds like the long, marching ending to the original track.

And so to the band's joint works: an arrangement of Aaron Copland's 'Fanfare For The Common Man', and the band's own 'Pirates'. I recall the former getting a fair amount of radio airtime when the album was released, which is no surprise as it's by far and away the most accessible track on the two LPs/CDs. Copland's original is wonderful, and ELP didn't do too bad a job on the arrangement. They turned it into a rocking foot-tapper all right, although the album version does drag on and there's too much distortion for my liking in the synthesizer further into the track. As I mentioned in my review of "Pictures At An Exhibition", ELP (well, Emerson, really) did not set out to copy a chosen classical composer, they just wanted to give their own interpretation of a piece they liked a lot. Well, they did that here too, but perhaps not as successfully as on previous albums in my opinion, although I know their version of 'Fanfare For The Common Man' is popular and is still trotted out occasionally on radio and TV.

'Pirates' must have been the band's subliminal preparation for "Love Beach": it reminds me quite a bit of the music on that infamous album. Again heavily orchestrated, and with both swashbuckling lyrics and music, parts of this sound like the soundtrack to a National Geographic documentary on the Caribbean. Aha, me hearties, shiver me timbers. From what I have read on this and other Web sites, 'Pirates' actually has quite a few fans who rate it highly. Well, I'm sorry to say I'm not one of them. I can listen to this track but find it over the top and rather corny. Some of the old ELP magic surfaces briefly here and there, but overall I find the track bland and slightly cringe-making in places. "Now open wide sweet Heaven's gate, Tonight we're gonna see if Heaven burns, I want an angel on a gold chain, And I'll ride her to the stars, It's the last time for a long, long time." Not exactly one of lyricist Pete Sinfield's best efforts, and a portent of far worse to come on "Love Beach."

To sum up then, a mediocre release and the beginning of the end for this band. Creativity had clearly waned after "Brain Salad Surgery", possibly because of the long and tiring concert tour following the release of that album but also, in my opinion, because the band's fame and wealth had reached such a level that they had lost much of their earlier drive.

To me this is a 2-star album (Collectors/fans only). It's tolerable, but that's about the best I can say for it. A curate's egg if ever there was one.

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Posted Saturday, November 06, 2004

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This album is at a point when Emerson Lake and Palmer's creative juices were starting to run low. Instead of an album in which they play together as a group, they decided to have a double LP, each member getting their own side, and the final side being a group effort. The group side is good, but the individual sides go from great to attrocious.

The album begins with Emerson's side, a piano concerto that he composed. I really do enjoy this work, it brings up most of my favorite composers to mind. And his piano work is fantastic, with frenetic runs up and down the black and whites. The next side is a bunch of Lake/Sinfield pop ballads that I don't really enjoy at all. It's all a bit to on the edge of sappiness. The best song on this side is either Closer to Believing or Hallowed be Thy Name, depending on which mood I'm in. Carl Palmer's side takes a turn for the betterm starting off with some really strong tracks. Then he get's to those tracks that sound like they could have been on Miami Vice. Now I'm not saying their bad, their just not my thing. After a stellar Two Part Invention in D minor and Food for your soul, he does a reworking of Tank. The version on the first ELP album is a lot better than the reworking.

The final side is a group effort, easily the best part of the album. They start off with a version of 'Fanfare for the Common Man', and this version is very very good. I really can get into their epic reworking of it. The next song is an ELP fan favorite 'Pirates', clocking in at 13 minutes, this song gives you the feeling of being at the open sea and participating in the shenanigans that Pirates did.

Overall, it was a solid effort. Unfortunately, if the album was an entire group effort, it would have been better received. They've been known to be pretentious, and this was an exhibit of it.

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Posted Friday, April 29, 2005

Review by Eetu Pellonpää
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars With the "Works" albums this band started to lose their grip finally. Only one side of this double LP is reserved for their mutual musical achievements, and the rest three are for each of their solo materials. Keith's piano concerto is the nicest feature on this album, also Carl's drumming adventures in the world of classical music is interesting. Otherwise this is a boring album with only very little any progressive content.

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Posted Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Review by Tony R
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars I really love this album,from the ham-fisted keyboards to the twee vocals and from every over-blown piece of orchestration right up to the masterpiece of mirth that is Pirates. Long years in the making,due to ego clashes and arguments about makeup,Elton John being part of the recording process then not and finally producer Pete Waterman being replaced by Little Jimmy Osmond,the band finally got this meisterwerk out into the public consciousness.Once out there it was a smash,spending 16 weeks at Number One in Albania and going Quadruple Platinum in Belize. When one listens to Emerson's Piano Concertos one is immediately reminded of Les Dawson's egregious masterpieces of the early 70's.I can think of no higher praise than that. I find that "The Enemy God Dances With The Black Spirits" fills me with nostalgia,or should that be neuralgia? I'm not sure but I know that Mrs Palmer should have decided against combining that shiny red kit for young Carl's 6th Birthday with a gift of boxing gloves.Pirates- what can I say?I nearly walked the plank the first time I heard this 13 minute epic.It sounds like the ungodly product of a demonic union between WS Gilbert and The Village People and is breath-taking in its excrutiating awfulness and willfull over-ambition.There is nothing like a great Prog Rock Album and this is nothing like a great Prog Rock Album!

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Posted Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Review by Progbear
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars A classic "shark jumping" moment if ever there was one, this bloated double album was four long years in the making. You could hear the sharp hiss of expectations being deflated before the shrink wrap was even torn from the sleeve.

What we're presented with here is three sides of solo material of questionable quality, and roughly 23 minutes of Emerson, Lake and Palmer together. Emerson's side is a textbook example of why prog died. Twenty minute epic prog-rock suites are one thing, but to display the hubris and arrogance enough to say, "I want to do a piano concerto on our next album!" He was almost certainly surrounded by coke-fueled record company yes men egging him on. The music on Emerson's side is predictably unimaginative, a pastiche of better, more talented composers, and very little of it sticks with the listener. It just leaves you thinking, "why bother with this when I can just listen to Rachmaninoff?"

Curiously, Palmer's side works best of the solo stuff. Probably because, of the three, he worked the hardest and used the most imagination in the presentation of his material. It also sounds the least like ELP, largely jazz-rock. There's even a brassy, big-band version of "Tank"! Lake's side finds him trying for an American MOR pop-ballad sound, like the worst tendencies of Neil Diamond, and is simply unlistenable.

When we finally do get to the group side, it's predictably a letdown. Just another overextended Copland adaptation and a predictably overblown musical-theater type of number. Emerson's work on the massive Yamaha GX1 synth (predecessor to the CS-80) is intriguing, but he's fairly drowned out by the blaring orchestra on the disappointing "Pirates". Very little nuance to be found here, just tons of overkill.

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Posted Sunday, September 04, 2005

Review by Snow Dog
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Errors & Omissions Team
3 stars After Brain Salad Surgery and an extensive world tour ELP felt the need to rest and concentrate on solo projects. When they found that they were all working with an orchestra it was decided that they would unite all their solo work, plus new ELP stuff, under one banner, namely Works Vol1. I will take each contribution individually.

KEITH EMERSON occupied Side 1 of the album with his first Piano Concerto. Now I am by no means an expert on Classical, but I do enjoy this piece, there is some great piano here. The third Movement was written after his house burned down and you can really feel the frustration and anger! Funnily, on the CD version, all 3 Movements are one track! Not something that you'd find on a Classical CD!

GREG LAKE came next on Side 2. Some good songs here, but I've heard better with ELP, personally. I wouldn't call it bad, but is for me the least interesting section. "Lend Your Love To Me Tonight" and "Closer To Believing" are particular stand out tracks.

CARL PALMER's side is my favourite of the solos and it's a real mix! "Food For Your Soul" is a stormer, with a fantastic, typical drum solo. Great stuff! He also indulges in some Classical with "The Enemy God" and the Bach piece, where Palmer plays vibraphone.

ELP together finish of the album and this is what we've been waiting for after a 4 year break. First up its Copeland's "Fanfare For The Common Man". Starting of with the main theme and repeating it for 3 minutes (which in itself became a hit single) we come to the second part, where Keith really gives his brand new Yamaha GX-1 a workout! Full of dissonant chords and big, brassy wailing flourishes, it is magnificent stuff, accompanied by the swinging groove of Lake and Palmer.

"Pirates" is last. It is based on music that Emerson wrote to be the soundtrack for the film "Dogs Of War". The film didn't happen (at the time) so he used the music for this. It's an epic tale of swashbuckling filled with great ELP moments and full orchestra. This was ELP's last great epic and I love it, although it's a bit wordy and the drums seem rather low in the mix!

On reflection was it a good idea to combine their solo efforts on one ELP album? I doubt it somehow, so this remains I think an album for ELP fans only. Anyone new to the band should look elsewhere and only get this if you really love their stuff

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Posted Thursday, November 17, 2005

Review by Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars This is what happens when rock stars start believing their personal downloads don't have an offensive aroma. After conquering the progressive rock world with their legendary "Brain Salad Surgery" album in '73 and extensively touring the planet performing it for their adoring fans, the boys in the band were way past being sick of each other's company and took a long vacation. During that break a funny thing happened to the group. It ceased to exist. In its place stood three individuals, each convinced that they were the lone genius responsible for the group's fame/fortune and no longer obliged to heed any suggestions or criticisms about their songwriting from their conceited coworkers. Their triumphant solo career would prove it. However, legal representatives were able to convince them that the hassle of getting out of their contracts with each other was far, far worse than releasing their separate works of art under the bankable banner of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Thus, we unsuspecting supporters (who had waited 4 years for new material) trustingly plopped down our hard-earned moolah for a pricey double LP in anticipation of being blown away by our heroes as soon as we got it on our stereos. We got royally shafted big time.

