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EMERSON LAKE & PALMER

Symphonic Prog • United Kingdom


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Emerson Lake & Palmer picture
Emerson Lake & Palmer biography
Emerson, Lake & Palmer

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

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 Palmer which released one self-titled album in 1986.

After releasing Love Beach in 1978 Emerson, Lake & Palm...
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Emerson Lake & Palmer official website

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Pictures At An ExhibitionPictures At An Exhibition
BMG Rights Management (UK) Ltd 2016
Audio CD$12.59
$11.69 (used)
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EMERSON LAKE & PALMER discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

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

4.24 | 1860 ratings
Emerson Lake & Palmer
1970
4.05 | 1628 ratings
Tarkus
1971
4.11 | 1442 ratings
Trilogy
1972
4.13 | 1672 ratings
Brain Salad Surgery
1973
2.89 | 679 ratings
Works Vol. 1
1977
2.39 | 561 ratings
Works Vol. 2
1977
2.06 | 608 ratings
Love Beach
1978
3.12 | 421 ratings
Emerson, Lake & Powell: Emerson, Lake & Powell
1986
2.86 | 425 ratings
Black Moon
1992
1.77 | 350 ratings
In The Hot Seat
1994

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

3.86 | 874 ratings
Pictures At An Exhibition
1971
4.23 | 504 ratings
Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends
1974
2.68 | 190 ratings
Emerson Lake & Palmer In Concert
1979
2.92 | 151 ratings
Live At The Royal Albert Hall
1993
3.30 | 141 ratings
Works Live
1993
3.33 | 49 ratings
Emerson,Lake & Palmer - King Biscuit Flower Hour (AKA "Live")
1997
3.37 | 66 ratings
Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970
1997
2.74 | 66 ratings
Then And Now
1998
2.83 | 15 ratings
The Show That Never Ends
2001
4.06 | 32 ratings
Original Bootleg Series From The Manticore Vaults Vol. 1
2001
3.73 | 28 ratings
Original Bootleg Series From The Manticore Vaults Vol. 2
2001
3.27 | 22 ratings
Original Bootleg Series From The Manticore Vaults Vol. 3
2001
3.25 | 42 ratings
Live In Poland
2001
2.24 | 18 ratings
Best of the Bootlegs
2002
2.91 | 10 ratings
Lucky Man (Live) (Re-released as " Fanfare: The 1997 World Tour")
2002
3.71 | 19 ratings
Emerson Lake and Powell: Live In Concert - Lakeland Florida, 1986 (An official bootleg)
2003
3.12 | 15 ratings
Emerson Lake and Powell: The Sprocket Sessions (An Official Bootleg)
2003
2.37 | 10 ratings
The Best Of Emerson Lake & Palmer
2003
2.79 | 15 ratings
Original Bootleg Series from the Manticore Vaults, Vol. 4
2006
3.36 | 24 ratings
A Time And A Place
2010
2.59 | 36 ratings
Live at High Voltage 2010
2010
3.68 | 38 ratings
Live At Nassau Coliseum '78
2011
4.20 | 51 ratings
Live at the Mar Y Sol Festival '72
2011
3.88 | 8 ratings
Emerson, Lake and Powell - Live In Concert and More...
2012
2.39 | 14 ratings
Live in Montreal 1977
2013
2.80 | 5 ratings
Once Upon A Time In South America
2015
4.04 | 7 ratings
Live at Montreux 1997
2015

