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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Brain Salad Surgery CD (album) cover

BRAIN SALAD SURGERY

Emerson Lake & Palmer

 

Symphonic Prog

4.14 | 1759 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Bring me my arrows of desire

Many fans see this as ELP's finest hour. The main feature is "Karn Evil 9", a piece in three "Movements" which occupies part of side 1,and all of side 2 of the album. There is in fact little to connect the three movements, each being a distinctive piece on its own. The "First Movement" is sub-split into two parts, leading to the "Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends" intro to side 2 of the LP. This effect is of course lost on the CD version. I often wonder at the fact that, if you listen to the melody and counter melody played by Emerson and Lake on this track they bear no apparent relation to each other. When combined however, it works perfectly.

The "Second movement" is an instrumental featuring the percussion skills of Carl Palmer. Thankfully, he refrains from subjecting us to a drum solo opting instead for a Caribbean steel drum sound, but for me this, along with "Toccata" is the weakest part of the album. The "Third movement" is pure ELP prog at its best. The track is vaguely reminiscent of Pink Floyd's "Welcome to the machine", Lake is in fine form vocally and lyrically, complementing Emerson's superb synthesiser work.

Whether "Karn Evil 9" stands well a complete piece in three parts is a matter for debate. For me, the three movements are individual pieces, which do not require to be heard together, and bear no relation to each other. Fine music nonetheless.

The rest of the album is made up of short tracks. It opens with a strange choice, a faithful adaptation of the hymn "Jerusalem". This does not sound quite as out of place as might be expected, and makes for a spirited start. Another standout track is the mainly acoustic "Still you turn me on", which spurned the oft quoted (in ridicule) lyric "Every day a little sadder, a little madder, someone get me a ladder". I love the synthesiser at the end of this track, the solo could easily have been 2 or 3 times as long.

This is indeed a mighty album, which finds ELP working at their peak as a coherent unit. It is interesting that the title track only appeared on a floppy single given away with a magazine at the time, being officially released for the first time on "Works volume 2".

The original LP was nicely presented in a fold out sleeve, although I understand the image was toned down from that originally planned.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |

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