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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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3 stars In 1978, Emerson, Lake and Palmer released their trash hit 'Love Beach' posing on the cover like they were some kind of super models. Why it took 8 years to decide to bury that embarrassment, no one really knows, but suddenly, Keith Emerson and Greg Lake got the bug to do another album, so they went to Palmer to get him to join in with them. Unfortunately, Carl Palmer was contractually obligated by 'Asia' and was not available at the time, so the other two, not wanting to wait, went out to find another drummer. Their original intention was not necessarily to find any drummer whose name started with a 'P', but Cozy Powell ended up being the one to replace Palmer, and it was just convenient that the letters were the same. That's how it all started (and ended).

Emerson was still feeling a bit creative and brought along some ideas for longer tracks and things looked pretty positive about this realignment of the once classic prog trio. However, the chemistry wasn't there and the new band was missing a bit of the old enthusiasm. The album, on the surface, looked like it would start out good enough, with the 9 minute 'The Score'. The music was definitely blessed by Emerson's signature sound, and the music was complex enough that it could almost slide by as a late prog classic from the trio. When Lake's vocals come in, it almost sounds like a decent take off of 'Pirates', but the thing that is noticeable right from the outset is that Powell's style of drumming just doesn't mesh, or at least it doesn't carry the style of music that the original band was known for. Lake said that this line up just ended up being a completely different band, but that isn't quite true. What it ends up sounding like is a cheap imitation, almost, but not quite. It is still a bit salvageable, and it was definitely better than anything on the first side of 'Love Beach'.

With an opener as ambitious as 'The Score' it is easy to see why at least 2/3rds of the band felt it was ready for a comeback. At the time, I can see why they wanted to make the attempt without Palmer, but now, after the fact, it makes you wonder if it would have been better to wait and hold on to the song ideas. That would have been better that what resulted in the aftermath of this album ('3'). It sort of makes sense that a shorter song follows this, and 'Learning to Fly' is that song. It's not as interesting, of course, and it is definitely more commercial sounding, but it at least it balances out the 1st half of the album and it fits between the two longer songs of the album as the 7-minute 'The Miracle' follows. So, these two longer tracks looks good on paper, but by this time, the older fans were probably looking for an instrumental, or something more interesting. Even though the tempo is more moderate, things are sounding a bit too much alike, nothing is standing out, and the hopes of ELP fans everywhere are waning. Not even the heavy organ chords or the choir effects from the synths are enough to save this lyrically heavy song. All I could think of is 'When is Lake going to stop singing?'

'Touch and Go' turned out to be an appropriate single from the album. But mixed in with the rest of this album, it is just another mediocre track with a nice march rhythm that might feel great in an arena. When it was proven that Asia had found some success with prog dinosaurs doing anthem rockers, I suppose ELP thought they could do it too, and they might have been more gelled with the real 'P', not the substitute. It's not that Powell isn't a great drummer, it just doesn't work with this line up, but I'm not even sure if Palmer would have been enough to save this mediocre album. 'Love Blind' continues with the boring, commercial ELP music, more of the same. Finally, 'Step Aside' takes a break from the same sounding music, but it goes to a somewhat 'lounge jazz from Vegas' sound. It's good for a change, but not quite what you expected from ELP, but that's okay too. 'Lay Down Your Guns' might sound like the title of one of the bands cheesy, over-the-top, honky tonk songs, but it is actually more of a ballad, though it still has the cheesy aspect. Unfortunately, its not an emotional sounding ballad, which ELP used to pull those off, its mostly 'plastic' sounding. The album ends with the only instrumental on the album 'Mars, the Bringer of War', the token classical-turn-rock song based off of the same title that comes from Gustav Holst's 'The Planets'. This is Emerson's show piece for the album, however, Emerson was not certain that he wanted to even do it because he was afraid it would sound too much like 'Hooked on Classics' or something. It ends up being the most interesting thing about the album and also the one thing that is most like many of his instrumental works from the band's better days. Being over 7 minutes long, it, along with the opening song 'The Score' are the only real redeeming things about this mediocre album.

Some of the US and Japanese CDs had two bonus tracks, the first one being 'The Loco-motion', which is the band's symphonic take on the classic rock and roll song. It's kind of dumb, but in a charming way, you know, the way your old high school band used to be. 'Vacant Possession' is a moderate vocal song, again quite mediocre compared to their previous music.

This would be the only studio album this line-up would produce. Yes there have been some live albums surface as of late, but they were not originally meant to be released. Following this, the band would take another re-alignment, this time with Palmer coming back and Lake missing, being replaced by Robert Berry, and going under the moniker of '3'. It was also quite mediocre, if anything, even less interesting than this one. After that, the original line up would return for two more studio albums, but they would never return to their full glory of their pre-'Love Beach' days. There would be an occasional interesting track from time to time, but unfortunately, there would never be enough quality on any one album to actually sustain anything above mediocrity.

TCat | 3/5 |


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