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

2.75 | 19 ratings
Welcome Back
1992
3.76 | 37 ratings
Live At The Royal Albert Hall (DVD)
2001
3.55 | 83 ratings
Pictures At An Exhibition - 35th Anniversary Collectors Edition
2002
3.19 | 17 ratings
Inside Emerson, Lake & Palmer 1970-1995
2003
4.56 | 32 ratings
Works Orchestral Tour/Manticore Special
2003
3.60 | 53 ratings
Live At Montreux 1997 (DVD)
2004
4.09 | 30 ratings
Masters From The Vaults
2004
3.50 | 2 ratings
Live In Concert (DVD)
2004
3.82 | 74 ratings
Beyond The Beginning
2005
2.63 | 31 ratings
The Birth Of A Band - Isle Of Wight Festival 1970
2006
4.40 | 10 ratings
Rare Broadcasts
2007
3.89 | 50 ratings
40th Anniversary Reunion Concert (High Voltage Festival 2010)
2011

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

2.38 | 63 ratings
The Best of Emerson, Lake & Palmer
1980
0.00 | 0 ratings
Emerson, Lake & Palmer
1980
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Best of ELP
1984
4.21 | 46 ratings
The Atlantic Years
1992
3.59 | 65 ratings
The Return Of The Manticore
1993
1.73 | 9 ratings
Classic Rock Featuring "Lucky Man"
1994
3.89 | 37 ratings
The Best Of Emerson, Lake & Palmer
1994
1.42 | 13 ratings
Extended Versions: The Encore Collection
2000
2.55 | 13 ratings
The very Best of Emerson, Lake & Palmer
2001
3.44 | 13 ratings
Fanfare For The Common Man [The Anthology]
2001
0.00 | 0 ratings
History Of Rock
2001
1.38 | 23 ratings
Re-Works
2003
3.71 | 12 ratings
The Ultimate Collection
2004
3.50 | 12 ratings
An Introduction To... Emerson Lake & Palmer
2004
4.52 | 21 ratings
From The Beginning (5CD+DVD)
2007
3.56 | 14 ratings
The Essential Emerson, Lake & Palmer
2007
3.29 | 9 ratings
Come And See The Show: The Best Of Emerson Lake & Palmer
2008
2.11 | 8 ratings
High Voltage
2010
2.69 | 7 ratings
The Essential Emerson, Lake & Palmer
2011
1.20 | 5 ratings
From the Beginning - The Best of ELP
2011
4.60 | 5 ratings
The Anthology
2016

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

3.38 | 19 ratings
Lucky Man / Knife Edge
1971
3.38 | 17 ratings
From the Beginning
1972
4.29 | 31 ratings
Jerusalem
1973
2.68 | 13 ratings
Brain Salad Surgery/ Excerpt From Brain Salad Surgery
1973
3.07 | 10 ratings
C'est La Vie / Hallowed Be Thy Name
1977
2.43 | 9 ratings
Tiger in a Spotlight / So Far to Fall
1977
2.94 | 16 ratings
Fanfare For The Common Man
1977
1.77 | 12 ratings
Canario
1978
3.80 | 10 ratings
Peter Gunn
1980
3.46 | 14 ratings
Touch and Go
1986
1.90 | 10 ratings
Affairs of the Heart
1992
2.45 | 10 ratings
Black Moon
1992
4.25 | 4 ratings
Farewell to Arms (promo)
1992
1.64 | 6 ratings
Affairs of the Heart
1992
2.75 | 4 ratings
Affairs Of The Heart (limited edition collectors doublepack)
1992
4.00 | 4 ratings
Gone too Soon (promo)
1994
2.46 | 23 ratings
I Believe In Father Christmas
1995
4.00 | 8 ratings
Fanfare For The Common Man
2002

EMERSON LAKE & PALMER Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Trilogy by EMERSON LAKE & PALMER album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.11 | 1442 ratings

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Trilogy
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*)

 Works Vol. 1 by EMERSON LAKE & PALMER album cover Studio Album, 1977
2.89 | 679 ratings

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Works Vol. 1
Emerson Lake & Palmer Symphonic Prog

Review by Walkscore

3 stars Worth getting for the Piano Concerto.

