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Symphonic Prog • United Kingdom

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Emerson Lake & Palmer picture
Emerson Lake & Palmer biography
Formed in London, UK in 1970 - Disbanded in 1979 - Regrouped between 1991-1998 - Reunited briefly in 2010

ELP revolutionized the 70's rock scene by introducing a new line-up format. This fact really mattered due to each musician's geniality and unlimited talent that, put together, generated a level of music never achieved by anybody else as of yet. All of the musicians came from established bands before joining forces together: Greg LAKE came from KING CRIMSON, Carl PALMER came from ATOMIC ROOSTER, and Keith EMERSON came from THE NICE.

They explored their capabilities to an extreme, even with the technology limitations of the early 70's, breaking ground, setting the new parameters for a new vein in the english pop music (at the time) which would be called progressive music. ELP released 10 outstanding albums during the 70's, and after a long break, they got back in the 90's with a new approach, but still making good music. In 1986 Cozy POWELL replaced PALMER and they put together EMERSON, LAKE and POWELL, a good effort as well.

They've pushed their ambitions over-the-edge. On "Tarkus" the title suite was an inventive and edgy suite revolving around jazzy textures. Their most popular album "Brain Salad Surgery", was their most grandiose and refined. Next, the more adventurous listener might try "Trilogy" or ELP's self-titled first album. In my opinion, these four albums form the core of ELP's best material. Other good ELP albums include "Pictures at an Exhibition", their provocative, fiery and intense take on a classical work. and "Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends", a triple-live album (now on double-CD) with some absolutely stunning playing.

2016 was a sad year for Prog fans, because Keith and Greg left us, Rest in Peace and thank you for everything

Being that some albums belong to a different band with only two members of ELP, we have to make this addition:

Emerson, Lake & Powell (Active between 1985-1986)

Emerson, Lake & Powell, often abbreviated to ELPowell, were an offshoot of a classic prog band Emerson, Lake & Palmer with Cozy Powell taking over the drumming duites in place of Carl Palme...
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EMERSON LAKE & PALMER Videos (YouTube and more)

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Pictures At An ExhibitionPictures At An Exhibition
BMG Rights Management (UK) Ltd 2016
$12.06 (used)
Very Best ofVery Best of
Rhino 2001
$5.17 (used)
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3h 41m
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Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

EMERSON LAKE & PALMER top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.24 | 1927 ratings
Emerson Lake & Palmer
4.06 | 1677 ratings
4.11 | 1483 ratings
4.14 | 1733 ratings
Brain Salad Surgery
2.92 | 702 ratings
Works Vol. 1
2.42 | 582 ratings
Works Vol. 2
2.07 | 625 ratings
Love Beach
3.12 | 432 ratings
Emerson, Lake & Powell: Emerson, Lake & Powell
2.86 | 438 ratings
Black Moon
1.77 | 358 ratings
In The Hot Seat

EMERSON LAKE & PALMER Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.86 | 902 ratings
Pictures At An Exhibition
4.24 | 521 ratings
Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends
2.71 | 198 ratings
Emerson Lake & Palmer In Concert
2.94 | 159 ratings
Live At The Royal Albert Hall
3.32 | 147 ratings
Works Live
3.35 | 51 ratings
Emerson,Lake & Palmer - King Biscuit Flower Hour (AKA "Live")
3.38 | 71 ratings
Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970
2.76 | 67 ratings
Then And Now
2.83 | 15 ratings
The Show That Never Ends
4.07 | 36 ratings
Original Bootleg Series From The Manticore Vaults Vol. 1
3.73 | 31 ratings
Original Bootleg Series From The Manticore Vaults Vol. 2
3.28 | 23 ratings
Original Bootleg Series From The Manticore Vaults Vol. 3
3.26 | 43 ratings
Live In Poland
2.26 | 19 ratings
Best of the Bootlegs
2.91 | 10 ratings
Lucky Man (Live) (Re-released as " Fanfare: The 1997 World Tour")
3.71 | 19 ratings
Emerson Lake and Powell: Live In Concert - Lakeland Florida, 1986 (An official bootleg)
3.12 | 15 ratings
Emerson Lake and Powell: The Sprocket Sessions (An Official Bootleg)
2.39 | 12 ratings
The Best Of Emerson Lake & Palmer
2.79 | 15 ratings
Original Bootleg Series from the Manticore Vaults, Vol. 4
3.42 | 28 ratings
A Time And A Place
2.59 | 41 ratings
Live at High Voltage 2010
3.70 | 41 ratings
Live At Nassau Coliseum '78
4.21 | 56 ratings
Live at the Mar Y Sol Festival '72
3.88 | 8 ratings
Emerson, Lake and Powell - Live In Concert and More...
1.00 | 1 ratings
Live in California 1974
2.59 | 20 ratings
Live in Montreal 1977
3.00 | 6 ratings
Once Upon A Time In South America
3.69 | 14 ratings
Live at Montreux 1997

