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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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Prog Reviewer

This was the first ELP studio album I purchased at the time time of release. I had already "Pictures" and knew "Tarkus" pretty well. In these ancient times, ELP was one of my preferred band. The packaging of the original vinyl was a great artwork.

When I listened to "Jerusalem", I was blisfully happy. What a nice melody, what a somptuous keys throughout this short number. It is of course very commercial but it is one of my all time fave of the band. Not essential in terms of creativty but exceptionally emotional.

"Tocatta" is a showcase for Keith and Carl. Some weird moog sounds and great drumming. This number is better while played live. Very pompous finale (but we are talking about ELP, right ?).

They will also renew the tradition of sweet songs (like "Lucky Man" on their debut). "Still..." is the ocasion for Lake to show his great vocal capabilities. I have always love his voice (from the early Crimson days, actually). This track is very pleasant (especially after the rather complex "Tocatta", but does not reach the level of "Luck Man" or "C'Est La Vie".

"Benny The Bouncer" would have perfectly fit on the B-side of "Tarkus" (I guess you understand what I mean). This Country & Western farce is completely useless. Just to be played in a saloon.

Now, the pièce de résistance (or main dish if you prefer). The extremely long "Karn Evil". Twenty-seven minutes and forty seconds divided into three parts !

"First Impression" is brilliant. Fantastic bass and drumming play to sustain the incredible keys part. Vocals are a bit yelling though. This movement is the best one of the three. Strong from start to finish. Difficult to approach for non-fan I guess. I think that the pompous ELP has never been highlighted so much. But I have to say that I like it a lot. Otherwise, one could hardly be called an ELP fan.

I wonder why they split it into two parts (well actually it was the occasion to turn the vinyl record on the B-side because it starts exactly where the first part ends with these electronic sounds. It will shortly be interrupted by the famous lines : "Welcome Back My Friend To The Show That Never Ends". But that's another story. I would have liked that this split would have disappeared in the CD release (but I had the same feeling for "Thick Is A Brick") but it won't be the case. Anyway the second part of "Karn Evil" is just as good and the whole (13'30") which can be considered as the highlight of this album.

"Second Impression" is somewhat jammy. Great piano and drumming, but I very much preferred the mood of "Tocatta". After almost three boring minutes, the songs turns to a very quite mood. You can almost not hear anything (again "Islands" from KC is not far away). Almost fully experimental, improvisation-like for about two minutes. This part is really heading nowhere. By far the weakest and truely useless part of this suite.

"Third Impression" is again a more "normal" song. It remind me at times the track "Salisbury" from "Uriah Heep" and its pompous passages. A pleasant and jazzy intrumental (although I do not like this genre very much) in the middle part will precede a very powerful finale with a great Lake on the vocals again. It reminds at time the track "Jerusalem".

This "suite" can hardly be considered as one piece of work. The three parts are really different from one another. No continuity at all. Each section being really a track on its own.

As for many ELP works, the best ("Jerusalem", "Karn Evil First") will cross the poorest ("Benny The Bouncer").

This is a true ELP effort, but rather difficult to appraoch. I would not suggest this album to start your ELP experience. But I feel it rather difficult to recommend one because each of them is good (except "Trilogy" IMO) but lacks in consistency (except their debut one probably).

I would rate this album seven out of ten but I will upgrade it sentimentally to four stars since this album that might well be their last good one.

ZowieZiggy | 4/5 |


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