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Emerson Lake & Palmer

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Emerson Lake & Palmer Black Moon album cover
2.77 | 549 ratings | 33 reviews | 5% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1992

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Black Moon (6:59)
2. Paper Blood (4:29)
3. Affairs Of The Heart (3:47)
4. Romeo And Juliet {Prokofiev, arranged by Emerson} (3:43)
5. Farewell To Arms (5:10)
6. Changing States (6:03)
7. Burning Bridges {Mark Mancina} (4:45)
8. Close To Home (4:29)
9. Better Days (5:37)
10. Footprints In The Snow (3:52)

Total Time: 48:56

Bonus Track on 2008 Shout! remaster:
11. A Blade Of Grass (Single) (2:15)

Line-up / Musicians

- Greg Lake / vocals, bass, guitars, harmonica (?)
- Keith Emerson / keyboards, Hammond, piano, synth, arrangements (4)
- Carl Palmer / drums, percussion

- Mark Mancina / vocal arrangements (1), producer
- Mark Holding / vocal arrangements (2)
- Gary Hodgson / programming
- Ian Morrow / programming
- John Van Tongeren/ programming
- Tim Heintz/ programming

Releases information

Artwork: AWest with DZN (design)

LP Victory Music ‎- 828 318-1 (1992, Europe)

CD Victory Music - 828 318-2 (1992, Europe)
CD Shout! Factory ‎- 826663-10845 (2008, US) Remastered by Andy Pearce w/ 1 bonus track

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy EMERSON LAKE & PALMER Black Moon Music

EMERSON LAKE & PALMER Black Moon ratings distribution

(549 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(5%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(18%)
Good, but non-essential (39%)
Collectors/fans only (27%)
Poor. Only for completionists (11%)

EMERSON LAKE & PALMER Black Moon reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Who's the new singer?

By the time "Black Moon" was released, Lake's voice had changed remarkably. The distinctive tones are still there, but he sings in a completely different, and much lower key. This is somewhat disconcerting at first, but you do get used to it.

"Black moon" was ELP's last credible album. It's certainly not their best, but they play and write as a band, even if to some extent the tracks are ELP by the numbers. There is a tendency to steer clear of the true prog which they explored on their early albums, the offerings here being more straightforward songs.

The opening track, apparently inspired by the burning oilfields of Kuwait during the Iraqi invasion, is a keyboard swamped piece of AOR, with little sign of the inspiration which created "Karn Evil 9" and the likes.

The obligatory classical interpretation is a stomping version of "Romeo and Juliet", you can almost picture Emerson's keyboard histrionics as he pounds the keys.

A good album, but not by any means one of the ELP greats.

Review by richardh
3 stars Fairly decent AORish prog that never hits any great highs but does at least manage to avoid the lows of ELPowell.The worst thing about this album is the flat production.Mark Mancina should not have been allowed anywhere near.Where's Eddie Offord when you need him?? Ignoring that there are some good songs.'Paper Blood' has some excellent Hammond work from Emerson and 'Affairs Of The Heart' showcases Lake's mature baritone quite nicely.There's also the very pleasant piano peice 'Close To Home' and the lovely 'Footprints In The Snow'.Those are the highs really.The rest is average at best.Overall a respectable comeback album that should have lead to better things but unfortunately.......
Review by Fitzcarraldo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Emerson, Lake & Palmer got back together in 1991, older and hopefully wiser, to record this 1992 release, which has much more of a rock/pop feel than the Progressive Rock on their first five albums. However, unlike "Love Beach" (their earlier attempt at a more commercial sound) this album actually works. If you can listen to mainstream commercial rock and pop then you will probably like this album. All the tunes are catchy and the lyrics are good. Musician and producer Mike Mancina produced the album and contributed the song 'Burning Bridges'. Although the album has a more commercial sound there are still the Lake ballads, the 'serious' numbers and Emerson's take on a piece of classical music. So it's still ELP, just an ELP that has 'progressed'.

The Gulf War inspired the title track. The title comes from Lake's shock at seeing on TV the Kuwaiti oil fields burning and the thick black smoke filtering the sun into a 'black moon'. His lyrics talk of 'deserts burning' while Emerson's synthesizers and Palmer's percussion recreate the sounds of automatic rifle fire, fighter-bombers and shells slamming in. The band unashamedly borrowed the three-drumbeat riff from QUEEN's 'We Will Rock You' as the anchor for this track. After I got over that, it works. Good stuff.

'Paper Blood' is a real commercial rocker, but none the worse for that. Lake's lyrics talk of the power of money and appear to be a comment on how fortunes can quickly change for the worse (the band's, by any chance?). Could this be the reason for the carrousel on the album cover?

'Affairs Of The Heart' is a Lake/Downes love ballad with acoustic guitar and some pleasant orchestration, somewhat in the vein of 'Lucky Man' but with a more commercial flavour.

'Romeo and Juliet' is Emerson's arrangement of the superb 'Dance of the Knights' from Prokofiev's score for the ballet Romeo and Juliet (or the equivalent 'The Montagues and Capulets' from the orchestral suite Romeo and Juliet Suite No. 2 Opus 64ter). Apparently Emerson described it as 'an obvious choice'. So obvious in fact that I often wondered why it had not been done on one of the first five ELP albums. I'm going to have to eat the words in my review of "Pictures At An Exhibition" and say that here I prefer the original. If you get the chance, go to the ballet or listen to the orchestral suite: a big orchestra playing this piece is hard to beat. I would have preferred ELP to have been more adventurous and given 'The Montagues and Capulets' a bigger twist by playing around more with the score and using fatter synthesizers, more guitar and percussion. Still, what they did is very good and should impress fans of Progressive Rock.

'Farewell To Arms' is a hymn to peace and has a very Scottish feel to it with Emerson's synthesizer sounding like bagpipes. Granted it's not Progressive Rock, but it's a lovely song nonetheless.