EMERSON LAKE & PALMER Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

2.75 | 19 ratings
Welcome Back
3.76 | 38 ratings
Live At The Royal Albert Hall (DVD)
3.55 | 84 ratings
Pictures At An Exhibition - 35th Anniversary Collectors Edition
3.19 | 18 ratings
Inside Emerson, Lake & Palmer 1970-1995
4.57 | 33 ratings
Works Orchestral Tour/Manticore Special
3.61 | 54 ratings
Live At Montreux 1997 (DVD)
4.09 | 30 ratings
Masters From The Vaults
3.50 | 2 ratings
Live In Concert (DVD)
3.83 | 74 ratings
Beyond The Beginning
2.63 | 32 ratings
The Birth Of A Band - Isle Of Wight Festival 1970
4.40 | 10 ratings
Rare Broadcasts
3.88 | 51 ratings
40th Anniversary Reunion Concert (High Voltage Festival 2010)

EMERSON LAKE & PALMER Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.39 | 65 ratings
The Best of Emerson, Lake & Palmer
0.00 | 0 ratings
Emerson, Lake & Palmer
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Best of ELP
4.21 | 47 ratings
The Atlantic Years
3.59 | 67 ratings
The Return Of The Manticore
1.72 | 9 ratings
Classic Rock Featuring "Lucky Man"
3.88 | 37 ratings
The Best Of Emerson, Lake & Palmer
1.43 | 13 ratings
Extended Versions: The Encore Collection
2.55 | 13 ratings
The very Best of Emerson, Lake & Palmer
3.44 | 13 ratings
Fanfare For The Common Man [The Anthology]
0.00 | 0 ratings
History Of Rock
1.38 | 24 ratings
3.71 | 12 ratings
The Ultimate Collection
3.67 | 12 ratings
An Introduction To... Emerson Lake & Palmer
4.33 | 24 ratings
From The Beginning (5CD+DVD)
3.56 | 14 ratings
The Essential Emerson, Lake & Palmer
3.29 | 9 ratings
Come And See The Show: The Best Of Emerson Lake & Palmer
2.11 | 9 ratings
High Voltage
2.69 | 7 ratings
The Essential Emerson, Lake & Palmer
1.20 | 5 ratings
From the Beginning - The Best of ELP
4.57 | 7 ratings
The Anthology

EMERSON LAKE & PALMER Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.44 | 20 ratings
Lucky Man / Knife Edge
3.38 | 17 ratings
From the Beginning
4.49 | 36 ratings
2.73 | 14 ratings
Brain Salad Surgery/ Excerpt From Brain Salad Surgery
3.07 | 11 ratings
C'est La Vie / Hallowed Be Thy Name
2.43 | 9 ratings
Tiger in a Spotlight / So Far to Fall
3.31 | 16 ratings
Fanfare For The Common Man
1.88 | 13 ratings
4.13 | 10 ratings
Peter Gunn
3.46 | 14 ratings
Touch and Go
1.90 | 10 ratings
Affairs of the Heart
2.45 | 10 ratings
Black Moon
4.25 | 4 ratings
Farewell to Arms (promo)
1.64 | 6 ratings
Affairs of the Heart
2.75 | 4 ratings
Affairs Of The Heart (limited edition collectors doublepack)
4.00 | 4 ratings
Gone too Soon (promo)
2.53 | 25 ratings
I Believe In Father Christmas
4.29 | 8 ratings
Fanfare For The Common Man


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Works Vol. 2 by EMERSON LAKE & PALMER album cover Studio Album, 1977
2.42 | 582 ratings

Works Vol. 2
Emerson Lake & Palmer Symphonic Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars While Works Vol. 1 was more organized and featured each of the individuals contributing to a side each and leaving side 4 for two long group tracks. The album was a great showcase for the individuals and the band, most of the songs accompanied by a full orchestra, but it's biggest drawback was the lack of the band performing together. Works Vol. 2 is the companion album to this. It has a few outtakes from the first volume and also unused tracks from previous albums. The entire band work together more in these songs than on the first volume. You do get quite a mish mash of styles here which seems even more disjointed than the first volume because they are not organized like that album was. To me, however, that's okay. The performances are top rate, most of the songs are great, but unfortunately, most of them are not progressive. I love the variety on this one also. They tackle all styles here, and again, it becomes a showcase of talent from the band.

I have my definite favorites here, including "Bullfrog" which is a crazy, sometimes chaotic, jazz fusion instrumental from Palmer. I absolutely love this track and consider it one of my favorites in ELP's repertoire. Great percussion and excellent keyboard sound effects abound here. "Tiger in the Spotlight" is a great sock hop style song done ELP style with Lake on vocals. There are three mostly piano instrumentals here by Emerson which are mostly retro jazz styles that are a lot of fun to listen to. You get Boogie, Honky Tonk and Ragtime with full bands/orchestra alongside. "I Believe in Father Christmas" is on this album, which has become a staple in malls and stores everywhere during Christmastime, but the funny thing about this song is it is soooooo Anti- Christmas/Chirstian, and people don't realize it because they only hear the word Christmas and don't pay attention to the lyrics at all. Everything else here is interesting, but not spectacular.

This is still far better than the schlock that would become "Love Beach" which was their next album. This was the last great album by ELP, and they might have a good song here and there after this, but nothing matching their previous material after this album. I still consider this an excellent album, and I accept it as ELP's swan song to their best material. I put Vol 1 and 2 together and end up with a collection full of variety and fun.

