Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Emerson Lake & Palmer - Brain Salad Surgery CD (album) cover


Emerson Lake & Palmer

Symphonic Prog

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
4 stars This was the album which made ELP a household name. If you hadn't bought an album by them before, you certainly grabbed this one. It was released the same day as "Tales from Topographic Oceans" by Yes and I remember the local record shop selling copies of each album to every discerning rock fan from two big stacks on the front desk ( them were the days). Personally I thought the track "Benny the Bouncer" let the side down and the vocal passages of "Karn Evil 9" went on too long. Nevertheless, a powerfull album which surpassed "Trilogy" released in the same year. Strangely, the album did not include the track "Brain Salad Surgery" which was eventually given away free as a floppy vinyl seven inch single with one of the leading music magazines at time (I think it was New Musical Express). ......."Brain salad surgery works for you'll work for me-ee"
Report this review (#14360)
Posted Saturday, January 10, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars The first LP I ever bought - with the original Giger Gatefold sleeve and poster - I still have it! Lp still sounds good. Karn Evil 9 in all its glory is a masterpiece, though Greg Lakes overblown delivery and some very dodgy (very) early synthesized vocals let it down. However the track run out on the original 1st Impression (and into the 2nd Impression) on side two of the vinyl LP cannot be beaten!!
Report this review (#14363)
Posted Sunday, January 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars You know when you get the feeling that a band was before their time? Well, by hearing carefully these guys, you get that feeling all over this BRILLANT album. Those guys can SERIOUSLY play. Even if you don't like the keyboard-based type of prog, this record set the bar very high and commands respect from 0:00 'till the end. Jerusalem is somewhat a reprise from an English patriotic song. It's powerful, pompous and could be classified as an anthem. I don't care what poeple are saying, I like Benny the Bouncer. It's funny, and the accent of Lake is very pronounced (sounds like Coronation Street, but meaner). Is there another thing to say about Karn Evil 9? Well, the first 2 and a half minute are crazy. It's like two poeple fighting over a church organ. Buy it and play it LOUD, loud is important sometimes. It is now. THE album you must get from ELP and unfortunately...the only one.
Report this review (#14366)
Posted Wednesday, February 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
2 stars 2,5 stars because it is a peak in progressive rfock in its own way , but I'm not sure this is a positive way. Most ELP fans vote for this one as their fave album and it is easy to see why. Apart from the stunning fold-out artwork sleeve , there are IMO some major flaws with this album.

This is the album where ELP goes overboard as Yes did with Tales Of Topographic Ocean or Jethro Tull with A Passion Play. I believe that ELP was still faithfull to themselves as they did this album with great care but probably were too confident that they could do no wrong. But they did!!Karn Evil 9 is , of course the highlight but I find it over-long, intently difficult and relatively obtuse in purpose and self-importance - (Welcome Back My Friend To The Show That Never Ends) - surely this track never ends. I also hate the fake carrib steel drums (and if they are real , I hate them also) in the third movement. Toccata is another of the re-working the classics and Bouncer is yet another ragtime piece - Boooring!!! Actually the only thing I can still ear is the Lake-penned Still, You Turn Me On - the obvious commercial track.

Best avoid starting with this album as this might put off the newcomers. In itself this is still a classic but to me , this is not essential and rarely listen to it .

Report this review (#14367)
Posted Thursday, February 5, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars this is my favorite one by ELP, Karn Evil 9 is one of the most amazing songs ever. It's epic it's simply great. three impressions of fabulous music. You've got to listen to this. We have also four shorter songs on the album, form those Jerusaslem is probably the best. It's glorious. Buy this CD if you don't have it.
Report this review (#14368)
Posted Friday, February 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Bring me my arrows of desire

Many fans see this as ELP's finest hour. The main feature is "Karn Evil 9", a piece in three "Movements" which occupies part of side 1,and all of side 2 of the album. There is in fact little to connect the three movements, each being a distinctive piece on its own. The "First Movement" is sub-split into two parts, leading to the "Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends" intro to side 2 of the LP. This effect is of course lost on the CD version. I often wonder at the fact that, if you listen to the melody and counter melody played by Emerson and Lake on this track they bear no apparent relation to each other. When combined however, it works perfectly.

The "Second movement" is an instrumental featuring the percussion skills of Carl Palmer. Thankfully, he refrains from subjecting us to a drum solo opting instead for a Caribbean steel drum sound, but for me this, along with "Toccata" is the weakest part of the album. The "Third movement" is pure ELP prog at its best. The track is vaguely reminiscent of Pink Floyd's "Welcome to the machine", Lake is in fine form vocally and lyrically, complementing Emerson's superb synthesiser work.

Whether "Karn Evil 9" stands well a complete piece in three parts is a matter for debate. For me, the three movements are individual pieces, which do not require to be heard together, and bear no relation to each other. Fine music nonetheless.

The rest of the album is made up of short tracks. It opens with a strange choice, a faithful adaptation of the hymn "Jerusalem". This does not sound quite as out of place as might be expected, and makes for a spirited start. Another standout track is the mainly acoustic "Still you turn me on", which spurned the oft quoted (in ridicule) lyric "Every day a little sadder, a little madder, someone get me a ladder". I love the synthesiser at the end of this track, the solo could easily have been 2 or 3 times as long.

This is indeed a mighty album, which finds ELP working at their peak as a coherent unit. It is interesting that the title track only appeared on a floppy single given away with a magazine at the time, being officially released for the first time on "Works volume 2".

The original LP was nicely presented in a fold out sleeve, although I understand the image was toned down from that originally planned.

Report this review (#14399)
Posted Tuesday, March 2, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars The Source of inspirations. I heard it first time abt 25 years ago and It still turns me on. Its one of the tree EL&P records (tarkus,trilogy and this one) which makes life worth living. I would like to see some day on dvd, how was this record made, as we´ve seen " making of the dark side of the moon " by pink floyd.
Report this review (#14400)
Posted Thursday, March 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well it's a pity for the excessive bombastic experimentations and technological effects of "Toccata" too, but for sure the impact and influence as well regarding this work could make this one a "5 stars album"; I'm a bit sorry for the long duration of the excellent suite "Karn Evil 9", which is becoming more and more prolix after a repetitive listening, above all the second part.. Anyway the rest is enriched with some interesting solos taken from Ginastera and the beautiful epic theme of "Jerusalem" as well, another adaptation, arranged in a remarkable way!! "Still ... you turn me on" is a typical ballad according to Greg Lake's romantic style; instead "Benny the Bouncer" is a classic jazz arrangement by EMERSON, where Carl PALMER can show his ability at his jazzy drumming, reminding us of the exceptional work by Buddy Rich, his tutor and great friend too, with the B.R. Orchestra ...

Highly recommended!! But before this one, listen to the incomparable "Pictures at an Exhibition", their famous adaptation from Mussorgsky

Report this review (#14350)
Posted Thursday, April 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This record is the best of the ELP's albums. It is definitely an exhibition of 3 virtuosos: Emerson shows us that he is the master of the Hammond organ, and that he outstandingly masters the piano and the heroic polyphonic synthesizer. Carl Palmer gives a solid fast & complex performance on drums: I think he is at his best here. Lake's excellent voice and the overall sound are enhanced by a subtle and fresh echo; Lake's bass is complex enough to support well the very exigent keyboards & drums. One can recognize some parts here from which the band Triumvirat was inspired to make their "Spartacus" and "Pompeii" albums. The album has an obvious jazz tendency, as revealed by fast and complex piano & drums parts. The interesting thing is that, despite the outstanding technical performance, the tracks are really accessible, melodic and very structured. Unlike "Tarkus", this album mostly is not experimental.

The epic "Karn Evil" is just quintessential, full of changing moods. On the other side, the tracks are shorter and may be very addictive, like the catchy "Jerusalem". Unfortunately, "Toccata" is the weak point of this album: it is VERY experimental: this dark track is not catchy at all, it does not shine like the other ones, despite the instruments are still perfectly played. "Still... you turn me on" has excellent acoustic guitar parts and it is very accessible and catchy, still remaining quite elaborated. The odd "Benny the bouncer" does not fit very well with the other tracks, although the saloon piano, the unrefined vocals and the funny mood are likeable.

Modern bands like Pallas and Asia have similar epic keyboards elements; so, for 1973, this was huge!

Rating: 4.5 stars

Report this review (#14351)
Posted Thursday, April 8, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well, a lot has been said about this album already, so I'll keep it brief... first off, "Toccata" is the most aggressive and pummeling piece of prog music ever to hit vinyl. Forget King Crimson (I love them, but they are not "aggressive" to me, just distorted!), forget all your metal bands -- ELP are the real deal, and "Toccata" is their brain buster. This was the piece of music that turned me on to this album and to ELP in general, and still I've never found anything that challenges its throne as king destroyer. One of the greatest musical expressions to come out of prog music. "Jerusalem" is stately and wonderful, "Still... You Turn Me On" is beautiful, and "Benny The Bouncer" is (eventually) delightful, in a retarded kind of way. Then there's "Karn Evil 9" -- one of the greatest prog workouts of all time! The third impression with its robot voices and crazy synth effects will always be a personal favorite of mine, and Carl Palmer is simply a spectacle to behold all throughout. Although slightly less cohesive, "Karn Evil" rates up there with "The Ikon" (by Utopia) in terms of being the most action-packed 30 minute epic prog masterpiece. What more can I say, this is a total no-brainer for prog fanatics -- you must own this album, and if you don't like it, go see a doctor and find out what's wrong with you.
Report this review (#14352)
Posted Friday, April 9, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Somewhere in a corner of cyberspace a debate rages on concerning ELP's best album: "Trilogy", "Tarkus", "Brain Salad Surgery"? I tend to side with "Trilogy", though at the same time concede that "Karn Evil 9" is the band's greatest achievement. It may be that Brain lacks the control of a "Trilogy", the innocence of a "Tarkus", instead surrendering to decadent arrangements that embrace chaos as a friend in the ultimate end. There's the sense throughout "Brain.." that ELP was trying their best to be confrontational, from the sloppy presentation of "Benny The Bouncer" to the subversive synthesizers used on "Toccata". Even the electric guitars on "Still. You Turn Me On" are more jarring than they should be. As good as those songs are (and "Jerusalem" is even better), they fall by the wayside when "Karn Evil 9" winds its way into view.

Emboldened with the power of Peter Sinfield's lyrics, ELP seeks to usurp the crown from a distracted KING CRIMSON with this intense, epic spectacle. The circus sideshow imagery played perfectly to the band's instrumental freak quotient: Lake's guitars arched high in heroic calls, Palmer's drums spilling improbably from both speakers, Emerson sounding like an inspired church organist one moment and coaxing a bold new world from his synthesizers the next. Strange happenings and busy goings-on from every corner. While it failed to coalesce like "Trilogy", "Brain"'s ability to layer levels of flash is itself a grand accomplishment; by the end of "Karn Evil 9" we're teetering at the tip of a huge mountain of excess, dangerously high above the earth and due to topple at any moment. When the inevitable fall comes, it's no less than the fall of mankind. It's easy to understand why some champion this "Brain...", as it's easily ELP's most superlative album. The band thrived by excess, and died by it years later, so it's tempting to make this exhibit A in the show.

But "Tarkus" bespoke the band's promise better, "Trilogy" fused the different parts into a sublime whole, while "Brain.." marked the beautiful (and equally tragic) point of no return. It's an absolutely fascinating train wreck to watch, however, and a true gemini of what's right and wrong with prog rock.

Report this review (#14361)
Posted Saturday, April 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Much good work here, especially on the enormous Karn Evil 9. The problem with the album is that it's so cold and synthetic - the sleeve captures the spitit well. Even Greg Lake's accustic piece Still... you turn me on sounds lifeless. And it's not just the production. I think the root of the problem is that the band is taking itself far too seriously. I'd say the four stars are on the weak side. And why on earth, on the CD release, do we still have to live with the fade in/fade out in the middle of Karn Evil 9, 1:st impression, forced on us by the limitations of vinyl?
Report this review (#14372)
Posted Sunday, May 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars You can have progressive rock with ideas.You can have progressive rock with great playing.You can have progressive rock with a sense of fun.Ladies and Gentleman I give you Emerson,Lake and Palmer.It's flashy for sure and pompous and Ok while I'm at it,it's also Pretentious.Yes the dreaded 'P' word.A band that refuses to recognise its own limits will always go too far.And ELP did.BUT not before producing this bundle of eclectic brilliance.Put simply you have the world's greatest prog keyboardist and the world's greatest drummer going through their paces and at the peak of their enormous powers.It could have all gone horribly wrong (and actually it did eventually) but Greg Lake maintains the steadying influence that keeps the juggernaut on the road.But admittedly the signs of future strife between the members of this celebrated trio was already apparent and this was ,sadly , to be their last great album before the decline set in.Oh well.ELP were a comet that burnt brighly in the prog constellation for a short time and 'Surgery is the evidence of that.
Report this review (#14409)
Posted Monday, May 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars The best album ever made....From the glory and majesty of Jerusalem to the chaotic Toccata to the ease and beauty of Still You Turn me on; this album is the true description of masterpiece. And completing the package is the incredible Karn Evil 9, 1st, 2nd and 3rd Impressions that sum up what it means to be a truly talented and awe inspiring rock band.
Report this review (#14374)
Posted Wednesday, June 9, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars In the early 1970s, when Emerson, Lake and Palmer were at the height of their creativity and popularity, it was still somewhat of a novelty to hear a synthesizer. Synth recordings such as Walter (now Wendy) Carlos' SWITCHED ON BACH and SWITCHED ON SANTA were bestsellers, and my older sister and I would listen to the electronic drums on the Doors' "The Wasp," and the synth passage in ELP's "From the Beginning" (which she had on 45 -- remember those?) over and over again, fascinated by the other-worldly sound of the new keyboard. Along with synth pioneers like Carlos, J. M. Jarre and Tangerine Dream, Keith Emerson was a leading explorer and master of the still-evolving instrument, which features very heavily on BRAIN SALAD SURGERY. (The album's unusual title comes from a British euphemism for a particular sexual act -- enough said!)

Though I regard this disc as an undeniable five-star milestone and "masterpiece of progressive rock," the novelty of synth-driven music has long since faded, and therefore, for many, "BSS" (and the music of ELP in general) may not have stood the test of time as strongly as other important, but less synth-dominated prog albums of the era. One hears precious little overt use of the instrument on the radio these days. (I suspect, in fact, that many younger music fans and bands find the heavy use of synths to be rather old-fashioned, if not downright "corny.") Today, the synthesizer is mainly found in the background, relegated to imparting "atmosphere," and rarely taking the lead.

Thus, newcomers to progressive rock may, after a cursory listen, tend to dismiss the music of Emerson, Lake and Palmer as "dated." This would be a pity, because the trio released some great albums in their heyday, of which BRAIN SALAD SURGERY -- as most ELP fans will concur -- may well be their best.

In addition to the dominant presence of keyboard whiz Emerson, bassist and singer Greg Lake has an impressive voice that was well-suited to the new, somewhat grandiose music that was prog. Lake's vocals had played a major role in making the first two King Crimson albums the memorable, groundbreaking efforts that they were, and his singing is again in top form on this session.

Drummer Carl Palmer was also an essential component of the unique ELP equation (he still scores very well in "best prog drummer" polls on the Archives Forums), and his accomplished work is nothing short of magnificent here.

Musicianship aside, BRAIN SALAD SURGERY's five songs are all quite strong, at least for my tastes. "Jerusalem" is an effective, even moving presentation of the classic William Blake poem/English hymn, and the adaptation of Ginastera's "Toccata" provides ample evidence of both Emerson's estimable synth skills, and Palmer's prowess behind the drum kit. (As a sci-fi devouring teen, I always envisioned scenes of futuristic "War of the Worlds" style battle to accompany this piece, and it still evokes such images for me to this day. "Still...You Turn Me On," while my least favourite here, is nonetheless a solid Lake ballad/love song, and often a particular hit with the fairer sex (as well as prog-playing, would-be Lotharios and Casanovas!) The humourous "Benny the Bouncer," with its precise brushed snare, pseudo-ragtime piano, breaking glass, and Pete Sinfield (early Crimson lyricist) tale of a fatal barroom brawl, is an amusing change of pace, and a two-minute showcase for the band's versatility and marked willingness to inject some humour into an oft-times rather pompous musical form.

Like other reviewers before me, however, I reserve my highest praise for the near thirty-minute "Karn Evil Nine." This terrific suite contains some of the group's most outstanding music, and convincingly elevates what might otherwise have been an average ELP album to the lofty status of "masterpiece." The Lake and Sinfield lyrics, which depict a jaded, decadent environmentally-devastated and computer-ruled future, are, in retrospect, almost visionary, and Emerson and Palmer's piano and percussion on the "1st Impression-Part 2," in particular, are especially good.

Overall then, BRAIN SALAD SURGERY is my favourite ELP album, and one of the more important early recordings of the genre. Essential for any comprehensive progressive rock collection!

Report this review (#14376)
Posted Saturday, June 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This represents Emerson, Lake & Palmer at their very best! What a phenomenal album! Brain Salad Surgery is the very definition of what "Progressive Rock Music" really is. Wonderfully written, masterfully performed and superbly recorded. (The very best Hammond Organ sounds that I've ever heard can be found on the Brain Salad Surgery album.) Keith Emerson's keyboard work is absolutely astounding. Lake and Palmer are equally as impressive... and the blending of these three ingenious talents makes for a monumental listening experience. In my opinion, if you own just one ELP album... it's gotta be Brain Salad Surgery. A true masterpiece!
Report this review (#14377)
Posted Thursday, July 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Favourite record of my favourite band, technicaly maybe the best musicians in the recent music history. Totally inspired, this album starts with the very beautifull religious hymn "Jerusalem". Toccata probably is one of most agressive and strange songs in the progressive world. Still you turn me on is the classic ballad. Benny the bouncer is a jazz piece that no other band did and i cannot understand why some people dont like this song. Karn evil 9 is a surreal masterpiece and i believe that so soon it won´t be repeated in the human history, this song could have been done by beethoven or mozart in the past. An album linked with mars, and if no one else on earth enjoied it, i would. Seven stars to you.
Report this review (#14378)
Posted Wednesday, August 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars What can I say about this album that hasn't been said 100 times over? IT'S A CLASSIC!!!! It moved me when I was 14; and %*&^* years later it still moves me. The most futuristic album, and album cover, in the universe. From Parry's majestic setting of Blake's iconoclastic 'Jerusalem, and Emerson's death-defying arrangement of Ginastero's 'Toccata', complete with the Carl Palmer's arresting (and highly futuristic) drum solo, to the atmospheric 'Still you turn me on' (Did someone get Greg a ladder? Let's hope so.) and the wonderful bar room brawl that is 'Benny the Bouncer' - Ah, the piano playing- this album delivers the goods. And then comes KARN EVIL 9! The most intensely crazy, futuristic, song ever written. This piece is so futuristic it had to come in "impressions" THREE OF 'EM! The first impression is one of the most high-energy pieces of rock music ever invented. The ridiculous complexity of the introduction, alone, should be enough to convince you that these guys were CRAZY SONS OF BITCHES! I mean, who in their right mind would want to attempt to play those opening bars without a safety net? Not me! The 1st impression moves along a warp factor 8 until we reach IMPRESSION No 2., then we move along at warp factor ten for a bit. This features Emerson's octane-fuelled piano playing. Things slow down considerably for the first half of impression No2. Never has the passing of time been so eloquently and atmospherically described in music as it is here --Man these guys were futuristic. The 2nd impression ends with more warp factor 10, virtuoso piano playing from Emerson. Then, suddenly, we're in outer space, some time in the future (I told you this album was futuristic) and there's a battle to be fought. Yes, the 3rd impression has begun: mighty and majestic fanfares fill the void of infinite space (Thankfully the captain of the spaceship remember to take a Hammond organ on board) while the ship computer starts getting lippy with the crew . Dark forces are, indeed, at work. (Meanwhile John Williams was ripping off some of the music for inclusion in his score for 'Star Wars').

Earthling: "But I gave you life" Computer: "WHAT ELSE COULD YOU DO" Earthling: "To do what was right" Computer: "I'M PERFECT ARE YOU?"

Report this review (#14379)
Posted Thursday, August 5, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Sublime! Great progressive rock! This is Emerson, Lake, and Palmer's masterpiece. Some people might be turned off by the vaudvillian number "Benny the Bouncer" but even that dosen't slow this album down. This is a tight, well produced, well played album. Karn Evil 9 is just awesome. It is probably their greatest work. Tocatta is awesome as well. Jerusalem and Still... you turn me on aren't the greatest they have put out but they are still very good songs. I can listen to the album straight through. I find my self air bassing to Karn at every listen. If you only buy 2 Emerson Lake and Palmer albums make it their first one and this one. If you only buy one, make it this one.
Report this review (#14380)
Posted Sunday, September 5, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Frankly speaking here we have a very good album. ELP makes the difference spanning from jazz to electronic, passing through ballads and piano bar jokes guaranteed to make you dream for a while...Emerson plays everything, Lake is an incredible bassist and only skilled musicians are able to understand his skills on the fretboard. Only Palmer seems a little bit "compressed" among these giants, his drums is not good as in the previous albums. In 1973 this album kicked the ass to every progressive band...the sound is so fresh, the musical contents shows many original, these boys well knew what they did. Nothing was left out..."Someone get me a ladder" is a real fact they were so high that nobody could sweep over their great musical brains!! Preferred song is "Jerusalem" (pure melody) and the final movement of the suite "Karn evil 9"..but it's not easy to choose among these songs. ELP is ELP (like Emerson said in a interview)...and ELP plays all the music.
Report this review (#14381)
Posted Wednesday, September 8, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Every Progressive Rock fan will admit that ELP is one of the fundamental and most influential bands of the genre, but strangely it's also one of the most controversial, they are accused of being pompous in this album (and in their whole career) what in fact is true, but I can't understand how any Prog' fan can be afraid of this word when the whole genre is absolutely pompous.

The band is also accused of making Brain Salad Surgery too loud, what is also accurate, but who said loud is wrong? I know at least 100 louder albums that are considered masterpieces by the same people who blame ELP for this reason.

So, the two main accusations are true, but precisely the pomp and loudness of the music are two of the main reasons why Brain Salad Surgery is a masterpiece and one of the milestones of Progressive Rock. At the end, this genre should be search of extreme music that defies time and mainstream, but only a few bands like ELP dared to go so far as in this album.

In 1972 ELP released the successful Trilogy and few people expected they could compose any album as great as this one, but they did it and very soon, Brain Salad Surgery is at least as good as Trilogy but with the addition of Karn Evil 9 as the peak of ELP's creativity.

I believe no other prog' band ever attempted to start an album supposedly original with two covers, but ELP did it without loosing their unique sound and style in the process of re-creating two well known musical pieces as Jerusalem and Toccata.

Jerusalem is a traditional hymn composed in 1916 by Hubert Parry using the lyrics of an 1804-1820 Sir William Blake's poem, but never before or even after Brain Salad Surgery there's been such a unique adaptation, so different to any other one that when I listen the original hymn I can't stop thinking there's something wrong because it doesn't sounds like the ELP version.

Something similar happens with Toccata but in this case the loud adaptation by ELP of the Carlos Ginastera classic received the blessing of the author, who shouted "Diabolic!! No one has been able to capture my music like that before! It's exactly the way I hear it myself!" when Keith Emerson asked his permission to release the track.