'Changing States' is an Emerson instrumental sounding like an upbeat movie soundtrack (horses galloping through the surf on a beach, boats ploughing through the waters - you get the picture). Not Progressive Rock either, but well composed fluff and pleasant enough.

'Burning Bridges' is a song composed by Mike Mancina; sort of 'Michael Bolton meets ELP'. Again not Progressive Rock but, so what, I like it. A very catchy tune with nice strings, and a little bit of Emerson's synthesizer keeps me happy. A slick, commercial piece.

'Close To Home' is a pseudo-classical piano instrumental written by Emerson and Lake. It's no masterpiece but is again pleasant; almost the sort of thing one would expect to hear in a plush bar or restaurant. However it doesn't feel pretentious to me.

'Better Days' is another pop song a la Michael Bolton, this time a Lake song about a down-and-out, written after Emerson told him about a bag lady who he had taken pity on and slipped a ten-pound note. An OK song.

'Footprints In The Snow' is a great love ballad by Lake. It's pure pop with a very catchy tune, decent lyrics and nice backing orchestration. I like it.

The Sanctuary Records CD has some bonus tracks: the Single Edit of 'Black Moon' and edits of 'Affairs Of The Heart', 'Paper Blood' and 'Romeo And Juliet' complete with fade-outs. Not essential additions, but shortened repeats of the album's tracks.

I'm glad I own this album of very accessible, polished music. Progressive pop? Commercial rock? Whatever. I've heard worse Progressive Rock many a time. Three stars (Good, but non-essential).

Review by Prog Leviathan
2 stars Lots of changes abound in "Black Moon", but most painful is the odd shift in timbre of Lake's voice, which went from positively beautiful to husky and mediocre. What happened? He scarcely sounds like the same person. More disconcerting is the shift in songwriting to a much more accessible, almost radio-friendly sound; gone are the sweeping compositions and exciting instrumentals... there is very little to get excited about here, but not a lot to be disgusted with. They band still plays well, but they could have stirred up the creative juices a little more to give us something worthwhile-- even within the short, song-based framework they decided to record this one in.

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

Review by ZowieZiggy
1 stars If you except "Emerson, Lake & Powell" released in 1985 this is the first true ELP album since their very average "Love Beach". Forteen years ago! Is there still a place for ELP in those days ? Let's hear.

The opener strongly reminds the Genesis type of compositions while they were three. Over-powered drumming (a la "We will Rock You"), almost heavy-rock sounds. Not a great start for an ELP fan I'm afraid. After five minutes of this "heavy" treatment, ELP will propose a nice and more traditional finale. Light and sweet then hypnotic (like during their interpretation of the "Bolero", ages ago).

The same heavy mood goes on in the next song. "Paper Blood" has absolutely nothing to do with the traditional ELP we have loved in the seventies. I can understand that a band needs to evolve to avoid boredom but I can't cope with this type of (d) evolution. As usual, we'll get the classic sweet and gentle ballad to remind us "Lucky Man", "Still..." etc. No need to say that "Affairs Of The Heart" is far to reach the quality of its glorious predecessors.

Since ELP have definitely difficulties in creating great songs, why not pumping into the classic repertoire and re-arrange a Prokofiev song ? I am not at all a specialist of classical music and I do not know the original. I can only say that when ELP did the same excercise with "Pictures", I quite liked it. With this one, the same boring feeling prevails. Just like during the syrupous "Farwell To Arms". Really pityful. I have almost the same feeling than during "Works" (whatever version) : an extreme disillusion. When ELP almost meets folk...

Shall we finally a good ELP song on this album ? Well, once you are ready to lower your expectations, "Changing States" might well be the one. Somewhat pompous as in their glory days, this track has the seal of a classic ELP song. Finally ! Emerson is rather effective, and Carl has probably never played better on this album. A nice instrumental moment and by far the best song of this album.

A bit of uneffective pop moment with "Burning Bridges" just gets you back to earth. We are heading again the all-time lows of their music. Press next of course. You'll enter into the classical territories with a piano solo. Actually, with so many poor songs, this might as well be one of the most bearable ones available on this album. Still, it sounds more as a piano bar song than anything else. But to my ears, it sounds way better than the funkish / AOR "Better Days". Awful.

To close this album, ELP offer another slow ballad. Not too bad but just good to fall asleep.

This album is poor. Almost no tracks is bringing a little passion. One star. Just ignore this album from your ELP discography.

Review by Tom Ozric
4 stars To back up the previous reviewer, ExittheLemming, I would also consider this E.L.P. reunion album as a strong 'come-back' album, out of any of the 70's Prog-Giants (particularly Genesis and Yes from the same era...). Black Moon seems to continue in a more traditionally Progressive sounding realm, indeed the title-track opener is superb, even with the QUEEN-like rhythm from drummer Carl Palmer. Emerson reverts back to the Hammond Organ, not particularly for the nostalgia alone, but also to incorporate a 'vintage' sound in a modern context. The whole arrangement of the song suggests an epic feel, and a passionate return to the fundamentals of their whole artistic expression. We still get some complexity, classical symphonic inspiration, and a tightly composed set of songs here, as well as some commercially oriented material, but quite non-offensive, truth be told. A marked improvement from the few mediocre 80's recordings they were responsible for (E.L.Powell, '3'..). Quite a sensational live recording followed-up this album. Black Moon remains a testament to the power of this phenomenal trio, and a fairly strong resurgence for fans and Prog-Heads 'Karn Evil 9' here, but still an exciting blend of songs which demonstrates the intricacy and catchy sensibilities of this group of gifted musicians. This was the 'bee's knee' for me when it came out, and I still return to it time after time. The vinyl version leaves off an Emerson solo Piano piece, 'Blade of Grass' (from memory)...Closer to a 4 star, than a 3.
Review by Garion81
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars In 1992 ELP reformed to record Black Moon and set out on a World tour. I was very excited to hear that as ELP was one of my all time favorite bands and they had done nothing since the EL Powell mid 80's collaboration. I thought back then this album was a greally good effort. Sure the band had added the some of the trappings all music had in this day being influenced by MTV. They also had shortened their songs by quite a bit and in many way only appeared to offer the long time fan only glimpses of the past.

