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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Works Vol. 1 CD (album) cover


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

2.94 | 743 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars A classic "shark jumping" moment if ever there was one, this bloated double album was four long years in the making. You could hear the sharp hiss of expectations being deflated before the shrink wrap was even torn from the sleeve.

What we're presented with here is three sides of solo material of questionable quality, and roughly 23 minutes of Emerson, Lake and Palmer together. Emerson's side is a textbook example of why prog died. Twenty minute epic prog-rock suites are one thing, but to display the hubris and arrogance enough to say, "I want to do a piano concerto on our next album!" He was almost certainly surrounded by coke-fueled record company yes men egging him on. The music on Emerson's side is predictably unimaginative, a pastiche of better, more talented composers, and very little of it sticks with the listener. It just leaves you thinking, "why bother with this when I can just listen to Rachmaninoff?"

Curiously, Palmer's side works best of the solo stuff. Probably because, of the three, he worked the hardest and used the most imagination in the presentation of his material. It also sounds the least like ELP, largely jazz-rock. There's even a brassy, big-band version of "Tank"! Lake's side finds him trying for an American MOR pop-ballad sound, like the worst tendencies of Neil Diamond, and is simply unlistenable.

When we finally do get to the group side, it's predictably a letdown. Just another overextended Copland adaptation and a predictably overblown musical-theater type of number. Emerson's work on the massive Yamaha GX1 synth (predecessor to the CS-80) is intriguing, but he's fairly drowned out by the blaring orchestra on the disappointing "Pirates". Very little nuance to be found here, just tons of overkill.

Progbear | 2/5 |


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