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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 I remember hating this album. I got to know it quite a few years after their first albums and it struck me as the downfall of ELP from a tight creative unit into a battleground of 3 self-indulgent individuals that started releasing incoherent junk that even sounded pompous on 2 minute songs. I guess such a response is normal if you get to know this album when you're in the middle of a serious Joy Division phase. It's quite another frame of reference...

Well, we're a good 20 years older now and because of the incredibly high ratings here I had to have another go at it. I picked up the 2008 deluxe version and I was presently surprised generally, even though it doesn't come anywhere near to the debut or Tarkus. The songs and especially the vocals are just too average for that, but at least I hear three guys having fun at what they doing. At times they're jamming their guts out.

Jerusalem is still as bad as I remember it: empty pathos on top of a badly produced mess of an organ that is too loud and drums that are barely audible. Toccata is more fun. Emerson is still doing exactly what he was doing with The Nice seven years earlier; he just got himself some new expensive toys to batter. Still You Turn Me On is Greg Lake's best moment on the album. I like his sugar sweet ballads, his warm tone and melody is irresistible. I can't help it. The wahwah at the end is most enjoyable. Of course everybody skips Benny so on to that Karn Evil thing. That used to be the track I hated most of all. And the passing of time hasn't been gentle with it. It's still ridiculously overstated but somehow it's fun once you get to ignore that, especially the first impression radiates with playing pleasure and boast a few good solo's and melodies. Impression 2 could have been on the debut. Nothing new but interesting nevertheless. Impression 3 is an impression too much. Both Lake and Emerson are desperately trying to come up with an interesting tune but it doesn't happen. The vocals are bad, the keyboards annoying.

But look here, there's an extra CD! More of the same? Definitely, but with a few goodies at least: The Apple Blossom is a fun little instrumental, Brain Salad Surgery is ELP doing their known 'light rock & roll goes all wild over a crazy moog'-thing. But the best addition would be the instrumental version of Impression 3. Without those pointless vocals it works a lot better. The keyboards and drums have ample room to breathe and the track is more relaxed and balanced as a result. Good addition this one.

So where do I stand now? I still wouldn't recommend this album to anyone, so the 4 and 5 stars are out of the door. It's not good enough for 3 stars (especially not in its original form) and because this would be zero stars for anybody with a normal (that's non-prog :) taste in music, 2 stars will have to do.

Bonnek | 2/5 |


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