Lets review what an ELP album has to have. It needs a ballad, it needs a classical adaptation and it needs an epic. Even love Beach had all three. So does this album have this? Well certainly the ballad, kind of an almost John Denverish,in sound and structure, Affairs of the Heart. It has the classical adaptation, albeit short, in The Theme from Romeo and Juliet by Prokofiev.

Does this have an epic? Not really and there in lies its fatal flaw from being a classic to being merely good. Instead ELP try and add ELP epic moments to shorter songs. For instance the end of the Title Track where Keith does a multiple keyboard orchestration but someone forgot to tell Carl he needed to come along as well or the synth solo at the end of Farewell to Arms. Unfortunately these aren't epics and the closest we get to one is the 6 minute instrumental Changing States which comes off a lot like Canario did on Love Beach. I think though Carl still felt like he was drumming for Asia as there is none of the frantic quality he always put in an ELP classic. Instead it is a laid back Palmer who seems like he is just counting out time. I have to say it just wasn't Carl but ever since In the Air by Phil Collins came out every drummer threw away his cymbals and minimalized. There are moments in this song that do you get you thinking about how good these guys still were and even though its not quite enough it was better than 99% of the music coming out in this time period.

Then there is Keiths solo piano piece called Close to Home. I always have loved this one. It reminds me of Jefferson Airplanes guitarist Jorma Kaukanen's Embryonic Journey. Just an quiet introspection of the artist and his instrument. After that it gets a bit sketchy with Burning Bridges written by the albums producer Mark Mancina. I knew Mark when we were both younger and it is a well crafted pop/rock power ballad but not for ELP although Mark sure knows how to get the best sound out of Keith's Synths. They do soar on this CD.

Some of the rest of the songs sound like they could have been on a Greg Lake solo album rather than an ELP and putting an Emerson solo on such a song does not make it ELP. Still all in all these guys did a pretty good job with this and the tour was fun as well. My opinion has changed since 1992 but this is still a 3 star.

Review by TGM: Orb
3 stars Review 38, Black Moon, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, 1992


I really like this much-maligned (here, at least) album, though it's probably not for everyone. Greg Lake's voice has certainly faded since its glory days, but is still passable, and has a certain verve and aggression that suits numbers like Black Moon and Paper Blood. Palmer does have a rather less constantly-shifting style that takes a while to get used to and appreciate, but still gives some solid moments. Emerson is on top form throughout, whether with vicious Hammond or gentle piano. It's not going to be another reiteration of their glory days, but it is a collaborative effort and well worth taking a listen to.

Black Moon's classic title track opens with a tense, dark atmosphere created mostly by Emerson's shimmering keyboard choices, including a bizarre, brief, crashing piano solo. Palmer and Lake kick in with a rather We Will Rock You -esque beat, though it's heavily elaborated (one or two brief bass solos also colour it). Lake's vocal, strong and aggressive, drives through the excellent and biting lyrics ('We don't get active, we become immune/Black Moon.'), and the synths give a certain strut to the political lyrics. We get two incredibly good solos from Emerson, and towards the end Palmer gives us some interesting classical-ish drumming choices which hark back to the glory of Toccata. A classic ELP track, equal with much of their past fare.

Paper Blood is aggressive ELP-fare, with a superb performance from Emerson on the hammond, giving some stabbing bursts of energy as well as that lovable blues block organ. Palmer's heavy, but quite relaxed, drumming suits the song down to the ground, and Greg Lake doesn't do badly on the vocals/lyrics department. Some strong harmonica adds yet another colour to the mix. A very thick riff holds the song together.

Affairs Of The Heart is (Shock, horror. They've betrayed prog) a ballad, with some standard Lake acoustic strumming complimented by a couple of bursts of interest. His vocals (despite some extremely good lyrical lines ['faces like a ghost with eyes of jade]) do finder it harder to cope with the extended showcase, but when Palmer and Emerson (especially, some amazingly emotional soft keyboard additions, piano and others) come in, it does take off very impressively.

The interpretation of Tchaikovsky's Romeo And Juliet has a very vicious and dark colour of its own, with strutting synths, loud and superbly interesting drumming and even Greg Lake guitar soloing of the highest order. Palmer definitely feels very much in his element on this one, and I'm a sucker for a dark (/re-)interpretation of classical pieces. Great stuff.

Farewell To Arms has a harder time contending with the rest, because despite some reverent organ and absolutely beautiful piano from Emerson (as well as excellent bass, and not-so-great acoustics from Lake). Palmer doesn't quite match up to himself in the song, feeling a bit subserviant to the mix. Lake's vocals are basically the song, and, though generally good, but overblown, they do border on the tacky at times. A whirly moog solo that from Emerson, almost a nod to Lucky Man, leads us out.

Changing States seems almost like a soundtrack piece, with an array of great piano, synthesiser and organ parts leading to the pompous and cheerful addition of a bizarre drum-bass combination which whimsically take a solo or add in something. Emerson gives us both the main tune and some variations on smaller instruments which take a little listening to notice. Basically, ELP doing what ELP do, but with a different basic sound. Lots of variations from everyone involved, a panache and grandeur that isn't to be missed.

Burning Bridges (written by manager, Terry Mancina) begins with a tense drum-part and some thick organ, with the later addition of some piano and bass, before it develops to a pop tune (I love it, don't care.). Greg Lake gives us some great vocals and lyrics to this pop tune. Keith Emerson's wonderfully dripping brief piano and organ solos, and his musicianship throughout shows how great musicians can work superbly in a pop context. Carl Palmer also provides some very fierce work in addition to his basic beat. Pop tune, but I like it.