The touch of romanticism is supplied by "Still You Turn Me On", a powerful and extremely beautiful ballad by Greg Lake, which became one of the most popular songs of the trio. It's interesting to notice that in this "so called" simple track, the keyboards, wah-wah and acoustic guitar alternate to create a special and complex sound.

Even the simpler song of the album "Benny The Bouncer" has a reason to be recorded in way it was, in this case the track provides a bit of relief and comedy to a complex album, not a masterpiece but funny and inspired. Who said serious musicians can't have sense of humor?

But of course the main track of Brain Salad Surgery and all ELP's career is Karn Evil 9, a 30 minutes sci-fi track that redefines the word epic, because even we all know it's one whole song separated because of the limitations of the LP format, but each part is different and absolutely unique, something not common in epics.

There's almost nothing I can write about Keith Emerson, Greg Lake and Carl Palmer that haven't been said before, only will add that for the first time in their career they are absolutely impeccable along the whole album, especially because Brain Salad Surgery doesn't have a single filler or weak moment, it's the closest any musician can be to perfection.

Again I will accept that Brain Salad Surgery is loud and pompous, but I wouldn't change a chord or a single note, it's recorded exactly the way it should be.

Five solid stars for an absolutely essential masterpiece of prog' rock.

Report this review (#14383)
Posted Sunday, September 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is really somewhere between 3.5 stars and a full 4 stars, really. Perhaps 3.75 stars?

You know, again, I didn't give this a fair chance. It comes off as pretentious, and occaisionally just pointless, but it's not bad. In fact it contains some very good music, but then again it has some worse stuff as well. Let's look:

"Jerusalem" is an okay song. It is very, as previously stated, pretentious, its lyrics are taken from a hymn! Not my favorite on the album, but not my least favorite either. The main focus on this song it seems would be the drums of Carl PALMER, whose intricate and speedy drumwork shows up even EMERSON, whose keyboards seem to be just pinning down keys. "Toccata" is a very good song, mainly consisting of thudding percussion and keyboards. It's very avant-garde, a reinterpritation of some Ginastera's First Piano Concerto. I don't pretend to know who he is, but in any case ELP's version is very good, and highly recommended.

"Still...You Turn Me On" is a mediocre love song. Probably my least favorite here, actually. LAKE's guitar sounds a bit like Steve HACKETT in places, and some wah in other places. Ho-hum, not too much special. "Benny the Bouncer" is another out-of-place tune, but this one is easier to swallow. It is really my favorite of the first four songs that have lyrics, as a short, fast, bar piano number in a weird 30s style that is much more successful than the other bar piano joke "Jeremy Bender" on "Tarkus."

Now we come to the best song on the album which is, of course, "Karn Evil 9 (First Impression)". From start to finish it is an instant classic. Parts one and two are equally good. If you buy this album, buy it for this song. The second impression is a big instrumental track, and a fairly good one too. Nothing breathtaking, but worth a listen. The third impression is a bit awkward, with the computer voice and cliched "man vs. machine" situation. Very pretentious, and the concept is fairly laughable and overdone. But after a second look, the music is phenomenal, ending in a big, spiraling moog loop sped up and up until it explodes. A great song, just ignore the lyrics.

This is the first prog album which had tracks not thouroughly enjoyable after a few listens and attempts to understand them. But where it lacks in some places, it makes up for in others, especially "Toccata" and the first impression of "Karn Evil 9." Suggested for those who don't mind pretentiousness.

Report this review (#14384)
Posted Wednesday, September 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Hymns are usually written so as to be catchy and easy to sing, to enable the Faithful to belt them out in church. The English hymn 'Jerusalem' is probably the epitome of the formula: whenever it is sung, it is with gusto. It is not popular in Anglican churches these days, probably due to the dated lyrics written circa 1804 by the poet and painter William Blake 1757-1827 (not the painter Sir William Blake Richmond, by the way, who lived 1842-1921), which these days are considered by some to be pompous and silly. They are! However it should be appreciated that the lyrics date from a bygone era. Blake's words were set to music by Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry in 1916. Anyway, the hymn has always been a favourite of mine and I was therefore delighted to find that ELP had chosen to include it on the album. Actually, this adaptation is very faithful and respectful. Lake belts out the words, Emerson's Hammond of course sounds ecclesiastical (but not excessively) and Palmer's drumming is very evident. A wonderful, rousing song with a great tune.

'Toccata', an adaptation of the Argentinean composer Alberto Ginastera's Piano Concerto No. 1 Opus 28, 4th Movement (Toccata concertata), is an amazing piece of rock music. Emerson's novel arrangement of this piano and orchestral work is perfect. In 1973 he visited Ginastera at his home in Geneva to seek his approval of the modern adaptation. There are a number of versions of this encounter. As Emerson recounted it in the sleeve notes of the Rhino Records re-issue of the album, on hearing the first five or six bars Ginastera exclaimed "Diabolic!" and, after rewinding the tape and listening to it until the end, said "That's incredible! You've captured the essence of my music, and nobody's ever done that before." If you listen to Ginastera's original work for piano and orchestra you'll hear that it is an excellent, frenetic piece and that ELP has done it justice. Emerson's stabbing keyboard playing and Palmer's varied and expert percussion (including drum synthesizers for the first time) work perfectly. The ELP version is a serious piece of music in all senses of the word. Fabulous, amazing, disturbing, you name it. I really like this piece of music.

'Still..You Turn Me On' is a lovely Lake ballad about unrequited, intense love, and is very good melodically and lyrically. Emerson's lovely accordion, harpsichord and synthesizer accompany Lake's acoustic guitar during the verses and he lets loose some waddling, fat synthesizer at the end of each refrain. Lake's lyrics immediately stand out: "Every day a little sadder, a little madder, someone get me a ladder." I like this song very much.

'Benny The Bouncer' is ELP's usual jokey track providing the light relief on the album. It reminds me of 'Jeremy Bender' and 'Are You Ready Eddy' on "Tarkus", and of 'The Sheriff' on "Trilogy". As usual we have Emerson's honky-tonk barroom piano in places, with Palmer's drum brushes and cymbals. It gives me the impression of a 1920's London East End pub skiffle, especially with Lake's exaggerated Cockney accent used throughout most of the track ('is Laaandon accent's doin me 'ed in, mate). Sinfield's lyrics are amusing and clever, purposely irreverent and extremely violent. The last verse is a real hoot: "Well they dragged him from the wreckage of the Palais in bits. They tried to stick together all the bits that would fit. But some of him was missing and "part of him" arrived too late, so now he works for Jesus as the bouncer at St. Peter's gate."

And then comes the album's pièce de résistance, 'Karn Evil 9' in three parts: 1st, 2nd and 3rd Impressions, totalling just over 29 and a half minutes of excellent music. According to Sinfield's Web site and the sleeve notes of the Victory Music CD, he helped with the lyrics on the 1st and 3rd Impressions (the 2nd Impression is an instrumental). However, the booklet with the Rhino Records CD only credits Sinfield for the 3rd Impression - I suppose in error.

The lengthy 1st Impression was originally split into two in order to fit onto an LP (there was a fade-out on Side A and, on Side B, a fade-in with Lake announcing the famous words "Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends."). The fade-out no longer exists on the CD, but the tinkling keyboards and tambourine 'intermission' at that point in the singing remains. Personally, it's a relief that I don't have to turn over an LP anymore: I hated the interruption. The 1st Impression is full of power, with Lake belting out the lyrics with feeling in his usual clear tenor. The lyrics of the first part are very poetic and full of angst, and then they switch to the jokey, mocking circus-style caller that this album is probably most famous for: "Step inside! Hello! We've the most amazing show". The lyrics of this section are also excellent: again irreverent in places, and sometimes cynical. This really bops along and is a really catchy piece of music. Another great track.

The 2nd Impression starts off fairly sedately with Palmer's drumming and Emerson on piano sounding almost jazzy. Then they up tempo and it becomes quite funky, with Emerson's synthesizer sounding like Caribbean steel drums. The piano then becomes the predominant instrument with Palmer's drumming in support, going through a very quiet period and then upping tempo and becoming jazzy again. I enjoy the 2nd Impression but it is not as exciting as the 1st and 3rd Impression.

The 3rd Impression kicks off with Emerson's synthesiser sounding like a clarion call, with Hammond and Moog used throughout the futuristic-sounding track. It is initially reminiscent of a military drinking song, then it becomes apparent that this is the oft-told tale of mankind being overrun by machines of its own making. A computer robot-voice, sounding rather like a Dalek from the 1960s and 70s UK TV series Dr Who, confirms the accession at the end of the track. Given that in 1973 when this album was released computers were the size of large rooms, with ferromagnetic core memory, magnetic tape storage and punch-card data entry, this album is all the more pioneering. The band were using electronic instruments (albeit analogue) producing very futuristic sounds and with a very sci-fi feel to the music. Even the cover art by Swiss painter and sculptor H.R. Giger is very sci-fi in style, and appropriate given the feel of 'Toccata' and 'Karn Evil 9'. Several years later Giger's 'biomechanical' art was used for the sci-fi film Alien, illustrating that the band was indeed at the forefront of the new.

The LP I bought in 1973 is long since gone but, if I remember correctly, the front cover - a darker 'metal block' with a central hole - was a gatefold which opened to reveal the amazing pale grey face of a beautiful woman with eyes closed, sensuous lips and 'hair' looking like some form of multi-vertebral marine worm, that face now appearing on the back page of the Victory Music CD sleeve. Giger used his wife (who later committed suicide) as the model. The size of a CD case does not do the cover art justice, although the front cover of the so-called jewel case of the Rhino Records re-release is ridged like those 3D postcards and, if rocked, shows an image as if the gatefold were being opened and closed. Still, it's no substitute for the LP cover. Apparently there was a penis airbrushed up the woman's neck, with the glans just below her chin. I never noticed this on the cover of the LP I bought in 1973, and only read about this recently. Now that I look at the Victory Music CD, what appears to be a glans penis does indeed appear below the woman's chin, in the circle framed by the dark metal block on the cover, although nothing is to be seen on the complete picture of the woman's face on the back of the sleeve. I would be interested to find an original LP cover to find out if I was just not seeing the obvious all those years ago. By the way, according to the booklet with the Rhino Records re-release, the album title came from the lyrics of the 1973 DR JOHN hit 'Right Place, Wrong Time'. Apparently the album's title was (is?) a British euphemism for fellatio.

Well, ELP are famous for their musical excesses: bombastic, pompous, flamboyant, call the music what you will, ELP were the supreme showmen in a musical genre where pretentiousness and showmanship reigned. And this album is the culmination of their flamboyance. Whilst it is not my favourite ELP album ("Tarkus" has that distinction) and I find it has lost some of its lustre and excitement for me over the last 30 years, it is still an excellent, impressive album, pioneering for its time, and is in my mind unquestionably a masterpiece of the Progressive Rock genre. It's darn good music by three consummate musicians. Five stars and my apologies for such a long review.

Report this review (#14387)
Posted Wednesday, October 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This was my introduction to ELP, and what is regarded as their best work.

The edition that i bought includes insightful liner notes and interviews with Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, and Carl Palmer at the end of the CD. The cover sports a 3D version of H. R. Giger's sinister artwork.

"Jerusalem", a traditional Anglican hymn, opens the set. Apparently, they got heat for doing a "rock" version of it by some purists. This follows "Toccota", a variation on a piano concerto by Alberto Ginastera. Their rendition features lots of eerie sounds from Keith's keyboards and Carl playing drums with computerized gadgetry. ELP were way ahead of their times back in 1973! This cut almost didn't make the album, as they had to pay a personal visit to the composer Ginastera who complimented this piece by declaring it "diabolic"! "Still You Turn Me On" is a nice acoustic track by Greg and features him on a wah-wah pedal. "Benny the Bouncer" is a cute vaudevillian number about a big bully who messes with the wrong guy and features some fine honkey tonk piano by Keith.

"Karn Evil 9" is a 3 part suite which features some lyrical help from Peter Sinfield (a King Cimson alumnist). The 1st Impression Part 1 starts out with promise ("I will be there, to heal your sorrow, to beg and borrow") and winds up in spectacle (moving onto Part 2, which many of you know as "Welcome Back My Friends to the Show that Never Ends"). The 2nd Impression is a Latino jazz piece (piano and steel drums). In the 3rd Impression, computers have taken over society ("Load your program, I am yourself") and are seen as Big Brother. It's funny how true their prophecy has become!

If you've never heard this masterpiece in its entirety, you're in for a big surprise!

Report this review (#14390)
Posted Friday, November 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Three years after their formation, Emerson, Lake and Palmer successfully infused elements of classical and jazz into their dynamic and eclectic repertoire. Which each album, ELP ambitiously raised the bar, pushed the envelope and defied convention -- effectively becoming rock and roll trailblazers in the truest sense of the word. And while the critics of the day called their music pretentious and pompous - millions of music fans recognized the proficiency and genius behind the distinctive progressive rock power trio. With Brain Salad Surgery, their fourth album of original material, the splendor and virtuosity behind ELP fell perfectly into place.

Re-released in a number of different formats - most recently as one of the first DVD- Audio albums from the Warner Music Group (WMG) - Brain Salad Surgery would be the most collaborative effort of ELP's career. From the noble opening notes of "Jerusalem," a traditional British anthem with lyrics by poet William Blake, Brain Salad Surgery assumes a rather majestic affectation. Typical of each ELP release, there is a classical interpretation - an adaptation of Alberto Ginastera's 1st Piano Concerto, 4th Movement, entitled "Toccata." Dominated by electronic drums and percussion synthesizers -- developed specifically for the piece -- ELP's arrangements reliably maintain a beleaguered sense of tradition within their own monumental spins. Before all hell breaks loose, we get the obligatory Greg Lake acoustical number, "Still.You Turn Me On." The centerpiece of the album is, however, the three-suite epic, "Karn Evil 9." Bolstered by the prophetic lyrics of Pete Sinfield, including the signature lines, "welcome back my friends to the show that never ends," "Karn Evil 9" is the defining balance of ELP's strengths - Keith Emerson's masterful organ, synthesizer and piano playing; Greg Lake's rich baritone vocals and stalwart bass lines; and Carl Palmer's steadied, almost contrapuntal percussion work.

To lend to the album's larger-than-life stance, ELP commissioned an obscure Swiss surrealist named H. R. Giger to come up with the cover art. Without going into too much detail, Giger managed to capture the theme and title perfectly. He would eventually gain fame as the artist behind the Alien movie series. Unfortunately, Brain Salad Surgery would be the apex of ELP's own bumpy career. The Works albums that surfaced in 1977 and 1978 failed to sustain the collective feel and drive of the trio. Even when the band reunited in the 90s, the aura behind Brain Salad Surgery seemed too far out of reach. Sadly, just as the group was preparing to write and record a conceptual, back to roots album, Lake tendered his recognition and ELP was finally laid to rest.

Report this review (#14391)
Posted Monday, November 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Now before I say anything, I give this album four stars for the last two songs. 'Jerusalem' is a eulogy in shlo-mo. 'Tocatta' sounds like Super Mario when I mess up. 'Still... You Turn Me On' is okay, but recieves too much airplay to be enjoyed anymore, (maybe it is just me). Benny The Bouncer is a delightful little ditty with some real virtuosic honky-tonk piano by Keith. ELP has done several funny songs like this and many people hate them. I love them, personally. Greg is just a wee too spacy sometimes. Karn Evil #9 is a tour-de-force in progressive rock. It cannot be summed up in mere words; one must listen to the album.
Report this review (#14392)
Posted Tuesday, November 30, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This album was my first introduction to the band sometime in 1975 / 1976 (can not remember exact year). It was from my friend's tape that played "Toccata" at that time. I was so shock with the kind of "weird" music these guys were producing. My friend then lent me his tape and I got more listen at home. Oh man . it was a great record the whole album (even though I was not into "Benny The Bouncer"). When I got into epic track titled "Karn Evil 9" I was totally amazed with this band and I talked to myself that I had to buy the cassette myself. It was not easy really because at that time I had no money at all to buy (even) the cassette. I remember that I had to wait until my mom got a what so called a "project" as she was just successfully sold some spaces in our house for a rent to a group of accountants that audited one company in my small city. My mom then gave me money to buy the cassette. Thanks God! Finally I got my first ELP cassette man! Yeah! The cassette then rocked my house all the time with Yes "Fragile", "Relayer" and also Uriah Heep "Demons and Wizards". (Oh by the way, my mom was - and still - open mind with rock music that my brother and myself played through player at our home at that time. She liked Uriah Heep "Demons and Wizard". Even now with her 79 years old age she still enjoy the opening track "He was the wizard of a thousand kings ." when she visited my house last month).

I was so proud having this "Brain Salad Surgery" cassette in my collection of (I think) about 20 rock cassettes at that time. I kept playing the tape over and over - especially during "Toccata" and "Karn Evil 9". I was proud with the group and collected some write- ups about the band from our local rock magazine at that time - Aktuil. I had a habit of playing the tape in "high volume" every morning before school. Then, when I walked to my school I still sing part of the lyrics like "Welcome back my friend to the show that never ends ." for my 20 minute-walk to my school. I felt "energized" everyday by singing (in my heart) this album's song. It meant a lot to me! What made me happy (also) was the fact that many of my friends and my brother's friends who liked music (at that time the difference between pop and rock was that thin - people did not categorize the music style) mentioned ELP highly. We talked about how complicated but enjoyable the track like "Karn Evil 9" was. OK OK . that was old story that surrounded me in my small city in Indonesia during time when this album was released. When I could earn money during digital era, I bought the CD (not the remaster one) and I still enjoy listening to it even until now when I'm writing this review.

Having described the "nuances" of this album and what it meant to me personally in a small city far away from the place where the album was released, it suffices to say that this album is a true masterpiece! Sorry, I have to be "firm" this time that I can only accept a minimum of four stars (out of 5) of people's rating because for this album nothing is "vague". If someone gives less than 4 stars rating, I'm sure s/he does not understand (or is not interested with) the context of this album or not a progressive rock explorer. Well, I know that expressing views in prog arena is an interesting challenge. People have different views and perceptions based on their taste and background. And, because of the nature of prog music is somehow (in my humble opinion) too broad and sometime I feel like "boundaryless" (ehm .. it looks like I'm a business strategy guys like "Kenichi Ohmae" or "Jack Welch" hah?). But .. there is an absolute value about this wonderful album "Brain Salad Surgery", either you are "into" or "not into" it. Let me tell you my rationales why I am in the "into" bandwagon ..

Rationale # 1: The album has been decades around us and if we compare it with any complexity, harmony and musical quality produced by any prog band(s) that emerged later on, nothing would shake this album from its (still) top position. The prog elements are there and most importantly the originality issues. Yes, the band has adapted the classical music creation - but look (please) the brilliant approach the band had taken in their arrangement.

Rationale # 2: The album (and the band, of course) has inspired many groups that emerge after this album. For practicality, just browse through this page and you may find tens or even hundreds of bands that reviewers have given marks of "influenced by ELP" or even some reviews that specifically mentioned this album. You might find it on Triumvirat, Ars Nova, Cast, Cairo and many others.

Rationale # 3: The musical quality of this album is really top notch and unquestionable at all. The overall composition blend all technical skills of each contributor in such a way that produce a complex music in a very tight structure with excellent harmony. In fact, with sometimes a lack of nice melody, this album still produce wonderful sound.

I think with those three rationales, you would understand why I adore this album. You might have different views, as I hope. Otherwise, it's not prog at all if you agree on whatever I've just written. Any differing opinions are welcome and you may post in this site. And for this album, I don't think it's wise to review track by track as this is a legendary album that any prog explorer MUST have the CD and enjoy himself / herself. My personal experience has indicated that having enjoyed all tracks, I finally can enjoy "Benny The Bouncer" that I hated the first time. So at this point of time - and onward - this album is a well rounded prog creation that deserves a "full five stars" rating. And it will be like that through time passages in the future. That's my humble opinion. Keep on Progging! - GW, Indonesia.

Report this review (#14395)
Posted Monday, January 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars It's the greatest album that I ever heard. Greg, Keith and Carl are in my opinion in highest point of their career. Dynamic pieces as "Karn Evil 9", or powerfull "Toccata" are standing near the beatifull songs as "Still... you turn me on", and "Jerusalem". Final result is an amazing conceptual work.
Report this review (#14396)
Posted Wednesday, January 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars What can I say that hasn't been said before?

Truly this is an album that deserves all five stars given by me. From Jerusalum, to Karn Evil 9 this rollercoaster of an album provides a great insight into Emerson, Lake and Palmer and is easily their greatest incarnation to date. Whilst many say that Still... You Turn Me On and Benny the Bouncer drag the album a bit, I'd have to disagree. Benny the Bouncer is one of the most upbeat songs you're likely to come accross in their career, and provides a humourous story and a new side to Greg Lake's voice. Jerusalum is a good opener, but a bit short. Toccata is a very nice song, especially Carl Palmer's percussion movement. The washes of timpani and tubular bells in the song are very nice and compliment the heavier drumming which accompanies Keith's keyboards. Still... You Turn Me On and Benny the Bouncer are very contrasting. Still... You Turn Me On is a slow acoustic song which shows the gentle side of Greg Lake's voice, while Benny the Bouncer is very fast, and shows Lake's rawer side. But truly Karn Evil 9 is the masterpiece which consumes this album. All three impressions are masterful songs alone, but combined they are tremendous. This is my second favourite song of all time, second only to Supper's Ready by Genesis. While it takes up half an hour from a 45 minute album Karn Evil 9 is very worthwhile to listen to.

Buy this album! I cannot recommend it enough.

Report this review (#14397)
Posted Tuesday, January 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars Amid all the furiously positive reviews, a poor one. But only because I find all of ELP alientating and feel that for some first-timers the opposite side of the equation needs to be stated. Seminal or no, ELP play possibly the most over-the-top, in your face prog rock ever committed to vinyl. This is no holds bombast, even on the supposedly gentle songs, even on the playful songs like 'Benny the Bouncer'. If you are a fan of relentless displays of technique over form, of crushing arrangements that, to me, offer little scope for any dynamic other than a headlong rush towards ear- bleeding bludgeoning then you will be right at home here. For those whose prog leanings are towards more song and melody-oriented fare then EL:P and BSS in particular may be a bridge too far - it is for me. From the opening assault and vaunting ambition of a dreadful cover version of the hymn 'Jersualem' (in which the vocal is particularly poor) to the fury of Emerson's scorched earth take on Ginastera's 'Toccata' to the faintly ludcicrous 'Benny the Bouncer' in which a little 'light relief' simply feels like pointless filler, BSS is furious assault on the technology of the time and a furious assault on your ears. That's not to say there aren't moments worth hearing. The First Impression - Part 2 and 3rd Impression of Karn Evil 9 are superb, for the melody of the former and the skill with which the song is excuted and for the instrumental fireworks of the latter. Still You Turn Me On has a spiralling wah-wah'd guitar figure that is clever and cachy. But overall, this is hard, hard work. It is not progressive rock for beginners. It is progressive rock driven at full steam up a cul de sac of overblown pretention and over- reaching ambition. My two star rating does not suggest it is just for fans or collectors, but simply because I find it a deeply flawed exercise, which, while it may have perhaps represented an interesting artistic endeavour for those involved, is for me a sprawling failure on an epic scale. A landmark perhaps but not necessarily for the best of reasons. Approach with caution.
Report this review (#14401)
Posted Tuesday, January 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars In my opinion this is the peak of ELP and also one of the best and most original progressive rock albums ever recorded. All ELP albums before Brain Salad Surgery are good or excellent, but you can clearly hear the group's development up until and including this album. ELP was never to do anything near this level of genius ever again, and also the good stuff on the albums to follow wasn't progressive rock, but all over the musical map, spanning from classical to ragtime piano, and most of it was individual efforts rather than group collaborations. Pirates from the first Works album is decent, but stripped of all its window dressing like the symphonic orchestra, it comes out as a rather banal composition compared to what's on Brain Salad Surgery. Keith Emerson's piano concerto is enjoyable but it still sounds like a 100 years too late compared to other contemporary classical composers. Some of Greg Lake's songs on Works 1 are also nice but has very litte to do with progressive rock.