While Emerson is an awesome organ player, I always enjoyed his piano playing even more. His solo on the live 'Take a Pebble' (from Welcome Back..), for example, is the highlight of that album. And his 18-minute Piano Concerto No. 1, the first side of this double album, is for me the highlight of Works 1. I am not sure why some other reviewers seem dismissive of this. Emerson is such an amazing pianist, and it is clear he put his heart into writing this piano concerto. And, it is really so good! Of course, many can look at Works vol. 1 as the beginning of the end of the classic ELP, as they were not getting along that well by this point. Well, sure. And in that case, perhaps the best option IS to record the album as a series of solo contributions? I actually think this album works better than many naysayers, at least in terms of containing good new music. Not only is Emerson's Piano Concerto excellent, but some of the Lake pieces ("C'est La Vie", "Hallowed..." ) are decent, as well as the solo Palmer pieces ("The Enemy God Dances Within", his "Invention Part II", "Food for the Soul", the cover of "Tank"). The fourth side contains the only group recordings, and I have to say, it is not any better than the solo sides. ELP's version here of "Fanfare for the Common Man" is actually pretty bad. "Pirates", recorded with a full orchestra, is better, but no where near as good as Emerson's Piano Concerto. So, it is not clear that if the band had made the album a full-on group effort it would have been better than what we have here. On balance, averaging across all the tracks, I give this mixed bag a score of 6.0 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to mid 3 PA stars. The best track here is Emerson's wonderful Piano Concerto.

 Pictures At An Exhibition by EMERSON LAKE & PALMER album cover Live, 1971
3.86 | 874 ratings

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Pictures At An Exhibition
Emerson Lake & Palmer Symphonic Prog

Review by Walkscore

3 stars Interesting - worth having.

I love the original version of Pictures at the Exhibition, as well as the Ravel's orchestrated version. Knowing ELP's tendency to overt-showmanship, I was skeptical of their attempt to record a rock version of this. And indeed, there are sections here where Emerson goes a bit too wild on the synth solo, making noises not for musical reasons but for show. They insert a blues variation on the main theme. Furthermore, ELP commit a classical cardinal sin by writing new movements for the piece, including some with cheesy vocals. Saying this, I don't mind this version either. While it is never going to become the penultimate version of Mussorgsky's classic, it seems to me that ELP (especially Emerson) liked this piece so much that they/he really tried to make it musical. It works sufficiently that one doesn't feel the need to rip it off the turntable, and the way they interpreted is sufficiently interesting that even purists will probably stop and think about how well different sections work or not. Saying this, its not at the level to deserve four stars, and I still would rather listen to a virtuoso pianist play Mussorgsky's original piano version than this one. But it is a valid interpretation, and is good enough to keep in the ELP discography. I give it 6.8 out of 10 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which places it in the mid 3 PA stars realm.

 Tarkus by EMERSON LAKE & PALMER album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.05 | 1628 ratings

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Tarkus
Emerson Lake & Palmer Symphonic Prog

Review by Walkscore

2 stars Not quite so good...

Their second studio album saw ELP write an extended track across an entire side, like many other bands here on PA did (Floyd, etc). Unfortunately, most of the music on this album is not up to the standard set by their first album. The 'concept' for the long suite "Tarkus" is pretty goofy (a story about an armadillo-tank that goes around battling other strange machine-animal creatures, ultimately to be defeated by 'Aquatarkus'). But that is not the main problem. I think the problem is that ELP rushed this album without making sure it was sufficiently musical. Like Emerson's wild live synth solos, ELP was as much about the show as the music, and in some cases the music took second-place. There are some good moments on Tarkus (the song), but a lot of un-musical themes too. Indeed, some of the music here is plain-annoying. It is difficult to listen to all the way through, at least more than a couple of times. Well, at least that first side was ambitious, even if not fully successful. The second side is mostly filler, with some even-sillier tracks ("Jeremy Bender" and "Are You Ready Eddy?"). The result is an album that is, on balance, not musical enough to draw the listener too often. But I have to give some credit for the song Tarkus, which if nothing else, is unique. I give this album 5.1 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to (high) 2 PA stars. ELP fans will obviously love it. The uninitiated - well, start with their debut, and Trilogy, first.