 Works Vol. 1 by EMERSON LAKE & PALMER album cover Studio Album, 1977
2.92 | 702 ratings

Works Vol. 1
Emerson Lake & Palmer Symphonic Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I understand why this album always gets low ratings. A lot of people think it's pompous and not tied to progressive rock very closely. There are a lot of styles here, but, considering that each one of the members took a side of this album and then united for the 4th side, I think it is a very enjoyable album. There have been a lot of reviews for this album, most of them negative, and I would have agreed with them 20 years ago. But, after repeated listens, a lot of the music has grown on me. It's true that most of it isn't prog per se, but side one is classical (more specifically sounding like it's from the late romantic, early 20th century), side 2 is pop oriented, side 3 is more like jazz fusion (for the most part), and side 4 is the progressive side. As the first 3 sides are styles of music that have influenced progressive rock, you could almost consider it progressive roots music. By the way, all 4 sides are well orchestrated with the full orchestra joining them for most of the album.

Keith Emerson composed his 1st Piano Concerto for his side. Consisting of 3 movements, it follows the concerto formula quite well. A concerto is a classical piece that features a certain instrument that plays many solos interspersed with full orchestra. Even though I have classical training, I had a hard time with this track. I enjoyed listening to it, but it took a surprisingly long time to really start picking out themes. Now I can pretty much play the whole thing verbatim in my mind. Emerson is an amazing keyboardist and it is great to hear him concentrating on the piano for 18 minutes with a full orchestra complimenting and even taking the spotlight in many passages. Yes, it is true that there are a lot of romantic era passages that are formulaic, but he also adds plenty of dissonance and aggressiveness to keep things from getting completely schleppy. Anyway, I do love this track, it is 18 minutes of pure classical bliss.

Greg Lake is responsible for side 2, the more poppy side of the album. Lake has often been the more accessible side of ELP, but he has an amazing and bombastic voice, sometimes even approaching an over the top glam rock sound with his strong operatic voice. This side, to me, is the weakest side, but it still holds some favorites like "C'est La Vie" and "Hallowed Be Thy Name", the others, to me, are kind of cheesy. This cheesiness, unfortunately, would ruin the next album "Love Beach", where chessiness runs amok. "These songs were co-written by Peter Sinfield, who was with King Crimson in their early days. There's not much here that lends to that KC influence, at least not on this side.

Carl Palmer's side is my favorite, because he is more experimental and ventures from neo classical to jazz fusion. These songs are mostly percussion driven, as you would expect. He gives his treatment to Prokofiev's "Enemy Gods...", gets help from Joe Walsh on the structured and improvised rocker "L.A. Nights", delves into jazz on "New Orleans", gives Bach the percussive treatment on "Two Part Invention...", teams with jazz keyboardist Harry South (cowriter and performer) on "Food for Your Soul" and even revisits on of his past ELP compositions on "Tank", this time with a full orchestra.

The last side is the full band, together at last, for two long compositions. First they do their version of Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man". The original classical piece was a lot shorter in that it did not contain the middle section that ELP added, which is a long improvisational section, mostly driven by Emerson's various keyboards and synths. This is a well know favorite of the band, and it pretty much sums up what the band typically sounds like. This is all instrumental. The second track on this side is the band accompanied with a full orchestra on "Pirates". It has a long instrumental introduction, but Lake does eventually start singing this very dramatic piece. It is a definite period piece, it is also definitely progressive, and Lake takes on the character of a pirate trying to recruit a bunch of scalliwag greenhorns to join them on their escapades. This is a great closer for the album.

Overall, this may seem somewhat disjointed, with the variety of styles. But I consider it an excellent album, especially with what would be coming up in the future. The companion album, "Works Pt. 2" is the last album that I would consider excellent. It is mostly outtakes from this album, and is more scattershot than this, but I still love it for the crazy variety and the talent of these amazing musicians. Let them have their ego, I can still enjoy their music. Anyway, since this is not really a completely prog album, I must resort to giving it 4 stars, but I do so without feeling bad. I can sit through side 2 if I have to, but the rest of the album is worth it for me.

 Jerusalem by EMERSON LAKE & PALMER album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1973
4.49 | 36 ratings

Emerson Lake & Palmer Symphonic Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

5 stars - The first review for this release -

I confess that Emerson, Lake & Palmer have never been among my biggest prog favourites. The trio's highly virtuotic music often tends to be "too much", over the top. I do enjoy a great deal of their [70's] output, but the album I find the most painful to listen to completely is Brain Salad Surgery. Yes, the one they promoted with this single. H. R. Giger's unique artwork for the album cover is circulated here.

You know how it was with ELP: the ballads of Greg Lake always tended to be chosen for a single's A side. His new song 'Still... You Turn Me On' (also on Brain Salad Surgery) had already impressed live audience before the album was released. But this time they wanted something more representative for the whole trio. There really could have been no better choice than the powerful and majestic version of the well-known church anthem 'Jerusalem', which Sir Hubert Parry composed in 1916 to the poem by William Blake. The composition is of course gorgeous in itself, and it's no wonder that the audiences in the BBC Proms Festivals sing it from the bottom of their heart (I would, too!). But ELP made a deeply impressive version that summarizes the essence of the band. Keith Emerson's mighty organ playing, impassioned vocals of Greg Lake, and the "drum for your life" approach of Carl Palmer work together extremely effectively in this song. Sometimes the hair of my skin may stand up for disgust when I listen to ELP, but when I listen to 'Jerusalem', it stands up for bliss.

