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


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

4.17 | 2127 ratings

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Honorary Collaborator
5 stars

This is the album you must hear before you die - three words sum up the peak of prog excellence bar none: 'Brain Salad Surgery'.

Forget what it means, forget the concepts, forget the innuendos throughout, and the infamous H R Giger cover, instead simply put on the head phones and sit back to be treated to some of the best prog you are likely to hear.

It starts with the 'Jerusalem' track that is as bombastic as any ELP track. 'Toccata' follows and is one of the greatest instrumentals. The keyboards are played with such a fury they seem to strip the wallpaper of your walls. Emerson revels in his world as he thumps the keyboards with virtuoso playing that I have never had the pleasure of hearing before.

'Still you turn me on' is the romantic ballad that was always present to garner and appease female fans, a mainstream song that never really impressed me, though I can appreciate its appeal.

'Benny the Bouncer' is the satiric jaunty little ditty laced with black humour that always seemed to defile ELP albums. However, nothing compares to the awesome 'Karn Evil 9'.

Virtually every moment of Karn Evil 9, this multi-movement suite, is awe inspiring. Rarely have a band been so precise, so in sync, so brilliant than this track. It moves through a series of impressions in the same way as a classical piece is structured. The first impressions are often found on best of ELP compilations and for good reason, but its great to hear this track in its entirety. Like the astounding 'Tarkus', it is a long, highly complex example of virtuoso playing and showcases in particular Emerson's incredible talents. It's frenetic pace transfixes from beginning to end of the first impressions. It slows in the 2nd impression so that we have room to breathe within the wall of sound that is at times suffocating, but then picks up the pace again in the 3rd impression with Lake's vocals dominating.

I love the huge finale with the robot voice that seems to explode. The headphone sound zooms in and out from left to right and then fades out. Its masterful and one reason that this album has to be at the top of prog rock album lists as one of the greatest.

There are bonus tracks and they are good. The excerpts from the album that were once only available as a flexi disc are quite interesting. 'When the apple blossoms bloom...' is OK but is on one of 'the Works' albums.

Overall the album is one of the masterpieces of prog and pure ELP at their ultimate best.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 5/5 |


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