 Emerson Lake & Palmer by EMERSON LAKE & PALMER album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.24 | 1860 ratings

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Emerson Lake & Palmer
Emerson Lake & Palmer Symphonic Prog

Review by Walkscore

4 stars Great Debut.

The first album by ELP is one of their strongest, although both Trilogy and Brain Salad Surgery are better. But after those two, their first remains one of their most solid. Beginning with the great "The Barbarian", the album set the tone for not only the 70s (it came out near the beginning of the decade) but also virtuoso progressive rock with Emerson's quirky Romanesque organ. The second track "Take a Pebble" is the best track on the album, a nuanced and lovely Greg Lake song that would become a live highlight. Emerson's piano work is wonderful here. "Knife-Edge" mixes Emerson's organ skills with Lake's edgy singing. The suite "The Three Fates" is not quite as successful, extending Emerson's peculiar compositional style over three movements named after each of fate in the classic story. "Tank" is similar to this, highlighting Palmer's drumming, while the closer, "Lucky Man" became a very well-known radio hit, despite not sounding much like the rest of the album. The formula set here would have worked well on subsequent albums, but alas ELP was to experiment, which is good but can lead to mistakes, which ELP would seem to be prone to at times through their career. I actually give this album 7.9 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which is at the bottom of the range for 4 PA stars. It just creeps in.

 Works Vol. 2 by EMERSON LAKE & PALMER album cover Studio Album, 1977
2.39 | 561 ratings

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Works Vol. 2
Emerson Lake & Palmer Symphonic Prog

Review by Progfan97402

3 stars I was never much a fan of Works Vol. 1. That was maybe not a total trainwreck, but it clearly demonstrated ELP's fall from grace. I mean their egos must have been so big that they only bothered to perform together on exactly two songs: on side four, with each of the other sides focusing on solo material from each member. So it ends up a truly messy album, with too much messing about to make it worthwhile (and while I'm at it, I found the Beatles White Album vastly overrated, it too suffered with way too much messing about, but at least it had a lot of great classics, but bogged gown by a bunch of sappy McCartney stuff, and even Harrison's "Piggies" is easily the most insipid thing he did in the Beatles). So I compared Works Vol, 1 to the White Album, only worse (and ironically sporting a black cover). It didn't help that Keith Emerson decided to put the Moog and Hammond organ aside for this monster Yamaha GX-1 (the three keyboard predecessor to the CS series). So I didn't expect much out of Vol. 2 (truly, their "white album" as it sported a white cover). I was a bit surprised. Hardly a masterpiece, but this time just one disc to sit through, and luckily nothing as barf inducing as "Closer to Believing". "Tiger in a Spotlight", "Brain Salad Surgery", and even Greg Lake's Christmas favorite "I Believe in Father Christmas" are actually quite good, as well as "When The Apple Blossoms Bloom In The Windmills of Your Mind I'll Be Your Valentine". At least the nonsense on this album is Emereson messing about with ragtimes, including Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag". OK, so he's that skilled on piano to pull off ragtime, but it's best not wasted on an ELP record. Again, Emerson is still in love with that monster GX-1 at the expense of the Hammond organ and Moog, so if you didn't like what he did with it, you won't like it here. While hardly a masterpiece, I am in the minority that I enjoyed this one better than the first (usually Vol. 2 is regarded as inferior). So three stars (definitely nothing more) it is.
 Fanfare For The Common Man  by EMERSON LAKE & PALMER album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1977
2.94 | 16 ratings

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Fanfare For The Common Man
Emerson Lake & Palmer Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

1 stars Fanfare for brain salad

An edited version of Fanfare For The Common Man from the album Works Vol. 1 was released on this single in the same year as the album. The single version is reduced from almost 10 minutes in length to just under three minutes and ends with a rather lame fade-out just before the "noodling" begins. While it could be argued that the original version is a tad too long, this single version is surely too short.