The B side contains an instrumental with a long and pretentious name: 'When the Apple Blossoms Bloom in the Windmills of Your Mind I'll Be Your Valentine'. The music is interesting however. It has a strong sense of Jazz Rock / Fusion, and even though it's very keyboard oriented, it has a nice groove and it feels more democratic as a group effort than many of Emerson's compositions. The track was re-released in Works 2 (1977).

Much to my own surprise, I rate this single with five stars, like the majority have done here. 'Jerusalem' is an undisputed masterpiece of prog songs covering someone else's music, while 'Apple Blossoms' is another kind of musical delight.

 Live at High Voltage 2010 by EMERSON LAKE & PALMER album cover Live, 2010
2.59 | 41 ratings

Live at High Voltage 2010
Emerson Lake & Palmer Symphonic Prog

Review by judahbenkenobi

2 stars Only recently did I started to look for live footage of ELP and happened to watch a performance of Pictures at an Exhibition so superb and majestic it left me wanting for more.

So the next thing I found was this "farewell" concert. I had my doubts since I have read so many unfavorable reviews for the last three ELP albums that I suspected this would not be even a shadow of ELP's former glory. Still I decided to give it a shot. The result?

I was totally saddened of learning that the final performance of the late Emerson and Lake in their once glorious band was a failure. Of course, you can blame old age and infirmities for a lot of flops, but, hey! Where was these guys dignity?

Emerson looks like he can't hit two notes without making a mistake, Lake looks like he simply forgot how to play a stringed instrument (not to mention his awful presence on stage... and who told him to put his guitar aside on The Sage? The guy looks ridiculous!), and Palmer... Well he seems to be the only one actually trying to play nice while having fun at it.

The whole performance goes off-beat and off-key so many times it feels like the guys hadn't rehearsed a single note in 30 years. Some bands have atrociously rehashed, rerecorded and overdubbed whole tracks before releasing live material, and I find that to be disrespectful to fans and costumers, but in this case I would have preferred that to witnessing the final act of a decadent artistic life of a band I like so much.

Although the setlist was passable why include an ELPowell track when they had plenty of acceptable ELP material? That is beyond my understanding

Sadly I cannot concede more than two stars for this

 Brain Salad Surgery by EMERSON LAKE & PALMER album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.14 | 1733 ratings

Brain Salad Surgery
Emerson Lake & Palmer Symphonic Prog

Review by SteveG

4 stars Does the world really need another review of Brain Salad Surgery by Emerson, Lake and Palmer? Of course not, but a look back at this album, 45 years after it's debut, seems warranted. Often held up as the poster boy of everything bad associated with prog, BBS has a hell of a reputation.

To start off, let's look at the oft maligned lyrics to Greg Lake's lovely ballad "Still You Turn Me On". The cringe worthy plea of Greg's of "Someone get me a ladder" after declaring how sad and mad the world has become, as if Lake had lifted nonsense lyrics from an epic song by Spinal Tap. Clumsy perhaps, but not even close to absurd. The song is probably Lake's second best after "From The Beginning" with Emerson's accordion-like keys wonderfully melancholy and restrained, and without any input from Carl Palmer to break the song's magical spell.

The lead off track "Jerusalem" still sounds as awkward as the day it was recorded but it's still hard to find a similar opening album track in all of progdom, so it's charm remains. "Toccota", Keith Emerson's arrangement of the 4th movement of Alberto Ginastera's "1st Piano Concert" is still absolutely magnificent with it's tight as a glove playing and excellent tympani and drum work by Palmer . "Tocotta" really put ELP on to a plane almost above progressive rock, so outrageous and spell binding is the song's ability to captivate the listener no matter how complex and complicated the group's playing.

The throw away song "Benny The Bouncer" probably appeals to those who cherish "Jerusalem", but I wouldn't know about that. What I do know is that I'm still floored and intrigued by the fact that the title track "Karn Evil 9's" oft played on radio (Ist Impression part 2) in no way resembles the organ drenched opening of the song's (Ist Impression part 1) until some 3 minutes into the song proper. The familiar radio riff is no more than a tease until it's fully developed and played almost a minute later. Indeed, where Emerson's bank of Moog synths blast their way into the song's mix and into one's brain.

It's easy to see where the acoustic piano of Karn Evil 9's (2nd Impression) caused many to point out that the song was stitched together from disparate parts, regardless of how wonderful Emerson's playing is. The fact is that "Karn Evil 9" is no more or less disjointed than any other 20 minute prog epic with Jethro Tull's "Thick As a Brick" as a prime example and the group's "Baker Street Muse" as a secondary example. The closing of the epic's (3rd Impression) with it's spacy synths and modulated robotic vocal's signaled to all mainstream music reviewers the "Karn Evil 9" was preachy and pretentious while AOR hacks like Styx "artfully" decreed the same about Mr. Roboto in song just a few years later.

Brain Salad Surgery is still worthy of 4 stars in my book. It does have it faults, but much less than the ones that the chroniclers of music history have cast upon it. So, thanks to all the gods for the show that never ends.