Brain Salad includes a couple of covers (if you may call them so) which is generally not a good thing in my opinion, but ELP's rendition of the English hymn Jerusalem and the experimental adaption of Ginastera's piano piece are truly original and interesting. The original material is even better. The suite Karn Evil 9 consisting of three "impressions" is very varied and doesn't really contain a dull moment. Greg lakes ballad Still You Turn Me On is one of his best and the arrangement is original and tasteful. The vaudeville kind of bagatel Benny The Bouncer is a perfect dot over the i, and it adds a smile to the record making it escape the risk of being perceived as too bombastic or pretentious.

ELP and Keith Emerson in particular had a sound and a tonal language of their own. While may progressive bands played intricate compositions, many of them had a rather straight forward major/minor scale approach to the melodies, and those progressive groups that went beyond this mostly incorporated jazz and jazz rock elements. ELP stood out in this regards, many of the melodies and harmonies were stuff you had not heard before and did not hear among their contemporaries. You still not hear much of it today.

The general originality of ELP + this being the best in a row of truly good albums is the reason I give Brain Salad Surgery 5 stars. This was to me just as an essential album as the Dark Side of the Moon album by Pink Floyd that was released the same year - truly one of the best years in the music history if you ask me.

Report this review (#14404)
Posted Wednesday, February 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars BSS is my favorite album, so I'm rating it 5 stars. To me it's the ultimate progressive album of all time. It has everything. The greatest musicians, the greatest voice, and a concept that was extremely viable at the time, along with just enough pretentiousness to be absolutely perfect!

I once read where someone said that Greg Lake's voice provides a calming relief in the midst of Keith's chaos. And yet that's where the ELP genius laid, the balance between Keith Emerson and Greg Lake and the supporting steadiness of Carl Palmer.

The beginning of Jerusalem is quite majestic to me. Brings you into what is regal and yet realistic about England. The song is also a childhood favorite hymn of mine, so now I have an updated rocking version with the voice of an angel.

I prefer Keith when he's a bit self-indulgent. It makes for some very interesting choices in music; for instance, Ginastera's "Toccata". When you come at the music from Keith's point of view, you come on hard and passionate. When I heard the original piece after listening to ELP's version for so long, it bored me, but there is nothing boring about Keith's rendition or Carl's first use of his drum synths. You listen to it, then when its finally over, you think "What the hell was that??"

Then it leads you into a lovely Greg Lake ballad that brings you back to ground and gives you one of the most beautiful vocal performances ever, even with the "Someone get me a ladder" line. You have to hear this on the DVD-Audio though; the first time I heard it on a good system, it gave me goose bumps all over and it actually made me teary eyed. The first few times I heard it live acoustically, I really missed the keyboards, the studio version is just so intricate..

However, Karn Evil 9 is the true masterpiece of the album. Personally even though the second part of the First Impression is the most known, I prefer the Third Impression, which I believe to be the soul of this album. The vocals done by Greg on this piece are awe inspiring, I think it actually caused me to change the way I pronounce specific words. And then there's the cliff hanger. Did man win or did the computer win?? Hey, on tour I saw it sprout wings and the blow up every night. so in my book, the human's won.

Report this review (#14411)
Posted Sunday, February 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
con safo
3 stars "Brain Salad Surgery" is quite an enjoyable prog album, but it does embodie everything people seem to despise about the genre. Completely over the top, pretentious- and very cheesy at times. But- i like it! The band was comprised of certainly talented people, but the compositions seem a bit on the lazy side. The centerpeice of this album is the epic "Karn Evil 9" which, while enjoyable, does seem kind of thrown together, as the three movements could have nothing less to do with eachother. The first "impression" is by far the best track on this album- and the third being so very cheesey it almost makes me cringe. There is no denying the musical talent of these three men, but this is exactly the kind of stuff that makes people cringe when you mention the word "Prog". An enjoyable album nonetheless. 3.5/5
Report this review (#14417)
Posted Monday, April 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars No wonder why punk rockers hate them, ELP's at thier best "Brain Salad Surgery" is a prove that pomposity at music can be achieve without any kind of guilt, why should they anyway? From the openning "Jerusalem" to the last movement of "Karn Evil 9" the album gives you the feeling that emotion and virtusism can go together. O.K. maybe "Jerusalem" is a little bit over the top, even for them, but the rest of the album is so well perform that - at least to me - it can be follow easily through a rank of moods that goes from dixieland jazz to mockery saloon music, without losing it's edge. I think Ginastera's "Tocatta" is the most confrontational because there is a sublime rhytm variation that twist the piece into a disconcerting sum of sound effects and incredibly dense atmosphere despite the tecnological limitations. In fact I honestly believe that, if the same piece were record today, it would sound like an Aphex Twin song. "Karn Evil 9" is just perfect, the 29 minute song is a compendium of their influences from Elgar to Gershwin, from early twentieth century jazz to pure and simple rock'n roll. What earns them the five stars is the feeling that all along this album every detail matters. Chapeau!!
Report this review (#14420)
Posted Wednesday, May 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I was listening to this last night while posting on the boards here and realized I hadn't reviewed it yet. So, here goes.

Yes, 5 Stars and is probably only 1 of maybe 40 or 50 progressive titles that deserve it. Probably even less than that. Progressive music to me is about scope, not about how fast you can play. Musicianship is a key part, but it is composition that is king in prog. Between composition, scope and musicianship you will not find a more expansive record.

Jerusalem: Doing rock interpretations of classical pieces was such a great success with Pictures and a few of the bits on other albums it would have been disappointing if they didn't have more on BSS. They don't disappoint and what a grand interpretation.

Toccata: When I first heard it I stood up I STOOD UP about halfway through. They already got my attention with Jerusalem, I had not imagined how strong this song could sound. It just dominates. It's like heavy metal with no guitars. I LOVE IT. People give ELP a hard time for being too serious. The drum solo is pure fun. So, you should have fun too!!

Still...You Turn Me On: Well ok, I'm not a huge fan of this song. Probably the weakest of the Greg Lake ballads that found their way onto most of the albums. It sounds great and has nothing really wrong with it other than some questionable lyrics. It's ok...but it's a cheezy ballad.

Benny teh Bouncer: COME ON GUYS, LIGHTEN UP. This song is fun, funny and a riot. Plus the Honkey Tonk Piano is awesome. Great song and a great change of pace.

Karn Evil 9: OK, now the meat. This is the best progressive song ever written hands down. There are other bands I like more, but no song captures what 70s prog was all about more than this one. The story, the themes, the melodies, the playing, the ambience. Everything about it is perfect. If you were going to start with ELP, you should start with this song. Don't even start with the other songs on the album. Start at Karn Evil 9. Of course that's like getting desert first.

Report this review (#14425)
Posted Sunday, May 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
Marc Baum
5 stars There are people who try to knock down this masterpiece, maybe they are punks or I don't know, but "BSS" is the creative zenith of ELP, which the mammoth-epic "Karn Evil 9" shows that fact with it's incredible key-work by Keith Emerson perfectly! The great opening track "Jerusalem", wonderful sung by Greg Lake (that voice can't be compared with another, just remember "Epitaph" from Crimson's debut!). The instrumental "Toccata" is a improvisation where Keith Emerson shows his incredible talents again, also Carl Palmer on drums too. "Still...You Turn Me On" is a beautiful short ballad, with well put-in wah-wah guitar effects by Greg Lake. "Benny The Bouncer" is a cool salloon-bar rocker, where the band really plays on grateful. Try to get the 2004 UK version of the album from Sanctuary on CD, where you'll get 3 bonus tracks, which multiple count the album up: The two single- tracks "Brain Salad Surgery" and "When The Apple Blossoms Bloom In The Windmills Of Your Mind I'll Be Your Valentine" and the flexi-disc medley "Excerpts From Brain Salad Surgery" (seems like a movie trailer for a audio-album, really well done!). That's the version to go for, so wait no longer and go to your next record-dealer!
Report this review (#14426)
Posted Tuesday, May 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This was the first ELP record I ever bought, and, by far, the best. Someone I knew in high school told me how much he liked it, and when I first saw the cover, I knew it would be something I'd really get into. This was twenty-seven years ago, and I have yet to get tired of it. "Karn Evil 9 " is the apex of this band, and you have to hear the whole "Karn Evil 9 " suite (First Impression,1 and2), followed by the second and third impression as one to fully expreience it. This is why I was so glad to find it on CD, you get an uninterrupted reading of the whole piece, and to the uninitiated listener, this assault on your senses, is one you won't soon forget. Broken down by titles: "Jerusalem" - not an original composition, but they deliver it with such authority, you would think it was. "Toccata" - likewise, adapted from someone else's body of work, but so what? This is a KILLER piece of music. "Still...You turn me on" - The lyrics are morbid, yet it is such an elegant sounding bit, the arrangement goes from the frail sounding, to the sensual, back and forth, the delicate touch this behemoth needs to keep from whisking you away. "Benny the Bouncer" - A violent story about a violent man, but such a silly song, excellent rag-time piano as well. "Karn Evil 9, First Impression, (parts one and two)" - This segment has so much energy, such dense arrangements, you have to remind yourself that this is only a three-piece band. The original record cut this in half, but cleverly, split it right at the point that where you flip the record(or cassette) over, it welcomes you back, hence, the "Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends..." introduction, and they just blow the listener away. "Second Impression" - They keep going strong, and the synthesized steel drums have to be heard to be believed. Nice quiet piano in the middle. "Third Impression" - Once again, you have to hear it to believe it, the arrangements are gargantuan, and when this cycle ends, the listener is exhausted.


Report this review (#14428)
Posted Monday, May 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Yust as most people say this is probobly ELPs bigest succes and their greates masterpiece, I love it more then most albums, The songs are all great starting with Jerusalem wich is a very good, then toccata very experimental and fantastic, then still... you turn me on a great ballad one of my favorite ELP ballads ever, Benny The Bouncer is next a funny tune but a good one and then it comes the epic masterpiece of the album Karn Evil 9 words can not describe the greatness of theis epic track it blowed my mind the first time i heard it and it still does... there are no weak spots no flaws yust pure greatness one of the best prog rock songs ever. Very recomended album, if it not turn you into an ELP fan nothing will.
Report this review (#35796)
Posted Wednesday, June 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
1 stars Age has not enhanced the merits of this dreadful offering one jot or tittle. BSS is unadulterated garbage from start to finish, and always was. It sounds wholly dated now because it is. It sounded overblown and turgid in 1973 and still does - only a thousand times more so.

"Jerusalem" is a wonderfully uplifting and stirring song, beloved by all good Englishmen and true. So why ruin Blake's majestic poetry with this shallow, stomach-turning version? Leave re-arrangements of this kind to people who actually respect and enhance the grandeur of the original tune/lyrics - people such as Robert John Godfrey of THE ENID. "Toccata" is disjointed and inaccessible improvisation - welcome to the very, very worst of KING CRIMSON. " turn me on" is just twee Mockney tat - welcome to the world of the Brotherhood of Man (although that's probably doing BoM a disservice.) "Benny the Bouncer" is just a dreadful, irksome, unfunny pub song - welcome to closing time any time any place. The mere presence of BtB on a supposedly faultless "classic" release speaks volumes. "Karn Evil 9" is a well-trumpeted, virtuoso piece that's self-indulgent, overlong, and overcooked. And do I detect steel drums? Welcome to the Notting Hill carnival. Without floats.

Sorry, but this whole record is pure purgatory. Welcome to the show that never ends? Too right. It really should never have got going in the first place. This monstrosity - along with Topographic Oceans - heralded the end of classic prog as we knew back in the early 70's, effectively closing the door on the prospects of such potentially terrific bands as FANTASY and ENGLAND as punk duly arrived to kick all such dross as this into the longest of long grass.

No points merited, but one awarded since this is the minimum available.

Report this review (#36269)
Posted Saturday, June 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Here ELP's albums are getting more and more contradictory! My favorite parts here are the royal opener "Jerusalem" original composition of Hubert Parry, which is followed by "Tocatta", the band's version of Ginastera's piano concerto. This is the best and most violent track this band has ever recorded! The following track "Still... You Turn Me On" is an average ballad and "Benny The Bouncer" is another silly joke song (I don't like these!). The epic "Karn Evil 9" begins interestingly, but I fear it doesn't fulfill the promises it makes at the end. The composition ends in a way that makes an impression that they composer went to a dead end and didn't bother to think of an end with style. Quite sad, I think! But the first two tracks strengten my opinion that this group succeeded best when doing interesting versions of classical music pieces for keyboard-driven rock trio.
Report this review (#36457)
Posted Tuesday, June 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars These guys, for sure, liked to mess around. Their incarnation of Prog Rock exists within a sometimes sloppy crazy-pop. While Toccata and Benny the Bouncer are both borderline unlistenable (for different reasons; Benny is just awful whereas Toccata is very inaccessible,) Karn Evil 9 (the entire suite) makes up for any loss of ground on this CD. It is pure prog bliss. From the opening notes of Emerson's keys, it is known that the song is going to be really amazing. Other songs, such as the very radio friendly Jerusalem and Still You Turn Me On... are alright. Greg Lake could have used a second opinion on his lyrics, however, as they are very much lacking. In "Still You Turn Me On..." he says "Every day a little sadder, a little madder, someone get me a ladder." What does that mean? Its terrible. All things considered, this is probably the most "fun" that prog gets.
Report this review (#37100)
Posted Monday, June 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars In 1973, ELP released their fifth album, BRAIN SALAD SURGERY. Fans and critics alike hail this album as ELP's crowning achievement. This was their biggest, brashest, most bombastic album to date. It was their least accessible, and their most extravagant. Coming after the gentle TRILOGY (1972), this was a shock. Despite this, BRAIN SALAD SURGERY it managed to be ELP's biggest hit as well.

The album opens with the English church anthem, Jerusalem, written by the poet William Blake. They use Hubert Parry's musical arrangement. This is a very respectful and rousing rendition of the British classic. (Despite this, it was considered offensive to many in the UK and was banned from the BBC radio). Greg Lake handles the vocals perfectly on this piece, and you can tell the band is playing passionately. The album continues with Carl Palmer's cacophonous Toccata. This track features 'synthesizer- percussion', and is an adaptation of Ginastera's 1st Piano Concerto, 4th movement. This rendition is loud, and to a point un-listenable (definitely and acquired taste). However, the drumming is impeccable. Like always, Carl Palmer bangs away furiously on his drum set, a mix between the energy of the Who's Keith Moon and Yes/Crimson's Bill Bruford. (The group went to so far as to ask for Alberto Ginastera's approval to adapt the piece. He was moved to tears by their version, and gave them permission. He said that it was how his piece meant to sound. Yes...weird). This album continues with Still...You Turn Me On, another syrupy Greg Lake ballad. Like his others, this was a radio hit. Don't be mistaken, this a ballad with a progressive twist as only ELP could do. This track features very interesting guitars by Lake, and a great synthesizer break by Emerson. The next track, Benny the Bouncer is a throw away song, the obligatory western styled 'comedy relief' of the album, in the vein of Jeremy Bender or The Sheriff. Not much to say about it, except it is the only weak point in the album.

Karn Evil 9, like Genesis's Supper's Ready, is ELP's magnum opus. This 30 minute track is simply brilliant. It features Emerson's usual stinging synthesizers, impassioned vocals by Lake, and excellent drumming by Carl Palmer. This track is further augmented by the lyrics of Peter Sinfield (ex-King Crimson), who joined the group in 1973. Lyrics had always been a weak point for ELP, and Sinfield helps greatly in this department. The Karn Evil 9 lyric "Welcome Back My Friends to the Show that Never Ends..." became the groups slogan, and was the title of their 1974 live album. The single cut of Karn Evil 9 also gave ELP their first truly progressive radio hit - their former singles were usually Lake ballads. The first impression of this piece (suite really) is very symphonic progressive rock, with aggressive lyrics and instrumentation. It is one of their best known, and best works. The second impression shows Emerson showing his talents at jazz piano. This is a far cry from the free-from jazz of The Soft Machine, and it a well composed piece, featuring Emerson's more acoustic keyboard talents. It offers a nice break from his thunderous synthesizers. The album closes with Karn Evil 9's third impression, the most ambitious and progressive of the three. It is the spaciest, and gives a wonderful sci-fi conclusion to the album. It has the best lyrics and music of the three impressions. Keith Emerson leaves no doubt here that he is the master synthesizer-(moog) player of progressive rock. Overall, this is an amazing track, and ranks with Close to the Edge or Echoes as one of the best songs in the genre.

BRAIN SALAD SURGERY is a remarkably strong album, but is not recommended for beginners. It is somewhat hard to absorb at first to non-fans, who should begin with the softer TRILOGY. Nonetheless, it is ELP's most exciting work since their eponymous debut in 1970, and is a masterpiece -- 4 1/2 stars.

Report this review (#37243)
Posted Wednesday, June 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Essential: a masterpiece of progressive music.I am convinced that this album "Brain Salad Surgery" is the highest masterpiece of EMERSON LAKE & PALMER. "Karn Evil 9" is a miraculous masterpiece that represents Prog Rock. It doesn't get tired at all because of a perfect composition. What a wonderful album it will be!
Report this review (#38723)
Posted Thursday, July 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars It is funny that when you select a rating you are asked to "carefully consider" the rating which you are selecting. This is one album which the term "a masterpiece of progressive music" should be applied. BSS is the pinnacle from one of the handful groups which created the Progressive genre and never again would ELP be as progressive as they are on this album. There really isn't a weak song on this album. Perhaps the lyric could have been better on "Still You Turn Me On", but the song itself is wonderful. "Benny the Bouncer" may have not been a 'prog' piece, but the song again shows the group's versatility. As for the rest of the album; "Toccata" is a great piece of music. (If you ever listen to the original piano piece, you will be surprise how close ELP's cover really is.) "Karn Evil 9, 1st Impression, Part 1" is hands down one the best pieces of music that I have ever heard and the boys really pull that stops out on this piece. I only wished that Eddie Offord had produced this album. 1973 was a great year for Progressive music and BSS was one of that year's gems.

Report this review (#38790)
Posted Thursday, July 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars **½ is quite accurate.

Oh dear! Something seems to horribly wrong this album - wait; could it be that the shorter songs are either boring, awful or both. As an exception I have to mention Jerusalem, which is the standout track - great idea and great adaptation. But after that, Toccata is non-sensical, Still You Turn Me On is a meaningless, boring ballad with ultra-cheesy lyrics, and Benny the Bouncer is a truly horrible, horrible piece of total crap, which I think is supposed to be humorous, but I can't laugh, it just pisses me off.

The only reason (other than Jerusalem) of me not giving this album 1 stars, is that Karn Evil 9 has some classic unforgettable prog rock moments. It's a great epic, with catchy melodies and ingenious, truly innovative instru-passages (mainly Emerson showing off of course, that's what ELP is all about), and Greg Lake's soft and lovely voice.

Report this review (#39553)
Posted Friday, July 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is a masterpiece, everyone should know this album. The Karn Evil tracks are unbelievable and they're guaranteed to give you goosebumps. The other tracks are also very good, but the only track worthy to the Karn Evil ones is Toccata. It's actually a classical work by Ginastera, but I think I prefer ELPs 'cover'. I think this album is underrated on this site, personally I think it deserves a high top 10 ranking.
Report this review (#39777)
Posted Tuesday, July 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I still think this is the most exciting prog album I've ever heard and I'm amazed at its continued low ranking on this site. It combines the heaviosity and aggression of peak period Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple with the dynamics and intriguing complexity of the best in prog. Result = best of both worlds. The standout tracks are obviously Karn Evil 9 and Toccata - the latter being (along with The Babarian) Keith Emerson's best classical adaptation. As for the former, I think Yes' Awaken is the only other epic that can match it for sheer number of shiver-down the-spine-moments. If you haven't already got it, do yourself a favour - ignore the nay-sayers, turn up the volume and open your mind to some incredible music.
Report this review (#39790)
Posted Tuesday, July 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars While the highs of this album are high indeed, it has its low points. It starts off with a great organ driven adaptation of a hymn called Jerusalem, which features great vocals and melodies. The second track, Toccata, is an adaptation of some contemporary composer's fourth movement in his 1st piano concerto. It is the least accessible song on the album probably and will take a good many listens to get into. It can get a rather boring as well. Still...You turn me on is great Lake ballad, featuring excellent vocals mingling with great guitar and Emerson's vast multitude of instruments: accordian, moog, electric piano, and some other synth. Great great song. Benny the Bouncer is the worst on the album. Its good for a laugh the first time, but you will probably never want to listen to it again after that. Terrible vocals from the otherwise superb Lake, and terrible vaudeville style piano. Although the bridge part is not terrible, it is more melodic.

Ahh, Karn Evil 9. The opus of this great album. It starts off with some great electric piano licks and then goes into some cool melodies and vocals. After a while, another melody kicks in, one which is happier, and very catchy. It is the min melody of 1st Impression part 2, which tells of a show in which they display all kinds of weird things. The whole thing is mainly about people being taken over by computers I think. Part 2 is instrumental, and like toccata will take a few listens to get into. It may also bore you a little bit. Part 3 features pretty much great riffs and licks, great melodies, vocals, and lyrics, and its just all aorund great.

So this album had its highs and lows, although the highs out number the lows. Highlights include: Jerusalem, Still... You Turn Me On, Karn EVil 9 part 1, and Karn EVil 9 part 3.

Report this review (#40317)
Posted Monday, July 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Brain Salad Surgery an essential Prog Rock album. I think any Prog Rock fan that says it's overblown and too progressive and over the top shouldn't listen to Prog Rock. In my opinion it's basically perfect. Maybe not the greatest Prog Album ever mainly because I think ELP is better and a lot of the Peter Gabriel Genesis stuff is as good if not better. Still it is a masterpiece with only 1 small flaw which I don't think changes the fact that it's almost perfect. That one flaw in my opinion because I'm sure some love it is Benny the Bouncer. It just doesn't work for me but other then that there's nothing bad. It's the first ELP album I heard way back when and it had me sold. In about 2 days I bought their first 5 cds. Stupendious, I had heard of ELP but had no interest. My brother started getting into Genesis and I liked them and had quite a few albums and because of that I suppose it opened my eyes to new Prog rock like ELP. I wanted ELP but this was all they had and boy am I glad. I know I said I like ELP better but I feel this was needed for me as an introduction into ELP. I don't understand how have the bad reviews say too strong and the other half say too weak. If you think Brain Salad Surgery is weak I think you need to have your head examined. 5 stars a true Prog masterpiece.
Report this review (#41436)
Posted Wednesday, August 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars 3.5 stars

Emerson's last great album, after this one, ELP started going downhill with their works, the poppy love beach, the mediocre Black Moon, and the disaster 'on the hot seat'

JERUSALEM (7.5/10) Starts the album nicely, it is a short but good accessible piece. IT is followed by TOCCATA (6/10) which is very interesting, yet too chaotic for many people's tastes. STILL YOU TURN ME ON (6/10) is a not so great ballad from Greg Lake with a decent electric guitar chorus. BENNY THE BOUNCER (3.5/10) .. why do they keep ruining their albums with this kind of silly music???