The odd Close To Home is a piano solo (so I can't help the musicians). The feel is rather carefree, structured, but not tightly so, and played gently and carelessly on a warm afternoon. There is a rather developing feel throughout the solo. Warm and cheerful, but I can't evaluate it.

Better Days is a punchy, almost-electronic-feeling piece, with catchy bass and drums, some rocking keyboards from Emerson, mostly tolerable (narrative) lyrics and good vocals from Lake. Palmer gets to use some bells as well as a bass drum-heavy beat. All in all, a good pop song, with Emerson and Palmer giving it a little extra class.

Footprints In The Snow is another of the ballads, with the usual Greg Lake acoustics, which I can't say I find very interesting, but also some gorgeous piano additions, background keys and small bass parts. Lake's voice doesn't really have too much difficulty handling the spotlight, and the lyrics are good enough for the piece, though not great. The gradual build up in the last verse is sublime, and the conclusion for the album is prety strong.

The bonus material on my remaster is banal. Four edits with reduced atmospheric build-up. No point in listening any further than Footprints In The Snow, really. I could have done without the extras.

Basically, around half of this album is heavily pop-based or ballad-styled, so if you don't care for that, put it somewhere later on in your ELP-list. However, this half is very well done, and the other half (Romeo And Juliet, Black Moon, Changing States, etc.) is certainly not to be missed by anyone who likes ELP (or doesn't), and I think a reasonably open-minded prog fan should be happy with it. Not a masterpiece, certainly, but a very good album in a changed musical world.

Rating: Four Stars Favourite Track: Black Moon

Edit: Dropped carefully to three stars. Same recommendations apply, but I think that three reflects them better by comparison to some of my other ratings.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
4 stars This is easily the best Emerson Lake & Palmer album since Brain Salad Surgery that was released 20 years earlier! Of course, Black Moon is not as inventive and adventurous as the bands classic 70's albums. However, that is irrelevant since this is also a different type of music. Black Moon is more of a rock album, and it rocks quite hard at times too. The songs here are really good and memorable.

There are no long conceptual pieces here (like Tarkus or Karn Evil 9), there are also no ultra intricate, experimental things (like Toccata), but still this album really captures the true spirit of the band. We find here great instrumental passages; Romeo And Juliet, Changing States, good hard rock songs; Black Moon, Paper Blood, and even Greg Lake's ballads are good this time; Farewell To Arms, Footprints In The Snow. The latter are easily Lake's best songs of this type since Lucky Man and In the Beginning from the very early 70's.

This album is also very consistent. There aren't really any standout tracks, but also no weak tracks. In many ways Black Moon is the exact opposite of Works Vol.1 where the three members did quite different things from each other on their respective vinyl sides. Here on the other hand, they really feel like a band again, working together.

This album is highly recommended if you like this band. For me personally this is one of the three or four best Emerson Lake & Palmer albums of all time.

Excellent addition to any prog music collection

Review by progaardvark
COLLABORATOR Crossover/Symphonic/RPI Teams
2 stars I guess many fans of ELP hailed Black Moon as a triumphant comeback. I do recall quite a bit of fanfare for this release back in 1992 and it was enough to peak my curiosity at the time. I too thought it was a pretty good album, but really didn't think it was anywhere near as good as their 1985 album with Cozy Powell. Strangely enough, this album disappeared off the radar (at least in the States) in less than a few months. Apparently it did better elsewhere. Today, about 16 years later, it hasn't aged well at all in progressive rock terms.

Let's face it. This album hardly merits the mention of the word progressive in the traditional sense. It's nearly completely in the AOR/pop rock vein, with maybe the exception of the Romeo and Juliet instrumental. It's clearly on the tail end of that 1980s sound that so ruined many a prog band and fits in nicely with its dinosaurian contemporaries of the time, like Genesis' We Can't Dance, Asia's Aqua, and Eloy's Destination.

Probably the best quality this album has is that it's probably the first album where the entire band seems to be involved in a team effort. Also, for AOR/pop rock, it's not that bad, and is rather better than other similar pop music from the time period.

I suppose one can argue as to how progressive this album is. I'm not convinced that it even warrants usage of such an esteemed word. Because of this, I can't see it ever being higher than two stars. For fans, collectors, and those pursuing a historical study of the downfalls of great prog bands.