 Brain Salad Surgery by EMERSON LAKE & PALMER album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.14 | 1733 ratings

Brain Salad Surgery
Emerson Lake & Palmer Symphonic Prog

Review by SonomaComa1999

5 stars REVIEW #8 - "Brain Salad Surgery" by Emerson, Lake, & Palmer (1973). 06/12/2018

Prog's most illustrious super-group ELP had an insane run from 1971 to 1973. Made up of the Nice keyboardist Keith Emerson, King Crimson bassist/vocalist Greg Lake, and Atomic Rooster drummer Carl Palmer, the band's first four albums are considered seminal works of progressive music. This period is considered to be the band's heyday, as all of their subsequent releases either fell flat or were miserable flops. Their final great offering is considered to be 1973's "Brain Salad Surgery", released on the band's own record label Manticore, although others have pointed to albums such as their eponymous debut, "Trilogy", or "Tarkus" as their finest album.

With all of their albums having charted, ELP was at the top of their game going into the recording of this album. There is no argument as to whether the trio were talented musicians; Emerson is considered to be the greatest keyboardist in the genre's history, Lake's impeccable and dynamic voice made up for his uninspiring bass work, and Palmer's voracious drumming style provided an edge to the group's music. Even without a guitarist, ELP managed to captivate rock fans around the world, going as far as to headline the 1974 California Jam which featured some of the most successful and mainstream rock bands that music had to offer at the time. Using top of the line recording techniques, the production of ELP albums such as "Brain Salad Surgery" is wonderful, allowing the listener to truly indulge in the band's oft-pretentious expanded instrumentals and epics. Similar to Yes's "Tales of Topographic Oceans" album released the same year, "Brain Salad Surgery" is considered to be the epitome of progressive elitism, even though this album definitely wears better on the ears than "Tales" mainly because it isn't a double LP.

ELP opens up the album with a thunderous reworking of Hubert Perry's "Jerusalem", which is a musical arrangement around William Blake's 1804 poem "And did those feet in ancient time" that is considered to be an unofficial anthem of England. With Emerson utilizing the brand new Moog Apollo synthesizer, the end result is a glorious opening to the album. It was released as a single in the band's native UK, which was promptly banned by the British government from being played on the radio and therefore did not chart. "Jerusalem" was not banned or looked upon negatively by the British at the time, but since it was a hymn and a rock band had covered it, the British public immediately assumed that ELP had "bastardized" the tune. Carl Palmer lamented on the censorship by proclaiming that the English had not listened to the tune, and simply had banned it out of spite. Nevertheless this is a really unique and grandiose cover which in my opinion gives the hymn justice, but I'm not English so maybe I'm missing something here. This is followed up by another cover, this time a reworking of Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera's 1st Piano Concerto, 4th Movement arranged by both Emerson and Palmer. Unlike the Hymn, Ginastera praised the band's cover of his work, titled "Toccata", hardly ten seconds after Emerson had presented the song to him for his approval. This is a much more abstract and experimental piece, and has warranted a bit of criticism from the prog community. Surely this is not as commercially viable or lyrical as "Jerusalem" but the band really flexes their muscle on this one, most notably working across a dynamic range to produce a rather dark sounding piece of music which fools around with range similar to Crimson's "Devil's Triangle" suite. I immediately noticed the harsh effect of Palmer's drums to back up the hyperactive keyboard virtuosity by Emerson; this song really serves as a solo piece for both men. While I would normally discredit a song like this as being boring or uninspiring, there really is a lot of music to soak up here for a listener who listens critically. The percussion knocks your socks off throughout the tune, and Emerson's heroics with the Moog brings this all together to provide a very satisfying coda for what is a rather long song at just over seven minutes. Fortunately this is evened out by the presence of two shorter tunes that follow it up, the first being Lake's "Still... You Turn Me On" which is an easily accessible love ballad and one of the group's most memorable songs. For the casual listeners, this is a much- needed reprieve from the experimental "Toccata". It is the album's "From the Beginning" or even a "Lucky Man", with Lake starting off with an intimate acoustic performance which is ultimately backed up by Emerson's synth and concludes with a synth solo. All in all it sounds very nostalgic to me; it has that emotional quality which a ballad altogether needs to gel with the listener. What really doesn't gel with me is the subsequent track, the tongue-in- cheek "Benny the Bouncer." It is co-written by ex-King Crimson lyricist Peter Sinfield, whose sole 1973 solo album released on Manticore was featured in my last review. ELP made it a necessity to include a humorous throwaway piece on their albums, and here they fail to disappoint, with some funky synth and Greg Lake speaking in a stereotypically British voice about stereotypically British pub behavior. While the song's chorus is tolerable, I just cannot resist trashing this tune, as it really takes away from the so-far exceptional nature of this album. Fortunately, the song barely breaks two minutes, and is over very quick. As for Sinfield, this would not be the only song that he would provide lyrics for on this album...

