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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Trilogy CD (album) cover


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

4.13 | 1587 ratings

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5 stars To me, "Trilogy" feels quite different to other ELP albums. Of course there are similarities but, to me, this album seems less bombastic and more measured somehow, and does not have the full-on intensity of their other albums. Even the airbrushed cover photograph of the band, sideways on, looking out over a glorious sunset on the back cover, seems mellower and somehow more sophisticated; less brash than the other albums. Yes, there are some heavy moments here, but there are some calmer, studied moments too. Lake said that the band took a lot of time and care creating this album, and I can believe it. Additionally, the production is good, the sound crisp and clear.

'The Endless Enigma' starts with some quiet percussion from Palmer, rather like a heartbeat, and Emerson's synthesiser sounding initially rather like a calling night bird. Then Emerson introduces piano, synthesizer and, briefly, a zourka before the track speeds up and becomes heavier. As far as I can determine, the zourka is a Tunisian wind instrument with a double reed, about 30 cm in length and with 8 finger holes. Lake's clear tenor voice then comes in, backed by some thumping bass in places. The song is divided in two by 'Fugue', which has some excellent piano playing from Emerson with Lake's bass playing nicely in the background and Palmer's triangle adding a nice touch; the sound of the Steinway piano is superb. The music changes mood and melody significantly through the pieces: some quiet, some heavy and full of passion. Emerson's synthesizer then emulates bells and trumpets (wonderful sound) and Lake belts out the end of the song.

'From The Beginning' is excellent. Lake's acoustic guitar and clear voice do the song justice. This is a man's love song: unsentimental and matter-of-fact. "There might have been things I missed, but don't be unkind, it don't mean I'm blind. Perhaps there's a thing or two: I think of lying in bed. I shouldn't have said, but there it is", with the refrain "You see, it's all clear, you were meant to be here from the beginning." The tune is lovely, and this is my favourite Lake ballad. Towards the end he brings in electric guitar, which sounds warm and very slightly SHADOWS-like, and then Emerson brings in some gorgeous synthesizer that gently whistles, buzzes and bubbles over Lake's strumming. To me, the album is worth it for this track alone.

'The Sheriff' is a good song in my opinion - I like the tune. As the name suggests it has a Wild West feel musically, and lyrically the Wild West is indeed the theme. This is a well-crafted piece of music, as it conveys the intended mood very well. Emerson's ubiquitous honky-tonk piano makes a satisfying appearance at the end.

'Hoedown' is ELP's interpretation of modern American composer Aaron Copland's 'Hoe-Down' from his ballet score "Rodeo." Instead of violins we have Emerson's Hammond and synthesizers taking the lead. Emerson unashamedly borrowed from classical composers, simply because he liked the music and knew a good tune when he heard one. The piece is infectious, and you can almost picture the cowpokes prancing to this. Some of Copeland's music is wonderful, and Emerson later also borrowed Copeland's 'Fanfare For The Common Man' for "Works, Volume 1".

'Trilogy' is a song very much over piano to begin with. Emerson's piano again sounds the business: crisp, clear Steinway, and the introductory part of the track sounds very Gershwinesque. Later Emerson brings in Hammond and synthesizers and really rocks it up in a very pleasing way during a long instrumental section, before Lake's vocals come back in briefly. This track works well. Palmer's percussion is, as ever, excellent. I really like the way he uses a range of percussion instruments throughout the album - you can pick out little sounds here and there that are effective and pleasing.

'Living Sin' is a heavy, dark sounding track. With Lake growling low in his throat in places, he gives this track a very seedy undertone: "If you never saw it coming, Hooked you up with Coca-Cola coming, Nice and slippery."

'Abaddon's Bolero' is presumably ELP's musical interpretation of the prophesy in Revelation. Abaddon is Hebrew for "destroyer" and, according to Revelation, Abaddon is the destroying angel king who ascends from the unlocked Abyss with an army of fallen angels and demons, overpowers human governments, and takes over the Earth (but not for eternity). The army takes the form of golden-crowned locusts with scorpion-sting tails, lion-like teeth, and human-like faces with woman-like hair, and their remit is to torture for five months using their stings all humans who do not bear the seal of God on their forehead. If you are an ELP fan these creatures may sound a little familiar. That's because they are somewhat similar to the Persian manticore, the mythical beast - and epitome of tyranny and evil - introduced in ELP's second album "Tarkus".

'Abaddon's Bolero' starts, very quietly, as a repetitive marching tune with Palmer's drumming rat-a-tat-tat and Emerson adding layers of synthesizer and Hammond bit by bit; first 'flutes', then 'trumpets' and perhaps also 'bagpipes'. Lake's bass calmly supports all this as the instrumental piece builds slowly but surely. I can't help whistling along to this. Initially the image I get is more of a marching Roman legion or Highland Regiment than an army of demonic beings. The beat is rock-solid and relentless and, whatever this army is comprised of, I get the feeling that it is going to flatten everything in its path. Most of the track does not give me a sense of foreboding, but towards the end Emerson adds very fat synthesizer and 'clarions', giving the music a more malevolent feel as the army accelerates forward, and the track ends abruptly, presumably as mankind is overcome. An interesting and evocative piece of music, which I like very much.

Another classic Progressive Rock album from the band, and an interesting change from their previous work. I never tire of listening to it, although "Tarkus" is my favourite ELP album. Nevertheless "Trilogy" is also excellent and I would say it is a masterpiece of the genre. Highly recommended.

Fitzcarraldo | 5/5 |


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