Going in their customary alphabetical order you get Keith Emerson's contribution first. He offers up his "Piano Concerto No. 1" even though you didn't ask for classical music at all. If you enjoy symphonies as much as I do you know there's a proper time and place for them but usually not in the first nineteen minutes of a rock and roll record. It's a gallant effort all right but it's not Gershwin, Mahler, Copeland or Khachaturian quality by any stretch of the imagination. (And if you're going to enter your pet project at that level of the science fair you'd better be ready to take on the nuclear physicists if you know what I mean.) It might've had a slim chance of acceptance in that genre if Emerson had only thought to include the most important ingredient: A memorable theme. In all fairness to Keith, though, it's the highlight of the album (what does that tell you?) and would earn him a passing grade in freshman Composition 101.

Greg Lake, the voice of the band's greatest songs, gets his 22 minutes in the spotlight next and it quickly becomes apparent that since the last album he has morphed into a Las Vegas crooner. "Lend Me Your Love Tonight" sounds like one of Elton John's obscure filler tunes and is a prime example of spoiled overindulgence. With sexy words like "You'll feel my senses spin and soar/you will become my meteor/divine and universal whore/complete me" what woman could resist? "C'est La Vie" is very much in the vein of the hits "Still. You Turn Me On" and "From the Beginning" and it's a pleasant tune although the orchestration comes on entirely too strong towards the end. (The unplugged version on "Works Live" is a lot better). "Hallowed Be Thy Name" follows and it's an ugly mess. First of all Greg sings like he's imitating The Who's Roger Daltrey and lyrically you get inane lines like "but many a drunk got drunker/and mostly a thinker, thunker" that insult your intelligence. "Nobody Loves You Like I Do" is a lame mimicry of Bob Dylan as Lake tries to copy his phrasing and his harmonica-driven style. Greg warbles "you can change the world/but if you lose control/they will take away your T- shirt." Say what? His last song is the worst, however. "Closer to Believing" is a mushy Jimmy Webb rip-off and you half expect Richard Harris (of "McArthur Park" fame) to join in on vocals at any time. And talk about drippy, they don't have this much syrup in all of Vermont! I don't know how Lake managed to sing "I need me/you need you/we want us" with a straight face. If it weren't so tragic it'd be hilarious.

After that fiasco you'd think Carl Palmer's side would be an improvement but it's not. "The Enemy God Dances with the Black Spirits," an excerpt from Prokofieff's "Scythian Suite," is okay sound-wise but really only proves that Carl can play a march. It's hard to put into words how lousy "L.A. Nights" is. It has a dull, rolling beat that turns into a standard blues shuffle along the way and you wish that guest guitarist Joe Walsh would've had the guts to tell Palmer that the song blows. Somebody needed to. "New Orleans" follows and it could pass as the theme for a corny TV sitcom. After those two stinkers almost anything would be a step up and his treatment of J.S. Bach's "Two Part Invention in D Minor" is just that. Carl's performance on the Vibraphone is surprisingly good but it only lasts for 2 minutes. "Food for your Soul" is a stab at something I can't identify (jazz maybe?) and the drumming is downright atrocious from beginning to end. A remake of "Tank" is Palmer's finale. It gets a Glenn Miller-ish big band treatment and it's actually listenable. Whoever played the soprano sax earned his studio fee that day because he provided the side's only trace of emotion.

You have to trudge through all that mediocrity before you finally get to some music that actually sounds like Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Their interpretation of Copeland's "Fanfare for the Common Man" is a step back in time when these guys would knock your walls down and leave you begging for more. (Take note, Keith, THIS is what a symphonic theme sounds like!) They stay close to the original score, then Emerson jams out raucously for about 5 minutes over Lake and Palmer's rumbling rock shuffle till reaching the dynamic end where they return to the classic arrangement. "Pirates" has an orchestral beginning that is promising and gets your hopes up briefly but then it turns into unintentional self-parody. Just imagine if you'd been watching Macy's Thanksgiving Parade in 1977 and the hosts Donny and Marie Osmond breathlessly inform you that Greg Lake and the cast of the smash Broadway musical "Shiver Me Timbers" are now going to perform a rousing number from the show on the street in front of Radio City Music Hall. That's exactly how this comes off. You'll shake your head in dumbfounded puzzlement.

I never bought another ELP recording. I may be a fool but I'm rarely a fool twice. If I were to be stranded on an island with just this album to listen to I'd play their cover of "Fanfare" and, on occasion, Emerson's brave little piano concerto and ignore the rest forevermore. It's still inconceivable to me how such an incredibly popular (and talented) group failed to realize how cruelly they were insulting their followers by allowing them to spend money on their egomaniacal drivel. 1.6 stars.

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Posted Thursday, April 19, 2007

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars This "work" clearly highlights that ELP was more the sum of three individualities rather than a band on its own in 1977.

Each one of the super star will have a part of this album for his own. Don't ask me why Keith will have the shortest one (just over eighteen minutes), while Greg's and Carl's parts clock at almost twenty-three minutes (it really doesn't matter).

I have never been into classical music, so the long "Piano Concerto No 1" from Keith can absolutely not be of interest to my ears. Boring from start to finish. Zero on my scale. This is absolutely neither rock, nor prog : press next.

It sounds as if the orchestral obsession of Keith was contagious. The first Lake song "Lend Your Love To Me Tonight" is a mellow song (obviously, remember "Lucky Man") completely submerged with a full orchestra. Awful. The next one of course is something else. "C'Est La Vie" belongs to the most beautiful ballads of ELP (together with the one I have just mentioned). The accordeon in the middle part will definitely add a Frenchy touch to this song (apart from its title, of course).

"Hallowed Be Thy Name" is a boring jazzy little tune of no interest. Press next again to reach "Nobody Loves You Like I Do". This one starts almost OK but turns into another poor bluesy one with harmonica and all the stuff. Press next again. Some more orchestration for "Closer To Believing". It is not that bad, actually. But extremely mellow and shouldn't have been featured on any previous ELP album. At this point of time, the next button won't be of any help since it is the last song of CD one.

For Carl's part, the orchestrations are still present for "The Enemy God Dances With The Black Spirits". As ridiculous as the rest. The jazzy "L.A. Nights" will be on par. I'm afraid that the "Press Next" exercise is the only one to be of value. But, I'm afraid we'll have to do so till the end of the album. It is not the incredibely boring "New Orleans" that will change my mind. We are still in the ZERO star territory for this "album".

The classical frenzy has touched Carl as well, since "Two Part Invention In D Minor" is fully mined by the orchestra. The cacophonic "Food For Your Soul" is just on par : the crappiest crap.

Even the alternative version for "Tank" (the original being featured on their debut album) is completely destroyed. I wonder if they have a special recipe to create the most boring moments of my musical prog life (although this release has nothing to do with prog).

Obviously, we'll get a full ELP side. The last one. If you are still awake at this time of listening to this utmost sh.t. I guess that it is just to figure out how it will sound like. Shall we get a great ELP number ? The answer will come quickly : not really. "Fanfare" is a cliché of what ELP can achieve while they have decided to be pompous. A bit boring stuff, unfortunately. But way better than the first three sides.

During "Pirates" there will be some good moments (the ones with Greg on the vocals).

It was apparently a successful record at the time they released it. IMO it is EXTREMELY boring. All the clichés of their pretentiousness are featured here. But not their brilliantness. This album is to be avoided by all means. Do not spend any ? cent for this.

For once, I will rather harsh. I usually do not make too much comments on other colleagues reviews, but to rate this album with a five star rating is pure nonsense.

This "work" is disgusting. I only have wished that the zero star rating would be available. Did ELP forget the great numbers they have released ? How could they HONESTLY released such a useless record ?

Only the common part is of some value. But it is not enough to raise this album to stars.

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Posted Saturday, May 26, 2007

Review by Zitro
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This is the beginning of the downward slope of music quality for ELP. A double-disc album in which most of it are solo tracks from each musician. Emerson got his space to show off his skills and compose a fully classical piece. Greg Lake has his soft ballads, and Carl Palmer has some experimentation and jazz. The end of the album contains two songs where the whole band is joined to create new songs.

Emerson : I can say that his piano concerto is ambitious and must have took a while to put together. Also, it shows his great piano skills and that he's among the best keyboard players of all time. The downside is that it may focus a bit more on the showing off than on creating memorable melodies. Don't get me wrong, this is a pretty enjoyable suite, but I can't remember most of it afterwards. The highlight for me is the beginning of the third movement, it is full of intensity and anger. (C+)

Greg Lake : Greg Lake playing an acoustic ballad as a contrast of the heavy bombastic music of ELP worked well in previous albums, and I think too many ballads played one after the other doesn't work as well as a single ballad in a whole album, not to mention some lackluster songs in here. C'est la Vie is probably the strongest track here, with a huge orchestra and gorgeous vocals. Hallowed By Thy Name is the worst one, thanks to its dissonant string arrangements that are out of place. Nobdy Loves You Like I Do is an uninspired number that feels out of place, even in here. The rest are harmless mellow tunes that would would work well in a restaurant setting. (C-)

Carl Palmer : Songs from the drummer? you might expect him to just play a bunch of boring drum solos, but it's not as bad as you think, and borders a bit on the jazz-classical. "The Enemy God" will remind you that this is music you haven't heard before in ELP. A Heavily Orchestrated fast-paced song. "L A Nights" is also different, very jazzy and later like a rock & blues. New Orleans is a funky rocker with wah wah effects. Two Part Invention in D Minor is a bit unnecessary. It's him playing a xylophone/vibraphone while a subdued orchestra plays slowly some classical work. Food For Your Soul is a fast song with excellent drumming. As one reviewer put it, it sounds like a big band with steroids. Possibly the best song in here. His reinterpretation of "Tank" is different and probably as good as the original. It has a great jazzy arrangement in the first half and the second half is the expected bombastic side and Emerson takes a big role here. There is not even a drum solo here and I applaud him to be humble enough to not go showing off pointlessly in the Carl Palmer side. It makes me admire him more as a musician. (C+)

Band

Fanfare for the Common Band: an anthemic interpretation of a classical piece. Synths are heavily used, especially in the later sections. This song should have been 4-6 minutes long and it could have been a great ELP piece, as the beginning and middle of this song is really good. The song suffers the most near the end of the piece, when there is an UNBEARABLE synth sound that completely ruins the piece. A song with potential ruined by repetitiveness and an awful synthesizer sound in minute 6-8 and unpleasant synth at the last two minutes. (C-)

Pirates: This is quite a different ELP track that I'm used to, with the orchestra taking a bigger role than Keith Emerson himself. I have to admit that this epic is complex and I can't deny that there was ambition here, but I think it just feels a bit over the top and corny sometimes and lacks very memorable melodies and hooks, but it is still a successful track. (B-)

I recommend this album mostly to ELP fans. Casual fans and newcomers really shouldn't begin here. It is a bit indulgent sometimes (especially Emerson's "Concerto").