The Second Side is Karn Evil which I would rate it an average of (7.5/10) as a whole, It is an attempt to create Tarkus II, It is very good, but it doesnt' reach the level of their previous work.

Pt 1 (9/10) is a great starter of the album and my favourite part of it. It contains AMAZING musicianship, plenty of good solos, and nice drumming. The main sticky melody appears close to the end.

Pt 1 1/2 (8.5/10) follows the beginning well, with that very sticky 'welcome back my friends...' line. The line is followed by great hammond organ work.

Pt 2 (4.5/10) I can't help but not like this part. It is just a dull jam that is mildly interesting. I think it kills the piece, and I don't understand the purpose in it. It is filler for me.

Pt3 (7.5/10) This is ELP at their most pretentious and pompous, they even have machine voices in this track. This is an overall good piece with one of the most creative endings in the history of Rock : An electronic loop that rotates around you (on headphones) that keeps going faster until it stops suddently.

Overall, I recommend this album to ELP lovers, but it is not essential at all I think, and it is far from being a masterpiece. Instead, download the part 1 of Karn Evil here on and you will have the best part of hte album

My Grade : B-

Report this review (#41730)
Posted Friday, August 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Very good. Not good for the beginner prog person. It takes a while to actually appreciate and comprehend. Very complicated which is a reason I like it. Karn Evil 9 is an awesome song.So is Jerusalem. I didn't like Toccata that much though. This cd is a must buy. But not for beginning proggers. I'd suggest something else like Yes to start off with.
Report this review (#41798)
Posted Friday, August 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
1 stars It was with this album that my aversion to ELP was borne... I was a little reluctant to give it the lowest rating as it may just be that i failed to appreciate the technical abilities this trio are supposed to posses... but i found the tracks, especially karn evil 9 to be lyrically very weak and considering the supposed genious of emerson lake and palmer, quite unremarkable (even boring) musically. Pink Floyd, Genesis or even Rush offer more emotion, higher quality music and deeper lyrics. Avoid
Report this review (#43008)
Posted Monday, August 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I have two ears, a brain and a more than decent feel for rhythm and other musical things - nurtured by these powers, my aesthetic instincts push me to regard "Brain Salad Surgery" not only as one of ELP's masterpieces but also as the trio's definitive apex. By the year of this release, 1973, the prog rock movement had already made quite an impact in the music press (even if it were for the worst in some cases), and the most famous prog acts of that moment managed to sell out big venues over and over again. ELP being one of these, they created at the time one of the most explosive manifestos of prog during its era of maturity. The 'Jerusalem' cover kicks off the album with full majesty, respecting the original solemnity of this classic Christian hymn while providing an extra orchestral drive that takes the song's mystical essence to a more pompous level. We're continuously welcome to witness the pomposity never ends, since Ginastera's 'Toccata' gets deconstructed and reconstructed with an infinite vengeance and an uncompromising penchant for challenging the listener - what ELP create in this particular occasion is not merely music, but a cathedral of sound whose scary grandiosity cannot (and perhaps shouldn't) be grasped by words. 'Toccata' is, most of all, an exercise on catharsis wrapped under customs of unearthly fire. Emerson's constant Moog and organ aggressions find an appropriate partner in crime in Palmer's occasional drums connected to Moog effects - a pioneering act for what would later be called electronic percussion. These two pieces, while alien to ELP's thinking minds and creative pens, are turned into ELP 'genuine' classics due to the threesome's endless ability to turn tables on other people's material and reconvert them into their own musical world. So far, it would be too much for the listener to take were it not for the following presence of two not-too-transcendent songs; not too transcendent, indeed, but vintage ELP-ish all the same. The Lake-penned acoustic ballad 'Still. You Turn Me On' provides the mandatory portion of the band's feminine side (as they like to call it in interviews) in the context of a tale of frustration in a romantic relationship. There's something really tricky about this ballad: it's hard to believe how could a harpsichord, an accordion and some wah-wah guitar strumming fit into a 12-string acoustic guitar centered song. but they do, yes, they do: the accordion and harpsichord provide some gallant spirit, while the wah-wah seems to symbolize the beating of the turned-on lover's heart. The other not-too-transcendent song is yet another Cajun song, 'Benny the Bouncer' - IMHO, the best Cajun song by ELP, especially because of that pretty mute movie coda. Up to this point we've been finding genius instilled in the bombast, the romantic and the easy going tracks, but the best of this particular album's genius is yet to come, incarnated in that incendiary prog carnival that we all know as the 'Karn Evil 9' suite. Even though all three Impressions are conceptually linked around the idea of a decadent future world in which self-destruction and self-indulgent reign supreme, each Impression stands out as an individual item in itself. The 1st Impression is, IMHO, the most accomplished one, comprising two defined sections in a typical ELP-ish bombastic manner. This Impression's second section - focused on the excesses of TV entertainment - is the most famous one, but I personally enjoy the first second even more: its portrait of modern times' massive alienation is properly conveyed in the lyrics and the hyper-intense instrumentation. This is, definitely, one of the most emblematic ELP compositions ever. But the greatness of 'Karn Evil 9' does not end here. The 2nd Impression shows yet another showcase for Emerson's grand piano jazz-oriented grandiloquence; the novelty is the clever use of polyphonic synthesizer in the samba- like interlude - so much excitement in a less-than-3 minutes span!! The following four minutes are filled with a softer interlude section, displayed with a calculated texturial piano-based motif that gradually finds its way back to the opening theme. Finally, comes the 3rd Impression, the explosive closure that recapitulates the fire of 'Toccata' and '1st Impression': this last Impression is the ultimate expression of the idea of a "concerto for rock group". Mood shifts, melodic variations, majestic keyboard orchestrations, complex rhythm patterns, constant display of rocking energy, all those things that we love about the most aggressive side of symphonic prog are comprised here beautifully, turning excess into a positive source of creativity. The final conflict between man and machine leads to the latter's collapse - the price that what goes up has to pay for the heights it dared to reach. That was the same price that ELP eventually paid, since everything they released after "Brain Salad Surgery" paled in comparison, but that should be a matter for other reviews. In this final sentence, I'll stick to this album and give it the rating it deserves: 5 stars for one of those magical pinnacles of prog!
Report this review (#43707)
Posted Sunday, August 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
5 stars Hello, here is just another PA reviewer with two ears, a brain and two hands that can even play some guitar and keyboards.

For me this album from ELP is an exciting, mindblowing and pivotal progrock document that must have stunned the press and fans in 1973 (a very prolific progrock year!). The very good thing from ELP on this album is the balance between bombastic, self-indulgent music ("Toccata" and the titletrack), romantic acoustic driven music ("Still you turn me on") and a funny interlude ("Benny the bouncer"). Thanks to my two ears and brain I have noticed this!


Report this review (#43723)
Posted Sunday, August 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
1 stars The most overrated album of all times!

Sorry for saying this folks, but i don't see how this album can be considered a masterpiece by so many people. For me, a masterpiece is something that is top quality from begining to end, and this album again suffers from ELP's traditional lack of consistence problem - there's two very dry and plain prog numbers, one horrid pop song, then an annoying fuzzy track all of them directing to a thirty-minute pretentious "epic" showing what ELP does best: instrumental show off, totally lacking of emotion and passion just to prove how awesome they are playing their instruments very fastly. In fact, after seeing the "Pictures in Exhibition" video and feeling embarassed after seeing Emerson jumping over his keyboards i lost the respect for the band considerably. Is all that show off necessary? Do they really need to keep proving that they are great musicians on their respective instruments? Emerson is the one that likes to show himself more. Lake is a great vocalist and is apparently the more feet on Earth of the trio. There's no question about how good Palmer is on drums, but i personally prefer Nick MASON's melodic and simple drumming, because it has much more soul on it - something none of ELP's members ever managed to put in their music: their soul, their emotions, there's no beautiful music, they only seem to try to prove that they can play their stuff well and fast.

That said, the main reason i listen to music is to be taken to unknown places on the several corners of my mind and feel moved on my heart by the melodies created. This is something ELP certainly does not do for me (where bands like PINK FLOYD, KING CRIMSON and CAMEL never fail to make me feel warm and impressed by the beauty of their compositions).

Sorry for being so harsh, but this album (and band) in my opinion are extremely overrated. I don't think a song like "Benny the Bouncer" can be ignored when giving this album five stars, neither i think bad lyrics like on "Still You Turn Me On" and an annoying thirty-minute piece like "Karn Evil 9" can be in any way enjoyable, but that's just my opinion.

Again, sorry for the perhaps unnecessary harshness contained in this review.

Report this review (#45081)
Posted Wednesday, August 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars It's not the best ELP album, but it is close. The only out and out throwaway is the completely execrable "Benny The Bouncer", with a ridiculous attempt at Cockney music-hall-style vocalizing from Lake and some of the worst synthesizer sounds committed to vinyl courtesy of Emerson.

An air of kitsch opens the album with the rendition of the famous hymn "Jerusalem". Since I always associate this tune with the mattress sketch from MONTY PYTHON'S FLYING CIRCUS, it always raises a chuckle. But "Toccata", while based on a classical piece, is anything but kitschy. As with the pieces from the debut, they chose a sympathetic 20th-century piece rather than going for the easy recognition factor, and came up with another winner. This is as close as ELP have come to out and out avant-garde music, and it never fails to absolutely floor me. The "cameo" portion of the album is rounded out by "Still...You Turn Me On", another decent Lake ballad.

The half-hour long epic "Karn Evil 9", originally split between two sides of vinyl, is one of the band's high points. Sure, it's not quite as intense as "Tarkus", but it is heartening to know they were still capable of producing epic long-form pieces of great quality. Emerson is now using an experimental prototype polyphonic Moog mega-synth (that later got compartmentalized into the Multimoog, the Polymoog and the Taurus) and a vocoder, giving the piece an impressive, futuristic feel echoed in the science-fiction-oriented lyrics.

So, throw out the hideous "Benny The Bouncer" and you'd have had an album that could quite likely have stood next to their fabulous first as an all-time prog classic. As it is, it's still an excellent work (with only one blemish), and recommended to all who wish to discover their music.

Report this review (#45486)
Posted Sunday, September 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This, of course, is the trio's most ambitious album. With its louder (the loudest of the group, some would say) volume, its dense electronic sounding that is so infectious, and most of all its three-movement solid and elegance composition "Karn Evil 9", this album is a luxurious showcase where Keith Emerson stretched his powerful keyboard attack out beyond one can imagine at the time.

Emerson had the support of The Great Dr. Moog himself who provided him with an improved synthesizer well-suited for this effort. Throughout the album, especially from "Karn Evil 9" piece, one can capture so many great moments in which Emerson treated his keyboards as if he was Jimi Hendrix with his guitar -- he delivered a flamboyance, jaw-dropping keyboards playing.

Beside "Karn Evil 9", the other songs are also among the best of band's work. The opener, the band's arrangement of Sir Charles Hubert Parry musical setting of William Blake's "Jerusalem", is a killer tone setter. Reverent, yet rocking. The follow-up "Toccata", a smart reinterpretation of the Argentinean Alberto Ginastera's serious work, extends the musical enjoyment the listeners can get. Greg Lake's ballad "Still... You Turn Me On" add the experience with a beautiful melody and (again) arrangement.

To save the lame part for the last: yes, there's one more song that is -- you may say -- basically a throwaway, "Benny the Bouncer". But the three songs mentioned above are mighty enough to, say, ignore its presence.

Report this review (#45679)
Posted Monday, September 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars When I first heard this album I was ready to give it a 2-star rating. It seemed to waft over me like a synopsis of a sickeningly pretentious play. After a while I let it grow on me to the extent where I couldn't get the melodies out of my head and I couldn't deny the genius of the music (mainly Emerson's genius on the keyboards). By this stage I was ready to give it a 4-star rating. Then I tried listening to it as if it was for the first time again...3-star rating. Then the absolute adoration of before wfted ove rme: 4-star rating it IS! This is music is not 'easy' enough to appreciate at first. At times it's not even 'engaging'. But within it there are features which (to the average intellectual listener of music) are breath-taking. ELP did things that had never been done before and you can't deny their brilliant creativity mixed with their amazing talent: one for the keyboard, one for the drums and one for the singing and guitar!

Jerusalem: Catchy drumming and a rythmic, jazzy organ come together to make this 'popped-up' version of a traditional hymn. Christianity is seen in many of ELP's songs- both in good ways and (to some) bad. It's enough to start pointless and pro- longed topics on the forum about them. *cough cough* In all honesty, this track didn't do a lot for me- it's rather bland. However- it can be seen as a 'ritualized' start to a great album...a loud bang of a start too...and it shows the abilities of all three musicians. Yes- Greg Lake's voice IS gorgeous one. And yes- he DOES sound like a choir-boy on this track.

Toccata: aHA! A helluva lot more interesting- this time a 'popped-up' version of a twentieth-century orchestral work written by the obscure composer from Geneva- Ginastera Alberto. There were many great composers who died in the 1970s (eg: Katchachurian and Stravinsky) but this guy was still composing. When Ginastera heard ELP's version- THIS version- he consented with much enthusiasm, and you can see why! Even though most of ELP's instruments don't have the advantage of controlled piano-forte (volume control- for example: when the strings in an orchestra die right now then blast up again etc...Emerson and his keyboards can only do that to an *extent*!) Now, although this piece can be a tad too dreary at times (such as Emerson's 'take-me-out-to-the-ball-game'-style organ playing at the start- any more cheesy and he'll be Swiss) thre are also times when it can't be described as anything else then..DAMN cool!! (Watch out for Palmer's solo on his trusty electronic drum-kit.) I believe this piece gets more sophistocated towards the end. It's the OPPOSITE of easy- listening. But then, what do you expect? It's a rock version of a post-modern 70s orchestral work- you can't get any more Post-Modern! One thing I like about the ProgArchives definition of Progressive Rock is the fact that it describes the close relationship between Prog and classical music: ELP affirm this relationship through Toccata.

Still...You turn me on: The first absolutely original ELP work of the album- this is a beautiful and (almost) simple love-song. (YES- it's a love-song! They say Prog Rock is a masculine thing- one of the reasons being that there are hardly any love-songs in Prog. This is one of the many songs in prog that proove that assumption wrong.) The entertaining wah-wah pedal is used by Lake everytime after he sings the title of this song- giving it a very 70s sexual overtone indeed. Lake has a lovely voice when he sings this song- very dreamy. But what needs work in this song? Lyrics. I know this has been mentioned time and time again by others but I just need to reinforce the fact that the lyrics of this songs are just plain FUNNY in some parts: "You can be the lover of another, you can even be the man on the moon!" But that doesn't stop it from being a wonderful love-song. Or maybe it's a 'lust'-song, what with the lyrics being as bizarre are they are. Meh...either way it still pushes MY button! I applaud Palmer's echoing- effects and Emerson's pattering-playing. It's very floaty, very dreamy, very romantic in it's own way.

Benny the Bouncer: I have nothing fantastic to say about this one. Annoying. VERY annoying. By singing in an irritating rough voice, Lake has emphasized the beauty of his sincere and GOOD singing voice. that really Lake singing at first or one of the others? I'd gladly have someone P.M me to inform me if it's otherwise....please. In short- this is a good pub-song for the very drugged.

Karn Evil 9: Okidoki- here we go! My first take at analyzing a half-hour prog epic! *gulp* I must apologise in advance by the way: I have my copy of the piece all one one track on a cd- so I'll try to divide it up into the original first, second and third 'Impressions' that one gets on the old records/LPs- but forgive me if I announce them at the wrong place. First Impression: Fun, fun, fun organ-playing Emerson! "I'll be there! I'l be there! I WILL be there!" from Lake. Lake introduces us to this 'Carnival' but he only sings in clumps. Keyboard playing reminscent of what's heard at a magicians show: first fast then slow then fast and you can *feel* the energy pumping through this sexy pianist's hands. Palmer isn't excluded from this though: drum-beat changes are heard through- out the piece. Lyrics get more interesting: it appears this Carnival shows everything from a "stripper in a till" to (pulling) "Jesus from a hat". And I thought Genesis were weird! Later- Palmer drums as if he's not human. You gotta wonder- with how long this piece goes on for- how did they manage to keep up the energy in performing this? Timpani drums and it seems the piece has ended...but no. Second Impression: In comes our beloved Keith Emerson on his piano- with a jazzy 60s style of playing. Miramba and 'Carnival-sounds' are heard. (Some little boy yap-yaps in the audience it seems) Never-ending riffs of the piano and drums seems to build-up some kind of chant. Emerson's classical-style playing is gorgeous. I don't think I'll ever get over it. Silence. Piano. Spooky sounds. Sparkling inverted-minor chords arpeggiated on the piano and a bass in the background; it's like the music one hears in an old scray film. Then the beat picks up and everything's jazzy again. Back to the organ and we're in 'Carnival-mode' again. Third Impression: Greg Lake sings with a passion and another being is heard yelling 'Danger!" - an Android. A Computer. (I believe this is symbolic of how technology can, or can't, take over society- but I'm not completely sure.) "I'" it says in a robotic and synthetic voice, to which the handsome Greg replies "No computer stands in my way, only blood and FLESH are my pain!" It's only this part that causes me to label ELP 'pretentious' . Organ playing goes on and on- to the point where I almost hear a bit of the soldiers guarding the Wicked Witch of the West's tower- then the hurricane going round and round to pick Dorothy's house off from Kansas. (Pardon me- I'm not all there upstairs.) Then Lake sings another conversation with the Computer: It calls him (as a human): "" "But I gave you LIFE!" he protests. "What else could you do?" "To do what was RIGHT!" "I'm perfect...are you?" Yep- this part is definitely the pretentious part. You can only be so symbolic. We leave this epic with Palmer's electronic devices flowing up and down- getting louder and louder and faster at random. At this point- whenever ELP were performing live, the Computer unfurled it's wings! VERY classy imagination ELP have- as I said at the start of this review. My conclusion is that the end was a bit too over-the-top in comparison with the rest of this Masterpiece. Sure it takes a few listens to let it's aura get a hold of you..but it IS a Masterpiece!

Some of the best music in your life doesn't jump at you- it HAS to grow on you. This had to grow on me in order for me to love it. Only then can you appreciate the complex art- forms held within the music itself. ELP are different, more in the way they perform than how they sound. I can't really say I've come across anything quite like them. Oh- and Brain Salad Surgery refers to a blow-job. Interesting but a little too avant-gard for me.(And I admit that Greg Lake was quite hot in the 70s...before he turned into Mr Blobby-man.) Though this album is good all-in-all, I've heard better pieces by ELP (such as 'Threefates' or 'Trilogy' or 'Tarkus'...not forgetting 'Take a Pebble' of course!..all the T's!) and I look forward to hearing more of their albums.

Report this review (#45954)
Posted Wednesday, September 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars ELP has every reason to brag about this album. There is an adaptaion of a classical peice, a ballad, a ragtime song, a proud song (this one isnt as cool as the rest), and of course a wonderful suite to carry it through to the end. Karn Evil 9 makes this an essential album. The wonderful mix of moog, piano, organ, and sequencing is what seperates this from any other ELP album. It is one hell of a complicated piece, and it is easy to get through this album without a complaint. Recommended for everyone.
Report this review (#46443)
Posted Monday, September 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars As mister Carl Palmer said this is the very best album from the ELP production. It is an amazing short but now in 21 century longer musical production. Since Jerusalem, Toccata, Still you turn me on Benny the bouncer and finally Karn Evil 9 impressions besides the bonus tracks I told you rider I just can give 1000 stars to "Brain salad surgery" never ELP perhaps thought an album like this!!! Amzing, beautiful, dark, stonish, funny, happy.....what ever you lok in an musical album you will get here. Simply the truth ELP album to the History of the band and the progressive rock music. 5 stars at alll!!!!!
Report this review (#46617)
Posted Wednesday, September 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Brain Sald Surgery is the creative zenith of early ELP. By this time, the group had found its formula of a long classically inspired piece, (Tarkus or Endless Enigma) A Lake Ballad, and a barrlehouse blues tune. So in that sense, if you were going to own one ELP album, this would be the one.

The song Brain Sald Surgery appears on Works Vol. 2. It is about oral sex from the slang, "whip some skull on me." Instead of opening with this tune, they chose the anthem Jerusalem. (Blake, Parry) This is a standard Anglican anthem that speaks of British majesty and imperialism. It grants the album the aristocratic majesty that the band was after.

I guess there is no argument that Karnevil #9 is the bands most popular piece. The band brought in King Crimson veteran Peter Sinfield because they finally realized that Lake could not write a good lyric. The piece defined the prog rock aesthetic and narrative of an Orwellian world controled by computers, in which any semblance of humanity is suppressed. Computer buffs will like the closing computer line, "I let you live" and "I'm perfect are you." The neo-baroque texture of the opening Part 1, is some of Emerson's best writing. It transforms the concept of popular song writing. WPLJ-FM in NYC used to use the transition section to advertise on television. This was at a time when this music ruled the world. My favorite part of the Kanrevil #9 is the second impression. Its a nice jazzy piece with some intricate interplay between the members of the band and a contrasting Caribbean steel drum section in the center. the third impresssion is the weak point of the album but has a nice improvisational section. Its lyric may seem trite and out dated but the fear that computers would lead to a mechanized world in which control was easily enforced through bureaucracy still resonates today.

The highlight of this album is Tocatta, the Ginastera piece. It creates some interesting moods from the sparce opening and contrasting rhythmic section, quoted from the concerto, to the ensuing drum solo with electronic drums and tympani . The piece says in six minutes what the rest of the album is getting at in thirty minutes.

I think that this is an essential prog rock album because it defines the classical rock movement of the period. This movement was no accident. Record companies supported and precured classical rock as a means to market their classical performers. ELP ran the risk of alienating both worlds, the popular and classical, with their explorations, which they ultimately did. But I think that they are deserving of more credit than what they are credited for. In today's world where regional and community orchestras are of excellent caliber, it would be nice to see more exploration in the intersection of popular and classical culture. This was after all, what the suites of Bach, the operas of Mozart and the later symphonies of Dvorak were about.

Report this review (#51296)
Posted Tuesday, October 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Brain Salad Surgery" by Emerson, Lake and Palmer. It's known by many as a five star masterpiece with no flaws. Many people also consider this album to be ELP's best.

We all know about this album and the very long epic "Karn Evil 9." Everyone has heard the 1st Impression (Part 2) on the radio at some point and most agree that this song is very well done, so let's talk about it's supporting tracks. The album starts off with ELP's rendition of the hymn "Jerusalem." The song isn't bad and is a decent opener to the album. If this was anywhere else on the album I think it would sound out of place. The next track "Toccata" is the bands interpretation of the fourth movement of modern Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera's "1st Piano Concerto." If we look at what Ginastera said about their rendetion after hearing it, we can tell that he was satisfied. "Diabolic! That's incredible! You've captured the essence of my music, and nobody's ever done that before"- Ginastera. Emerson was stunned with this answer and later reflected "I didn't know what to say; I could've fallen through the floor. At that moment nothing else mattered to me. The other criticisms of the band meant absolutely nothing." With all this hype that I am bringing about while explaining the track I feel that the song leads up to it. The emotions and different parts explode and "Toccata" ends up being a very powerful track in my opinion. Many fans dismiss this as the band members just showing off, but after hearing the original by Ginastera, you can hear how ELP captured exactly what the composer was going for. In short, "Toccata" really blows me away.

