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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
4 stars Brain Salad Surgery, ELP's fourth album, is their creative peak. It would prove to be their final great studio album, though the excellent live "Welcome Back My Friends..." had yet to come. If you want pompous, proficient work of the highest caliber, look no further.

The album opens with "Jerusalem", an adaption of a church hymn. The song is strong and displays the talents of the band well. Keith's organ refelcts its church background.

The adaptions continue with a phenomal reworking of Alberto Ginasteras' "Toccata". Great keyboards from Keith as well as inventive drumming from Carl Palmer, one of the most original drummer ever. This is hands down ELP's best instrumental, and it's one of the ten best off all time.

"Still...You Turn Me On" is another great ELP ballad. Listening to this makes you wonder how much better Love Beach would have been if they wrote songs like this instead of pandering to the mainstream. This, along with Lucky Man, constitute the only great ballads by ELP.

"Benny the Bouncer" serves the role of a sort of comic relief filler, like The Sheriff or Jeremy Bender. It's decent, but it's the weakest song on the album. As with every ELP album but the debut, it detracts from the superb quality of the rest of the album.

Then comes the behemoth, "Karn Evil 9". this song is the most pompous epic in the ELP catalogue and, by extension, music. Pompous doesn't mean bad, though, as evidenced by this beauty. Keith gives his newly unveiled toy the Moog polyphonic ensemble. On that note, many musicians can say that their instrument was replicated, but how many can say that an instrument was designed soley for that person? Keith's one of a kind Moog Polyphonic Ensemble is capable of anything and it makes me sad that it was never again used to great effect. Lake's bass is thunderous and his personal best. Carl Palmer takes his place right behind Neal Peart in my list of favorite prog drummers becasue, like Peart, he combines the intensity of Keith Moon and John Bonham with the celestial sensibilities of Bill Bruford. The song drags a bit during the second impression, but a few repeated listens later it grew on me.

This album is a must have for fans of prog, but it still contains that blasted ELP filler. Rush has this same problem; gems are kept from being masterpieces by filler. Still, you need this. As Lake would say, "SEE THE SHOW!"

Grade: B+

1800iareyay | 4/5 |


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