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Posted Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Review by Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Memorable only for its gimmicky format and mediocre songs, "Works" is everything that is bad about ELP, and has few if any redeeming qualities. First of all, it demonstrates none of the band's songwriting talents, since many of the songs are simply (bad) arrangements of classical works redone as if anyone wanted to listen to them. Their 3 separate sections on the album was a bad idea... period, and the 2 songs which actually feature the whole band are a mediocre shadow of previous album's excellence. I like seeing band's try new things, but not as individuals... that's what solo albums are for. Make "Works" the last of your ELP purchases!

Songwriting: 2 Instrumental Performances: 2 Lyrics/Vocals: 2 Style/Emotion/Replay: 1

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Posted Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Review by 1800iareyay
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Uh-oh, trouble on the Goodship Lolliprog. This is where ELP begin to unravel. When the majority of the album is devoted to individual compostions, there's a problem. The album opens with the prog excess of Keith Emerson. He decides to treat us with his very own concerto. I swear, this man is so prentious even Rick Wakeman thinks he's a bit stuffy. Lake's material is a bit more digestible yet no more enjoyable slab of borederline radio- friendly tunes, the most egregious being "C'est La Vie."

Palmer's side almost (note the almost) redeems things.His reworking of "Tank" is quite nice, while overall there is more attention to the music here than on the other two sides. The final side, which shows the band playing together, is an indicator that they still had some fight left. The re-working of "Fanfare" is an ELP classic, while "Pirates" is good despite some weird orchestration. Things are helped greatly by the lyrics.

The band would follow up this mostly banal album with an outtakes collection full of songs that were outtakes for a reason. Take a good look, fans, it's all downhill from here.

Grade: D

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Posted Thursday, June 28, 2007

Review by clarke2001
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A huge step for a man, a small step for a human kind.

EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER's "Works Volume 1" album is certainly weaker than its predecessors. A lot weaker, because it's far from a masterpiece, and because all the previous albums were, in one way or another, monuments to genius.

When the music is good, it's good; when it's bad, it's varying from bad to horrible. Greg Lake's tracks are mostly below par, Palmer's tracks are decent but most of the time far from perfect and smooth; ELP's side is not bad, but not remarkably good neither. Keith's Concerto is absolutely out of Time And A Place, and I'm not sure how to rate it.

There's not a single not of Hammond organ on this album (actually there is some on Carl's side I think, but that's just a rock wrapping rather than one of most powerful ELP's tools). The entire album is played with the orchestra - and these kind of rock albums are rarely successful from the artistic point of view (as an exception, BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO springs to mind). But since ELP were so strongly inclining towards classical music, it was a matter of time when the band will utilise an orchestra on the studio record. Orchestra arrangements are lovely, but that's not it. I prefer much more to hear Keith's keyboard layers taking a role of orchestra - that was really pioneering and progressive. This is not necessarily bad but not very exciting, I dare to say not more exciting then a post-coital experience. The orchestra worked well with the live records at the time (check old ELP's live records; strings and Moog are going very well together).

Oh well. Keith's side - a Concerto - is, as someone observed, neither rock, neither prog. It's not badper se, actually it's not bad at all, but at the moments it's tacky, it's about Keith's showmanship and at the moments it's just boring. Keith showed very few keyboard tricks here that we are not familiar with already; the some goes for the structure. We heard all these chord progression before, in a pop-rock format of first four ELP's albums. And they are working much better that way. This one might be a good start for some classical music-purist willing to investigate ELP deeper, but it's not necessary.

Lake's side contains only his typical ballads, most of them are just boring. However "C'est La Vie" and "Closer To Believing" are memorable and catchy. Orchestral arrangements are nice, but somehow typical for the seventies. and over the top too. I can't stop imagining "Windmills Of Your Mind" while listening to this, it's so 70's.

Palmer's side is decent, with no overbearing drum solos - thank you Carl. Jazz funk tunes. Listenable. ELP are (were) three geniuses, but I really admire Carl's characteristics; he's an extremely intelligent man, fast-thinker, sharp when necessary. Check the interview with him on "The Birth Of The Band (Isle Of Wight)" DVD. All of aforementioned characteristics are obviously also reasons why he's a damn good drummer too (+ motorical competency). However, he didn't overdid his songs as they are the most coherent ones on the entire album, and closest to the definition of focus and decency.

ELP's side contains long version of "Fanfare For The Common Man" which is bland. Not bad, but after repeated listening the enthusiasm will vanish. "Pirates" is watered epic, not even close to the old epics from the band's glory days, but actually is less horrible then I expected (I knew for an awful version from "Live At The Royal Albert Hall"). The orchestra actually works well, much better than digital keys imitating an orchestra. But I'm sure it will sound even better with Hammonds and Moogs. On that point, Keith's Yamaha GX1 synth annoys me a lot; it was a monster when it hit the market - but this fits my theory that polyphonic synths were also guilty for killing progressive rock from the golden era. How very sad and true. Remember LED ZEPPELIN's "All Of My Love" and those cheesy synth? The same story.

Finally the rating. Not very good. But there ARE some moments, so I'm giving it three stars rather than two. Some tracks are monstrous, even if they're a labour of hard work rather than a labour of love. Dinosaurs were impressive, but even the left-overs (bones in the museums) are worth taking a look. So, three stars.

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Posted Saturday, December 01, 2007

Review by TGM: Orb
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Review 4, Works Vol. 1 (double-CD), Emerson, Lake & Palmer, 1977

A much harder album to analyse than their previous studio albums, because the band is no longer a three-piece band, but a three-piece band with an orchestra and with Sinfield and Lake collaborating on the lyrics to Lake's side and Pirate. This combination is at times winning (Emerson's Toccata Con Fuoco, Lake's Closer To Believing and Palmer's Tank), and at times quite annoying (Pirates, Nobody Loves You Like I do). The album consists of three solo sides, of which I prefer Palmer's, and a group side, on two CDs. I do enjoy most of it, and there are a couple of excellent tracks, but it's a far cry from ELP's earlier material, and it's probably too varied for one person to like all of it.

Keith Emerson's classical piano concerto is basically too fluid for me to describe fully. It has an essentially anarchic and dramatic opening that doesn't particularly impress me, after this moves to a crescendo, the music slows down into a lush classical piece, with violins leading onto a slightly darker horn and bells section, and then constant shifts in mood and instrumentation. Whenever the piano comes in, it's usually to good effect, and, though I'm not a big fan of violins and some other elements of the orchestra, everything seems to work together quite well. I enjoy the flute parts especially. The first movement does continue and end much better than it starts.

The short second movement has a great piano part, and the orchestra seems to be supporting it well. The third movement opens very dramatically with aggressive piano and classical drumming as well as a continual build-up despite the fluent musical changes at any moment. The sheer beauty of the lone piano after the fire dies down for the first time is amazing. There is not a weak moment to the third movement, and even the orchestral sections are good. Furthermore, the music really does evoke the fire ('con fuoco') that is the focus of the movement. Despite an uninspiring start, Emerson's contribution to Works 1 is overall pretty good.

Lend Your Love To Me Tonight is an acoustic ballad that moves to a better orchestra and drum backed acoustic-ballad. Sinfield's lyrics are quite decent, until 'confuse me, abuse me, misuse me'. It's overall a decent effort despite occasional tackyness and generic moments.

C'est La Vie is amazing: tragic, strong lyrics, real atmosphere, and the ability to almost reduce me to tears every listen. It's basically driven by an acoustic guitar with beautiful orchestral additions. The only (and very annoying) weakness here is the accordion solo, which takes a bit of getting used to. I prefer the Works Live version, though.

Hallowed Be Thy Name is a complete contrast, though also good. It's a fairly energetic number with biting, entertaining Sinfield lyrics. The drums and piano are great, and the horn and violin additions are also very strong. Lake's voice is, as usual, amazing. I think the fade could happily have been replaced with a proper conclusion, though.

Nobody Loves You Like I Do has a great start, with acoustics, electrics, piano and drums leading it. Unfortunately, it then has a pathetic chorus with an irritating harmonica sound. The vocals and lyrics are cheesy. The brief moments of excellent instrumental work are instantly replaced with irritating chorus and frivolous violins and that bloody harmonica. I dislike it, but it still shows promise.

Closer to Believing is much better, a tragic, sweeping ballad with beautiful lines like 'From the opium of custom to the ledges of extremes'. Not repetitive, not weak, and with both strong music and enough substantial lyrics to allow Lake to sing throughout without wrecking the song. It ends the first CD beautifully, and the orchestra is perhaps used with more finesse here than it is in any of Lake's other pieces.

I've always found The Enemy God... a little difficult to stomach. A strong reinterpretation of a classical piece, certainly, but it's really a one-mood song, and the fact that it's not in and of itself on a cohesive album/side makes that mood less easy to achieve. The drumming underlying the piece is very strong, and the orchestra is well used. The drama is really here, and it has atmosphere. A great track when you're in the right mood, but you do need to be in the right mood to appreciate it.