Next we have "Still... You Turn Me On." Now don't get me wrong, this is a good song if it were on a classic rock album, but it just doesn't fit well on a progressive one. The lyrics are terrible (though I won't go into detail because the "ladder" part has been brought up by virtually everyone that hears it.) I find it to be an enjoyable song listening to it on it's own but when it comes directly after the excellent rendition of Ginastera's piece, it falls short. Very short.

We've all heard plenty about "Benny the Bouncer." I find this track to be interesting, but it is absolutely out of place (which almost always tends to be the case with ELP's "comedic" tracks.) If Lake would have sung this song normally, I think it would have been a good song for the album. When he is singing in that raspy voice it sounds as if the entire song is a joke and ruins the feel that is about to appear in the epic "Karn Evil 9."

"Karn Evil 9" is an excellent epic. I'm not going to go into great detail about the song because it is widely known by most progressive fans. I only find it to fall slightly short in the 3rd Impression as I feel that the middle instrumental section is unnecessary. We just heard a very good instrumental in the 2nd impression, I don't feel it to be necessary to hear another 5 minutes of playing while the wrapping up of the concept of the epic should have been brought about sooner instead of waiting so long. I also find those minutes of instrumental to be uninteresting. Other than that this song is very good and should be heard by all progressive fans to develop an opinion on ELP (since it's usually a love or hate relationship.)

Overall I would like to give this album a 3. The only reason I'm giving it a 4 is because I think that "Karn Evil 9" and "Toccata" by themselves would make an excellent addition to any prog collection. This album does fall short of expectations though, due to the hype that it receives by many ELP fans. The thing that frustrates me is how ELP had the absolute potential to make this one of the greatest albums out there. Instead they decided to take the easy way out and write two mediocre songs and cover a hymn that is again... mediocre.

Report this review (#56278)
Posted Monday, November 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars I can only give this album three stars and I feel mildly generous in doing that. (I gave the album a bonus due to the amazing art work and rounded 2.4 up to 3.) While ELP is without a doubt an influential band in this music that we call progressive, they struggled with putting out solid albums. Brain Salad Surgery, in my opinion, really has one decent song (Karn Evil 9).

While I like "Jerusalem" and think that ELP does a decent job performing it, it seems sorely out of place on this album. There is also a weird volume discrepancy early on in the song (which may be a flaw in the remastered recording) which keeps the last three-quarters of the song in an audio fog. If that was the intended effect (the sudden decrescendo), I am puzzled what the reasoning behind it was.

"Toccata" is a bit violent for an instrumental, which is why ELP liked it so much, no doubt. However, I can only take this song in small doses. It's just too much for even this well-developed prog palate to handle. So despite the original composer being impressed with Emerson's adaption, I am not as impressed as I reach for an aspirin to calm the headache that usually accompanies the hearing of Toccata in its entirety.

"Still...You Turn Me On" (while I hit SKIP). Seriously, this is a great little tune. However, for this prog lover, I was bored to tears after hearing it five times. For those of you wondering if a song is "progressive" or not, give it the unofficial prog test by listening to it five times in a row (yes...even the epics...especially the epics). If a song sounds good and catchy on the very first listen, that spells trouble (pop song...definitely not prog). If by the fifth listen, you are bored and there is nothing new to hear in the song, then it fails the prog test. However, you know you are listening to good "progressive" music if you are just starting to see (and hear) some new things in the song on the fifth listen. This is a long-winded way of saying that Still... miserably fails the unofficial prog test. I should have known when I thought it sounded pretty cool the very first time I heard it. Now I just have to skip it.

I said "Toccata" was tough for me to listen to. "Benny the Bouncer" is just dreadful. I dare anyone to try the unofficial prog test with this song. You may swear off music all together if you were forced to listen to this waste of vinyl five straight times. Let's face it, this song is a filler as part of ELP's "formula" which they thought was popular. (No guys, it's your good songs that make you popular, not these silly capers into music hell.) I'd like to try and describe "Benny" to you, but really...what's the point? It's a tongue-in-cheek vaudville act which makes me appreciate the SKIP button on my CD player. (That's two skips in a row, for those of you keeping score at home.)

"Karn Evil 9". Is this a planet? Is it a weird carnival? Is it a computer? Ask ELP and they will probably answer "YES" to all three questions as it relates to this song, easily the highlight of the album. It comes in four flavors, with each of them tasting a little different. I prefer Parts 1 and 2 of the first impression, mainly because I am a sucker for lyrics. The second and third impressions seem to drag on with nothing but keyboards on top of other keyboards. If you are a guitar man, you probably don't like ELP in the first place. But you also might come across this highly acclaimed song and wonder what all the fuss is about. Obviously, Keith Emerson shows some dazzling talent in all three impressions of this song and I would have loved to have seen him perform it live (as I understand ELP knew how to dazzle in their musicianship). Carl Palmer asserts himself nicely on the drums as well in this epic. If this song weren't so impressive, this album really would be a stinker, in my opinion. But this song alone makes Brain Salad Surgery a decent addition to a prog lover's collection (you might just have to SKIP some songs along the way).

Report this review (#58968)
Posted Friday, December 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars At the moment of this writing, this is #44 on the top 100 list. I must say, in my opinion that's pretty disgraceful.

Jerusalem - A nice, flashy way to open the album. They've opened albums much better in the past, but this is still good. I wish it was longer, though. 8/10.

Tocatta - The first time I heard this, I nearly fell out of my seat. This hilariously dissonant adaptation is quite the piece of music and the second best reason to get ahold of this album. Beautiful. 10/10.

Still you turn me on - I believe this to be the best of the Lake ballads, mostly because Emerson tries to come in and dominate it whenever he can, unlike on most of the other ballads. This isn't as bad as the crowd would have you believe. Well worthy of its inclusion here. 8/10.

Benny the bouncer - This one seems to be the one that prevents more five star ratings. I think it's a fun little song. Not awesome, but still good enough for me. Don't give Benny a cold meat pie, guys. Don't bury a hatcher in his head either. 7/10.

Karn evil nine - Whoa mama. This one is half an hour of awesomeness. I find this to be the best epic, maybe even best song, that I've ever heard. All three sections are worthy of an ace. Always my pick for the best example of prog in a single song, even if part one doesn't flow with part two at all. Spectacular, spectacular! 10/10.

All in all, a fantastic album that was my first introduction to ELP. I was hooked right away and I'm still hooked now. An easy pick for a masterpiece, an easy pick for ELP's best.

Report this review (#58970)
Posted Friday, December 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Brain Salad Surgery is quite often regarded as Emerson, Lake and Palmer at their peak. Few should disagree. The first progressive rock supergroup, Emerson, Lake and Palmer had it all, Greg Lake, one of the best voices in rock history and an excellent bassist and electric guitarist. Kieth Emerson, possibly THE keyboardist of keyboardists, brought an energy and an edge to the band that few groups could match. And of course the drum prodigy carl palmer, who was never afraid to show off what he could do.

The first side of the record begins with the bands own take on William Blake's "Jerusalem", it is a stunning rendition of the classic and an excellent way to kick off such a charismatic record, Lakes vocals are powerful and memorable and lines such as "Bring me my bow, bring me my arrows of desire" just seem so much more meaningful from his wonderfully ENGLISH voice. Next up is another take on a classic, the seven minute "Toccata" may be the darkest song that ELP ever produced, It is violent and harsh! and one of the greatest instrumentals in the ELP catalogue. The song that follows is another one of Lakes acoustic ballads that serves as a good way to relax after the energy of the first two tracks, "Still... You Turn Me On" may not be as good as trilogy's "From The Beginning" but none the less is a very enjoyable song which may have become a hit single if Emerson and Palmer had not prevented it from being released. The ridiculous "Benny The Bouncer" follows, a humourous short piece not to be taken too seriously featuring some of Emersons barrelhouse piano.

This all leaves plenty of space for the epic "Karn Evil 9".One of the longest and greatest epics in progressive rock history,almost eveything that made ELP great are all in this piece. Some peoples attention may begin to drift after a while, but anybody that truly understands progressive music will know that keeping your mind on the music is vitally important to understand it, and in the end are rewarded beyond belief. Karn Evil 9 really was a success in creating the worlds most exciting "classical/rock hybrid". Its futuristic sci-fi theme, looking back now, may seem scarily appropriate to todays society (Computers taking over peoples lives). Karn Evil 9 may be near the 30 minute mark but the energy and intensity in the bands playing can keep the listener satisfied all the way through (In fact I wish it was longer). The amount of clever hooks, and wonderful separate sections could fuel ten separate records, but you get it all in 30 minutes. One of my favourite keyboard hooks is near the start of the piece around the 1:30 minute mark where Emerson delivers a fantastic synth line. The piece also features another wonderful innovation, the first use(?) of electronic drums built for the piece itself and used in all the right places by Palmer. It also gave us one of rocks most memorable lines "Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends, We're so glad you could attend, come inside, come inside"

Altogether a stunning record and one of the greatest ever released. Very highly recomended.

Report this review (#61357)
Posted Friday, December 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I really don't know why it took me this long to review this album.

I mean, this album was my very very very first prog album. Ever. Not counting things like Sgt. Pepper. This was the first.

I remember coming home from school. My science teacher had showed us a video of Emerson, Lake & Palmer in class, and as a keyboard player myself, I was highly intrigued by Emerson's playing, and I loved Lake's singing, not to mention the drumming of Mr. Palmer.

I come home. I ask my father about a band caled Emerson, Lake & Palmer. He walks over to our massive shelf of albums, looks for a second, pulls off an album, and hands it to me. I look at the weird cover art of this, like, weird, girl, computer type thing.

He takes it, puts in the the player, and skips to a song that's called, as he points out to me, Karn Evil 9. And so I listen.

I fall into a new world. Nothing else matters. The world of Karn Evil 9 is all that needs to exist, and it's all that exists at the moment. I listen straight through to the end of the 3rd Impression.

Much to my own surprise, I listen to the entirety of Karn Evil 9 an average of 3 times a day for the next 7 weeks.

It took me a while to start researching the first half of the album. The song Jerusalem I Learned originally from the live Welcome Back... album, and I loved it there. While I might actually prefer it live, it is still great on the studio version.

Then Tocatta. Same deal; learned it live first. And, same deal again; I prefer it live. And, again again, same deal; I like the studio version very much as well. The pure, raw craziness of the song drives me crazy every time I hear it. A track unlike most others ever made.

Still... You Turn Me On is another one of those Greg Lake acoustic ballads. My favorite of his songs, I think, is From the Beginning, but this is close behind. His songs are, most of the time, very enjoyable, even though they aren't the most proggy of ELP songs. Benny the Bouncer, then, changes the feel a little. Some weird bar fight story comes in, backed by this weird uptempo beat. It was played before every listening for Karn Evil 9 for those 7 weeks. Need I say any more.

And then, the suite. The 1st Impression (Parts one and two) easily blow away the listener with the atmospheric keyboard work and Lake vocals. So utterly unspeakable, I think I won't speak about it. The 2nd Impression is where some people start to lose it. It sounds to most as rambling piano work with an over- stretched middle section with steel drums and other weird noises. LISTEN, buddy. Not quite. It is the only interlude between the two behemoths of Impressions 1 and 3. A most mindblowing piece of art. Then, Impression 3, when it comes back around. The battle with the computer comes together, with an untimely end. The instruments battle in the middle to form the ultimate climax to this work.

In my top ten. Easily. Many, and I mean MANY, of you disagree, especially because of the so-called pomposity of the band. Again, I disagree, but to each his/her own. Have a good listen, guys. 5/5 stars.

Report this review (#62739)
Posted Monday, January 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Quality album that i must reccomend to all progheads. Karn Evil suite is fantastic, showcasing the talents of all three members. The first three tracks are also worth a listen...Jerusalem is not as out of place as it seems, and the interpretation of tocatta is one of the many high points on the album. The only thing that keeps this from being a five star album is the incredibly out of place Benny The Bouncer....although the track is quite humorous...the style of music seems to be diametrically opposed to that of the rest of the album.
Report this review (#66655)
Posted Wednesday, January 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars I'd like to say that this album got me into ELP...I just think its so unashamedly bombastic, full of fusion and has a nice silly feel to it. Karn Evil 9....i wish people would just treat that song with a bit of humour sometimes. Its a bit of know how music is meant to be a bit of fun. And this is an amazing example of progressive rock...Keith Emerson really was a nutcase wasn't he?
Report this review (#67130)
Posted Saturday, January 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Another great ELP album. Excellent played and sung. No wonder, this is supergroup. First track, Jerusalem, is an excellent interpretation of old english hymn. Very strong thing, well sung by Greg Lake. Toccata is Keith Emerson show. Very weird thing. Still ...You Turn Me On is a very enjoyable song. Very catchy with great theme in the chorus and very nice romantic mood. Benny the Bouncer is a honky-tonk style song - nothing very special. And at last the crown of the album - Karn Evil 9. One of the greatest progressive rock epic. It is a quintessence of ELP style and sound. You have to listen to this one!!!
Report this review (#68964)
Posted Friday, February 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is it. The music that started all for me.

I remember having the LP to listen at home, and the cassette to play it whenever my father let me his car and a 8 track because my car had one so maybe I was too much into this record.

They were bombastic, they were pompous, but I remember a time when rock used to be like that. I absolutely love Toccata I and could swear I can hear God weeping of joy in it.

Report this review (#72309)
Posted Sunday, March 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars If you havent heard ELP, this is a great album to hear their various styles. You have the typical ELP sound at its best with songs such as Jerusalem and Karn Evil 9. There is the humerous song that is found on the majority of their albums in Benny The Bouncer. You have the intense virtuosity of Emerson and Palmer in the song Toccatta, an insane rendition of a classical piece. Then you have the sweet voice of Greg Lake along with his acoustic guitar arpeggios in Still. . . You Turn Me On.

I have searched, and it is simply impossible to find 3 better musicians working together. Greg Lake has an amazing voice, in fact I have never heard anyone with a better voice. Keith Emerson is only comparable to Rick Wakeman in terms of talent. In my opinion he is slightly better than Wakeman. And Carl Palmer is an even better drummer than Neil Peart from Rush and Bill Bruford from Yes/King Crimson.

This album was ELP's magnum opus. One of the few albums I would give a 5/5. It was their best piece, and they could never best themselves after this. The only album that was close to this one is Pictures at an Exhibition, their rendition of Mussorgsky's classic piece.

Report this review (#73207)
Posted Sunday, March 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is the ESSENTIAL ELP album if you must have one. Perhaps one of the top 10 prog records of all time, this album is full of hits that just keep coming and the infamous "Karn Evil 9" is one of the best works of music ever made. "Still...You Turn Me On" is another great rock song that many will enjoy as is "Benny the Bouncer". People who aren't familiar with ELP should start with this album and work their way backwards to enjoy other albums like Trilogy and Tarkus. Overall this is certainly an album worthy of 5 stars and the title of "progressive rock". A lot of people will enjoy the extravagant keyboard playing of Keith Emerson and the insane drumming work of Carl Palmer. That Greg Lake guy isn't too shabby either! A must have essential piece of progressive music.
Report this review (#74365)
Posted Friday, April 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars The first track Jerusalem is a cover of old hymn with lyrics written by the great english poet William Blake. ELP treat this song with the respect it deserves while adding much needed life and a great level of emotion putting it on a new level. The hymn is strange start to an album with a sleeve that looks like it came straight out of hades. 8.5/10

Toccata, the albums masterpiece and one of my personal favourite song of all times. It starts of with quiet trumpets which decieves the listener with what lies ahead. Then with crashing passion comes the keyboards, drum and bass, with such agression and intense passion. When the keyboards are finished their thrashing, a drum solo by Carl Palmer finishes off the first "movement" of the song, then rumbling percussives noices of Palmer, and a windy sound effect take your emagination to outside the colleseum of ancient Rome ELP have taken you with this song to genre of program music, Greg Lake's bass plays and give the impression of a sneaking shadow in the vicinty an alarm is sounded with even more agression the musicians play strange experimental noises, and at a heightened climax of music we are taken back to the first "movement", and then the song ends leaving your mind blown away. I have never heard a more savagely intense song as this one. 10/10 turn me on and Benny the bouncer are two short tracks I treat as fillers, Still... is more a typical love ballad, for the ladies and most likely a single. Benny the bouncer is humorous piece about a bar fight, int the same vein as Harold the Barrel or the Battle of Epping Forest by Genesis, albeit not as good; although I know some people who like it. 6.5/10 each

Karn Evil 9:

1st Impression parts one and two ; although I think this piece is a little dated, it still has some amazing solos by ELP, their trademark energy, and has the famous lines "WELCOME BACK MY FRIENDS TO THE SHOW THAT NEVER ENDS", I listen to this piece quite regulary 7.5/10

2nd Impression is mostly a traditional jazz piano with influences of Coltrane etc on it. Has a bit of ragtime in it as well, great for widening your appreciation to more traditional jazz pieces. 7/10

3rd Impression Is a great piece with some very fascinating inventive keyboarding by Keith Emerson. Lake's voice really excels on this piece. This whole movement is based around computers taking over the world, with a robotic voice declaring war on humanity-played by Lake, there is strange whirlling hypnotic robotic noices with interesting keyboard effects to describe the battle between humanity and robots. The albums sleeve looks as if to give reference to this. 8.5/10 Overall an enjoyable journey and perhaps the finest ELP album to date. And if possible its better to get this on vinyl for the sleeve, the open up design is just incedible, HR Gigers painting is one of the most memorable works of art in the 20th century. This album is definately worth your time.

Report this review (#74372)
Posted Saturday, April 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Another excellent album in the vein of Trilogy and Tarkus, but in my opinion, it contains much more quality material and less filler.

The first song, Jerusalem, is an interesting take on an English hymn, made quite powerful by the bands excellent arangement and Lake's sinuous yet soothing voice.

The second piece, titled Toccata, is an incredible orchestral work, combining Emerson's tearing Hammond and biting Moog with Palmer's symphonic drumwork. The performance of the Ginastera piece is divided by a "percussion movement", which was not present in the original piece. Held together by Lake's fluid basslines, this is a highlight of this album.

Toccata is followed by Lake's "Still... You Turn Me On", a gentle piece that provides a nice contrast to Toccata. Up next is "Benny the Bouncer", a playful honky-tonk song with some entertaining lyrics. One of ELP's signature "playful" songs, it is, in my opinion, of higher quality than similar material on Tarkus.

Following is the progressive masterpiece "Karn Evil 9". Divided into 3 movements, the song stretches out to over half an hour, and describes rather harshly the effect of technology and progress on the human race and human nature. Driven by Emeson's amazing keyboards, this piece continues to amaze after many listens. Classical, hard rock, and jazz are melded together to create quite the sonic experience. The skill of each member is put on display once again and the results are incredible. The Karn Evil suite is worth the price of the album alone, in my opinion.

As a side note, the remastered CD contains some interesting interviews with the band, and an informative essay in the included booklet.

A masterpiece of symphonic prog and prog in general.

Report this review (#74742)
Posted Wednesday, April 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars One thing is quite certain: ou can love this album to death or loathe it with every fiber of your being, but you can't really ignore it. From the gorgeusly disturbing gatefold sleeve, displaying a masterpiece of Gothic artwork by Swiss cult artist R.H. Giger (of "Alien" fame), down to the unabashed self-indulgence of its musical content, "Brain Salad Surgery" is a compendium of everything progressive rock is all about, the good, the bad and the ugly. It is loud, metallic, and harsh, undeniably bombastic, though it can also be melodic and soothing - a true rollercoaster ride of an album, swinging from the beautiful, English choirboy vocals of "Jerusalem" (with wonderful lyrics courtesy of one Mr William Blake) to the all-out progressive orgy that is "Karn Evil 9". < BSS is not an easy listen, despite the presence of the obligatory Greg Lake ballad, the much-maligned (especially in a lyrical sense) but moving and vocally stunning "Still...You Turn Me On", which offers some much-needed respite from the relentless bludgeoning of Keith Emerson's keyboards and Carl Palmer's percussion in the preceeding "Toccata". The piano-driven "Benny the Bouncer", instead, is undeniably the only weak link in the record, good for a few laughs but nothing more. However, silly and pointless as it may sound, it prepares the listener for the album's pièce de resistance, the 30-minute-plus "Karn Evil 9", one of prog rock's defining moments (for better and for worse). A weird sci-fi tale of man versus technology, it contains more than a stab at political and religious institutions, especially in the famed "1st Impression - Part 2", better known as "Welcome Back My Friends to the Show that Never Ends". Emerson and Palmer have a field day on this epic tour de force, creating all sorts of eerie, dissonant sounds, on which Lake stamps his presence by singing in a more assertive, even aggressive way than his usual, elegant delivery. < As with all ELP albums (with the possible exception of their debut), this one is not perfect either, containing as it does both priceless gems and disposable filler. So, why 5 stars? Because it's one of the absolute highpoints of its genre, and no one can say to know prog rock without having ever listened to it at least once. Call it pompous, overblown and outdated, it's still a hell of a record, one many contemporary bands can only dream of producing. Nowadays, no one would probably have the nerve...

Report this review (#74836)
Posted Thursday, April 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Brain Salad Surgery is not simply the best album of the year of prog 1973, nor is it just the best ELP album. It is the pinnacle of an entire decade. No album that I've ever heard has matched the sheer energy of First Impression, the awe-filled reverence of Jerusalem, the playfulness of Toccata, the tenderness of Still... You Turn Me On, or, most importantly, the message of Third Impression.

Yeah, a message.

Remember back in the '60s? When music had a message? Well, a lot of the music in the '70s lost that message. Karn Evil 9, like Tarkus before it, has a message. You need to listen to it to hear it. You need to do more than have it playing in the background during your morning commute. Karn Evil 9 is the pinnacle of an entire style of music, and I think it's terrible that it's been put down as inaccessible and therefore crappy. Good art is not accessible; it takes a little while to digest. Most people are too preoccupied with other things to digest any track over 8 minutes, and this 29- minute "monstrosity" must be a large mental task indeed. But if this 18-year-old mind can comprehend the true beauty of this masterpiece and the message it exists to convey, then certainly perhaps you can all sit down and wipe your minds clean of the notion that this is simply an excuse to play guitars fast and throw some crazy sounds into pompous music. Karn Evil 9 is more than that, and for me shows that not every song that changes time signatures once or twice per track is qualified to be "progressive".

[I'm not insulting Yes here, because I also like Yes. But I would recommend to anyone that thinks Brain Salad Surgery is overblown and pompous to listen to Tales from Topographic Oceans. It makes ELP sound like Bob Dylan.]

I can't let this one pass: Benny the Bouncer is the single worst ELP song ever. Hands down. I don't know why they kept putting songs like that in their albums.

