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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Tarkus CD (album) cover


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

4.06 | 2086 ratings

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RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
3 stars This time I'll start from the rating: a half masterpiece values 2.5 stars plus some good moments here and there on the B side leads to three.

This is a very synthetic judgement about an album that can appear overrated if you look at its entirety and underrated if you thin to the side long title track only.

Let's start from that: I'm almost sure that Emerson is not using a sequencer. He plays all these notes with his left hand while Lake plays the same on the bass. The keyboard's sound is the Emerson's trademark and one of the biggest source of pleasure in ELP music. This is how we wanted them to sound forever. Who could have imagined that just few years later they would have given us "Love Beach"? Everything in this epic is great. The melody sung by Lake with his unmistakable voice, the many changes underlined by Palmer's drums, the many instrumental solos of Emerson. Should somebody ask you how ELP sound, this is the song. All the best of the ELP music is in this epic track, even something reused, as a short sequence of notes taken from Nice's 5 Bridges Suite. Some sudden changes apparently break the continuity, but they are placed in the right place. What I think is a defect in Mike Oldfield's long composition which are often patchworks of short things recorded at home, is not under discussion with ELP. Tarkus is a consistent song made of different parts but all really connected and when a sudden change arrives it's because it sounds well in that place. There's also one of the very rare electric guitar solos played by Lake. Nothing special honestly, just a curiosity, but he's a master with bass and has one of the most beautiful voices of the prog world IMO.

Now the bad: "Jeremy Bender" is a short joke. Emerson will later become famous in the mainstream public with his incursions in ragtime and country-western music. This is I think his first one. Not the worst album's thing, precursor of The Sheriff which will appear on Trilogy but it's an ant compared to the Tarkus giant. I won't mention the poor lyrics.

"Bitches Crystal" is not bad, too. Relistening to it after long time I think I may have underestimated this B side, as this is still classic ELP. It's possible that my impression is conditioned by the greatness of the epic. Probably inverting the two sides would have been better even though an identically structured album like Pink Floyd's Echoes doesn't make me this effect.

"The Only War" is a song that I had forgotten. Now that I'm listening back to it, I'm surprised of how good it is. I thick I can consider it another ELP classic. "Infinite Space" is quite an instrumental follow-up of the previous song. In my tape memories they were the same song effectively, and I must say that I find this "second part" a bit boring, not so boring to skip it but not a listening pleasure.

"A Time And A Place" is the rock moment of the album and does here what "Living Sin" does on Trilogy. A heavy rock moment which plays its part effectively even if Living Sin is miles better.

If the epic on the A side hasn't helped me in appreciating the B side, a song like "Are You Ready Eddy?" as closer is the worst possible choice as closer. The album ends after this useless piece of RnR leaving the listener astonished. What is this song doing here? Eddy was a guy of the crew in the studio. I have read somewhere that he was eating a sandwich while he was at the mixer and the trio improvised this song as a joke. It should have been a bonus track, or a ghost track if we were in the CD era, but not the album closer.

Saying that a song like Tarkus is non-essential is a crime, but saying that Are You Ready Eddie is an excellent addition is a crime as well. Let's stay on the average rating.

octopus-4 | 3/5 |


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