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars ELP is a strange band, initially the first outright prog supergroup (and when you realize that Blind Faith only lasted one paltry album: arguably THE rock amalgamation of all time). Big boys, bigger arsenals of equipment and even bigger egos contributed to a phenomenon that espoused the fragility of fame and fortune in the music world, where you were indeed a "lucky man" what with all the horny groupies, the "tossed out the hotel window TV sets" attitude, the nasty drugs and the endless enigma of touring. Certainly, their recorded output up to Brain Salad Surgery is considered as topnotch examples of classical-infused power trio progressive rock but as the punkers stated their bloodless revolution (led according to lore by the aptly named The Vibrators), the virtuosos started running out of steam and ideas, egged on by the greedy corporations and the onset of diluted pop-prog by 1978-79. The death knell had sounded thanks to monolithic wastes of time, energy, vinyl and talent like the bloated Works Volumes 1 and 2, more embarrassing than anything and fuel for the untalented and frustrated to "revitalize" popular music by encouraging ugly idiots who could play two notes real well! By 1992, the punk phenomenon had petered into disarray (hey, how many combinations of 2 notes can you come up with?) and the music world was in a momentary lapse of marketing, hence ELP decided to go for the gap and try to wiggle through and make a splash. As many others here have commented correctly, it was a mitigated success, as "Black Moon" has some interesting tracks as well as some 'yuck'. Firstly, how can they agree on such a boring cover, with such dismal artwork, I mean the circus is a cool place and an attraction like the carousel can be enlightening but please, where was BSS' Giger when you really needed him? Secondly, the production is way too sterile and "poppy" with little warmth and no character at all. Who is this Mark Mancina anyway? The title track certainly has "oomph" as it steamrollers mightily with verve, confidence and authority, rousingly referring to the burning Iraqi oil fields of Gulf Storm and giving Lake's shakier voice some depth. One is almost reminded of Queen's anthemic "We Will Rock You" pounding, as Palmer does his best Roger Taylor imitation and Emerson reverts to blaring his fanfarish synths with undisguised ardor. Good emphatic opener, somewhat ruined by the next silly affair, the politically charged "Paper Blood", which could have been vastly improved had the lads rejected the gooey cheese they wrapped around it! A real corny and ultra-simplistic organ riff leads this horrid sing-along, I mean Asia could do this better and that is sad, perhaps this where the inspiration came from in the first place. The hysterical harmonica does little to relieve the pain. "Affairs of the Heart" reveals a quieter mood, time for Lake to provide one of his patented ballads but alas, his voice had altered greatly in the intervening years and he comes astoundingly across sounding more like David Cousins of the Strawbs, especially when the vessel resembles traditional British folk songs. The resemblance is uncanny and this sentiment will resurface later with equally Brit-folkish "A Farewell to Arms" as well as the closer "Footprints in the Snow". "Romeo & Juliet" is why I purchased this way back when in the first place and it is a classic piece of genius that has epic, empirical intonations full of bombast, majesty and clout. The sibilant synths marshal forward boldly, with swagger and utter poise, a modern diversion on Prokofiev's classic piece. Still revered today in many circles (and oft sampled) as ideal "entrance" music, be it at an event, a wedding or a concert. Simply magnificent! The Emersonian instrumental "Changing States" begins nicely with stately piano, church organ and a rousing "entrée en scene" that playfully rollicks onward, a good but not mindboggling return to form. "Burning Bridges" has little or no relevance to a prog fan, a pedestrian affair that is verging near revolting, tasteless corn! Even the organ snippets cannot save this bummer, got to (Black) Moon this one! Next! "Close to Home" is a piano solo that would do well in the bar lounge of a respectable 5 star hotel, say the Paris Ritz or even the Beverly Wilshire, Emerson doing his best Richard Gere/Pretty Woman midnight recital , as the wait staff boringly broom away the glitter, waiting to go home. Back to the sludge with the ridiculous "Better Days", a Chris deBurgh-like storytelling cough introducing a rather pedestrian sing-along rock song with funky clavinet and strained Lake vocals, "Stand on Me" repeated ad nauseum, with the wimpiest organ solo and the worst plodding drums ever from Palmer. Brutal trash. "Footprints in the Snow" mercifully revisits some faraway and discreet elegance, a genial nod to Cousins and his nasal twang with acoustic guitars and melancholic chorus. A little polish and a lot of spit would have elevated this a tad higher but three merry-go-rounds is more than enough!
Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars ELP plays ELP twenty years too late

When people in or outside the Progressive Rock universe discuss what was wrong with the genre, the name EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER always is mentioned, they are accused of pompous, self indulgent, arrogant, and many other things.......I always protest on such silly accusations, because Prog is a pompous genre and ELP played an important role in the definition of it.

ELP was one of the brightest stars of our beloved genre, but the price they paid for such brilliance is that they burned too fast, after a good debut and the respected "Tarkus", came "Trilogy" and Brain Salad Surgery", the peak of their glory enhanced by the fantastic live album "Welcome Back my Friends....", but it was only 1974 and while other bands kept growing, ELP started to progressively loose credibility, reaching the bottom of the pit with "Love Beach" an album that should had never been recorded.

After this disaster, they split and nobody believed we would hear more about them, but in 1994 the trio was back and releasing "Black Moon" in an attempt of recovering they well deserved place in Prog history, and honestly it was their best release since 1976, but this wasn't enough, the old formula was exhausted and what impressed us in the 70's, was only cliche in the 90's, specially after during the peak of the Swedish Renaissance.

The album is opened with Black Moon and it's promising opening of Synth and piano, but as soon as Carl Palmer hits the drums, the listener will discover it's only a pale echo of the past, very pompous and strong, with a Lake still in his peak, but lack of substance, as if they had lost the path and couldn't find the way back, the previously impressive keyboard solos, sound boring and unimaginative, not a good start.

"Paper Blood" is an improvement, the harmonica makes it sound fresher, and Keith selection of organ is impressive, but the problem subsists, a couple of good ideas,. but little substance, no matter how hard they try with the old formula, they are not able to cause the same impression as twenty years before.

What else can they do at this point?....I know, try with their ability to recreate classical musicians works, and they choose well, "Romeo and Juliet" by Serge Prokofiev is a pompous, explosive piece of music even when a bit repetitive, but instead of making what they know best, destroy the original work to create something new and radical, they follow the original composition with some effects but nothing more.

Until this point ELP has failed in the attempt of playing ELP music by following their old format, but there's still something to try....A Lake ballad in the vein of "Lucky Man", "Still yo Turn Me On" or at least "Ces't La Vie", but "Affairs of the Heart" is as simple and unimaginative as the name, and the same comment is valid for "Farewell to Arms"

I could continue with all the other tracks, but all of them sound like a pathetic attempt of playing ELP music following the old script, but except for the brilliant "Better Days", they keep falling miserably, turning in a tribute band of themselves, for God's sake, even the piano interlude"Close to Home" by the fantastic Emerson makes feel sleepy, they aren't able to do what they do best, maybe it was time to attempt something new.

The sad thing is that they are not doing anything wrong, they are following the frames they created, but what was imaginative in 1974, is less than average in 1994.