Report this review (#75090)
Posted Saturday, April 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars After Trilogy ELP continued with successful formula; here we have the album which structurally follows its predecessor in a sense that we have two beautiful melody tracks, the opener 'Jerusalem' and Lake's ballad 'Still....You Turn Me On' and the rest more progressive material like 'Toccata' and 'Karn Evil 9' with its impressions.Of course that there is 'Benny The Bouncer' which keeps tradition of 'Are You Ready Eddie?' and 'The Sheriff'. Nevertheless,this is nice album containing some real prog highlights; my personal favourite is 'Toccata' which brings strong and balanced participation of each band member, with particularly impressive Palmer's drumming. Also 'Karn Evil 9' 1st Impression-part2 and 3rd Impression I would count to the highlights of the album. Really, when you find out that listening to this album, even after thirty three years, your'e able to say that some songs still turn you on, it's a clear sign of good and lasting music material. However, after this release ELP's inspiration has somehow faded . Albums which followed weren't even close to the quality of this one and the magic was gone.
Report this review (#77152)
Posted Thursday, May 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars I used to laugh at "Brain Salad Surgery", but finally I have actually learned to like it. The learning phenomenon about some albums is quite fashinating, but you never know in advance it you will be rewarded for your patience. Parts of this album is so tecnical that I found it hard to see the soul in it (but I guess that's ELP). Keeping the theoretical aspects aside (many other reviewers have splendid descriptions of this) it's a pleasant trip. It's fun! It's unique! ...and it IS in fact rather soulful! I still think "Trilogy" and "Tarkus" are slightly better albums, but "Brain Salad Surgery" is fashinating and as a concept it is more artistic and ambitious. I also see an aggressive/raw side of ELP that's not that apparent on previous albums. So, for the strong concept and the fantastic "Karn Evil 9" (suite) I think it definitely deserves four strong stars! 4,5.
Report this review (#77209)
Posted Friday, May 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars While I like the raw, post-Woodstock quality of ELP's self-titled first album, Brain Salad Surgery really put ELP on the map with 'mainstream' FM rock stations in the early- to mid- 1970s (that is either a good or a bad thing). I never tire of ELP's rendition of the British hymn, 'Jerusalem,' though it perpetuates the myth that all Brits (if not all Europeans) are Zionists. 'Toccata' is a masterful performance of a now-famous neo-classical, avant garde piece. Palmer's use of electronic drums is especially notable as it had to be one of the first recordings of such a novel instrument at that time (as was Pink Floyd's use of roto-toms in 'Time' from Dark Side of the Moon). 'You Turn Me On' is balladic Lake in quintessential form. 'Benny the Bouncer' proves that Emerson played Joplin's ragtime (as did anyone else who studied piano) and copies the style very well. The prog suite, Karn Evil 9, is the showcase of the album: '1st Impression Part 2' even made FM radio airplay in the mid- 1970s. The '2nd Impression' again shows Emerson's (and Palmer's) abilities in jazz, or at least jazz-pop. This album was first in my collection as vinyl in the late 1970s, and now I have it on CD. More polished than ELP's first album, it still delivers a musical prog delight.
Report this review (#78424)
Posted Wednesday, May 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars In my opinion, there are four progressive albums that you must own before you can even consider a collection of prog music. This album is one one of them. (For the record, the other three are "Close to the Edge" "Dark Side of the Moon" and "In the Court of the Crimson King".

The album is a masterpiece which shows precision in every song. Unlike some of the other long winded epics such as "Echoes", the main track "Karn Evil 9" shows direction in the music, despite almost reaching the 30-minute mark. This epic, divided into three"impressions" (the first divided into two parts), Is to me, a metaphor for civilization's abandonment of the natural world and our anchient roots for more modern high- tech "attractions" portrayed as carnival show. The third impression is basically how our own creation will end up bringing us down. I have a much longer, detailed explanation posted somewhere else online, but's it's not necessary for an album review. This song alone is worth the price of the album.

The second stand out track is the instrumental "Toccata" which also shows precision and and fits well alongside the epic track (although being only 1/4 as long)

"Jerusalem" and " Turn Me On" are also good songs, but don't hold up as nice as the previously mentioned songs

The only weak song on the album is "Benny the Bouncer" which is essentially filler

A five star rating for "Karn Evil 9" alone

Report this review (#78731)
Posted Friday, May 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Brain Salad Surgery is self-indulgent and flamboyant. It's an over-the-top exercise in synthesized musical dabbling. However, that's not to say that it doesn't work. It does, and it's majestic and marvelously anthemic when that happens.

"Jerusalem" and the first 2 impressions of "Karn Evil" are what hold this album together. The former is the epitome of the anthemic ELP sound. The latter - the first 2 impressions of "Karn Evil" - are spread out across three tracks and it brings a mix of the ELP signature flamboyance. It combines elements of jazz and rock all molded in a majestic ball dripping with synth (except for that beautiful and jazzy piano instrumental to begin impression #2). It's the great harmonies and potent energy on these tracks that make them rise above the rest and fell this album afloat as a good prog rock album.

The other songs unfortunately hold the album down. In the midst of the first tracks I mentioned, the other songs merely pose as forgettable fillers. The tailend of "Karn Evil", in my view, isn't necessarily bad, but it pales as comparison to this epic's other parts. This fact makes the album end on a low note.

Report this review (#79049)
Posted Tuesday, May 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Maybe this album is for some people a clear example of the "excesses" done by some Progressive Rock bands in the seventies. Albums like this maybe created the criticisms done by some people to this kind of music. Yes, this album has some excesses, and it really neeeds repeated listenings to have a better impression as a whole, but IMO, it is maybe ELP`s best album, their peak as a band.

"Jerusalem" sounds like a Religious anthem (I really don`t know if it is a Religious anthem), but I like very much this arrangement of this piece of music.

"Tocatta" is heavy in some places, noisy in some places (with the use of synthesizers), and with Palmer playing timpani and gongs.

"Still ... You Turn Me On" is a ballad with acoustic and electric guitars, and I also can hear that Lake even used a Wah-Wah pedal. It is a very good song that the band could not play it in the proper way in concert, as Lake only played it with his acoustic guitar.

"Benny the Bouncer" has some humour which balances the musical density of the next song:

"Karn Evil 9", which has several parts with different musical styles. Emerson sang lead vocals on the "First Impression (parts 1 & 2)", and his voice is very similar to Lake`s, and I could not believe that he was singing these parts when I read the credits on the cover. This "First Impression" is musically the most interesting part of this album, very Progressive, IMO. The "Second Impression" part is very influenced by Jazz. The "Third Impression" part is also progressive, but the rhythm has not many changes as in the "First Impression" parts. "Karn Evil 9" needs more repeated listenings to be appreciated better a s a whole piece of music, but in the end the listener (at least in my case) has the impression of a very good piece of music.

In conclusion, this album is not an easy listening for the first time, but, as I wrote before, repeated listenings are needed to discover how good it is.

Report this review (#80665)
Posted Thursday, June 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars I loved this album for a while, probably only because it is worshiped by like everybody. But after the excitement of hearing "Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends," I've found Brain Salad Surgeryto be highly overrated. This is probably the ELP release that suffers from the classic "I want to show off my skills, not write good songs." "Jersusalem" and "Toccata" have their moments. "Still...You Turn Me On" is evidence ELP needs to stay away from the ballads. "Benny The Bouncer" is okay- better than the previously mentioned track. "Karn Evil 9" is where most of my complaints are. First, only the single portion of it is good. The rest is just shallow flaunting of their skills- not really "songs" in my book. Also, the whole "concept" behind "Karn Evil 9" is terrible. First they're talking about some carnival or whatever, and then it completely 180s on the listener and starts talking about an evil computer trying to take over the world or something like that. My only conclusion is that the band's stash ran out halfway through the song and their new supplier had something funny laced in the new stuff. Thus, their train of thought was completely thrown off. Anyway, Brain Salad Surgery isn't as bad as I'm probably making it out to be. If you want ELP at their best, get Trilogy. Oh, and the album cover is pretty sweet. H.R. Giger is the man.
Report this review (#81790)
Posted Friday, June 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
Cygnus X-2
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After strong albums like their debut and to some degree Tarkus, ELP 4th studio album would prove to be their most popular, and their most experimental, in my opinion. What you'll find here is a nice mixture of serious instrumental and vocal passages (Toccata, Karn Evil 9), acoustic ballads (Still... You Turn Me On), an epic retelling of a great poem (Jerusalem), and a nice little joke piece (Benny the Bouncer). The results point to a success, in my opinion. While the album isn't a masterpiece, there certainly are mainly strong qualities to make this album enjoyable to many people. Greg Lake is strong here on the bass guitar, acoustic guitar, and vocally, Keith Emerson creates many different moods with his expansive synthesizers and his punchy organ, and Carl Palmer is at his best in technical aspects on this album, and really shows that he's a very strong drummer.

The album opens with Jerusalem, an epic retelling of the William Tell poem of the same name. Strong performances from Lake and Emerson are noteworthy here, with Lake giving a great vocal performance over Emerson's dynamic keyboard work. Toccata can be seen as either one of two things, an instrumental masterpiece or a nice example of musical cacauphony. I see it as a stunning example of how synthesizers can create disturbing atmospheres. Kudos to Carl Palmer here with a brilliant percussion solo in the middle, holding the song together as it seems to come apart at the seams at some times. Still... You Turn Me On is another Greg Lake penned ballad of sorts, in the vein of Lucky Man and From the Beginning. There's some nice wah guitar in the breakdown between the choruses and the dynamic acoustic guitar really adds some variety to the 90% keyboard dominated sound.

Benny the Bouncer is the jokey tune of the album, similar to that of Jeremy Bender, Are You Ready Eddy?, and the Sheriff. It's a short little ditty that really throws the mood of the album in a totally different direction before the showpiece of the album. Karn Evil 9 is a 35 minute opus of swirling synthesizers, grandiose circus lyrics, forboding synthesized voices, and steady jazzy instrumental sections. Every member of the band shines on this song and really show their expertise on their respective instruments. My only real gripe with the song is that it tends to drag a bit in the Second Impression, and I'm not too fond of the anti-climatic ending. But overall, this is a stunning piece that sprawls over two sides of vinyl (well, the last 8 minutes of one side of vinyl).

Overall, I see this album as ELP's best work. It's not a masterpiece, but it's a damn fine piece that took the group into the delirious heights of popularity. If you're just getting into the band, this is the album to start with, as you get a nice mixture of everything ELP has to offer. 4.5/5.

Report this review (#81797)
Posted Friday, June 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars I used to really really like this album because I loved Karn-Evil... Now, I still like it, but now after having listened to many more albums I find several flaws on it that make me think that this is not an amazing album as I used to think... First of all... the main track, Karn-Evil seems to me way too long and uneven.. I mean It doesnt seem to be one song.. sometimes the lyrics get me tired and the movements dont seem to be "integrated" to the whole song... I like Toccatta and still you turn me on even though I have an obvious feeling that this song was made just to sell and its not what these guys could actually do with all their time and effort... anyway.. you should definitely give this album a space in your collection, but I don't think this should be considered a masterpiece of prog by any means
Report this review (#82961)
Posted Thursday, July 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Absolutely brilliant!

This is the peak of Emerson Lake and Palmer's creative genious and one of the best examples of Progressive rock to ever hit the stands. ELP amazes me before and after this album but this seems to be the their most solid effort. It starts with a reverant yet rocking version of "Jerusalem" with a very good vocal representation from Greg, awesome organ and synth from Keith, and of course, the completely original and incredible drumming of Carl Palmer. This breathes life into the old hymn and then some! Tocatta is a whole differant matter. It is quite definatly one of the most wild peices of music I have heard. I have to admit, when I first heard it I thought it was an abomination but after many listens I am quite fond of it. Being a young progger who had never heard of ELP until they were long a legend in progland, I simply had not heard anything remotely resembling "toccata" The only complaint I have about it is the drum sequencer could be labled as "lame old technology sounds," but I geuss this is a reason that you dont just pop ELP in your cd player when your taken a joy ride with your non-prog've got to slowly introduce them to it. "Still You Turn Me On" often gets bashed for having badly written lyrics and annoying electric guitar, but I think it is a lovely song. The instruments are so well layered. I do think the vocal track could have benefited from being a little louder in the mix... "Benny The Bouncer" isnt outstanding but its a fun little peice that always deserves a listen. Ahh...and then there they are. All three of them...impressions, and they will forever leave an impression on music as we know it. Karn Evil 9...although being a christian I can't say im particulary fond of the name, is a masterpiece. Although the first impression is very catchy and solid on both parts, and the 2nd impression isn't shabby either, the 3rd impression has quite a good melody in my opinion and seems to be the standout. All 3 are completely good, and who can forget the obvious line? "welcome back...etc" This album is essential! ELP has brought prog to areas that no band had gone before and done a brilliant job at it too, this is most demonstrated in this album. If you call yourself a prog fan.............

Report this review (#83195)
Posted Sunday, July 9, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Come inside, the show's about to start, guaranteed to blow your head apart"

Oh, Yeah ELP, you blow my head apart !! I read the reviews here and decided to buy "Brain Salad Surgery".This is my first ELP album and I'm still impressed by this masterpiece. It gives me lots of energy, as well as the music is incredible, with a lot of memorable melodies and classics. The musicianship is incredible. I have never heard before any of ELP (wait, I'm 15), and I'm very impressed by the quality of the musicians (I predicted that), I heard some of people say "Hey, have you heard ELP ? Emerson keyboard playing is out of this world !! " Well, they're right !! Along the whole album he does and incredible job, with much (a lot!!) technique and melody. I love to hear the things he does on his keyboard, the creative use of effects, synthesizers, organ, melodies, etc. Lake has not all that technique, but he can accompany every thing that Emerson does, and he has a nice voice. And Palmer is a beast of drum. He can create even melody with his drum, like he does on "Toccatta", using it of a very creative way, and the power he gives helps with the incredible energy and technique this band has. Most of the tracks have much technique, but at same time are very accesible and catchy. Here goes a description song by song of this masterpiece:

We introduce to this journey with "Jerusalem", that is originally an English patriotic song from the beginning of the XX century. The adaptation á la ELP is very well done. Emerson can adapt everything to his piano. The vocals are very catchy and obviously I have a classical feeling when I hear to this song. The moment when it says: "Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand" is imposing. Beautiful opener.

The first crazy track here is the instrumental "Toccata", another adaptation of the Carlos Ginastera classic, who was amazed by the way ELP adapted it. This (I must say) composition is very dark and technical, with lots of intrincated rhythms that influenced then technical bands like Dream Theater. Emerson's keyboards shine here, with lots of effects, some of them like 'robotic', like the crazy one "wuuuuuaaaaa, wuuuuuuaaaaa, wuuuuuaaaaa ....". Here we've got some great and potent drumming by Palmer, that uses a kind of electronic (?) drum that accompanies the synthesizers odd effects. Crazy and mindblowing song.

"Still... You Turn Me On" is the follower and the most commercial song of the album. It features nice acoustic guitar and catchy and deep vocals by Lake, and the characteristic "wah, wah" effect on the chorus. I can here some bass to emphasize the more melodic moments of the song, and the nice Emerson's arrangements. The most melodic side of "Brain Salad Surgery".

Then goes the big musical journey epic of "Karn Evil 9", which has three movements called 'impressions' and lasts totally around 30 minutes and it's a masterpiece itself. I never got bored during the 30 minutes. The First Impression starts with a cool keyboard riff, that opens the entrance of the nice bass lines, and powerful drumming. When I hear this, it gives me a lot of energy, I can't explain it much better, you have to listen to this song if you haven't yet. On the Frist Impression Emerson does the vocals. Here we've different dynamic transitions, like the "Roll up, roll up, roll up ..." and excellent keyboards, arrangements and solos. At the end of the First Part there is an excellent guitar solo and the only one of the album, which is repeated then on the 2nd Part and has its very technical moments. I love the rhytmic sections here. Excellent !! After this unloading of adrenalin, some effects introduce me to the Second Part of the First Impression and Lake starts singing: "Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends, we're so glad you could attend, come inside! come inside!", and some moments then: "Come inside, the show's about to start, guaranteed to blow your head apart". As I said before, yeah, ELP, you blow my head apart. The adrenalin this has is impressive: "You've got to see the show, it's a dynamo. You've got to see the show, it's rock and roll ....", OH YEAH IT ROCKS, and then goes an amazing keyboard solo. Incredible !! The Second Impression is instrumental and features the incredible Emerson's hability on piano and a jazzy feeling. You've got to hear this !! To finish, goes the Third Impression which is very symphonic and has catchy vocals and some memorable classical melodies, nice !! The album fades out with an effect that increases speed more and more until this masterpiece album finishes.

No more to say. If you haven't bought this masterpiece you should buy it. It's one of the best records I've ever heard and very high quality technical Symphonic Prog. You'll not be dissapointed, believe me !! ELP, keep on rockin' !!

Rating: 5/5

Report this review (#85187)
Posted Sunday, July 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This has to be one of the best prog rock albums that i have ever heard. I have just recently started to get into prog rock and this is one of the albums that helped me. Jerusalem is an amazing song. This is the song that got me into elp. It starts off really quietly and get's louder and more amazing as the song goes on. Karn evil 9 is amazing too. "Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends." All three impressions are great and they make the album as amazing as it is. If you haven't heard, i suggest you listen right away and be AMAZED!
Report this review (#85217)
Posted Monday, July 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Some people will argue that this album has a few good songs, and the rest are letdowns.

I don't understand those people.

This album is fantastic from 0:00 to 45:04. In fact, it's over too quickly. The tracks in Karn Evil 9 meld into each other, so you're left with the "Oh! It's over already?" feeling. This was my first ELP album, and I admit it took me a little while to get into it. But once I did, I was hooked. From the redone hymns to the classical covers, every moment oozes with ELP in their prime. Emerson's keyboards can make a keyboard hater buy a Hammond impulsively. The man is amazing. And I for one actually love Benny the Bouncer! Lake's voice is hilarious, and Keith's piano solo is one of my favorites. So, onto the ratings.

Jerusalem - 4/5

Toccata - 5/5

Still...You Turn Me On - 3/5

Benny The Bouncer 5/5

Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression - Part 1 - 5/5

Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression - Part 2 - 5/5

Karn Evil 9: 2nd Impression - 5/5

Karn Evil 9: 3rd Impression - 4/5

All in all, you should get this whether you're an ELP fan or not, boy or girl, young or-... Wait, I guess the boy/girl one covers everything. Anyhow, buy this. It's a solid 4.5 stars. You won't be dissapointed.

(And if you are, I'll send you a package of disgruntled shrews to eat your face. Yes, you can buy those now.)

Report this review (#87849)
Posted Monday, August 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars When I first got this album (just before Xmas 1973) I was initially disappointed, as I didn't feel it was as good as the previous 4 albums and its best track (Karn Evil 9) was split over each side of vinyl. Years later any lasting disappointments are countered by digital recording, allowing selective playback, without fear of ruining your precious vinyl.

These days I tend to listen to music in MP3 format from my computer, my walkman or in my car and the tracks that I've transferred to MP3 from the CD are:

Toccata, Still...You Turn Me On, Karn Evil 9, Brain Salad Surgery and When The Apple Blossoms Bloom In The Windmills Of Your Mind.

In my opinion, this is what should've been on the original vinyl, and would've made me very happy back in '73, although Karn Evil 9 still wouldn't fit on one side of vinyl. On the basis of this track listing, I have to give it the full 5 stars. Come to think of it, the album could have been released with just Karn Evil 9 and it would still be fantastic.

Not heard any ELP and want to know what all the fuss is about? Listen to this album and you'll soon find out. You'll also find out why Benny the Bouncer didn't make my playlist! I don't particularly like Jerusalem, but it isn't as awful as Benny the Bouncer.

Just one down side to the digital age, the original vinyl album sleeve is far better than what you get with a CD. Incidentally, has anyone seen the uncensored version of the cover?

Report this review (#88136)
Posted Thursday, August 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars When I think of this album I always smile!

Actually, this is the ONLY album that my mother has asked me not to play... ever!

Lets make one thing clear. It is very hard to review this album since it is so diverse. "Jerusalem" is over pretentious, "Still... you turn me on" is somewhat boring and "Benny the bouncer" is just insane.

The two major prog pieces are "Toccata" and "Karn evil", and they are mindblowing! I must admit that I love this more than necessary complicated arrangements. In a way that's what ELP is all about for me.

The reviews above cover these songs in detail so I'll keep it short.

The album in total = 3,5 stars Toccata and Karn evil = 6,5 stars (on a five star scale) Overall = 4 stars

I listen to this album in my mp3 player and my advice is to simply remove the 3 not so funny songs and go for the prog - cause prog it is!

Report this review (#89072)
Posted Wednesday, September 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars The only reason I give Brain Salad Surgery four stars instead of five is that I absolutely and utterly detest Benny the Bouncer. Apart from that, it would easily be a five-star album.

Jerusalem is one of my favorite songs. I don't care what anyone says, I think it is beautiful and very emotional. When Greg Lake sings "I will not cease from mental fight, nor shall my sword sleep in my hand...", it gives me chills every single time. Toccata is very strange and intense, but it is very original and marvellously executed. Still...You Turn Me On is an excellent song, and I love it although it recieves criticism by many for being the obligatory Greg Lake ballad on the album. Karn Evil Nine is ELP's second- best masterpiece, behind Tarkus. First Impression: Part Two is unfortunately used ad nauseum at many sporting events and such, but it is still a good song. I prefer Part One personally. Second Impression is really excellent, and shows off Kieth Emerson's talent nicely. Third Impression is also great, and the ending produces an unsettling feeling that makes you feel like computers might just be taking over the world.

Kieth Emerson, Greg Lake and Carl Palmer are all individually wonderful musicians, and together they are even better. Their sheer virtuosity is what makes this album so good. I really would like to give it five stars if not for Benny the Bouncer.

The artwork on the album cover really is worth mentioning as well. H.R. Gieger's work is really disturbing sometimes, but it suits this music perfectly.

Report this review (#90193)
Posted Monday, September 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars After so many positive reviews on this album this was the first ELP album I ever purchased and it will probably be my last!

This album is considered one of the best albums of all time in the progressive music scene. Then why am I so disappointed? I was also disappointed in most work of KING KRIMSON, except for a few excellent songs like "Epitaph" and "In the Wake Of Poseidon". Maybe it would have been better for me to keep away from ELP.

1. Jerusalem (2:44)

Did we end up in a church here on a Sunday morning? I have nothing against Christian songs, but with so much organ it feels to me I'm in a church and I don't like to go to church very much. Therefore I don't like to listen to this kind of music at home either.

2. Toccata (7:23)

An adaptation of Ginastera's 1st Piano Concerto, 4th movement. I'm not really into classical music even though I can listen to light classical music. This piece is basically to heavy classical for me. It's very cinematic and I suppose it would do great in a movie theatre while we are watching a "big car chase", but other than that I don't like to listen to this "just for the fun of it". In a while all the noises just get on my nerves. Definitely not my cup of tea. 3. Still... You Turn Me On (2:53)

This is a nice acoustic ballad, but sounds a bit to "smooth" to be progressive. Aren't progressive songs supposed to last a bit longer than 2:53 ?

4. Benny The Bouncer (2:21)

In this case I'm happy the song only lasts 2:21 because this song is just too simplistic to be on a "masterpiece of progressive rock".

5. Karn Evil 9 (1st Impression - Part 1) (8:44) 6. Karn Evil 9 (1st Impression - Part 2) (4:47) 7. Karn Evil 9 (2nd Impression) (7:07) 8. Karn Evil 9 (3rd Impression) (9:03)

I suppose you could reduce tracks 5,6,7 and 8 just into 1 long track of almost 30 minutes and this is the only track worth while buying this CD for.

Another reason to buy the CD is for the great artwork by the Swiss surrealist H. R. Giger, creator of the terrifying life forms and their otherworldly environment in the film classic ALIEN, for which he received the Oscar in 1980. Painter, sculptor, designer, interior architect, Giger extends his artistic vision into all domains. Fundamental to the nature of his work is his Biomechanical aesthetic, a dialectic between man and machine, representing a universe at once disturbing and sublime.

Final score: 2 stars for Karn Evil 9 and the sublime artwork from H. R. Giger.

