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


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

4.17 | 2127 ratings

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5 stars I originally intended only to review albums with relatively few reviews here on PA. However, having seen the current average rating for this classic, I felt compelled to review it here.

ELP hit dizzying new heights with this remarkable 1973 release, producing one of THE pillars of progressive rock. It is the album that introduced me to the genre we know and love, at the tender age of 8. I loved it even then! ELP are often criticised for inconsistency, and whilst generally a fair point, this is certainly not true on this album.

This classic is innovative, ground-breaking, bombastic, pompous, well ahead of it's time, and, utterly brilliant. It is ELP's finest album and one of the best prog albums of them all.

Jerusalem is a wonderful opener. I already loved the hymn but this masterful version is superb. Such power and emotion. Lake's vocals are tremendous. Can we have this as the English (or British?) national anthem please?

Toccata is superb. Edgy, threatening and featuring outstanding work from Carl Palmer, a man well ahead of the competition. This piece sounds as fresh as it did back in '73.

Still You Turn Me On is the obligatory ELP ballad, one of which featured on each of their albums. Get over it.

Benny The Bouncer is the only throwaway track and for me should have been replaced by the actual track Brain Salad Surgery. I will forgive them a 2 minute duffer when the rest of the album is so good.

Then follows almost 30 minutes of some of the most innovative, compelling and outstanding music I have heard in the 3 piece epic, Karn Evil 9. There are virtuoso performances from all the band throughout Impression One, the most famous of the three. Emerson puts the brand new Polyphonic Moog through it's paces here (Emo was the test pilot/launch customer) as he takes synth excursions off into a new stratosphere.

The Second Impression goes in a different direction, with the keyboards and percussion dominating. This is my least favourite of the three movements, although still exceptionally good.

The Third Impression shows ELP setting a template for many of their successors. This is a wonderfully pompous piece of music, with more amazing synth work from Emerson. The dramatic build-up and finale still move me 35 years later.

A simply amazing album, and I am astonished that this lags well behind CTTE, Selling England, TAAB et al in the average ratings on PA. This is an absolutely essential album for ALL progressive rock fans.

My question is not can I give this album 5 stars? My question is how can this masterpiece get ANYTHING OTHER than 5 stars?

Roj | 5/5 |


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