If it was almost any other band, the album would deserve at least 3.5 stars, but great bands are judged by their own standards and for EMERSON LAKE & PALMER, this album is worth 2 stars, maybe 2.5 to make it average.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
2 stars I am shocked by the number of good reviews, and horrified by the five star reviews this album has received. They must have been written by people that think the last half dozen Genesis albums are progressive gems.

First, Greg Lake sounds like he spent the previous twelve years sitting in his house chain smoking. Or maybe if he just cleared out whatever was blocking his throat, he could get some of that golden tone he once had. And Carl Palmer must have thought he was still pounding out simple beats for Asia. And the songwriting? Except for a couple of songs, everything here is AOR. Sure, Emerson's keyboards pump a little energy into the music here and there, but there is none of the grandiose boldness that once made ELP one of the top bands in the genre.

The saving graces of the album are Romeo & Juliet from the Prokofiev ballet, and Changing States, both of which can be found in slighly different forms, and under different titles on Emerson's far superior solo album, Changing States.

Really, the best thing about this album was the reunion itself, which gave us a chance to see ELP playing some of their classic material.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 4 reasons to buy this album:

Black Moon (6:59)

Paper Blood (4:29)

Better Days (5:37)

Romeo And Juliet {Prokofiev, arranged by Emerson} (3:43)

I had heard all of these tracks live on DVDs and live CDs and enjoyed the new sound and thought that this album would therefore be a definite triumph. I was wrong. It is no triumph, but it would have been good enough to bow out on, rather than release the slap-your-granny- awful 'In the Hot Seat'.

The reunion of ELP was not as successful as they may have hoped but this effort blows 'Love Beach' out of the water, in fact off the beach altogether. The Black Moon album boasts prog in bursts and some inspired instrumentals from the power trio. There are some excellent moments, the aforementioned songs are terrific but others are quite memorable and catchy. The obligatory ballad chimes in with Affairs of the Heart and Lake is strong vocally. He sings different than the classic albums but it's pleasant enough. The drums are nothing much to write home about but effective nonethelesss. Emerson shines in places and seems to be enjoying the reunion. This was the last great hurrah from the band proving they still have some innovation and are deserved of the tag - one of the greatest progenitors of prog rock.

It may not be up to the standard of thier classic albums from debut to Trilogy, but it is streets ahead of Love Beach and In the Hot Seat does not even hold a candle to it. One of the better more recent ELP albums by a long shot.

Review by Guillermo
4 stars ELP's first studio album since 1978's "Love Beach" album. With this happening after Keith Emerson recorded two albums with two different bands. First, the "Emerson Lake and Powell" (1986) album, with Greg Lake, and with Cozy Powell (who replaced Carl Palmer, who at the time was with ASIA and didn't participate). And later, with the band called "3" (with Carl Palmer, and with Robert Berry replacing Greg Lake) which recorded their "To the Power of Three" (1988) album. With both bands and albums having some influences from the mid to late eighties's musical sounds, but with the "To the Power of Three" album being even more Pop Rock in style, and with the two albums having moderate success, and with both bands having a brief existence.

For this album titled "Black Moon", the band was signed to Victory Music Records, a record label which also signed YES in 1993 and other famous musicians like DAVID BOWIE and his band called TIN MACHINE. That record label had a brief existence, and later disappeared due to financial problems. Anyway, ELP recorded three albums for that record label ("Black Moon" 1992; "Live at the Royal Albert Hall, 1993; "In the Hot Seat", 1994) before their split as a band in 1998.

For this "Black Moon" album, the band had, for the first time, external producers (Mark Mancina, Ian Morrow, John Van Tongeren), with the first time in their history on which Greg Lake was not the producer of their albums. The album also was influenced by a more "modern" sound for the nineties, with a more Pop Rock /Prog Rock musical style, with more modern keyboards and drums sounds. In fact, some of the drums sound like being played in an electronic drum kit, and some percussion parts in fact sound like being programmed. Also, Greg Lake's voice obviously sounds changed, due to the natural passing of time, with him singing in a lower register, but singing very well.

This "Black Moon" album is a very good album, in my opinion. Different to their most Progressive albums of the seventies, and maybe more related to the "Emerson Lake and Powell" and "To the Power of Three" albums but still with some Prog Rock influences. Maybe they sound more "mature", due to the natural passing of time, but they sound very well.

The best songs in this album are "Black Moon", Paper Blood", "Romeo and Juliet" (an arrangement by Emerson to a theme from Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet"), "Farewell to Arms" (which sounds to me in a similar way to ELPowell's "Lay Down Your Guns"), and "Footprints in the Snow". Even producer Mark Mancina (who also worked with YES and with Trevor Rabin) contributed with one song ("Burning Bridges"). Greg Lake contributed with two ballads ("Affairs of the Heart", written by him with ASIA's Geoff Downes in 1988; and "Footprints in the Snow", written only by him). Keith Emerson contributed with two very good instrumental pieces ("Changing States" and "Close to Home"). Carl Palmer co-wrote two songs with Emerson and Lake ("Black Moon" and "Paper Blood"). Emerson and Lake wrote two songs together ("Farewell to Arms" and "Better Days").

A very good "reunion album" from ELP. Maybe less Progressive and more "modern" in musical terms for the nineties, but very good anyway, in my opinion.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars After 14 years without a studio album and following up the mostly horrendous "Love Beach" album, Emerson, Lake & Palmer finally try again with a their 8th studio album "Black Moon". Fans were hoping for a return to form, but unfortunately, a complete return to form would not be happening as this album, though heavier than "Love Beach", the sound stays with a more popular straightforward rock sound.

The album starts off with a lot of hope however. The title track leads off the album with a heavy and driving song. It even opens with Emerson showing off on the piano a bit, and you automatically start to get your hopes up. A heavy beat is established, and you get a pretty much straightforward hard rock song, with some nice hints of their glory days, and right away it seems like, even if it is pretty standard, it is at least better than anything on "Love Beach".