LA Nights begins with bass, drums and synths cooperating moving into a great jazzy sax part, a superb guitar solo and the occasional bit of piano with good drum and bass backing. The full-out continuation is superb, even if the opening doesn't strike me as much above-average.

New Orleans is another jazzy piece with really unusual hollow drumming complimenting more conventional percussion and occasional jazz guitar and brass. The drumming essentially acts as the backbone of the music, and various other things are basically added on over it.

The rendition of Two Part Invention in D Minor is beautiful. Some people don't like the idea of reinterpreting a classical piece without going into electronic overdrive, I love it, and the percussion focus is an excellent change to conventional classical instrumentation.

Food For Your Soul is one of my favourite pieces from the album, with brief drum solos interspersing various instruments, and seems at the same time quite anarchic and yet directed. The drum solos do grate a little, but they're short, and the power and ideas of the music more than make up for it.

The orchestra-including revision of Tank basically has all the (many) strengths of the original, except that the drum solo is a lot briefer than that on ELP and the ending section seems a little more developed, though Emerson's still adding the keyboards to the end section. A great re-working.

The classical drum and keyboard opening of Fanfare For The Common Man is promising, and the unexpected leap into a freer bass-and-drum-with-keyboard-soloing section does follow up on this, and the piece basically continues in this mould, and the jam section is good. On the plus side, there is a feel that the band collectively had fun making it, on the minus side, some of the keyboard noises aren't clean enough for my liking, especially over a longer track. Not my favourite, but a good collective piece.

Pirates has a lot of fans, probably more than detractors, but it's doesn't really dazzle me. There are certainly some great moments, and Lake's voice, as always, is perfect. Unfortunately, the lyrics seem to alternate between entertaining and creative and bland and stereotypical. The music is similarly a mixed bag, from seemingly random, light orchestra-based moments to a few superb highlights. The ending also leaves a little to be desired, for me, at least. In the end, this is listenable, and sometimes enjoyable, and I usually end up singing along, but it just doesn't have the consistency of Tarkus or Take A Pebble that turns an epic with some great moments into a masterpiece.

Concerning the bonus material, the live version of Tank is essentially decent, but the sound quality isn't great, on the other hand, I do like some of the changes on the drum solo (the Works Live version is better, though), even if it still retains some of the basic problems of a drum solo, and the direct shift into The Enemy God... is a nice touch. The version of Nutrocker is a little different from the studio version on Pictures, but it still, appropriately, rocks, and what sounds like a bit of decent improvisation is always fun.

Overall, the effort is commendable, and there are some stunning moments. Palmer seems to have an idea of exactly where he wanted to go with each track on his side, whereas Emerson and Lake occasionally don't quite know what they want to do with their material. The group side is palatable, but really I think that it doesn't bear much of a relation to their earlier efforts, and it's not up to par with them, either.

Rating: Overall, good, with some very strong and some very weak moments. Three Stars. Favourite Track: Disc 1: Closer To Believing, Disc 2: Food For Your Soul

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Posted Sunday, February 03, 2008

Review by ExittheLemming
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Now that's what I call patchy! Volume One

Aside from the non-sequiter contained in the title (by this stage ELP patently did NOT work) this has all the tell-tale signs of a patched up reconciliation, with Atlantic Records as mediators in a matrimonial battle to see who ultimately would get custody of the kids. Like most parents who undergo a messy, drawn out and acrimonious divorce, it is their creations that suffer the most, with low grades, truancy, and withdrawal into fantasy worlds very often an inevitable consequence of this trauma.

ELP's offspring, as represented by the tracks on this double album, certainly adopted many of these classic behavioral traits, but eventually came to be once again on speaking terms with their parents.

BUT IT TOOK UNTIL BLOODY SIDE FOUR!!!. (Sorry for yelling)

Keith Emerson - Keith's baby grand gets expelled from Rock School

'Piano Concerto # 1' - It took me a long, long time and countless plays to get a handle on any of this, but if you stick with it and persevere you will be rewarded by what is undoubtedly one of the most substantial compositions by a rock musician to date. What strikes the listener immediately is how conservative much of the writing is and a casual ear would be hard pressed to identify its creator as being that of Keith Emerson. With this in mind, I conducted a blindfold test on a budget (i.e by hiding the cover) on some house guests recently and they offered Copland, Gershwin, Delius,Tchaikovsky and, somewhat unhelpfully, Glen Miller (from Stevie), as possible contenders for the composer. However, once the Concerto's author was revealed, all my guests without demur claimed that:

Yeah?... but you can tell though really..that it's by a rock muso I mean

'Glen Miller ain't a rock muso'

'Shut up Stevie'

This reaction is probably one of the main hurdles that Emerson constantly faces in his quest to be taken seriously as a composer and I suspect the conciliatory and traditional aspects of the piece were a deliberate ploy to attract endorsement from within the larger classical community. The jury still appears to be out as to whether this has been successful or not, but there are a few distinguished concert pianists who have included the work in their repertoire, and it does appear from time to time on the playlists of classical music radio stations. Should Emo ever get a foot inside that forbidding door, I hope that he will employ both his ample size twelves to kick said barrier firmly down for the benefit of all who follow. We can but wait.

The first movement, although unequivocally diatonic in character, is actually based on a tone row as employed by the 2nd Viennese school of serialist composers eg Berg, Webern and Schoenberg. By all accounts the latter were not exactly hell raising party animals and their output is marked by a paucity of toe-tappers and a surfeit of very dry, academic and cerebral sterility. Emerson has pulled off quite a coup therefore, by illustrating that memorable and melodic themes can be realized by the use of a compositional technique that is traditionally seen as begetting cold or austere results.

The second movement is an unabashedly nostalgic wink in the direction of the baroque period and as much as Keith imparts his own strong personality into this brief homage, the effect is a rather self-consciously quaint daydream of Gershwin as the guest soloist at a Bach recital. As pleasant and diverting as this is, it reeks of the intermission music during the screening of the main feature.

The third movement is unrelentingly percussive and full of dramatic brio culminating in a very moving and effective main theme that lives long in the memory afterwards. Conductor John Maher bullies a very committed and aggressive performance from the London Philharmonic and Emerson's cadenza exhibits some startling and daring treatments of the motivic ideas used in the work. At times there is enacted an unflinching battle between the massed forces of orchestra and solo pianist with no quarter asked or given in a breathless and exciting 'slug fest' to see who's still standing at the end.

But you are reading this from a progressive rock website, so how can we possibly rate the fish when it ain't even on the menu? (More on this later progbuddys)

Greg Lake - Macca junk food from Dad fails to appease the Lake brood after a 1 out of 5 report card

'Lend Your Love to Me Tonight' - No Greg, I will not. Unless you provide a written receipt testifying that no more of this sub McCartney Hippy MOR will emanate from your esteemed orifice(s) ever again.

'C'est La Vie' - Apart from that redeeming fragment in the arrangement where the choir and orchestra brilliantly mimic the out of tune and out of time refrain from the vocal, the sugar tanker that jettisoned its cargo into this Lake Inferior, makes immersion a distinctly dubious pleasure (Wet and in incredibly sickly sweet)

'Hallowed Be Thy Name' - Easily the best song on offer here with a clever and caustic lyric:

The optimist asked for a taste of the pessimist's wine (Optimists need to drown their sorrows sometimes too, and a pithy metaphor for nihilism)

The arrangement is outstanding on this clumping piano driven and curmudgeonly snarl of a song that casts the habitual romantic lead in an unaccustomed role of that as the disaffected naysayer looking on at the chaos all around him caused by the stupidity of his fellow men:

this planet of ours is a mess I bet heaven's the same

Great use is made here of glissando strings to give the song a suitably neurotic and disquieting atmosphere. Unfailingly brilliant and a real diamond in the mire. Greg, welcome back my friend to the show that never...(Doh !)

'Nobody Loves You Like I Do' - Answers on a postcard to the author please. I must have listened to this song at least 50 times now and cannot for the life of me, recall a single note or phrase from it. Greg Lake's 4.00 answer to John Cage's 4.33.

'Closer to Believing' - This suffers from the same malaise as Lake's orchestral version of I Believe in Father Christmas in that what is a very fine song with eloquent and thought provoking lyrics, is suffocated under a huge fleecy pillow of an arrangement. Once more alas, Greg lapses into that irritating habit he is prone to of 'speaking' the tagline in some of his songs (eg we want....US) This latest example being capable of emptying a rhino's tummy back out through the in door.

Carl Palmer - Absent fathers never get the chance to deliver six of the best to their offspring

'The Enemy God Dances with the Black Spirits' - A very boisterous romp through Prokofiev's piece with Palmer's kit and Orchestra in perfect empathy with neither overpowering the other. Stirring.

'LA Nights' - The sort of west coast 'rawk' thumper that could perhaps have been put to better use in the advertising of sports-cars. Very solid performances by all concerned with Joe Walsh wrapping his lips round some 'voicebox' guitar and his hands round some sterling 'Jack Daniels' bottleneck lead. They even drag Keith along on this 'cruise down Hollywood Boulevard in an open top Maserati' number where the latter batters out some authentic 'rawk' piano.

'New Orleans' - Rather spartan and rudimentary funk tinged blues rock which seems to hang in the air like an unfinished chore.

'Two Part Invention in D Minor' - Carl's pedigree as a fully qualified orchestral percussionist has never been in doubt, but this smacks of an indecent haste in sourcing any old vehicle to illustrate his advanced driving skills.

'Food For Your Soul' - More than a nod (in fact a bow) in the direction of Palmer's drum heroes Krupa, Rich, Cobham et al in this exhilarating big band workout that is considerably more accomplished a composition than being merely a platform from which Carl can deliver a stunning and economically constructed solo. Almost visceral in its intensity. I'm full up.

