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


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

4.17 | 2129 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Hello there, plastic-bombastic!

Brain Salad Surgery is arguably one of progressive rock's most controversial albums. A few titles and artworks were denied, settling on this one, still with a dirty subtext, though less visible.

This is widely known as ELP's last true progressive rock album. Without a doubt, it is. However, the progressive factor seems to get out of control at times. Huge, powerful passages are simply all over the top. In places, this work gives the listener a feeling as if being approached by the armadillo-tank from the cover of Tarkus. It's obviously worth appreciation, but sometimes makes the album simply unpleasant. The breathtaking factor of Emerson Lake & Palmer's debut and sophomore (and "Pictures From An Exhibition") albums is clearly overshaded by the "size" that music grows to. Perhaps ELP had just a little too big of a brainstorm overload. However, Carl Palmer considers "Brain Salad Surgery" group's most accomplished work and recalls it was a pure joy to work on.

That is not to say that it does not have a potential. "Jerusalem" is a traditional English liturgical song. Quite predictable, but very enjoyable. "Toccata" is a quintessence of what I talked about in the previous paragraph. Synthesizers are getting all over one's head. Personally, I like the introduction of interesting percussion and the dissonant melody, but the drum synth appearing at the beggining of the 5th minute is just too much and makes me want to skip the track. "Still You Turn Me On" is a great acoustic piece kept in a very Jethro Tull-esque mood. Inventive, not too harsh on the listener, inspired and well played. In case of the "Benny The Bouncer", the bombastic factor seems to finally be working. It is a very comedic tune, again quite British with a strain of ragtime/boogie-woogie fashion and incredible drumming. Greg Lake's voice goes from gentle to "burnt by whiskey" type of timbre. "Karn 9 Evil" features many allusions to their much greater "Tarkus". In my opinion, this one doesn't bring anything new to the game other than just being your another multimovement suite. The 2nd part of the "1st impression" is sort of unbearable for me. This one shows the musical bourge element that ELP started having right around this period. "2nd impression" is possibly the best of all, strongly influenced by jazz, it features a Dave Brubeck-like soft, smooth melody. 3rd movement is another huge-feeling track, but quite interesting. Characterised by a nice theme passage with a good idea being transformed in many different ways for the best result. It also features a nice jazzy jam.

All in all, this album is something that every ELP fan should have, but something that newcommers should avoid. This is not a good way to start your adventure with prog rock. If you are an expirienced progressive rock listener, you will be able to appreciate many different factors of "Brain Salad Surgery", which lie burried in a garden of overabundance of sounds and moods on this album. 3.33 stars!

ALotOfBottle | 3/5 |


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