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


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

4.17 | 2126 ratings

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2 stars Respect to all those for whom EMERSON, LAKE AND PALMER is an essential progressive act. This is a band I avoided while growing up, based on what little I'd heard of them. I decided to revisit them recently. Bad move.

Oh dear. Is this a joke? 'Jerusalem'? The piece was hackneyed to begin with: a song redolent of colonialism, played at the Proms and lampooned by the likes of Monty Python and the KLF. With good reason! But I suspect this isn't supposed to be funny; the ELP lads are actually trying to perform a serious piece of music here. And Emerson ruins it in the way only EMERSON can, with his cheesy synth slides and stabs.

'Toccata' is more of the same. The thing that turns me off ELP is EMERSON attempt to use his organ (I've always wanted to say that) to substitute for guitar, keyboards, flute or whatever variety of instruments other groups use. Those incessant whoops in 'Toccata' do nothing for me. I guess they sounded futuristic at the time, but they have certainly dated. To be fair, there's actually an excellent composition hidden in here: Ginastera's original version would no doubt be well worth a listen.

'Still. you turn me on' is a lovely piece of music, instant proof that the band would have been better as LP. This is about simple enough for GREG LAKE'S thin, overstretched voice to handle. Despite the negative press, 'Benny the Bouncer' is fine, the requisite piece of British oddball humour that is such a feature of 70s progressive rock. Pure vaudeville.

Now for the point of the album. 'Karn Evil 9' Now this is much better. EMERSON has the space to fiddle without overpowering the song. His baroque ornamentation fits better here than on the shorter pieces: the album would have been far better had this piece been expanded further to cover both sides of the disc. It's all too easy, though, to get sick of the synth-brass sound. And I hate to say it, but LAKE'S voice is often flat: listen to 'Roll on and see the show' without cringing, I dare you.

Despite the low rating, this is an album everyone should listen to once. It will give your progressive leanings a frame of reference: if you like this, no excess will be beyond your tastes. It's a bridge too far for me, I'll be honest with you.

Nice cover though.

russellk | 2/5 |


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