Following this is another organ heavy "Paper Blood", again a track that stays on the heavy side, yet different enough from the opener as the organ is heavier and you even get a nice harmonica solo. It is still quite standard again, but at least it has a great rock edge to it and Greg Lake's vocals are quite good. Unfortunately, the next track is co-written by Geoffrey Downes, and when I saw that the first time, I lost all hope. Downes has been known to be the downfall of many great classic Rock and/or Progressive acts. The track is "Affairs of the Heart" starting with a nice strummed guitar and an okay, yet somewhat schleppy, ballad. But, it's back to the pop sound. Lake's vocals are still top notch and at least it's still not as weak as the music on the previous album.

Unfortunately, things go even further down hill from here and continue to do so. Its like they made the track list to go from the most interesting track to the most boring at the end.

"Romeo and Juliet" is a rocked-out version of the Prokofiev modern-classical work which utilizes one of the melodies and turns it into a rock march. Not too bad, and somewhat reminiscent of the re-workings of other classical music themes the band was famous for, but it's short and doesn't feature a lot of improvisation or ingenuity. It is really only a slight step above "Hooked on Classics". After this instrumental comes "Farewell to Arms". This is where I start to lose interest, as this track is just too much like something from "Love Beach", corny and overly sentimental.

"Changing States" is an instrumental written and led by Emerson. Again, it has some semblance to his earlier instrumentals, but offers nothing really challenging like in the past. Just pretty much a stately melody, but nothing very fancy. "Burning Bridges" is a boring pop song. "Close to Home" is just Emerson trying his had at new age solo piano in a piece that steals from Rachmaninoff but not giving him credit. I'm not sure what happened to emotions or dynamics in this track, but it's like Emerson had forgotten what that was. "Better Days" is a bad attempt at being current with a funky vibe, but ends up just sounding dated. "Footprints in the Snow" is as dumb as it sounds as Lake is contemplating following in the footsteps of Rod Stewart and that his next solo album is going to be a collection of old standards that the blue haired ladies will go crazy over. Thank goodness it didn't quite come to that. Some editions also contain another bonus track which is just more new age piano.

So, the album is only slightly better than "Love Beach" and their next awful album "In the Hot Seat" which has no saving grace. Listening to these albums is like listening to a bad imitation. Emerson had become one-dimensional, Lake was becoming a lounge singer, only Palmer really held on to his amazing ability and you hear some great drumming on here, unfortunately, the material doesn't support his talent. ELP's glory days were over and now they seemed to only be in it for the fame.

Review by Mirakaze
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Eclectic Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
1 stars An improvement over the disaster that was To The Power Of Three, but that's like saying cat poop is less of a chore to clean up than dog poop. This time, it's an actual ELP reunion: Emerson, Lake & Palmer are all back together on the same record, but any hopes you might have of seeing their actual talents fully restored on here are immediately squashed once you lay your ears upon the opening track, "Black Moon", which is cursed by exactly the kind of primitive drum rhythm you'd expect on To The Power Of Three; why did they even bother to bring back Carl if all they were gonna have him do is churn out these dreadful monotonous beats that could be played by a four-year-old? You have one of the best prog drummers at your beck and call, and this is all you use him for?. The biggest disappointment however is that the band's signature voice is still absent. Greg Lake himself is back, but this isn't the Greg Lake we came to know and love. In just six years since the recording of Emerson, Lake & Powell, the soothing voice of the illustrious troubadour has been replaced by the not so soothing voice of an aging cigarette victim. The man's colour and range have disappeared, and while his singing on this album doesn't necessarily sound bad in and of itself, one of the main staples of ELP's sound is now irretrievably gone.

The title track itself is supposed to be a bombastic album opener in the old tradition, but this ain't no "Jerusalem". This ain't even no "Endless Enigma". It's the kind of 'grand epic' attention-grabber (complete with an obnoxious "We Will Rock You" drum pattern) that really has nothing to say outside of that, and so the effort can't help but be pathetically undercut by the primitive melody and by the relentless monotony of it all. It's just a loud load of nothing.

From then on, it's just a bunch of toothless rockers interchanged by a bunch of painfully middle-of-the-road ballads. The only song on the album that shows even a wee bit of energy is "Paper Blood", a moderately catchy hard rock tune that sounds more like Deep Purple than Emerson, Lake & Palmer (especially with Greg brandishing a harmonica and Keith pulling out his old trusted organ for once). In fact, all of the vocal songs are straight-forward pop/rock tracks so the only songs that are truly evocative of the classic ELP sound are the album's three instrumentals. Among these is a cover of Prokofiev's famous "Dance Of The Knights" from "Romeo & Juliet", which is a very well-known composition, but they don't really do anything interesting with it so it just sort of plods along accompanied by the same boring electronic drums that pound on throughout the whole record. I see now why Keith was hesitant to take a stab at "Mars, The Bringer Of War" six years earlier. If you're going to adapt such a well-known piece into a rock context, you had better make sure that it lends itself well to it and that you add something to it. Sure, Keith tries pulling off a synth solo at one point but he doesn't go all out the way he used to so it all just sounds a bit stale. Somehow his heart just doesn't seem to have been into the project anymore because he sounds pretty restrained throughout the whole album. He certainly delivers no edge-of-the-seat material on the other two instrumentals either: both the synth anthem "Changing States" and the solo piano piece "Close To Home" are sappy piles of fluff that rank among the man's least interesting compositions.

