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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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5 stars Every Progressive Rock fan will admit that ELP is one of the fundamental and most influential bands of the genre, but strangely it's also one of the most controversial, they are accused of being pompous in this album (and in their whole career) what in fact is true, but I can't understand how any Prog' fan can be afraid of this word when the whole genre is absolutely pompous.

The band is also accused of making Brain Salad Surgery too loud, what is also accurate, but who said loud is wrong? I know at least 100 louder albums that are considered masterpieces by the same people who blame ELP for this reason.

So, the two main accusations are true, but precisely the pomp and loudness of the music are two of the main reasons why Brain Salad Surgery is a masterpiece and one of the milestones of Progressive Rock. At the end, this genre should be search of extreme music that defies time and mainstream, but only a few bands like ELP dared to go so far as in this album.

In 1972 ELP released the successful Trilogy and few people expected they could compose any album as great as this one, but they did it and very soon, Brain Salad Surgery is at least as good as Trilogy but with the addition of Karn Evil 9 as the peak of ELP's creativity.

I believe no other prog' band ever attempted to start an album supposedly original with two covers, but ELP did it without loosing their unique sound and style in the process of re-creating two well known musical pieces as Jerusalem and Toccata.

Jerusalem is a traditional hymn composed in 1916 by Hubert Parry using the lyrics of an 1804-1820 Sir William Blake's poem, but never before or even after Brain Salad Surgery there's been such a unique adaptation, so different to any other one that when I listen the original hymn I can't stop thinking there's something wrong because it doesn't sounds like the ELP version.

Something similar happens with Toccata but in this case the loud adaptation by ELP of the Carlos Ginastera classic received the blessing of the author, who shouted "Diabolic!! No one has been able to capture my music like that before! It's exactly the way I hear it myself!" when Keith Emerson asked his permission to release the track.

The touch of romanticism is supplied by "Still You Turn Me On", a powerful and extremely beautiful ballad by Greg Lake, which became one of the most popular songs of the trio. It's interesting to notice that in this "so called" simple track, the keyboards, wah-wah and acoustic guitar alternate to create a special and complex sound.

Even the simpler song of the album "Benny The Bouncer" has a reason to be recorded in way it was, in this case the track provides a bit of relief and comedy to a complex album, not a masterpiece but funny and inspired. Who said serious musicians can't have sense of humor?

But of course the main track of Brain Salad Surgery and all ELP's career is Karn Evil 9, a 30 minutes sci-fi track that redefines the word epic, because even we all know it's one whole song separated because of the limitations of the LP format, but each part is different and absolutely unique, something not common in epics.

There's almost nothing I can write about Keith Emerson, Greg Lake and Carl Palmer that haven't been said before, only will add that for the first time in their career they are absolutely impeccable along the whole album, especially because Brain Salad Surgery doesn't have a single filler or weak moment, it's the closest any musician can be to perfection.

Again I will accept that Brain Salad Surgery is loud and pompous, but I wouldn't change a chord or a single note, it's recorded exactly the way it should be.

Five solid stars for an absolutely essential masterpiece of prog' rock.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 5/5 |


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