The tune is possibly ELP's biggest "hit" and of course went on to become a live favourite and has been included on countless compilations and live albums over the years. It is however not a personal favourite of mine.

The b-side here is Brain Salad Surgery, a track that originally appeared on a special single given away for free with the magazine New Musical Express in 1973 to promote the then current album of the same name (that does not contain the song). The track appeared here for the first time on a commercial release but would later be included also on Works Vol. 2 and is now widely available as a bonus track on several of the CD reissues of the album Brain Salad Surgery.

The song itself is rather good, but it is a weird choice as a b-side for Fanfare For The Common Man given that the two songs are some four years apart.

 Live in Montreal 1977 by EMERSON LAKE & PALMER album cover Live, 2013
2.39 | 14 ratings

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Live in Montreal 1977
Emerson Lake & Palmer Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 stars C'est La Vie

The 2011 Shout! Factory archival release Live At Nassau Coliseum '78 totally blew me away! At the point of that recording the band had ditched the orchestra accompaniment and were back to the traditional trio format. And completely contrary to what you would expect judging from the three Works releases (Works Vol. 1, Works Vol. 2, and Works Live), Emerson, Lake & Palmer were still a brilliant live act in 1978 and showed no signs whatsoever of having declined since Welcome Back My Friends To the Show That Never Ends!

In 2013 the same label released another archival live ELP album recorded in Montreal, Canada in the year before Live At Nassau. On this occasion the full orchestra is featured and the difference is striking. Some of these tracks were previously included on Works Live (originally released as In Concert in 1979). The sound quality here is not so good, but for that we cannot blame the band. But the performances are stale, without much passion. Comparing this show with the one captured at Nassau the songs are played slower and without the massive energy that permeated the Naussau show.

It is my firm belief that the band was held back considerably by the presence of the orchestra. Playing in time with the orchestra was constraining and left little rooms for any spontaneity. The decision to tour and record with a full orchestra during the Works years marred the band both artistically and financially. Greg Lake has said as much in interviews that he wishes they had never done that and that they might have survived longer as a band had they abstained for this expensive endeavour.

Compared to Works Live, at least Live in Montreal 1977 offers a more accurate representation of the actual show with the original set list retained in the track order. Sadly, these versions do not compare favourably to other versions of the same pieces. Had the sound quality been better I would have given this three stars, but as it stands it must be recommended primarily to fans and collectors. Make sure you get the fantastic Live At Nassau Coliseum '78 first as it is far, far superior to this one.

 Works Vol. 1 by EMERSON LAKE & PALMER album cover Studio Album, 1977
2.89 | 679 ratings

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Works Vol. 1
Emerson Lake & Palmer Symphonic Prog

Review by Phaerdas

5 stars Outstanding, amazing, breathtaking. Album out of this world, and clearly (as you can see in reviews) to difficult for many. Propably one of the most ambitiuos efforts in music ever. So many variations in styles and moods from pure classical music to romanting ballads. This album has everything. A must buy for anyone. Ppl tend to rate the "sides" separately but in my opinion this album works perfectly as one. Each side turns another string in listiners soul and each is unique. Message to everyone - don't believe those awful reviews - give this one a try! It is worth it.
 Tarkus by EMERSON LAKE & PALMER album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.05 | 1628 ratings

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Tarkus
Emerson Lake & Palmer Symphonic Prog

Review by aglasshouse

2 stars The snag.

"Jumping the shark" is a common phrase that references when a television show, in danger of losing it's audience to the ever-decreasing quality of the program, does something ridiculous to rekindle interest. Named after a moment in an episode of Happy Days in 1977 where Fonzie, clad impractically in his signature leather jacket, takes a water- ski jump over a lake-area in which swims a shark. In the long-run the show didn't have much to worry about because it took seven more years to kill the damn thing, nonetheless the term stuck around and was subsequently applied to pieces of entertainment which acted similarly.