'Tank' - ELP's rusting old warhorse is saved from the scrapyard with a jazzy lick of paint and some completely new bodywork from expert panel beater Carl on a skilfully arranged adaptation of this tune for Jazz Orchestra. Emerson revisits his famous Moog solo towards the end, and in this setting is revealed Tank's jazz roots and vocabulary which certainly caused me to reappraise Keith's original creation in a whole new light.

Emerson, Lake and Palmer - Atlantic Records get custody of the twins (but they get to stay up really late)

'Fanfare for the Common Man' - Copland has already endorsed the band's version of his famous short piece and it is really not hard to see why. Apart from the sheer inflated scale of their interpretation, the trio remain pretty faithful to the composer's original intentions by ensuring that the lengthy improvisation at it's centre is framed by reproductions of the indelible main theme at either end. Emerson's new 'toy' at around this time was the triple manual Yamaha GX1 synthesizer (an analogue pachyderm that took 8 roadies to lift) and its very distinctive character was fundamental to the realization of this piece. Keith employs quite aptly, that technology's replication of a very convincing harmonica sound with which to embark on his brilliant improvisation. Greg and Carl meanwhile, have never sounded this 'locked-in' and buttress the track with one of the wickedest shuffle grooves in rock. The 'greasy trucker' feel of the backing was arrived at quite by accident i.e. the bass and drums were captured using just a single stereo microphone set up by an engineer to record what was to be a quick run through 'warm up' take. It sounded so suitably visceral and earthy that they used this version for the final recording. The tonal palette becomes more and more sulfurous as the piece develops and at its peak there is an 'underpant filling' blare of resonating synthetic brass from Emerson that still startles 30 years later. (But that might just be me)

'Pirates' - If ELP had stayed together then this track may be indicative of where their future direction could have led. The fusion of rock instrumentation and orchestral resources was a long term project for Keith and he has voiced dissatisfaction with the results obtained previously on Ars Longa Vita Brevis and Five Bridges with the Nice.

There has always been a tendency for an electric band to overpower the orchestral players but the remedy of simply amplifying the latter has invariably led to a diminishing or loss of the rich and unique palette of tonal colours available from this source. In the controlled environment of the recording studio however, this elusive balance may be somewhat less hazardous to accomplish and on Pirates ELP can be heard happily supping from the 'holy grail' that this piece embodies.

The lyrics first of all, which are something of a blindspot in Prog's rear-view mirror, are superb and both Lake and the much maligned Sinfield deserve great praise for constructing what is no less than a fully plotted narrative poem which conjures up perfectly the appropriate atmosphere and accurate historical detail befitting Emerson's swashbuckling score. In addition, Greg does not just 'sing' the notes with his habitual aplomb but interprets the lyrical content as though he were an actor in this most theatrical of creations ever attempted by ELP. This must be very close to the finest vocal performance of his life.

The allegorical aspects of a Pirate story are very apt. It's all here. The looting and pillaging, the riches beyond your wildest dreams, a license to act with impunity, debauchery without the consequences and roaming the world like an outlaw above and beyond the reach of the law. It's only rock'n'roll.

Therein lies the problem with this sprawling, schizophrenic and bloated train wreck of a record. For the vast legions of the band's followers, Works Volume 1 was simply a 'step too far' and expecting a fan-base drawn from a predominantly white rock demographic to embrace willingly some avant garde classical music was doomed to failure from the outset. We are even denied the opportunity to evaluate this document as a bona fide ELP album, as it is after all tantamount to three mini solo projects with a big wet group hug at the end.

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Posted Friday, May 09, 2008

Review by Tom Ozric
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I really enjoyed ExittheLemming's review on this album - it inspired me to listen to this luxurious tri-fold LP once again....... I can appreciate it for what it's worth, a 'solo' side for E, L and P, plus one side of a collective, ELP musical extravaganza. Keith's Piano Concerto is a lovely listen, but for me, I prefer his 'Five Bridges Suite' performed with 'The Nice' many years before. It strikes me as a complex enough composition and places Keith amongst one of Rock's 'elite' musicians (as if he wasn't already...). Greg's side of vinyl features ballads, and a couple of more 'Rocking' tracks - highlights being 'C'est La Vie' and 'Hallowed Be Thy Name' - I am fond of Lake's voice, and love his playing (especially when he is on Bass), but I do believe he's capable of more complex and engaging material...... Carl Palmer's side is the most exciting of the 'solo' offerings.......more involvement and creative colour evident here. I don't find much to disappoint me on this side. Well worth hearing. The 2 ELP performed pieces on Side 4 are superb..... 'Fanfare For The Common Man' is a magnificent arrangement of Copland's original tune - a dynamic performance that was committed to a film-clip of the trio performing in the snow at a soundcheck for the Olympic Stadium gig. I'm sure it's mimed, though. Great stuff, never-the-less. 'Pirates' is a top-notch composition with exciting instrumental passages, inspired lyrics and an overall great performance and arrangement. This album (and subsequent releases) are for confirmed fans of the band, whilst Prog- Heads should stick with their first 5 albums. 3 stars.

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Posted Sunday, May 11, 2008

Review by Garion81
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars On the Rhino release of Brain Salad Surgery there is a 13 minute making of audio track. I am quoting the first comment by Keith Emerson from that track "ELP were three very competitive individuals not only in music but a lot of other respects as well. When the competition was friendly everyone would be receptive when it wasn't, frankly it was hell. Brain Salad Surgery I think was created at a time when everyone was at their most receptive level and it hadn't been easy getting there. No ELP album was ever easy in the making and BSS was the last real ELP album to be made before I embarked on an Orchestral crusade if you can call it that."

Boy, I cannot describe them any better than that. People want to throw egos and excess but if you put three highly competitive people together they all want o have control and they all want to win. It seems that other ELP albums they had a more higher common purpose but not with this one. I really feel rather than taking a break ELP had split up after BSS and subsequent tours. Maybe they should have because they never truly reached that height again or found that common purpose again. This album is perfect example of how Emerson's statement is so true. They all got a side they could control and felt they won and then got together for a very disjointed 'band' side of the album.

Certainly Emerson had wanted to do a concerto for some time as the 2nd Impression of Karn Evil 9 was an aborted attempt at the time. But Keith isn't that kind of composer and while he has the chops to play one or with a lot help create one it isn't his best field. This a two star side.

Lake was always a pop star wanting to get out and now he had the chance. The bad songs are really bad but a couple of songs are really good. Cest la Vie, which was the major single form the record and Closer to Believing with some great orchestrations and vocals with inspiring lyrics. 2 stars

Carl Palmer's side was a showcase of Carl playing in different styles. Sort of an audio drum clinic if you will. Still several tracks stand out here the Prokofiev and Bach renditions are great and Food For the Soul invokes images of Buddy Rich's big band followed by remake of Tank in jazz style with great orchestrations. 3 stars

The Band side is just a contrast in style as the two songs presented here couldn't be more different. The Copeland adaptation of Fanfare for the Common Man was done in one take (at Greg Lakes request. As the producer he got his way and maybe why he never again would be producer) which explains its sparsness and lack of format. This one came together much better on subsequent live recordings. Then we have the over produced Pirates which throws a little of everything into mix including Keith's Hammond B3 which makes its only appearance on the record. This again was an aborted piece Keith had worked as it was started as a soundtrack for a movie that fell through. Truly the piece does have a soundtrack feel and the highly crafted Lyrics by Sinfeld and Lake really fit each nuance of the piece. Not great but not bad either 3 stars.

So to sum this up this album is not for ELP newbies but fans of the band could glean some things out it so I hesitate to give this 3 stars but it is better than Love Beach so I will have to say three stars.

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Posted Thursday, May 15, 2008

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
1 stars Emerson, Lake OR Palmer?

If there ever was an album that deserves to be called incoherent, it is ELP's Works Vol. 1. Each of the three members get one vinyl side each of this double album and then the forth side is a band side. This is really tree half solo albums and one half ELP album. The result is very uneven and inconsistent, especially as the three members evidently were moving in very different musical directions: Emerson went all the way into Classical music, Lake towards Soft Rock balladry, and Palmer towards Jazz Rock. None of the three solo sides deserve to be called progressive.

Considered as an album (as opposed to just a collection of unrelated tunes) Works doesn't work at all. What made ELP great in the first place was exactly what the three men created together; that they all brought their own distinctive styles to the collective enterprise. They are musicians of the highest calibre, but isolating their individual contributions like they did on this album just went to show that they are best when they work with each other. Not surprisingly the band side of this album is by far the best. But it is not enough in my opinion to save the album as a whole. Personally, I think that Works Vol. 1 remains the least good of all ELP albums.

When hearing this album I get the feeling that the band was getting tired and running out of good ideas. In my view they hardly had enough material for a single album, so it was indeed unwise to make a double album at this time (and, as if that wasn't enough, they also released Works Vol. 2 the same year). It is interesting to imagine how this album would have sounded like had they distilled it into a single album, taking only the best songs (perhaps plus a couple that ended up on Works Vol. 2) and recorded a briefer and rockier version of Keith's piano concerto (compare how fantastic it sounds on The Keith Emerson Band's recent live album Moscow). The few good songs and ideas presented on Works Vol. 1 (and Vol. 2) would perhaps have been enough to make an good single album, but not enough for a double album.

On to the music. The album opens with a full-blown Classical piano concerto composed by Keith and performed by him on piano and backed by a symphonic orchestra. I'm not competent to judge this as the purely Classical piece of music it is, but judged as part of a Rock album it is void of value. Whatever merits it may have when considered in its own right and for what it is, it certainly isn't ELP. Greg and Carl doesn't even appear on the piece at all.

Next up is Greg's side which is in a completely different style. It consists of shorter ballads in his characteristic singer/songwriter, Soft Rock style only not up to the quality of earlier such songs like Lucky Man or From The Beginning. These songs range from downright awful (Hallowed Be Thy Name, Nobody Loves You Like I Do) to pretty good (C'est La Vie). On earlier albums the impact of Greg's songs was very different as they were situated in between more rocking and progressive songs. Hearing only Greg's songs like this may be pleasant enough but they would be better in a context of other type of songs.