Report this review (#90258)
Posted Tuesday, September 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars Last of the supposedly "great" studio albums from ELP, Brain Salad Surgery is highly overrated and really not that good in my opinion. There is just not that much good music here. The track Karn Evil 9 takes up the majority of the album. What is left ranges from bad to ok. The best track of the first four is Still...You Turn Me On, which people often refer to as the acoustic track from Lake. This time I think that Lake did it right and made the track interesting enough. Jerusalem is ok, nothing special. And I find Tocatta to be to much noise and not enough music. They are trying to hard on this track to sound scary and avant-garde, but it just sounds uninspired. Of course Benny the Bouncer is completely unlistenable.

So all your left with is Karn Evil 9. Is this the suite that brings the album to its legendary status? Is this the track that is up there with Tarkus? Nope. Its not even a coherent package. The three impressions are not related at all. The best part is the first impression part one. This is an amazing track and is up there with the song Trilogy. High musicianship, interesting lyrics, never boring, everything you would want from an ELP song. First impression part two is good, but basically has Emerson reinstating what Lake just did but with different lyrics. It basically sounds like a shortened version of part one. Next is the second impression which is instrumental and about as enjoyable as Tocatta, which is not at all. The last impression is ok, but lacks the excitement of the first impression. Plus this part ends too strangely with robot voices and sound effects.

In closing, this album has been carried up to its status by virtue of its cover, which in my opnion is very unrepresentative of the music, and also by its longer than one side suite, which really isn't a true coherent suite. This album was a complete disappointment for me, expect for a few tracks. So much for the "best" album from the first "supergroup" of prog rock.

Report this review (#94156)
Posted Wednesday, October 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
2 stars There is nothing I can say about this album that hasn't already been said. It's probably my second favourite from this band but I feel it (like "Trilogy"&"Tarkus") aren't even close to being as good as the debut.

"Jerusalem" is led by organ and drums then vocals come in and the drums stop.This sounds like some countries national anthem or something, very epic. Drums are back when vocals stop. Good song but not overly impressive. "Toccata" is all about showing us how well they can play. And that's impressive even if the song itself isn't that enjoyable. "Still. ..You Turn Me On" is a nice mellow track. "Benny The Bouncer" is one of those "why ?" songs. "Karn Evil 9" really has it's moments but also passages that I can't get into at all.

This is one of those highly rated albums that I just don't appreciate at all. Great cover art though.

Report this review (#94740)
Posted Monday, October 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I absolutely don't understand why anyone could not like this album, and definitely at the same time look at this as a work of prog art. As far as I'm concerned, it's probably the most perfectly balanced I've bought in a while. Of course the music is not all too diverse (and even less so the sound, what with keyboards being featured in all songs) but it boasts a great pallette of colours, from the slow "Jerusalem" to the comically speedy "Benny the Bouncer". On the note of comedy, when I came to Benny, I was immediately entertained, and also confused at how incredibly rediculous it was, especially mixed in with the seriousness of the rest of the music and lyrics. But a song like this was absolutely nesecarry on this cd in order to stir up feelings in such a manner. "Toccata" is a great interpretation of Contemporary Classical music, and I absolutely adore the percussion feature. "Still...You Turn Me On" is just another beautiful ballad by lake, with personally catchy lyrics, and a very awesome WAH on the chorus. As previously stated, "Benny the Bouncer" is a very unfitting song, but incredibly entertaining, with one of the most amazing ragtime piano solos I've ever heard (Apart from Dream Theater's very prog ragtime jam on "Dance of Eternity") and show's off Emerson's incredible dexterity even more. The Karnevil Trilogy is quite an amazing 'Epic', and a GREAT feature of the B3 Organ. His solo on the first impression 2nd part is droolable.

Whether you like ELP or not, I'd say this is a very amazing album, and worth your purchase.

Report this review (#95284)
Posted Friday, October 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars After a hitherto successful career, Emerson, Lake and Palmer decided to push things further. Taking their already nowhere near simple compositions and beefing them up until it's just confusing. Brain Salad Surgery is a very controversial album. Many hate it, and many are head over heels in love. I would be nearer the latter, as it is really a fantastic progressive rock record, but by no means madly in love. Mixing many styles, atmospheres and feels, this album is not only diverse, but exhilarating, dark, and funny. Quite a combination.

Toccata is one of the most complex series of sounds made by man (perhaps a stretch, but certainly up there), and despite that, it is incredibly enjoyable. The group does very well taking a piece written for full orchestra and adapting it to fit a 3 piece band. A drum solo (that many people still don't know to be a drum solo) comes streaming onto the stage, where Carl uses some of the very first electronic drums ever created. This section fo the song sometimes feels a bit out of place, but really just adds to the grand scheme of the song.

Benny the Bouncer is a weak point on the disc, agreeably, but isn't nearly as bad as it's made out to seem. The fun, jovial, western sing-along may not be complex, profound, or original, but is very fun and a tad comedic. All the tracks are excellent, but Karn Evil 9 (all parts included) is the jewel here. It's ELP's greatest moment to many, myself included. It's epic, controversial, incredibly complex and evolving, with even catchy and memorable moments. However, many will dispute this album is the ideal example of the progressive pretentiousness, and perfectly demonstrates the overblown side of prog, and is evidence of why many people dislike artistic rock. However, I've always thought that no matter how overblown or pretentious a group of musicians are, it doesn't effect the quality of the music in question, and if one listens to the music with eyes closed, without thinking about how self-righteous these three may seem on stage, the music is great. And if one is to open their eyes, and bask in their silly costumes, flashy skills, self-important lyrics, the music remains great.

Since this is an archetypical prog album, it's full of pretentiousness, complexity, and musical prowess. Carl Palmer's greatest drumming is showcased on this album, along with some of Keith Emerson's best keyboarding, and writing. Greg Lake's vocals are very nice on this album, as are the lyrics by Peter Sinfield (which are not altogether lingering, but neither distasteful). Thanks being to its mild experimental nature, extremely high musicianship, complex and inspirational songwriting, and overall polish, this album is a shade off from being essential, but will be detested by those who have a prejudice against pretentious bands.

Report this review (#95836)
Posted Thursday, October 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars By the time this record came out the music press was starting to turn on ELP and as a result it was mostly slated and given a bad time in the press. However what ever way you listen to this record it remains a classic of its type. Nobody before or since has produced so much sound with just three (yes just three) people and to say this music is powerful is to understate the scale of sonic damage this group inflicts on the listener. The opening number is a jolly take on Jerusalem and in Lake's hands the lyric by William Blake really does sound bombastic. Toccata features some of the very first synth drums ever recoded and is a real treat it remains by far my favorite track on this excellent recording. Still you turn me on is one for the teeny bopper girls but is still a very decent song. Benny the bouncer is the turd on the satin pillow of this record but w.t.f. its still amusing, sadly it hints at the kind of bar room rag that Emerson likes to inflict on us, a wasted track ,ay be. The rest of the Album is the excellent Karn evil Nine which is divided into three sections. All three have their moments and sadly their faults but mostly they rock along at such a pace its hard to become bored. There is on tragic moment in the 2nd movement when some steel drum noises threaten to ruining the mood, I think this is probably a moog sound but is slightly out of tune because it hurts the ears a bit, the final parts is a killer with its si-fi war theme and its computer voices Brilliant and sadly the last great ELP record after this everything seemed to go to pot, with long waits for truly disappointing records but this record certainly doesn't disappoint and demonstrates why ELP were the worlds biggest draw at the time. The end of a great era...welcome back my freinds to the show that never ends...exactlym becuse its rock and roll a dynamo...
Report this review (#96900)
Posted Thursday, November 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars After reading the reviews of this album for more than half an hour, I started noticing sentences like "What can I add that was not already mentioned before?"...and I was only halfway through the scroll bar. So, after more than 200 reviews so far, what can I contribute?

Let's see. This is not ELP's best album. "Brain Salad Surgery" is a starting point of long (and painful) slope downwards both in band's career and imagination. In my opinion, "Trilogy" is better, and "Tarkus" is the best, beating "Brain Salad Surgery" for 2 stars in ratings. Every ELP's album contains some inconsistency and this one is no exception. The point is, the inconsistency in predeceasing albums is, so to say, normal, because even the masterpieces can show some weaker moments here and there, and the composers, no matter how intelligent they are, are human beings and therefore not prefect. But the term "inconsistency" is not the same one if we are talking about the rest of the ELP's career - albums like "Works" and "Love Beach". The sad atmosphere provided on their later works started sneaking in on "Brain Salad Surgery". I don't have an impression that they made "Benny The Bouncer" for the same reason they made "The Sheriff" or "Jeremy Bender". In their earlier days somehow they managed to represent their open-hearted attitude and sheer joy of creation (despite the fact that most of the songs are quite dark) no matter whether they were composing glorious epic or 3-minute cowboy silliness. Therefore, I'm considering this album "beginning of the end" of their career rather than "the end of the beginning". The difference between "Surgery" and the other ELP's albums widely accepted as weak ones is set of good tracks. This is the MAJOR difference, and this set do not only help the whole album prevent from being drowned, it actually launches it into a stardome within other constellations of masterpieces.

I wouldn't describe how "good" or "breathtaking" the tracks like "Toccata" or "Karn Evil 9" are, but there are few things that are usually not mentioned.

Keith Emerson is using - along with his ubiquitous piano and Hammond - a Moog synthesizer. This is nothing new, Keith played various types of Moog Modular before, but for the first time Moog Polyphonic Ensemble saw the light of the day.

But wait a second...there is no such thing named "Polyphonic Ensemble" in the whole Moog Inc. catalogue at all! It was never produced! Indeed, no. It was produced in the factory specially for Mr. Emerson,. the man who had been requesting new sounds and sound explorations. Now, that's what I call progressive! The whole production line went improved because of one musician. As far as I know, only Peter Baumann did the similar thing, ordering E-Mu Proteus in 1979. (I'm not counting the Wakeman's Birotron because at the time it came in, digital samplers already hit the market.)

Carl Palmer experimented with electronic percussion...and I love that sound of still drums in "Karn Evil 9". Although I'm not sure are they real percussions, or some sort of electronic treatment - on live version they sound quite distorted (you can hear the similar thing in LED ZEPPELIN's "Bonzo's Montreaux" tune). Speaking of electronic percussion, I will dare to make a stupid comparation...some moments from "Toccata" could easily wipe the floor with every frenetic break-bit that Prodigy did 20 year later. These guys just set too many standards, and if I may say, they founded so many genres that will be explored in years and decades to come.

There is not much to say about the music itself, simply because it's way beyond any description. It is daring, imaginative, unique, ranging from beautiful to nasty. You will rarely experience such a wide palette of musical genres: from calypso & ragtime to classical & techno. You can even find a traces of flamenco. Therefore, although I said that this is not the best ELP's album (neither the second best), I'm rating it with five stars. Six stars to "Trilogy". Seven to "Tarkus".

Am I being childish? Who cares. Certainly not me when I am talking about one of the finest pieces of music in the history of the mankind.

Report this review (#97467)
Posted Monday, November 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars This one's a head scratcher.

ELP made many "interesting" choices to say the least in their selection of songs on this album. Half the time I'm wondering if it might be some of prog's best moments or if it's something I'd hear at a carnival before an elephant walked a tight rope.

Starting with Jerusalem, an average track with nothing quite memorable. Toccata sounds entirely like an early nintendo game, but it is still quite good and entertaining, especially if you about to face King Koopa. What's remarkable about this is that it's years ahead of it's time in terms of video game music, so props to ELP there. Benny the Bouncer is completely laughable and almost impossible to take seriously. The album finally gets good with its epic piece Karn Evil 9, although the pieces really have no connection to each other.

Movement 1 is my personal favorite, with probably the most solid and accessible effort, and I'm not one you would typically associate with accessible. Movement 2 begins with an upbeat piano and delves into some kind of congo pattern intended to show off musical virtuosity, and once again ahead of its time, ELP seems to have Donkey Kong music down pat. Followed is a feign attempt at artistry with a soft passage with little to no relevance to anything that's been done. I'm left wondering "what's the point?" before I even get to the closing track.

Sloppy, discoordinated, rambling, noodling: all are adjectives that could describe what is going on here. Some might describe it "artistic", other's "bs". I happen to be in the latter group. Sure, we have a few good passages here and there, but the lack of songwriting keeps anything from being interesting for more than a few listens.

Report this review (#97882)
Posted Thursday, November 9, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars It's been barely two months since I started listening to ELP and I have already woved it greatest symphonic prog band ever. All of their studio albums up to Love Beach are good, but this is definitely the finest work by the threesome.

One thing that really pleases my ears with this album is the Hammond organ. The way Keith Emerson uses it is clever. He uses it to paint the sections where vocals should be sung (not that it's anything very new, but it's clever) Carl Palmer is literally on fire with the drum kit and Greg Lake gives his best performance on vocals and his bass playing is excelent. Sometimes it's hard to tell is there more than three men playing since there's so much stuff like the synths. The cover is also fantastic, designed by the controversial artist H.G. Giger who has also designed the Alien creature for the film of the same name. And for the Music?

Brain Salad Surgery starts with "Jerusalem" a rock version of an English church hymn. It surely was a brave choice to include this on the album, knowing that it was a hymn known by nearly every English christian. It was well received by fans and critics alike. Keith Emerson's church organ works great and other synths back up nicely. Every time Greg Lake sings "Bring me the bows of buring gold, Bring me the arrows of desire" it gives me chills. Beautiful Anthem. Second Song "Toccata" is an adaption of Alberto Ginasteras 1st piano piano concerto. Performed with specialized synth effect and piano by Keith Emerson. Carl Palmer also adds some electric percussion. Great song in any terms of judging, the strange horn-synths and organ are the heart and soul. Emerson proves that he really is the greatest keyboardist in Rock 'n' Roll music ever.

"Still... You Turn me on" . This is the "must-have" ballad of an ELP album. Has a hippish feel on it (guys sitting on the grass eating grapes and drinking wine with hippie women singing to an acoustic guitar). Greg Lakes singing is just magnifying.

"Benny The Bouncer" is the humour-rocker of the album. An Underrated tune which many concider weak, but i think it's rather nice. Weakest of the album maybe, but it doesn't make it bad, no. Overal good song in my opinion. (Lake sounds a bit nasty).

And for the big one of the album "Karn Evil 9". The most greatest, and breath-taking epic in the history of all prog music. Story about human selfishness, birth of the world and the downfall of man as their own creation, the computers, take their place as the dominant race and ruler of the world. Split in to four parts. 1st impression part 1 starts with jazzy organs and tells about the birth of the world, going through ice age and to the growing greed and lust for money that man has in his heart. Soon the world is described as a Carnival (Notice how the words "Karn" and "Evil" can be pronounced as "Carnival". Clever, don't you think? Evil Carnival...) that's the symbol of the selfishness of mankind. Even the small rips of humanity are put in as circus sideshows (pull Jesus from the hat-line especially). 1st impression part 2 begins with the memorable "Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends, we're so glad you could attend come inside come inside". Tells about the starting artificialization of the world where even real blades of grass are rare thing to witness. 2nd impression is consisted mostly of piano solo, acompanied with steel drums and other synths at certain points. Last part, the 3rd impression tells how the computers have started a revolution and won the place as the rulers of the world. The voice of the computers are highly dissorted and mechanic while the voice of man is clear and normal. Man cannot undertand how their own creation could turn against them and refuses to face the facts. Keith pulls nice organ solo around 24 minutes and the last lines am all there is NEGATIVE! PRIMITIVE! LIMITED! I LET YOU LIVE! But I gave you life WHAT ELSE COULD YOU DO? To do what was right I'M PERFECT! ARE YOU? Really say it all. Karn Evil 9 ends with synths sounding like some Nintendo game.

So all in one what do we have here? He have an album that's clearly of the 10 greatest prog albums ever and this is certainly better than anything Yes ever recorded (yeah, even better than Fragile, Close to the Edge or Relayer, sue me).

You've got to hear the album, its a dynamo. You've got to hear the album, it's rock and roll ....

Report this review (#98722)
Posted Tuesday, November 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars There are two views on this album. First one, this is technically a brilliant album. Musicianship of ELP is something what few can beat.

However, it is not easy listenable album. I'm a big fan of ELP but this CD I don't hear very often. It is somehow too far beyond my taste. But I like these songs performed live so songs are not a problem. It is something what isn't easy to describe. Sound? Maybe. The truth is I like thier first three albums more.

It is good album and serious prog lover must have it, but ELP did it better before (Now i know, the energy of this album is not so strong. It sounds very proffesional but cold especially in studio).

Report this review (#99017)
Posted Thursday, November 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Brain Salad Surgery, ELP's fourth album, is their creative peak. It would prove to be their final great studio album, though the excellent live "Welcome Back My Friends..." had yet to come. If you want pompous, proficient work of the highest caliber, look no further.

The album opens with "Jerusalem", an adaption of a church hymn. The song is strong and displays the talents of the band well. Keith's organ refelcts its church background.

The adaptions continue with a phenomal reworking of Alberto Ginasteras' "Toccata". Great keyboards from Keith as well as inventive drumming from Carl Palmer, one of the most original drummer ever. This is hands down ELP's best instrumental, and it's one of the ten best off all time.

"Still...You Turn Me On" is another great ELP ballad. Listening to this makes you wonder how much better Love Beach would have been if they wrote songs like this instead of pandering to the mainstream. This, along with Lucky Man, constitute the only great ballads by ELP.

"Benny the Bouncer" serves the role of a sort of comic relief filler, like The Sheriff or Jeremy Bender. It's decent, but it's the weakest song on the album. As with every ELP album but the debut, it detracts from the superb quality of the rest of the album.

Then comes the behemoth, "Karn Evil 9". this song is the most pompous epic in the ELP catalogue and, by extension, music. Pompous doesn't mean bad, though, as evidenced by this beauty. Keith gives his newly unveiled toy the Moog polyphonic ensemble. On that note, many musicians can say that their instrument was replicated, but how many can say that an instrument was designed soley for that person? Keith's one of a kind Moog Polyphonic Ensemble is capable of anything and it makes me sad that it was never again used to great effect. Lake's bass is thunderous and his personal best. Carl Palmer takes his place right behind Neal Peart in my list of favorite prog drummers becasue, like Peart, he combines the intensity of Keith Moon and John Bonham with the celestial sensibilities of Bill Bruford. The song drags a bit during the second impression, but a few repeated listens later it grew on me.

This album is a must have for fans of prog, but it still contains that blasted ELP filler. Rush has this same problem; gems are kept from being masterpieces by filler. Still, you need this. As Lake would say, "SEE THE SHOW!"

Grade: B+

Report this review (#100518)
Posted Sunday, November 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Intriguing title, fine cover artwork, great production but I think that this album should be named "Karn Evil 9" instead of BRAIN SALAD SURGERY, since the mentioned epic-lengthy piece takes 2/3 of the entire work leaving a sensation that shorter tracks are only filler stuff (and they sound like that). Bonus tracks on CD, used to write this review, softened a bit the feeling that we had back in the 70s that BSS was only and simply the KE9 album. Being so able to produce filler material, EL&P could extend KE9, add a couple of new songs and release 2 LPs or maybe a double album.

"Karn Evil 9" looks like an attempt to produce something spectacular, majestic, perennial and unforgettable but the final result isn't exempt of flaws - other previous EL&P long pieces like 'Tarkus', for instance, work much better. The almost half-hour of contradictory sounds and bounds is boring and few people are able to hear the entire track in a daily basis.
But here and there, one either may find pleasant parts and segments or also enjoy the notable and notorious skills and musicianship of band's members - although Greg Lake, who I consider one of the best vocalists of the entire rock scene, shouts more than sings in this particular track. And yes, 'Part 2' brings the emblematic phrase: Welcome back my friends/To the show that never ends, a kind of slogan that all fans of prog-rock know by heart.

Other songs are dimmed by the KE9 factor but they are not stripped of quality:
"Jerusalem", an old hymn adapted to shape band's reality opens agreeably the album (promises not accomplished, however), Lake's vocals are amazing and provide an extra colour to the song.
"Toccata", an adaptation of Argentinean composer Alberto Ginastera's 'First Piano Concert, 4th Movement' is unarguably a Keith Emerson's sprout, a piece arranged in a way he could perform his excellencies and oddities at the keyboards. Noticeable in this track is Carl Palmer's outstanding drumming effort.
"Still. you turn me on" shows the balladesque face of the band, a grimace always inserted in each of one of the classical EL&P albums. Lyrics are a bit confused but once again vocals supply the peak of the song.
"Benny, the bouncer" is the weakest of album's short tracks, a skipping action doubtless.

Bonus tracks (on 2001 re-issue) add few to the entire work, a place to be visited mainly when it comes the will to hear the full CD.

BSS final consideration is totally attached to the highs and lows of main track, 'Karn Evil 9', in the same way it happened for TARKUS/'Tarkus'. However, while 'Tarkus', the song, saved its namesake album, here KE9 helped to bring an insecure navigation through album's tracks and at least two stars shall be extracted from the masterdom plateau - a good but non-essential output.

Report this review (#102263)
Posted Saturday, December 9, 2006 | Review Permalink
Andrea Cortese
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I have no acrimony toward Emerson, Lake and Palmer. They're one of the most important prog rock bands in history and I loved their unique sound since the very first time I listened to such pieces as "Lucky Man" and "Tarkus". In Trilogy I've found their most convincing peak, with regards to my personal tastes, at least. Brain Salad Surgery is something different. It's their peak of maturity and complexity and Emerson really Is the band here. No doubt about that.

By the way, the whole result appears to me "light and shade". The album opens magnifically with the memorable "Jerusalem" and "Toccata". This last, in particular, is a very successful job: pompous and classical, structured upon a wise transplant of "old" into "new". One of the best efforts of Keith Emerson.

"Sill...You Turn Me On" continues the tradition of Lake's mellow and acoustic songs as "Lucky Man" or "From the Beginning" and features a wonderful electric guitar and harpsichord's effects. Unfortunately it's only under three minutes long.

"Benny the Bouncer" is also traditional tune (honky tonk) in their discography and it's justly reduced at 2,21 mns 'cause it's only a pause of meditation for the listener. But then, what's up? Does "Karn Evil" is really the masterpiece that many tell it is?

The first two parts of "Karn Evil" are still exciting, for sure, but the remaining two lacks of freshness, in my humble opinion, at the risk of being cold and boring. Rick not avoided by the more "improvisation-like" music' structure.

All in all I cannot deny the intrinsic value of the opus from a prog point of view but it is not the album I usually like to enjoy from them.

3.75 stars.

Report this review (#104867)
Posted Friday, December 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Pompous? Outdated? Overblown?

It's funny that ELP have always enjoyed a bad reputation with rock critics. Punks and Rolling Stone journalists hated them, of course, but such people hated Led Zeppelin just as much - and look what an amazing rehabilitation Led Zep have undergone since the 1980s! Why is no-one prepared to judge ELP's music on its own terms? You'll hear people call BRAIN SALAD SURGERY outdated (because of its lyrics, because of the analogue synths) but surely you could say much the same about Jimi Hendrix's classic albums, which are full of cheesy wah-wah guitar and silly ditties about mermaids. Why has Hendrix remained untouchable then?

As some critics (notably Paul Stump) have pointed out, most rock writers don't really give a damn about music. In 9 out of 10 rock reviews (not to mention band interviews!) it's a band's ATTITUDES that will be discussed.