However even before Happy Days and the Fonz, new shining stars of the progressive rock scene Emerson, Lake & Palmer decided to jump the proverbial shark with Tarkus in 1971. For many progressive rock bands, jumping the shark was a common thing to do...in the eighties. Exhausting their creative muscle in the 70s, many bands got burnt out and fell back upon the 80s pop-rock music scene instead, and as many saw it went inadvertently into retirement from the business. However this wasn't the 80's -- as mentioned before Tarkus was in 1971, a period where albums like Meddle by Pink Floyd and Nursery Cryme by Genesis continued to emerge with gusto. Appearing less than seven months after their debut and following a European tour, Tarkus came to a young and craving fan-base happy with almost anything the band produced at the time. For all intents and purposes the album could not have been timed better, but timing is a factor that rarely has bearing on quality. In quality-terms however, Tarkus is vastly inferior to it's predecessor.

One glaring and inadmissible trait the album has is it's VERY obvious pompous nature. ELP went from a mild release with a bit of grandstanding to a overblown and ultimately ridiculous concept album in one fell swoop. Tarkus, and by that I mean the 20 minute title-track suite, follows the adventure of a sentient armadillo tank as he battles his way through a universe filled with ludicrous characters, spotlit ones including a manticore and an aquamarine version of Tarkus himself, so cleverly referred to as "Aquatarkus", the latter to which he ultimately loses against. This concept sounding ridiculous on paper is unsurprising, but what really matters is how the band adapts this concept to sound good. And if you were envisioning something tough, explosive, and chivalrous to depict such a surrealist battleground, you'll be disappointed. On the other hand however if you yearned for an overbearing collection of synthesizer, constant and sometimes heavy guitar noodling and lackluster vocals, then consider yourself acquainted with Tarkus. In simple terms, 'Tarkus' is an out-and-out mess. The song, while mostly being a fast-paced journey riddled with inconsistent progressive ramblings with Carl Palmer rattling around much more flamboyantly than necessary, does have it's odd enjoyable moments. For instance in the latter half there is a short-lived space rock section, but it's quickly pushed aside in order for misplaced quirky keyboard. A dichotomy I mentioned in my review for ELP's self-titled was where each band member seemed like they were trying to out-do each-other with their respective medium. If that was prominent on the first album, then it is even more so on Tarkus. Each member practically trips over eachother, almost like their playing different songs at the same time. It creates an unpleasant mishmash of half-baked ideas that becomes a drag after listening to the same inconsistency for 20 whole minutes.

What's this? A second side? It almost seems strange that there even exists a second side, but even after Tarkus seemed to have gone through each checkbox, ELP continued the album anyway. Unsurprisingly, the second side is just as if not more monotonous than the title-track. Not much is different, other than that Emerson uses some sort of Barrelhouse-esque piano on a few of the early songs, which sounds absolutely horrendous because of a tendency of ELP to turn the keyboard up higher than the rest of the instruments until it becomes overpowering. There is one exception to the second side, however. 'A Time and a Place' is a bit of a throwback to the self-titled, along the lines of the 'The Barbarian' or 'Knife-Edge'. Heavy and atmospheric, this track is so powerful that I've listened to it multiple times with continued interest. Greg Lake's vocals are at their best on this track, his blistering screams channeling Burton Cummings of the Guess Who with their raw intensity. It is truly a memorable piece of music, but unfortunately remains solitary on the second side as the only one noteworthy.

Tarkus is not only a big disappointment, but is also an excuse for ELP to continue to become more and more vapid and self-aggrandizing than they already are with it's widespread success. Some hope still remains, however. The next album may be able to rectify the problems created with this one. Right?

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

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