Carl Palmer's side is more towards Jazz Rock. There is a jazzed up version of Tank (which was originally on ELP's debut album). This version is very different from the original, not better, but interesting. The Enemy God Dances With The Black Spirits is quite good, but overall this side too is not particularly impressive.

On the group side of this album we get Fanfare For The Common Man and Pirates. The first of these went on to become a live standard for the band and it has been included on countless live albums which makes this original version less than essential. Pirates is by far the best track on this double album, though personally I prefer the live version on Live At The Royal Albert Hall. This original version features a symphonic orchestra which I think made it too bombastic for its own good. It is my firm opinion that ELP never needed the accompaniment of an orchestra. Still, Pirates is a very good epic composition worthy of the band's legacy (even if not as brilliant as Karn Evil 9 or Tarkus).

Only a few good songs does not a good album make, and certainly not a double album. Evidently, the four years since their previous studio album was not enough for Emerson, Lake and Palmer to come up with something to match their earlier efforts. In my view they should have taken a break and released proper solo albums instead. There are some good songs and moments here, but on the whole this album is just too incoherent and lacks flow. If you want to investigate this period of the band's career, I would recommend instead Works Live as a better starting point.

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Posted Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
2 stars Flawed, egotistical, nonsense.

Works Volume One. What do you want to know - that it is flawed? Check. That it has moments of brilliance? Check, But then again so do all ELP albums. However, this is a disappointing affair until the last 2 tracks. Ok, I can stand a bit of Emerson's classical playing on piano, let's face it he's a consummate genius, but a whole album side? I don't think so.

I remember as a young wide-eyed student getting this album for the 'Fanfare' track and hoping it would be as good as that. But then the piano started and just kept going for the whole album and I was not prepared for this at all. I turned the vinyl over breathlessly hoping it would not be more piano. Instead I got love songs from Lake crooning to some unknown woman. Ho hum.

Side Three and I was blown away at last with the first 2 tracks. Palmer's compositions bury the other two on this album. But, the tracks soon merged into purile pretentious cowpad and none were even close to the standard of previous ELP. It's quite tiresome and surprisingly pretentious, so frustrating that a band as excellent as ELP could expect anyone to put up with this after their other brilliant albums, Tarkus, Brain Salad Surgery and Trilogy. In comparison 'Works' is the pits and should have been shovelled into a hole before anyone could dig it out and unleash this overblown nonsense.

The saving grace of the album is definitely without question 'Pirates' and 'Fanfare for the Common Man'. I had heard 'Fanfare' years ago, and I think it was the first ELP song I had heard. Instantly I loved it for all the reasons mentioned on this review forum. It was one of the catchiest tunes on the radio and it progressed to TV themes of various kinds. It is definitely an ultimate ELP track especially this long version of it.

'Pirates' is memorable for its conceptualisation and lyrics. It works well and I particularly love the live version on the ELP DVD 'From the Beginning'. The track at times could be mistaken for the soundtrack to 'Pirates of the Caribean' but at least ELP are working together at something that has heart and is progressive in style. However, the rest of this album is at best ordinary.

This album is a curiosity piece rather than a masterpiece. 'Fanfare' is always on compilations of ELP so it's not a good reason to get the album. Pirates is as readily available too I have found.

So in conclusion, get hold of the last 2 tracks and ditch the rest.

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Posted Thursday, July 24, 2008

Review by progaardvark
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Works Vol. 1 was a highly anticipated release as ELP had not released a new studio album in four years since Brain Salad Surgery in 1973. As expected, the reaction to the album in 1977 was mixed. Nowadays many find it a haphazard mess. Much of the reason for this was the constant disagreements between the band members concerning which direction ELP should go. In the end, Works Vol. 1 was released as a two-LP set, with each member taking a full LP side, leaving the fourth side featuring the entire band together. In some regards, this is just like Pink Floyd's Ummagumma, but that was a far better album than this one.

Side one features Keith Emerson. And Keith treats us to a piano concerto in three movements. Clearly quite boring if you were expecting synthesizer-laced prog rock. It probably should have been released as a solo effort. Nicely done, but mostly a snoozefest for me. Side two features Greg Lake and his never ending series of cheesy acoustic ballads. C'est la Vie is fairly nice, but again I can see a cloud of z's forming over my head.

Side three is where things start to pick up. This time it is drummer Carl Palmer. It includes a remake of Tank and two arrangements of classical pieces. This is the closest any of the members came to traditional ELP prog. And it figures it would be from the drummer!

Side four is where everyone in the band contributes together. The most famous of the songs on here is Fanfare for the Common Man, a rock arrangement of Aaron Copland's work. The 13+ minute Pirates is mediocre at best.

Quite unimpressive and a real downer for fans at the time. Two stars.

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Posted Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Review by crimson87
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This is regarded by the musical press as the pinnacle in self indulgence in ELP's career. But if you close your Rolling Stone magazine for a while you may realize this is a good album sharing moments of brillance like ELP's golden period and uninspired ones. The fact is in 1977 prog was no longer the center of attention of the press and the radios and people were eager in finding more simple music , this may be the reason this double album was so bashed at the time.

One of the main faults Works has is that is too long , featuring a side for each member in the band and a final one when they would join forces. Emerson made quite a risky choice with his side with his first Piano Concerto. I am no classical music expert but this piece is one of the first I have ever heard of it's kind and it got me interested on this type of music. My favourite part is the agressive Toccata con Fuoco , I really don't know if the Piano Concerto is an innovative piece or if it's technically well performed but it's one of a kind in my collection. I think Keith would have had a succesful career by interpreting his favourite composers instead of the road he chose after ELP disbanded in the late 70's.

Lake's side is in my opinion the weakest of the record. It has his trademark ballads as an obvious attept to hit the charts. But this songs are neither From the beggining , nor Lucky Man. The tunes are rather forgettable and the use of classical instrumentation makes them really cheesy and cliched. I often tend to skip this side knowing that there is best stuff on the rest of the record.

Palmer's side is an improvement over Lake's. Of course , there will be no Supper's Ready or Close to the Edge here but some tracks are very interesting. Carl showed us a jazz oriented style of drumming on the biggest ELP records and on Works he emphasizes this aspect. He even makes some covers of classical composers as well. My favourite tracks from here are the reworked version of and old favourite like Tank and Food for your Soul.

The following is probably the last time we will see ELP at the top of their game with two compositions. The fisrst one is a rework on the famous Fanfare for the Common Man and the second one is ELP's last epic called Pirates. On the first one Keith shows us his new Yamaha synthetizer that expanded his sonic possibilities , the rhytm section has a great performance in order to keep us entretained during this 10 minute version. Finally Pirates closes what would be the last ELP great release in an amazing form , this song may have been part of an exellent movie. Lake's singing is as it was on the Endless enigma , and Sinfield lyrics guide us through an epic adventure. I rank pirates between ELP's best songs.

Overall , I think that if this album had been released as a 45 minute LP version including the Piano Concerto , the ELP side and the best of Palmer's side it would have been another masterpiece of progressive music. But this record is really inconsistent , this is one of the cases where I need a 3.5 star mark.

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Posted Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
1 stars Gnaaaaah, do I have to listen to this again!?

If you've ever looked up the definition for ''pretentious'' in the English dictionary you would see three guys standing on a beach next to a palm tree smiling like idiots with their Hawaiian shirts half open to expose their proggily hairy chests to the women who would be walking by on either side of the camera, heartily disinterested - those guys are Emerson, Lake and Palmer, the chick magnets. Works Vol. 1 was the highly anticipated follow up to the masterpiece that was Brain Salad Surgery that was held off for years and years thanks to inner band turmoils and ultimately the band being way too busy staring at their own reflection in the mirror. What this represents is the end of the progressive rock golden era, and from here on out the critics would start taking cheap-shots at the genre thanks to albums just like this one.

Being a double album with 4 sides, it would be the ultimate self indulgence to give each member their own side, and that's what happened here - with the band's collaborative works saved for the final side. Here is where the problems start. Each member is good at a certain thing, but it turns out that they're not really all that great on their own. Take for instance Keith Emerson's piano wanderings which take up the full 20-minutes of the first side. While there are flashes of inspiration and some impressive moments, this is a mostly forgettable concerto which just feels bland. Lake's side is something of a nightmare for any progressive rock fan, as he spend the entire time with sappy ballads with the exception of Hallowed Be Thy Name which is somewhat of a worthy listen, but does not even compare to the worst of the old ELP material. Palmer's side is probably the least painful of the bunch, the founder of groups like Atomic Rooster is able to put his chops to good use, although there's no exceptional material from the side - nothing that really 'pops', just a whole bunch of stuff that is merely okay. The remake of Tank with orchestration doesn't do the original any justice at all.

Coming into the final side things are probably going to start looking up, after all, the first song is a cover and the second is written by Peter Sinfield. Unfortunately all is not so. Fanfare For The Common Man often gets a lot of praise, but it's probably because this song is a shining oasis long across a desert of uninspired musical ideas with no direction. It's a weak tune compared to anything off of early works, but probably the best song on this album so far. The album ends with the epic Pirates, which is not so bad, but not so great either. Still not a hint of the trademark hammond, but at least this song proves that ELP weren't completely off their rocker with this album, just mostly.

Unless you want some really expensive coasters for your beer which you will no doubt need after hearing this album just avoid it all together. ELP fans may find something to love, but there just isn't anything here worth recommending. The scary part is that Works Vol. 2 is considered the worst of the two, and from here it really can't get any worse, so whatever part of the abyss that album comes from must be truly terrifying. Probably the biggest problem with this album is that it's so freaking long, and the music is so overly self indulgent that it's the kind of stuff that they'd show their mothers only to have them say, ''oh, that's very nice dear''. I'm going to end this review the same way that most listening sessions of this album must have ended - with the needle being pulled from the record. 1 star!

