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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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4 stars Brain Salad Surgery, the fourth album by enormously successful progressive rockers Emerson, Lake and Palmer, is chock full of melodies and riffs that will please fans of the traditional 70s style of progressive rock, or any rock fan in general. The album's centrepiece is the massive 29 minute suite Karn Evil 9, stretched over two sides, with the first part of side one being taken up by some shorter songs:

Jerusalem: This is an adaptation of Hubert Parry's hymn of the same name. This track features fantastic melodies which weave themselves inside your brain, and blistering keyboards that really leave an impression. We can observe Carl Palmer's inventive, signature style of drumming on this song. While only just under 3 minutes long, this track is one of the best on this album.

Toccata: This is Keith Emerson's arrangement of Alberto Ginastera's 1st Piano Concerto. The shining instrument in this song is of course the keyboard, which displays Emerson's technical ability while not sounding too complicated. Palmer's drumming is again fantastic on this song.

Still You Turn Me On: This is one of Greg Lake's signature acoustic ballads that the band is quite well known for. The light guitar picking with the funk-esque electric guitar makes for a short but good 3 minutes that this song lasts for.

Benny the Bouncer: Many people dismiss this song as filler, and I would agree to an extent, but whether it is filler or not, it's not too bad nor too good. Some parts bring The Beatles to mind (the short piano solo made me think of Lady Madonna). There's not too much to say about this song as it only lasts for just over 2 minutes.

Karn Evil 9: This half hour long massive suite is split up into 4 sections (1st Impression Pt. 1, 1st Impression Pt. 2, 2nd Impression and 3rd Impression). Because of this I will split up my review of this track into the individual sections.

1st Impression Pt. 1: Opening with classic Keith Emerson keys, the song launches into a typical-ELP-sounding verse. After a couple of minutes there is a keyboard solo, afterwards the song continues into how the song started, with the verse and the "I'll be there, I'll be there, I will be there" line. There is a keyboard riff that can be found throughout the whole song that is introduced around here. Instrumental mayhem follows in the section with the line "See the show!" with all instruments going crazy, but still keeping to the melodic structure of the song. We have a fairly decent guitar solo at around the 7:00 mark, and the song continues in the same fashion until the end of the 1st Impression Pt. 1.

1st Impression Pt.2: This opens with the classic line: "Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends," giving an impression of a carnival or show. In fact, the name "Karn Evil 9" was chosen as the title for this track because someone reported that the music sounded 'carnival-like'. The music kicks off sounding quite similar to the preceding section, with the "See the show!" section that was featured in the 1st Impression Pt. 1 following keyboard, guitar and drum solos around the 12:00 minute mark of the song.

2nd Impression: This section is dramatically different than the previous parts of the song, opening with a jazzy piano, bass and drum part. The 'soloing' kind of sound, where there doesn't seem to be a clear structure, continues for the next few minutes. There is a very quiet part that follows this, with just a bass and piano, sounding quite jazzy. The rest of the 2nd Impression continues in an improvisational sound.

3rd Impression: Here we are presented with a return to the traditional ELP sound that was absent in the 2nd Impression. Sweet sounding melodies, interwoven with the classic Keith Emerson keyboard sound is a short way to describe this. If you've heard their track Tarkus, then it would be a good comparison to say that it's quite similar to Tarkus, except compressed into half the length.

Something that really stands out on this album is the skill of the musicians. All members have their moments to shine and show the listener how talented they are. The songwriting is fantastic apart from a few minor flaws.

The stand out track would of course be Karn Evil 9, as it contains anything that you could ask from ELP, but I'd like to give a special mention to Jerusalem, which I would perhaps say is my favourite song on the whole album (although on another day I'd say Karn Evil 9).

Overall: This is a great album by Emerson, Lake and Palmer; not entirely flawless, but still absolutely good enough to buy. 4/5

zeqexes | 4/5 |


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