And for the moment we've all been waiting for, we reach the final song of the album, a leviathan thirty-minute epic titled "Karn Evil 9". While many progressive rock bands were limited by the physical constraints of vinyl to twenty- minute epics, ELP would break the barrier by simply putting part of the epic on the first side, with the entire second side being occupied as well. Considered to be ELP's finest moment in terms of musical virtuosity, "Karn" is split into "impressions", and has a dystopian theme to it similar to that of 1971's "Tarkus". To put it plain, this is one of the most intense epics ever conceived in prog, with the trio throwing everything they could possibly conceive at the listener. With only Lake's voice, some bass, Emerson's organs, and Palmer's drum kit, ELP creates a cacophony of futuristic noises and intense instrumental passages which draw influence from classical and modern rock movements while still retaining an element of conventionality and listenability. The first impression not only lays out the setting of the song, but provides some epic Greg Lake vocals in the first half on masterful lyrics written by Sinfield, and then some great synth solos in the second half. Emerson plays his keyboards and formulates his music as to compete with even the greatest guitar solos. You simply do not see this level of keyboard showmanship in rock anymore, which while it may seem dated to some, is rather unfortunate. The mere fact that this group did not need a guitarist shows how progressive they could truly get, and "Karn Evil 9" is the magnum opus of their contributions to prog. Thanks to the LP, the first impression is furthermore split into two parts, with the second part continuing on the second side and beginning with Lake's proclamation of "Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends!" whose effect is largely lost in CD remasters. This second part is considered to be the most famous part of the epic, going as far to even be cut out of the overall song to be viable for radio airplay - and boy does it work given the monstrous and grandious Emerson keyboard solos which are pure money. I feel that this album is best listened to with a dynamic stereo system, as to capture the intense rhythm section of Lake and Palmer which contrasts with the treble of Emerson's keyboards very well similar to how the drums and synth fused on "Toccata" earlier in the album. Altogether the First Impression lasts for a whole thirteen minutes, giving away to the entirely instrumental Second Impression that features Emerson dominating with the piano and Palmer taking a new approach by introducing a Caribbean steel drum - in other reviews I noticed that this choice of instrumentation led to some criticism which I feel is unwarranted. This impression has a much different feel than the first, with a more classical approach largely in part to the warm piano that is overly prominent - the drums on the other hand are not as obvious, being largely present through the middle portion of the movement, and therefore I didn't feel that they had much of a negative impact on my listening experience. While there is a brief moment of musical reprieve that tested my attention span, the second impression is only seven minutes, and is concluded by the Third Impression, which is largely a reprise of the First to close things out in a grand finale. Retaining similar musical themes yet with much more elaborate lyrics - in the liner notes Sinfield is credited with the lyrics here - All in all I'm not paying as much attention to the lyrics as I am the music per the case of Sinfield; his diction alone makes the vocals flow off Lake's tongue in a way that most cannot simply stimulate. Thematically, we learn of a war between man and machine, with a rather ambiguous resolution. Sinfield later revealed the intended ending, where the machines win after "helping" man win its own war. While not as resonant as the First Impression, the Third provides proper closure while giving us prog fans another SciFi epic that we can add to the ranks of unique themes that only prog has really had the nerve to experiment with.

While ELP has left a remarkable impact on the world of prog, interestingly enough their albums seem to pale in comparison to those of Yes, King Crimson, Genesis, or even Rush. While the group achieved tremendous mainstream fame bringing progressive rock to millions of new listeners, most of their albums simply were not very good. Even their first four albums only barely crack the 4-star range, and while they fluctuate around the top 100, it is a rather lukewarm showing by such an influential band. That being said I consider "Brain Salad Surgery" to be the band's best album at the moment - this is largely in part thanks to "Karn Evil 9" as a prog powerhouse that counters the less-advanced stuff on the flip side of the LP. Maybe in a way to keep mainstream success, the group included the ballads and humorous pieces which may garner less awe from the prog community. "Brain" is arguably the most seminal ELP album, and is well worth a listen thanks to its historical value on the genre, which urged me to give this album a five-star (91% A-) rating. There's lots of progressive stuff here, and even some more accessible music for the more casual listener. Only one filler track, and some parts of the epic can get a bit tiresome. "Toccata" is very inaccessible, and will only be appreciated by hardcore prog listeners.

 From The Beginning (5CD+DVD) by EMERSON LAKE & PALMER album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2007
4.33 | 24 ratings

From The Beginning (5CD+DVD)
Emerson Lake & Palmer Symphonic Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter


"A complete waste of time, talent and electricity"! (BBC Radio dj John Peel about ELP, after their 1970 Isle Of Wight festival gig)

CD 1-4 : A career spanning selection of their songs between 1970 and 1994, including original album tracks, first mixes, early versions, single versions, B-sides and live versions, plus the Emerson, Lake & Powell track Mars - Bringer Of War.

The first 3 tracks on CD-1 are an introduction of each ELP member from their previous band: Greg Lake his warm and distinctive voice in Epitaph from King Crimson, Carl Palmer his powerful drumming in Decline And Fall from Atomic Rooster and Keith Emerson his awesome skills on the Hammond organ in Fantasia: Intermezzo Karelia Suite from The Nice. Then we can follow ELP chronologically, from their eponymous debut album (1970) until their final effort In The Hot Seat (1994). We can enjoy their best work (I only miss Nutrocker) featuring outstanding interplay, but of course the focus is on Keith Emerson his jawdropping skills on an array of keyboards. Especially in the longer and epic compositions Tarkus (great work on the Modular Moog synthesizer), Trilogy (sensational blend of sparkling Grand piano and Moog flights), Karn Evil 9 (Hammond and Moog, along some fiery electric guitar by Greg Lake) and Fanfare For The Common Man and Peter Gunn Theme (both featuring sensational work on the super Yamaha GX-1 synthesizer). And in Honky Tonk Train Blues the virtuosic Keith Emerson plays the honky tonk piano very swinging, accompanied by a big band, yes, ELP was always scouting the borders of prog.

