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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Emerson, Lake & Powell: Emerson, Lake & Powell CD (album) cover


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

3.13 | 557 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars The 1980s were almost devoid of progressive rock. By the year 1986, Genesis had released a series of albums that had degraded from symphonic progressive rock to a collection of pathetic pop rock fodder. Yes had transformed even quicker, going from the excellent Drama to 90125 almost overnight. Another great band from the 1970s was Emerson, Lake & Palmer. They fell apart earlier than their contemporaries with the awful Love Beach in 1978.

Along comes 1985, and apparently Greg Lake and Keith Emerson were just itching for a reunion. Unfortunately they couldn't get Carl Palmer to come aboard as he was enjoying success with Asia at the time. There were rumors at the time that Bill Bruford would be part of the lineup, but he was committed to King Crimson and his own group, Earthworks. So they found veteran metal drummer Cozy Powell who had been with a whole host of bands in his career, including The Jeff Beck Group, Rainbow, Whitesnake, and others. So, how would a metal drummer fit in with the escapades of Emerson and Lake? Actually, a lot better than I would have expected as their sound gelled quite nicely. The obvious difference between him and Palmer, is that his drumming style on this album is almost machine-like.

Emerson, Lake & Powell was quite different from the ELP of old. Their sound was more modern this time, more structured, and typically 1980s-ish. But it's not like the rest of the stuff blasting from radios during this decade. Quite different indeed. It was one of the few truly symphonic progressive rock albums to come out and actually receive some attention from the music press and fans of the time. A gem amidst a pile of rocks.

This album is very keyboard oriented, and this can clearly be heard on the first four songs and the excellent remake of Gustav Holst's "Mars, the Bringer War." "The Score" is pure ELP, with all the energy of the old ELP. Emerson and Lake still had it in them. The Miracle, sounding more like neo-prog, was quite a powerful song also. Amidst these great songs, ELP created a number of more radio-friendly songs. They clearly were not immune to the musical movement of the time. Some of these shorter songs are okay, and some are just forgettable. "Touch and Go" was probably the best of the shorter pieces, filled with Emerson's bombastic keys and Lake's powerful vocal delivery. This one received much radio play on the AOR stations at the time and even made it briefly on Billboard's Top 100 in the United States.

Later releases on CD would feature two bonus tracks, which were poor and somewhat annoying, like the remake of "The Loco-Motion." I guess it was a sign of the times. When I first bought this it was an LP and ended with "Mars, the Bringer of War." Now that I have the CD version, I consider the bonus tracks as just that. They're bonus and not really part of the core album.

If it wasn't for the mediocre shorter pieces, I would be almost willing to give this five stars. It isn't as good as Brain Salad Surgery, but it was the best from ELP since then and clearly one of the best albums released during the dark 1980s. I'm leaning more towards 3.75, so I'm going to round it up to an even four stars. An excellent album from the bleakest period in progressive rock history. A must-have for ELP fans.

progaeopteryx | 4/5 |


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