The numerous pieces of Lake-penned new age muzak like "Affairs Of The Heart" and "Footprints In The Snow" on the other hand are a total disgrace to the ELP brand. On most of these tracks Keith is relegated completely to the background, handing the spotlight to Lake who does little more than some primitive acoustic guitar strumming. But even when the synthesizer does come to the forefront, as it does in "Farewell To Arms", it just ends up sounding like a clichéd motivational Celtic anthem. Ugh, no thanks.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Black Moon, which released in June of 1992(there first album in 14 years), is the eighth studio album by band Emerson Lake and Palmer. The production is okay, the mix isn't that good, a little loud, definitely matches the era though. The instrumentation isn't as exciting as it used to be, and defini ... (read more)

Report this review (#2509614) | Posted by Lieutenant_Lan | Saturday, February 27, 2021 | Review Permanlink

2 stars I have recently followed "Emerson, Lake & Palmer's" career and most of their material hav yet been absolutely lovely to listen to. The last record I reviewed was Emerson, Lake & Powell from 1985 with a totally different drummer. This time I will write about "Black Moon" from 1992 with the prop ... (read more)

Report this review (#1171431) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Monday, May 5, 2014 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I've long given up on ELP as their classic period had concluded with "Brain Salad Surgery" - at least in the sense of a complete album worth of admiration. Having heard their efforts since left me underwhelmed - if not bitterly disappointed. With that in mind, I've bought this CD only because ... (read more)

Report this review (#1165005) | Posted by Anon-E-Mouse | Friday, April 25, 2014 | Review Permanlink

3 stars A strong return to form 13 years after their dissolution in 1979. The playing is surprisingly muscular, and the band tight and authoritative. Quite a change from the whimper and disappointment that was "Love Beach". The songwriting is more concise and contemporary, though Emerson does manage t ... (read more)

Report this review (#808605) | Posted by Progfan1958 | Wednesday, August 22, 2012 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The Emerson, Lake & Powell incident exluded (Palmer busy with Asia), this is the first Emerson, Lake and Palmer album since Love Beach. An album I don't think is loved among us. Black Moon is still a romp in AOR land with a couple of forays into good old ELP land too. They have done a Yes and P ... (read more)

Report this review (#569831) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Friday, November 18, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Maybe you'll find my review a bit tendentious. Black Moon was my introductory album to ELP. This happened back in the days when i was a 15 year old boy that was already a fan of Pink Floyd, Supertramp and other more commercial bands of the 70's like Dire Straits and Queen.The way to accustom an e ... (read more)

Report this review (#426437) | Posted by Pasha | Friday, April 1, 2011 | Review Permanlink

2 stars "Black Moon" is the return of Palmer with Emerson & Lake. But sure this album isn't a Prog album. The style is various from Classic Rock to AOR to a strange fake Prog (in "Closer To Home", that is only a Romantic Classic Prog and in Prokofiev's rearranged version of "Romeo and Juliet"). In thi ... (read more)

Report this review (#372628) | Posted by 1967/ 1976 | Tuesday, January 4, 2011 | Review Permanlink

2 stars I heard "Black Moon" on the radio some years back and it didn't sound too bad. In fact I decided to give ELP another chance and I bought the "Black Moon" cassette. I was pleasantly surprised. It was definitely better than the crappy "Love Beach." My favorite on the album was "Romeo and Juliet." ... (read more)

Report this review (#278302) | Posted by Keetian | Saturday, April 17, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This is nowhere near as good as the great ELP albums of the early 70's, but that doesn't mean that it isn't good. There are no grand epics but there is a collection of good songs. Lake's voice has changed and so has Palmer's drumming style, but this is still better than a lot of albums out there ... (read more)

Report this review (#172808) | Posted by digdug | Sunday, June 1, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Of among all the comebacks which we have attended (and, in many cases, suffered) in the last 15 years, one of the worthiest was that of the emperors of the symphonic rock, Emerson, Lake and Palmer. After an absence of fourteen years from their last studio work (apart from the projects Emerson, ... (read more)

Report this review (#172393) | Posted by cesar polo | Wednesday, May 28, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Nice to see some thought provoking discussion about ELP on here from Exitthelemming and TomOzric. Having said that I think a three-star rating for Black Moon is about right. What made ELP so unique, great and exciting at their peak was the combination of brilliant musicianship and aggression ... (read more)

Report this review (#169162) | Posted by Drachen Theaker | Wednesday, April 30, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Emerson v Emerson with Victory Records as the Loser I was really surprised at how low people rate this album given that it is probably the strongest ELP studio release since Brian Salad Surgery appeared in 1973. Given that a reunion was completely unexpected and that our three heroes now found ... (read more)

Report this review (#169136) | Posted by ExittheLemming | Wednesday, April 30, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Delusion, this was my first feeling after listening (twice) this record ELP is the music I was surrounded since I was 14th. After years I still have all their LPs and bought the first 4 + Works I CDs. Still... they turn me on :) Every one of those is something special. BSS definetly the best ev ... (read more)

Report this review (#59118) | Posted by | Sunday, December 4, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Black Moon is ELP's one of the most accessible albums which has good quality music in it. To brush it aside as a mediocre work will be wrong. the songs are tight, the keyboard sounds perfectly like Emerson and it will definitely entertain a wide range of listeners. Lake's vocals here is more in c ... (read more)

Report this review (#49826) | Posted by Sharier | Monday, October 3, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This is ELP`s comeback album after 12 years ( bar ELPowell, 3, ) . I must say that this could have been better with maybe Greg Lake producing but a bold effert none the less, Black Moon, Good solid track to start proceedings which in the beginning sounds like the Endless Enigma. Paper Bl ... (read more)

Report this review (#39201) | Posted by | Monday, July 11, 2005 | Review Permanlink

2 stars It would be better if they never got back together to the studio and only play alive. So many years without ELP and they come up with an album that would be great to other bands, but not to one of the best progressive bands. This record is gold in comparison with their next studio album, "In The Hot ... (read more)

Report this review (#14585) | Posted by | Monday, December 29, 2003 | Review Permanlink

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