But there is also the mellow side of ELP, with Greg Lake his warm vocals and acoustic guitar, in Lucky Man (including the legendary Moog solo), Oh My Father (subtle wah-wah guitar and Grand piano), Still You Turn Me On (wonderful romantic climate), the varied C'Est La Vie (orchestra, harmonica) and From The Beginning (delicate Moog solo).

Included are also a serie of previously unreleased good sounding live tracks: The Barbarian, Knife Edge and Rondo (London 1970), Hoedown (Italy 1973), Pirates (New York, 1978), Romeo And Juliet (London 1993) and Touch And Go (Poland 1997, including the Yamaha GX-1).

CD-5 : Live At The Mar Y Sol Festival, Puerto Rico, 4th January 1972.

According to many ELP fans on the Internet this is the best early ELP live sound. But Keith Emerson had problems with his Moog, it didn't work during the intro of Hoedown and Emerson played only a short Moog solo during Lucky Man. And the drum solo on the extended Rondo is way too long. But for the rest this is an excellent registration, ELP at its peak, here you can listen to one of the best progressive rock bands of first part of the Seventies.

The 60 page booklet : liner notes, interviews with all 3 members of the band, full discography and rare photos.

A nicely put together story with lots of interesting facts, like Carl Palmer was only 14 years old when he became professional, Steve Howe was close to becoming a The Nice member, Keith Emerson wanted Chris Squire for his new trio after The Nice and the 67-piece orchestra during The Works live costed 200.000 US $ a week!

The bonus DVD : the Manticore Years, a documentary.

This was broadcasted by the BBC in 1998, including interviews with the band and many images from their 1973 world tour (focussed on Italy, the first country that embraced ELP) and their luxury homes and extravagant hobbies.

Although I am not very much into Karn Evil 9 (lack of structure) and the albums Love Beach, Black Moon and In The Hot Seat, I highly recommend this box, you can't beg for more, this is ELP extravaganza!

 Live in California 1974 by EMERSON LAKE & PALMER album cover Live, 2012
1.00 | 1 ratings

Live in California 1974
Emerson Lake & Palmer Symphonic Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
1 stars Another archival concert from the Shout! Factory vaults, this one documenting ELP's now legendary appearance at the Cal Jam festival in April, 1974. The performance has long been a favorite of bootleggers, but this official release needs a caveat: it's the same incomplete recording available elsewhere, apparently representing all the surviving audio tracks from the original ABC-TV broadcast.

Clearly this particular show left a strong impression, not least on the trio itself. "The event was of biblical proportions," said Greg Lake, who called it his favorite gig, "...if my life depended on it and I were given no other choice than to select one show as being 'it'. And here's Carl Palmer, likewise quoted in the skimpy CD booklet (and conveniently forgetting the 1970 Isle of Wight spectacle): "The scale of the festival was the biggest we had ever played..."

Maybe so, but you'd never know it from this pitifully butchered facsimile. The CD actually opens well down the setlist, in the middle of "Toccata", which cuts before the ending to Greg Lake singing "Still...You Turn Me On", likewise already in progress. "Lucky Man" (the only truly complete song on the disc) then segues awkwardly into Keith Emerson's "Piano Improvisations" from the extended "Take a Pebble" medley, omitting entirely the opening song.

The epic "Karn Evil 9" suffers more damage, beginning on Part Two of the First Impression and skipping the Second Impression altogether. Even Carl Palmer's drum solo sounds truncated; surely the real thing was longer a mere five minutes?

The Cal Jam concert was staged less than two months after the Anaheim show where the "Welcome Back My Friends" live package was recorded, and presumably included the same material. ELP were the headliners that day, and at least one attendee remembers their set being "at least two hours long", a far cry from the skeletal 52-minute abridgement here.

Even worse: the same tapes were already released as part of the 1998 "Then and Now" compilation. The only change is the inclusion of the "Pictures at an Exhibition" encore, a dynamic rendition but again only an excerpt.

The sound quality is acceptable; the performances are superb: this was ELP at its creative and commercial peak. But the strictly piecemeal arrangement of musical fragments does nothing to validate the claim made by, among others, biographer Edward Macan (in his book "Endless Enigma"), that it "just may be the crowning performance of their career".

I guess you had to have been there.

 Live at Montreux 1997 by EMERSON LAKE & PALMER album cover Live, 2015
3.69 | 14 ratings

Live at Montreux 1997
Emerson Lake & Palmer Symphonic Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars This Montreux concert is an ELP performance from 1997. I owned the DVD and loved the music so it was worth checking out the CD.

ELP in the late 90s were a cohesive unit and put a lot of effort into this performance but they are not as good as they used to be, comparing to the dynamic energy of Isle of Wight 1970 and the exuberance of California Jam 1974. This is a very impressive setlist overall with some of the best the band have done. The supergroup loosen up a bit midway through the concert, perhaps that is the effect of Knife Edge, such a great song. Take A Pebble is the definitive highlight for me, an incredible song the band seem to enjoy, and a song that drew me to this band in the first place.