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Posted Friday, February 27, 2009

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
3 stars After a string of nothing but great to magnificent releases from this trio comes this, the first disappointing album in their career. The album is mostly solo material from each of the members, with an album side from the the band playin together. So let me review them individually.

Keith Emerson's side is his Piano Concerto No. 1. As a piano concerto it's not bad. The third movement is actually quite good, good enough for Emerson to arrange it for his latest band. If I was rating it as a classical piece, I'd give it three stars. But since this is a prog site, only 2.

Greg Lake album side is the worst of the lot. The once great singer, while still in good voice, give us a batch of completely forgettable pop ballads. The only good point is the nice string arrangement in the otherwise bad Hallowed Be Thy Name. One star.

Carl Palmer gives us the best side of the album. And the most ELP-like. His drumming is great. He reworks some classical pieces into great rock songs. has some big band moments. And even rearranges Tank into a nice fusion song. If the entire album was like this, I'd love it. 4 stars.

The ELP side, while not the worst music of their career, was was worst at that point. The first of the two songs is Aaron Copland's Fanfare For The Common Man, reworked into a mostly boring one chord jam. Pirates is at least prog. And a prog epic. But compared to just about anything ELP had recorded previously, it's light. But it's not too bad. And subsequent non-orchestral recordings show that it's not really a bad prog song. Three stars.

So, all-in-all, this album gets 2.5 stars, which I'll round up, because I'm feeling generous, and the Red Sox are winning today.

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Posted Sunday, October 11, 2009

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars The beginning of the end.

ELP recorded double album in a manner of "Ummagumma": each member has his part. Pity, but it didn't work.

First part is dedicated to Emerson, there you have mainly Emerson composed pseudo- classical Concerto without traces of rock. And classical piece is really boring.

Second part ( by Greg Lake) is a bit better. Some more usual short songs, incl. great ballad C'est La Vie. In some songs Lake voice is terrible.

Palmer's part is more drum dedicated, but again very faceless.

At the end they put just few ELP more usual songs. Fanfares for The Common man is great.

All double album is huge and uninteresting. Few attractive moments. I prefer Works Vol.2. But generally starting from that point ELP started their way down.

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Posted Thursday, November 05, 2009

Review by Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
2 stars After an intensive five years and after the tour to promote the classic Brain Salad Surgery ELP were pretty much a burnt out force. A necessary break was to take place and Works Volume 1 wouldn't appear until 1977, four years since their last studio album. The band hadn't been idol though; the original intention had been for each member to release a solo album. However with their legion of fans desperate for a new ELP album and with each musician having ideas of working with orchestras, it was decided that they would pool their individual solo efforts into a double album under the ELP banner. They would have one side each, the fourth being a collaborative band effort. They did however contribute to each others sides on a playing level to a certain extent, the exception being Keith Emerson's Piano Concerto Number 1.

Emerson's Piano Concerto took up the first side of the album and is the most satisfactory side. Having written the piece, Emerson contributes piano with orchestral backing. It's suitably dramatic, in keeping with his bombastic approach to keyboard playing in ELP, though enough use is made of light and shade for colour. Not a masterpiece by any means but reasonably enjoyable.

The same can't be said for Greg Lake's and Carl Palmers sides. Lake contributes a side of shorter acoustic based songs along the lines of Lucky Man with some orchestral backing. While the songs are performed well enough they are incredibly dull and leave no desire to hit the replay button. Although Lend Your Love To Me Tonight is the best of a bad bunch there's nothing to get excited about here.

Palmer's contributions are almost as equally dull as Lake's. like fellow band members he makes use of an orchestra ranging from the orchestral The Enemy God Dances With The Black Spirits to limp fusion on LA Nights. There's lightweight rock with the funky New Orleans with Joe Walsh providing vocoder treated vocals. Palmer gets to play vibes on Two Part Invention In D Minor and Food for Your Soul is big band jazz giving him an excuse for a drum workout. The ELP classic Tank is given the big band treatment but pales into insignificance next to the original.

By far the most pleasing moment of the album comes on the band side where they do an interpretation of Aaron Copeland's Fanfare For The Common Man, the only moment that really captures what ELP are about. An edited version was even a hit single at the time. The other full band piece is Pirates, again utilizing an orchestra but fails to live up to past glories.

Of course progressive rock has always been associated with excess and I wouldn't have it any other way. Unfortunately on Works Volume 1 despite there being the occasional glimmer of something worthwhile, overall I find it a step too far in self indulgence. For the fan who must have everything only.

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Posted Saturday, January 02, 2010

Review by thehallway
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Taste! ...is the question here. This isn't a progressive rock album, but it's by a progressive rock band, so there are bound to be different views. Some very different genres are present here. We can't review it as a "structurally diverse and new side of prog", nor as a "terribly inaccurate attempt at prog". It isn't prog and it isn't meant to be, so I'm going to simply ignore the genre while rating.

I find Emerson's concerto to be one of the most interesting and delightful pieces of post-modern classical music in existence. I've even studied it and performed it for A level music. But of course, liking it depends entirely on your musical tastes outside of prog. And given the previous albums of this band, it's understandable why some people aren't particularly welcoming. And that can be said of the whole album. In terms of ELP as a unit, it's totally wrong on every level. Yet individually, it's exactly what anyone could ask for in a solo release. In other words, putting these works together on an album was a BIG mistake. Lake's ballads and anthems are of just as high quality as his previous acoustic songs [mostly]. But I don't listen to these as much because the style isn't really to my taste. Palmer's "things", some of which aren't so much songs as musical 'ideas', force me to adhere to the same opinion. I can appreciate their quality within the genre they are intending to carry off, but it's not really my thing. I'm an Emerson guy.

Now the group side is the only thing ELP fans can fairly review. It IS prog rock and is therefore a common factor of an ELP album.

'Fanfare for the Common Man' is a nice, fairly simple rendition of the popular... well, fanfare. The GX1 solo (which makes up most of the track, splitting the repeated main themes in half) is very cool but longer than neccesary I feel. It's the sort of thing that could be extended ON STAGE to great effect, but in the studio it's obviously a way of filling up the group side. 'Pirates' is much better in my opinion. It's very classically approached, but features band AND orchestra: symphonic prog. This song's length, unlike 'Fanfare...', works to it's advantage, building up an epic, movie- esque piece of music with some solid playing from all three members (even Lake's singing is good here).

In conclusion, sides 1 and 4 are the works for me. The rest is mediocre. But any reviews for this double album are a simple question of taste.

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Posted Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Review by octopus-4
COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
3 stars A lot of reviewers that I trust have rated this album with 1 or 2 stars so I started wondering why do I like it so much. Effectively this is far from the best things produced by ELP and there are undoubtely very weak moments, specially in the Lake's side but there are things that somebody seems to dislike but I find excellent.

First of all the Emerson's side long "Piano Concerto #1". Who has liked the "5 bridges suite" of "the Nice" can find similarities in this track. There's a symphonic orchestra behind Emerson's grand piano. The piece is sometimes reminding of Eastern Europe's classical composers, I mainly think to Dvorak. I can understand that classical music experts are probably disturbed by the attempt to compose classical music by an artist that's considered a pop-star, while somebody else can find it too pretentious. For me this is a very good instrumental track more in the vein of THE NICE than that of ELP.

Then it comes Lake. As I have written, I find this side as the weakest. Too pop and creamy, with forgettable lyrics and trivial melodies, but "C'Est La Vie" is a great song and the concertina solo played by Emerson in the coda is fantastic. I quite like even "Lend Your Love To Me Tonight", but I'm used to skip all the other tracks of this side.

The Palmer's side has heights and lows, but it's surely more interesting than Lake's. "The Enemy God" and the Bach thing are not bad. "L.A. Nights" has some good jazz-funky moments and the long drum solo on this version of "Tank" makes this side worth to be listened.

The "common side" has two tracks. The first is the Aarom Copland's "Fanfare for the common man". Who is old enough can remember the trio playing it in the Montreal's stadium empty of people and full of snow in the winter of 1976, before the olympic games. It's a very good arrangment of a modern classical piece.

Finally the album's highlight. "Pirates" is a great track even if the orchestral part makes it sound like a movie's soundtrack.

So in my opinion more than half of the album is very good and the side D is at the level of the best ELP. Unfortunatley Lake and partially Palmer didn't succeed. For this reason my final rating can't be higher than 3 stars.

Should I rate them separately I'd say 4 stars for side A, 2 or less for B, 2 for C and 4 for D.

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Posted Thursday, November 03, 2011

Review by stefro
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars A tedious, bloated concoction, the double-album 'Works' would prove to be the moment when ELP's collective ego went into serious overdrive. Once a genuinely innovative outfit, the trio of Keith Emerson(keyboards, vocals), Greg Lake(guitar, bass, Vocals) and Carl Palmer(drums) would prove to be their own worst enemies thanks to an inflated sense of self-importance that rendered them public enemy number one when the punk revolution finally came calling. Featuring an ill-advised classical opening in the shape of Emerson's near twenty-minute long 'Piano Concerto No.1' and the gruesomely-synthesized epic 'Pirates' amongst it's fourteen tracks, it's easy to see why groups such as The Sex Pistols and The Damned decided to attack the progressive rock genre with such vitriol. A real slog, 'Works' showed just how far removed ELP had become from their own audience - let alone the rest of the record-buying public - the group's condescending high-brow approach eschewing the very principles that made their initial, early-seventies output so exciting. Unsurprisingly then, 'Works' would prove to be the beginning of the end, this despite featuring the group's popular rendition of Aaron Copeland's 'Fanfare For The Common Man', an otherwise drearily-realised composition seen by many as the trio's signature piece. The group's once massively-popular live shows would start to become financial liabilities(ELP had, at one point during the mid-seventies, rivalled Led Zeppelin for global ticket sales and revenues) Greg Lake's simple-but-effective pop-nous that had been such a large part of their appeal would dry-up, and follow-up efforts's 'Works Vol.2' - an album of re-heated leftovers culled from the 'Works' sessions - and the hideous, pop-styled 'Love Beach' would ultimately tank, both commercially-and-critically, leading to the threesome's eventual split in 1978. Featuring the very worst excesses of progressive rock, 'Works' is as dull and dis-jointed as it gets. In a word: awful.

STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012

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Posted Sunday, February 26, 2012

Review by Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Shocking. This is the best word to describe the feeling any prog fan might had had when they heard the first ELP release after a more than 3 year old dry spell. For there is very little here their audience would expect from this talented and groundbreaking trio. For years I have listened to several stories about how controvertial this album was, but only recently I had the chance to actually hear the whole package. And it was a bad experience. In fact, I see Works Vol. 1 as a kind of publicist´s nightmare. How did the recording company see the final product? How to sell it? On the strengh of their earlier releases the faithful garanteed a million sold copies upfront, but that would not last.

Everything is wrong with this record: it opens wtih a solo piece by Keith Emerson. A heavy classical opus lasting 18 minutes, featuring Emerson on the piano and a complete orchestra. Interesting, but definitly for classical music lovers and the worst thing possible for a rock LP opener. Then you have a series of sappy Lake´s acoustic songs. With the solo exception of of the beautiful C´est La Vie (a big hit, even in Brazil), the rest is clearly uninspired and uncharacteristic weak. After that we are served with a series of funk/disco/jazz tunes by Palmer. Prokofiev´s The Enemy God Dances With The Black Spírits is ok, I guess. A bit too noisy, but fine percussion anyway. But L.A. Nights and New Orleans are so different you almost think you put the wrong record to play. Anything but ELP. Things get better with the short Two Part Invention In D Minor, but get completely out of hand again with Food For The Soul. At the last moment things improve a little by the new arranged of the old ELP classic Tank.

Up to that point you´re asking yourself what the hack is that? Then, at the last minute, comes the ´real thing´ (well, almost): two long compositions played by the whole band. Fanfarre For The Common Man was another cover, but it worked beautifully and became a kind of latter day classic for the band. A pity that Emerson completely abandoned the Hammond organ and decided to toy around with only the Yamaha GX-1. There is not a single note played on organ on this record. Pirates is another good song, although maybe, like Fanfarre, stretched a bit too long for its own good.

If the record started with the two group songs and then opened for the solo works, maybe things would be more palatable. But not much. Besides, the timing was all wrong: the musical scene had totally changed from when they reigned supreme three years before. In 1974 is possible that their audience would swallow such display of bloated egos as an interesting and innovative experiment. But in 1977 it simply sounded awkward and out of touch. And with a vol.1 tag to boost!! (there was more coming up?)

So, in the end, not a very rewarding experience. It was not a total failure because it had a few good stuff on it, but not enough to warrant a three stars rating. Be sure to get all the previous albums before trying this one.

Definitly for collectors, completionists and hardcore fans

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#660955) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, March 16, 2012

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4 stars I become more and more impressed by Emerson, Lake & Palmer for every record i go through. This record: Works Part I from 1977, the band's fifth studio album has been hard to understand fully. The first impression of course is boredom over the cover and an insight that 87 minutes of music isn't ... (read more)

Report this review (#1153567) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Tuesday, March 25, 2014 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This was the first non-masterpiece from Emerson, Lake & Palmer. It's divided into 4 sides (2 LPs). 1st side is Keith Emerson songs. The 2nd, Greg Lake. The 3rd is Carl Palmer and the 4th and last, Emerson, Lake and Palmer together. Keith Emerson side is a Piano Concerto, a classical song. It's g ... (read more)

Report this review (#946105) | Posted by VOTOMS | Thursday, April 18, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Emerson, Lake & Palmer's Works Volume 1 is an album that people love to rip, saying it's pretentious, bombastic, self indulgent. It is those things and more. Four years in the making and following their mega-hit Brain Salad Surgery, Works Volume 1 is inconsistant and infuriating to some people ... (read more)

Report this review (#912556) | Posted by wehpanzer | Monday, February 11, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars A bit uneven throughout it's four sides, Works still reveals some great art in parts. Emerson's Piano Concerto is brilliant, and of course the closer "Pirates" is one of the best things they ever did. Greg's side has a few winners, though would certainly have been stronger if Emerson and Palme ... (read more)

Report this review (#808752) | Posted by Progfan1958 | Wednesday, August 22, 2012 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Emerson, Lake & Palmer was created by three big egos. When those three egos worked in the same direction, as on the first four studio albums, they were fantastic. When striking out on their own, they were not that great though..... With all respect, their solo careers leaves a lot to be desired. ... (read more)

Report this review (#561590) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Thursday, November 03, 2011 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Bashing this album is an easy and popular thing to do. On first glance it is a very intimidating prospect, an entire side for each band member and one for the whole group is something that will put off any passive listener. I like to get through an album in one sitting but with Works Vol.1 this ... (read more)

Report this review (#389585) | Posted by topographicbroadways | Saturday, January 29, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars My problem with Emerson, Lake, and Palmer (excluding Brain Salad Surgery, thanks to overdubbed keyboards) is that thee band seems to create the most grandiosly masterful sounding songs, but only having a drummer, keyboardist, and bassist (who doesn't play loud enough), they didn't have the in ... (read more)

Report this review (#300477) | Posted by idoownu | Saturday, September 25, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars After releasing Brain Salad Surgery group has fallen into creative vacuum. During the next four years they did not release a studio album. This double LP has come after this period of time. But it was different in the matter of both format and quality. In the album there were one side for each ... (read more)

Report this review (#289853) | Posted by b4usleep | Saturday, July 10, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This album is not bad, but not great either. It's a competent three stars, though I would have also considered giving it a 2.5 stars if the option was available to me. The opening is a classical music piece, a 'piano concerto' in fact. While it is not amazing, it is definitely a beautiful pi ... (read more)

Report this review (#283384) | Posted by Brendan | Tuesday, May 25, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Please indulge me in a little personal rumination here. It was early 1972, and I was in the seventh grade at Christian Brothers School in New Orleans, LA. From my family's home on Fleur de Lis Dr., my friends and I would venture across the Seventeenth Street Canal (yes--that Seventeenth Street ... (read more)

Report this review (#199650) | Posted by ken_scrbrgh | Sunday, January 18, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This was the first prog album I ever bought so it has a lot of fond memories. I'd never heard such a wide range of material performed by one group before - a Piano Concerto, big band jazz, acoustic ballads and symphonic heavy rock. It really opened up the ears to the possibilities of music. Ye ... (read more)

Report this review (#179156) | Posted by Drachen Theaker | Friday, August 08, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Like Yes did in 1977, ELP returned from a career break of some 2 -3 years with a new album and a (slight) change of direction. The discreet black album cover, the B&W photo's, the very title - "Works, Volume One" - the concept for the double album being a side dedicated to the each member's so ... (read more)

Report this review (#121591) | Posted by Phil | Thursday, May 10, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Contrary to many of these reviews, I always liked this album. It seems when it came out, people were getting very "critical" of the excesses of progressive rock, and that heavily influenced the opinions of the album. I find it to have some pretty great music, period. The Piano Concerto is a f ... (read more)

Report this review (#113483) | Posted by igor58 | Sunday, February 25, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars To begin, this is a "difficult" album from the band, that gives us the posibility of apreciate whats the lavour of each member in the band. The first part of the disc, and for me, THE BEST, is the PIANO CONCERTO No. 1, what a masterpiece, here we can see Emerson making a fantastic performance, ... (read more)

Report this review (#111969) | Posted by Nash | Tuesday, February 13, 2007 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Sadly it was recordings like this that made 1977's punk explosion inevitable. Self indulgent and often pretentious this sounds like ELP meets Spinal tap. The Emerson side is pretty good but the Lake side is un listable slush. The Palmer side is nothing special although I do sometimes put this ... (read more)

Report this review (#96443) | Posted by burgersoft777 | Wednesday, November 01, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Pompous? Arrogant? Pretentious? WHO CARES!!! This album is sheer brilliance, mostly as a result of Keith Emerson's incredible classical writing. For fans of classical music...you cant be let down. If your a huge "Tarkus" sort of fan this may not be your idea of fun but I love almost every era ... (read more)

Report this review (#95718) | Posted by endlessepic | Thursday, October 26, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars ELP made 5 great albums between 1970 to 1973. It seems most reviewers here feel that what came later was not the same level. I think diferent. It is mostly solo works but does that an important matter ? The first side of the double old LP is the piano concerto of Emerson. I never felt so stron ... (read more)

Report this review (#14485) | Posted by omri | Saturday, May 07, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I absolutely love this album and I'm surprised to read some rather negative opinions. Keith's Piano Concerto seems to come in for some rather unjust criticism I feel. Ok it may not be in the classical tradition but it is unmistakeably Emerson and I find it thrilling at times and full of vitali ... (read more)

Report this review (#14479) | Posted by | Tuesday, February 08, 2005 | Review Permanlink

2 stars If anyone, after the triple live albums of the mid-seventies, doubted the necessity of punk, just give this one a listen! This is the ultimate bombast. It is everything progressive rock was ever critisised of - pretentios, heartless and boring. Still, well performed and with some glimpses of p ... (read more)

Report this review (#14473) | Posted by Stjarnblom | Sunday, May 16, 2004 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Released when punk music was earthquaking the world, Works seemed to come out of Mars, or somewhere in the big Universe. 3 stars for the courage, but it remains a too ambitious album made by 3 persons who seemed to know they were at the end of their splendid career. ... (read more)

Report this review (#14471) | Posted by | Wednesday, April 21, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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