The Montreux concert showcases the best ELP tracks such as Karn Evil 9, Hoedown, where Emerson gets to use his cool mini keyboard, Knife Edge, Tarkus and Pictures medley, and the finale medley consisting of Fanfare for the Common Man, Rondo, and other pieces. The tracks are all played competently but some of the magic is lost in these performances. Emerson dazzles on the blindingly fast solo renditions but it is piano kanoodling at its highest order.

Which brings me to the big problem of the concert. The band are not as precise or tight as usual. Emerson is a Tiger in the spotlight but he muddles up some of his triggerfingers solos, Lake could do with some Brain Surgery as he misses cues and struggles with the vocals at times, and Palmer is a bit detached, lost in his own private Tarkus tank. They even play an Emerson Lake and Powell number in Touch and Go. So it is a bit confused and lacking in quality in places. However with all its flaws, ultimately here is one of the last big concerts from the legends of Symphonic Prog.

 Trilogy by EMERSON LAKE & PALMER album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.11 | 1483 ratings

Emerson Lake & Palmer Symphonic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review N 133

Though they were barely two years into their existence, the progressive rock super group known as Emerson Lake & Palmer released their fourth album, three studios and one live album, in 1972, titled "Trilogy". It was another remarkable achievement that saw the musical and compositional skills of the trio once again taking another giant leap, as the album was filled with not only uncanny playing but also memorable songs brimming with intelligent melodies and daring arrangements. So, Emerson, Lake & Palmer had already released previously, two very carefully performed studio albums. The first album was dominated by virtuoso keyboards including the church organ, distorted bass and powerful drumming and the second album is pure progressive rock of epic proportions being as bombastic as it was ambitious.

So, "Trilogy" is their third studio album and was released in 1972. "Trilogy" features the trio settling down in a more crowd pleasing. Actually, the group was gaining in maturity what they lost in high pure energy. Every track of this album has been carefully thought, arranged and performed into a process of perfection. "Trilogy" increased Emerson, Lake & Palmer worldwide popularity and consolidated definitely their great, unique and original musical project.

The front cover of the album depicts Keith Emerson, Greg Lake and Carl Palmer respectively, and in the interior of the gatefold of my original vinyl record features a photomontage showing multiple images of the band members in a forest carpeted with autumn leaves. This is really a very nice cover for this excellent album.

"Trilogy" has nine tracks. The first track "The Endless Enigma (Part One)" written by Keith Emerson and Greg Lake, the second track "Fugue" written by Keith Emerson and the third track "The Endless Enigma (Part Two)" written also by Keith Emerson and Greg Lake, is a single piece of music. It's a superb trilogy piece of music which opens magnificently this fabulous musical work. This is, in my humble opinion, one of their best compositions and I'm also convinced that it's also one their most unknown musics. Unfortunately, this composition was rarely performed live and I think this is the main reason why it never reached the just recognition that it deserved. The fourth track "From The Beginning" written by Greg Lake is a beautiful acoustic song featuring Greg Lake on vocals and guitar with some participation of Keith Emerson in the end of the track. It's a song with a very simple musical structure but I think we can say that this is one of the best musical compositions of the group. The fifth track "The Sheriff" written by Keith Emerson and Greg Lake is another song on the same mould of "Are You Ready Eddie?", "Jeremy Bender/The Sheriff" and "Benny The Bouncer". As I've written before, I don't particularly like this kind of songs and despite not being a bad song, I think it's quite unnecessary in an album of a progressive band like Emerson, Lake & Palmer. The sixth track "Hoedown" is a musical interpretation of the band taken from a ballet named "Rodeo" written by the American classical composer Aaron Copland, which was one of their most popular songs when performed live. This is a fantastic piece of music also performed live on my CD version. I honestly don't know if I prefer the studio version or the live version, especially if it's the version played live on their fantastic live album "Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends". The seventh track "Trilogy" is the title track. It was written by Keith Emerson and Greg Lake, is one of the highest moments on the album and is also one of their best and most beautiful musical compositions. It's largely an instrumental song very much over piano in the beginning, heavily influenced by the classical music. In the middle, the music blasts with all instruments playing in continuo, altogether. This is really an amazing track. The eighth track "Living Sin" written by Keith Emerson, Greg Lake and Carl Palmer is the most heavy and dark song on the album. Despite not be one of the best songs on the album it's still very good. It has different vocals along the song, which is very uncommon on the band, but they do a great use of them. The ninth and last track "Abaddon's Bolero" written by Keith Emerson is one of their most popular songs. The musical structure of the track is very simple with a main theme that gradually builds the final hypnotic climax. This is a very good and interesting piece of music that closes perfectly well this fantastic album.

Conclusion: "Trilogy" is, in my humble opinion, the most underrated album from the group. It's true that it hasn't the immediacy of "Emerson, Lake & Palmer" or the pomposity of "Brain Salad Surgery". However, relatively to "Tarkus" is much more balanced, despite not have a masterpiece like its suite "Tarkus", probably the best song ever composed by the group. "Trilogy" is probably the less pompous, the most complete, the most progressive, the most classical and their finest album. It's perhaps the most beautiful too. Sincerely, it's a pity that this is the least known and the most underrated album from this remarkable serie, composed by their four first studio albums. For those who aren't familiar with the musical work of this super group, I think this album is a great starting. So, sit down comfortably and enjoy it.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Thanks to Ivan_Melgar_M for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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