When you hear an ELP piece like 'Toccata' for the first time, it may sound chaotic and brash - but isn't brashness approved of in rock, when the performers are the Who or the Sex Pistols? I've got a hunch that most casual listeners are actually put off by Toccata's complexity. Well, some music lovers are ATTRACTED to complexity, and we can safely assume that most Prog Archives readers belong to this category. So dear reader, if you've never heard this album, and if you're not afraid of some (well-structured) musical chaos, you're in for a treat: 'Toccata' will blow your mind. It's more avant-garde than anything on Bowie's LOW or Pere Ubu's first few albums. Whether it is a convincing adaptation of Ginastera's first piano concerto I cannot say, but (in contrast to ELP's earlier treatment of Mussorgsky) it definitely works as an exciting piece of music in its own right.

And you could say similar things about BRAIN SALAD SURGERY as a whole. Listen to this album with an open mind, and you'll definitely find it exciting.

I first got to know BSS in the 1970s, when I was still wet behind the ears, and I loved it. Having read a lot of vitriol about ELP since then, I was ready to go in for the kill, but when I played the album last night (for the first time in a couple of years) I still found its piece de resistance, KARN EVIL 9, irresistible. Although that piece is half an hour long, it's well-structured, inspiration never flags, the band's playing is first-rate, Lake's singing is youthful and energetic, Emerson's use of synths is truly inventive, and his Hammond organ solos are up there with the best.

KARN EVIL's only problems lie with its SPACE ODYSSEY-inspired theme (do YOU believe our lives are about to be controlled by an evil Super Computer?), and with the fact that it never really stirs the listener's emotions (even though it's a helluva ride). Therein lies the main difference with 'epics' such as SUPPER'S READY or THE GATES OF DELIRIUM: I just can't imagine anyone will find ELP moving. And for that reason I can't call BSS a true 'masterpiece'.

I also have a problem with the album's opening track, 'Jerusalem'. If this number truly fulfilled its role, you could say BSS is perfectly structured : (1) Majestic opener - (2) complex instrumental - (3) cool acoustic ballad - (4) bar room brawl - (5) thirty minute epic. Unfortunately, Lake's singing on 'Jerusalem' is glib and insensitive, and Emerson's synth embellishments (during the song's final verse) simply sound ludicrous.

The original 'Jerusalem' is a slow and solemn hymn, set to wonderful words by the visionary poet William Blake. ELP's vulgar treatment is a throwback to their (ridiculous) PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION. I find it every inch as insensitive as Madonna turning Don McLean's wistful 'American Pie' into generic radio fodder.

Fortunately, the unconvincing album opener is followed by 40 minutes of hugely enjoyable classic prog.

Report this review (#105639)
Posted Friday, January 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
The Wizard
2 stars Is Brain Salad Surgery really the classic it is claimed to be? To many, it is the brilliant climax of classic progressive rock, defining the genre itself. Unfortunately I find Brain Salad Surgery takes prog's weaker sides and focuses on them while containing little of the brilliance that other prog bands carried.

While Brain Salad Salad Surgery is bombastic, over-the-top, and pretentious, it lacks well thought out compositions and any real emotion. The solos are long and obnoxious, like the musician is soloing just to prove how good he is instead of trying to express something musically. The whole album is based on Emerson's egotistical solos. If half of them were removed, there would be little left in the album. I love a great keyboard solo, but the Emerson solos is annoying.

BSS is basically half-assed. There is little songwriting, the most well written songs are covers of classical works. Not a single melody written by the band is memorable. The lyrics are trite and cheesy too, not helping affairs. 'Still... You Turn Me On' and 'Karn Evil 9 (3rd Impression)' are the biggest examples of poor lyric writing. Just more cheese, sloppily sprayed over the platter. 'Toccata' is a very cool idea and I must say it starts out nice, but eventually it becomes an excuse for Emerson to stroke his ego even more with yet another obnoxious solo.

I find that Emerson tries to show his classical influence too much. It's like he's trying to prove that he is a real artist and that he's really turning rock into an artform by marrying it with serious and intelligent music. But the beauty and compositional intricacy of classical music is absent. Emerson brought pretentious to a new level in rock music, I seriously doubt he even enjoyed rock'n'roll.

There are redeeming qualities to the album, but they are so overshadowed by it's weaknesses that they're not worth. BSS lacks intricacy and emotion, two of prog's most important quality's. If you are a newcomer to progressive rock, I suggest you don't waste your time on this album. Try Yes, Genesis, Van Der Graaf Generator or Jethro Tull instead, but just stay clear of this album.

Report this review (#106096)
Posted Saturday, January 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Emerson Lake & Palmer released a great album in 1973, which was Brain Salad Surgery. This supergroup impresses me, and this album doesn't go against that, especially Karn Evil 9. So, here goes the individual song ratings.

Jerusalem: ***** I like how it celebrates about being in England. It is a 5-star song, despite being only 2:44.

Toccata: ***** This song expresses talent from the people that are part of Emerson Lake & Palmer. Each of the riffs are pretty skilled and it's like an up-tempo song to me.

Still... You Turn Me On: **** It is a pretty song, but it could be longer.

Benny the Bouncer: **** Even though it's 2:18, this is a fun song about a fight that Benny the Bouncer lost (sorry if I spoiled it to the people that haven't heard it or read it's lyrics). I like it when it's said that "He buried an axe in Benny's head" instead of the boring, "He chopped Benny's head.

Karn Evil 9: ***** This is the best song on the entire album. It's 29:32, and so far, it's the longest song I've ever heard. Saturday, though, the record will be broken by Cassandra Gemini by The Mars Volta. To the review. There are lots of instrumental passages, which are really good. In some parts of Impression 2, you're in a jungle, then you enter a haunted mansion, that's what it feels like. And the song has a happy ending. If you haven't yet, listen to all 29:32 of this song promptly!

Report this review (#107199)
Posted Thursday, January 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Its Really hard to begin with this kind of album, ELP is one of my favourite bands, and this album, is, for me, one of the best of the band history.

Well, Im going to review it song by song, lets begin:

Jerusalem (9/10) : A beautiful, delicate and energetical song, I really love it, its not long as ELP has acostumed us, but is really interesting, and nice to listen to.

Toccata (9,5/10): What can I say about this song, a complete masterpiece adapted by the genious of Keith Emerson, who is for me, the lead compositor of the band.

Still you turn me on (10/10): A beautiful ballad made by Greg Lake, very sentimental, emotive, it reaches your heart in a matter of seconds.

Benny The Bouncer (7,5/10): This is a weird song, but just for the fact that is hard to make it "fit" in the album, besides this, its also a very energetyc song, and maybe a little crazy.

Karn Evil (3 impressions) (10/10): The MASTERPIECE of the album, and very probable one of the most importants "epics" of the band history (with Tarkus of course). I think that words are not enough to describe it, sit yourself confortable, and enjoy this 29 minutes of magnificent music.

As a conclusion I must say that this album is a Masterpiece from the band, and of course, one of the most important albums of all Symphonic prog history.

Report this review (#114477)
Posted Wednesday, March 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars No doubt in my mind this is their best and most unified work. The centrepiece of the album is the three part suite Karn Evil 9. The Third Impression depicts a space battle between man and machine which is superbly well realised, full of Hammond organ, trumpeting fanfares and driving rhythms. The Second Impression, not mentioned often in reviews, showcases inspired piano and drumming from Emerson and Palmer, and of course there is the Caribbean steel drum sound which Emerson uses to great effect. The First Impression features some superb lyrics (courtesy of Peter Sinfield) and evokes a freaky carnival "Come and see the show" which also inspired the name of the suite.

Tocatta is one of the most original tracks ever, and again showcases Palmer's abilities. During the "percussion" section he assaults the listener with a barrage of drum and electronic sounds. His finest moment on record.

Some have criticised the shorter tracks, but these are just as valid in my view. The Greg Lake ballads were very much part of the bands makeup and Still You Turn Me On is one of his best. Bernie the Bouncer might appear a throw-away track but shows the band's humorous side and is the best of their comedy type songs. Jerusalem is a stately but rocks superbly.

In the re-mastered version that I have, the two halves of First Impression are seamlessly edited together (almost) and there is a "Making of" track as an added bonus. The artwork is fully restored featuring striking images by Swiss artist HR Giger. They capture the essence of the music superbly well.

I guess this album is not to everyone's liking, but it surely can't be denied this is an artistic high-point for prog albums of the 70s.

Report this review (#115234)
Posted Thursday, March 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Brain Salad Surgery...what is there left to say? This album is without question one of the most pure prog albums ever. This is Emerson Lake And Palmer, not to mention prog in general, at its best!

Jerusalem is probably the weakest song on the album, but it still is a classic. This song is a straight cover of a Jewish hymn. It's a nice way to open up the album.

Tocatta- Is when ELP kick in with the prog. If you ever get a chance, hear this song live!

Still You Turn Me On- This is a very creepy yet moving song. The wah wah bass is played throughout and is a great addition to a great song.

Benny the Bouncer- This song is very good, even if it is just a humor track

Karn Evil 9- This is where it all goes down. This is prog at its best. The lines "Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends" and all the others with similar melody make me want to jump around everytime. This album is a must have!

Report this review (#116632)
Posted Thursday, March 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Not only does this have the best album cover ever the music is stunning. This brilliant album is one of the greatest moment you will ever hear in prog rock it is absolutely required listening

Jerusalem is an excelent album opener that at times soars and delivers tons of emotions. it is a nice warm up for the rest of the album.

Tocatta is without a doubt the greatest classical cover ELP ever did. they made it totally their own with an amazing dark tone. even the middle section is completely enthralling. This is the best synthesizer song that ELP ever did

Still... You Turn Me On is another decent poppy song from vocalist Greg Lake. It doesn't nearly stand up to the brilliance of Lucky man or From the Beginning, but if you take it for what it is you can enjoy it.

Benny the Bouncer is the weakest song on the album. In a quirky goofy way it is worth listening to, but the album would have been better if they had just left it out.

The three part Karn Evil 9 is the true ELP epic even more so than Tarkus is. Part 1 is simply the best ElP song ever. From this came the famous single, first impression part 2. In part 2 Keith Emerson displays his amazng piano skills followed by a middle segment that is oddly reminiscent of Tocatta. Then part 3 comes in with obvious influence from pete Sinflied in the heavily sci fi based lyrics.

This is required listening that every fan of prog rock should own.

Report this review (#117032)
Posted Sunday, April 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I hate it when stuff like this happens, when people love a prog album and say it's a classic etc and I just can't see it, I feel like I've missed out on something or I'm out of the club but to be honest after many relistenings and deliberations my opinion has been cemented think this album is just boring, overblown and overrated.

The first thing that I noticed was the weak production, a very thin sound with very little bass quite disappointing. I thought the first track 'jerusalem' was and interesting rendition, not really my cup of tea reminded me of being bored in my school chapel when they were singing that song, not very exciting stuff.

Then on to' toccata' I like this song it takes what I love about classical music and adds synth to it, I'm not much of a fan of the lacklustre drum solo half way through.

'Still you turn me on', poppy laid back acoustic number, pretty catchy - nothing special, the single on the album.

'Benny the bouncer', upbeat ragtime number with some cheesy synth and some skillful piano work, didn't really appeal to me I must say.

Then onto the 29 minute epic 'Karn Evil 9', god 'the show that never ends'?, more like the song that never ends, it just seems like it doesn't seem to go anywhere or do anything interesting, it really really bores me I can't stand it, it does have the odd good part though so I can't completely write it off, I wont be listening to it any time soon though.

Then the bonus title track 'brain salad surgery' which I have on my version which isn't listed here, funnily enough it's by far the best song on the album, very catchy, great synth, not boring, it's got everything going for it, the highlight of the album for me.

Overall 2.5 stars rounded up because it does have some decent tracks and is historically important I guess, I wouldn't recommend this to anyone who is bored easily or doesn't enjoy synth.

Report this review (#117195)
Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Beginning with their stunning debut in 1970 Emerson, Lake & Palmer had steadily drawn more and more music enthusiasts into their camp with every new studio release and supporting tour. With a hit single under their belt from "Trilogy" they were ready to unveil the album that would propel them to the top of the rock heap. Utilizing fantastic, revolutionary cover art by H.R. Giger, a 12"x12" full-color folded insert that included individual portraits and millions of dollars worth of ads and marketing salvos from their own label's distributor, Atlantic Records, ELP would change the progressive rock landscape forever with "Brain Salad Surgery."

While "Jerusalem" may be as familiar as "Amazing Grace" to Englanders, it's a relatively obscure song in the states so (as far as we were concerned) they may as well have written it themselves. It sure sounds like something they could have penned. Anyway, it's a grandiose opener with Greg Lake's stately vocals and Keith Emerson's terrific organ and synthesizer sounds augmenting a regal melody. This is followed by "Toccata," Keith's arrangement of Ginastera's 1st piano concerto and a fine example of modern composition. It's what ELP does best instrumentally with its tight, intricate segments that weave a dizzying tapestry of musical hues. The first half is excellent, then Carl Palmer performs a tympani solo before he moves to the drum kit. Keeping in mind that in the early 70s synthesizers were still a novelty, the noisy display of annoying electronic sounds still gets to be a bit much before it's over. Next up is Greg's "Still. You Turn Me On," which has the same aura of their previous single, "From The Beginning," but is just as alluring. The lyrics seem to convey that, despite the craziness and intensity of life as a rock star, the singer is still "turned on" by the audience. It's a well-written tune but some of the quirky guitar effects haven't aged well and now sound understandably dated. ELP was notorious for injecting cornball detours from time to time and this LP was no exception. "Benny The Bouncer" is a fluff piece about a ferocious club doorman who finally gets the crap beat out of him and ends up with a hatchet in his head. Not exactly standup comedy material but I guess it was funny to the trio. In their defense the music isn't horrible, the honky-tonk piano work by Keith is authentic and they even throw in a false ending to boot. However, one has to believe that by then they surely had better songs than this meaningless ditty to include.

"Karn Evil 9" is the focus of the album and their most adventurous epic. "1st Impression" is nothing short of amazing. Divided into two sections on the LP, the second part is the one that became the most recognizable due to its being ushered directly onto the heavy rotation of FM radio stations all over the free world. I personally prefer the first part but, along with tunes like Yes' "Roundabout" and Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb," "Welcome Back My Friends." is one of the essential classic progressive rock songs that keeps the genre on the aural map of the general populace generation after generation. And for that we should be grateful. Greg's guitar work is surprisingly adroit but everyone in the group is performing at the top of their game here as they flawlessly deliver this supercharged segment about computers being introduced as the benign saviors of mankind. "To take their sorrow from this odyssey/to help the helpless and the refugee/to protect what's left of humanity." Lake and Peter Sinfield (of King Crimson fame) contribute brilliant lyrics to describe the resulting amoral scene after the machines have taken over everything, including entertainment. For example, religious sacredness has been debased to a trick as they demonstrate "with our hands behind our backs/we pull Jesus from a hat!/get into that/get into that!" and nature has been ravaged to the point where "there behind a glass/is a real blade of grass/be careful as you pass/move along, move along." Truly disturbing images.

"2nd Impression" is Keith's instrumental creation and it is phenomenal. Starting with sublime jazz piano and evolving into an energetic Latin rhythm complete with synthesized steel drums, it's an exhibition of Emerson's immense keyboard talents. After a quieter yet ominous bridge the band breaks into a high-speed piano-led section that will leave you breathless. "3rd Impression" is a return to the rock format with a big dose of dramatic vocalization from Greg. To my ears this is the weakest of the three impressions but only because the first two are so spectacular. There's a rather mundane synthesizer segue before the stirring organ comes back and Palmer's tempo is, shall I say, "variable" at times. The story line here is that the computers now rule mankind, much to the regret and chagrin of human beings and, though there is a rebellion, the machines win in the end. The feeling I get musically is that the band was building up to a huge finale with the concert audience in mind and we'll never know what it might have sounded like if they had followed their muse rather than what they thought the live crowd would want to experience. The saga ends with the computer exclaiming, "I'm perfect! Are you?' and then proceeding to demonstrate its idea of music by performing a programmed pattern that can only repeat itself over and over as it accelerates as fast as it can go before stopping on a dime. In this nightmarish vision of the future human emotion has been purged from art.

Emerson, Lake & Palmer would never attain this level of excellence again. The adoration and popularity that came after this album would eventually tear them asunder and cause personality clashes and ego-fueled rifts that would diminish their ability to work together efficiently as a team. But nothing can take this achievement of prog rock away from them (or us) and future music archaeologists will admire it just as much as we do now. It's not a complete masterpiece but it's a landmark nonetheless. 4.4 stars.

Report this review (#117604)
Posted Saturday, April 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Respect to all those for whom EMERSON, LAKE AND PALMER is an essential progressive act. This is a band I avoided while growing up, based on what little I'd heard of them. I decided to revisit them recently. Bad move.

Oh dear. Is this a joke? 'Jerusalem'? The piece was hackneyed to begin with: a song redolent of colonialism, played at the Proms and lampooned by the likes of Monty Python and the KLF. With good reason! But I suspect this isn't supposed to be funny; the ELP lads are actually trying to perform a serious piece of music here. And Emerson ruins it in the way only EMERSON can, with his cheesy synth slides and stabs.

'Toccata' is more of the same. The thing that turns me off ELP is EMERSON attempt to use his organ (I've always wanted to say that) to substitute for guitar, keyboards, flute or whatever variety of instruments other groups use. Those incessant whoops in 'Toccata' do nothing for me. I guess they sounded futuristic at the time, but they have certainly dated. To be fair, there's actually an excellent composition hidden in here: Ginastera's original version would no doubt be well worth a listen.

'Still. you turn me on' is a lovely piece of music, instant proof that the band would have been better as LP. This is about simple enough for GREG LAKE'S thin, overstretched voice to handle. Despite the negative press, 'Benny the Bouncer' is fine, the requisite piece of British oddball humour that is such a feature of 70s progressive rock. Pure vaudeville.

Now for the point of the album. 'Karn Evil 9' Now this is much better. EMERSON has the space to fiddle without overpowering the song. His baroque ornamentation fits better here than on the shorter pieces: the album would have been far better had this piece been expanded further to cover both sides of the disc. It's all too easy, though, to get sick of the synth-brass sound. And I hate to say it, but LAKE'S voice is often flat: listen to 'Roll on and see the show' without cringing, I dare you.

Despite the low rating, this is an album everyone should listen to once. It will give your progressive leanings a frame of reference: if you like this, no excess will be beyond your tastes. It's a bridge too far for me, I'll be honest with you.

Nice cover though.

Report this review (#118919)
Posted Thursday, April 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Considering all the reviews before mine, I'll try to keep this short.

Has there ever been a more bombastic, overblown, pretentious album than this? Okay, so maybe Topographic Oceans, but other than that, I can't think of one (and I love that album too).

This album has a very cold sound in the production and even the songwriting. It comes across as a kind of robotic, relentless, musical machine. Very much in keeping with the concept that pervades the entire album (didn't know it was a concept album, did you? well, it is). The idea of computer technology becoming sentient and proclaiming it's God hood may seem very 70's on the surface, but it's something that still resonates today (remember the Matrix films?).

And yet, I still love this album to this day. From the opening strains of Jerusalem to final oscillating and gradually speeding up moog melody, it is just a towering achievement in prog music. Karn Evil 9 is a truly great epic, presented in a classical music format of 3 movements, or in this case, Impressions. I've always been partial to the musical dexterity of 2nd Impression, and never tire of hearing or cease to be amazed by it. And Tocatta is simply incredible. Still You Turn Me On is one of Lakes best acoustical singer songwriter numbers with great lyrics, and even Benny The Bouncer fits into the concept with it's "lower class" focus on the mundane. Jerusalem is the perfect introduction to the concept, even though it wasn't written by the band at all.

Okay, it's not a perfect album. But to me, it's close enough for the highest rating. It was ELP's peak, one they could never possibly hope to better. It has historical significance, whether you think it represents the apex of 70's prog, or the most glaring example of it's imminent demise, there is no denying it's resonance even now. A truly great album.

Report this review (#120740)
Posted Friday, May 4, 2007 | Review Permalink

This was the first ELP studio album I purchased at the time time of release. I had already "Pictures" and knew "Tarkus" pretty well. In these ancient times, ELP was one of my preferred band. The packaging of the original vinyl was a great artwork.

When I listened to "Jerusalem", I was blisfully happy. What a nice melody, what a somptuous keys throughout this short number. It is of course very commercial but it is one of my all time fave of the band. Not essential in terms of creativty but exceptionally emotional.

"Tocatta" is a showcase for Keith and Carl. Some weird moog sounds and great drumming. This number is better while played live. Very pompous finale (but we are talking about ELP, right ?).

They will also renew the tradition of sweet songs (like "Lucky Man" on their debut). "Still..." is the ocasion for Lake to show his great vocal capabilities. I have always love his voice (from the early Crimson days, actually). This track is very pleasant (especially after the rather complex "Tocatta", but does not reach the level of "Luck Man" or "C'Est La Vie".

"Benny The Bouncer" would have perfectly fit on the B-side of "Tarkus" (I guess you understand what I mean). This Country & Western farce is completely useless. Just to be played in a saloon.

Now, the pièce de résistance (or main dish if you prefer). The extremely long "Karn Evil". Twenty-seven minutes and forty seconds divided into three parts !

"First Impression" is brilliant. Fantastic bass and drumming play to sustain the incredible keys part. Vocals are a bit yelling though. This movement is the best one of the three. Strong from start to finish. Difficult to approach for non-fan I guess. I think that the pompous ELP has never been highlighted so much. But I have to say that I like it a lot. Otherwise, one could hardly be called an ELP fan.

I wonder why they split it into two parts (well actually it was the occasion to turn the vinyl record on the B-side because it starts exactly where the first part ends with these electronic sounds. It will shortly be interrupted by the famous lines : "Welcome Back My Friend To The Show That Never Ends". But that's another story. I would have liked that this split would have disappeared in the CD release (but I had the same feeling for "Thick Is A Brick") but it won't be the case. Anyway the second part of "Karn Evil" is just as good and the whole (13'30") which can be considered as the highlight of this album.

"Second Impression" is somewhat jammy. Great piano and drumming, but I very much preferred the mood of "Tocatta". After almost three boring minutes, the songs turns to a very quite mood. You can almost not hear anything (again "Islands" from KC is not far away). Almost fully experimental, improvisation-like for about two minutes. This part is really heading nowhere. By far the weakest and truely useless part of this suite.

"Third Impression" is again a more "normal" song. It remind me at times the track "Salisbury" from "Uriah Heep" and its pompous passages. A pleasant and jazzy intrumental (although I do not like this genre very much) in the middle part will precede a very powerful finale with a great Lake on the vocals again. It reminds at time the track "Jerusalem".

This "suite" can hardly be considered as one piece of work. The three parts are really different from one another. No continuity at all. Each section being really a track on its own.

As for many ELP works, the best ("Jerusalem", "Karn Evil First") will cross the poorest ("Benny The Bouncer").

This is a true ELP effort, but rather difficult to appraoch. I would not suggest this album to start your ELP experience. But I feel it rather difficult to recommend one because each of them is good (except "Trilogy" IMO) but lacks in consistency (except their debut one probably).

I would rate this album seven out of ten but I will upgrade it sentimentally to four stars since this album that might well be their last good one.

Report this review (#122769)
Posted Saturday, May 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars 'If your looking for safe, critic-approved, politically correct pop music enlightenment' .get off. Carl Palmer could not have but it better (expect for that last bit which I put in to make it sound better).

Before this Album the only ELP song I had heard was 'I believe in Father Christmas'. I just thought they were an ordinary pop band. But boy was I wrong. I can clearly remember hearing 'Toccata' for the first time and it still as sounds as fresh as it did the timing hearing it as does the rest of the Album. This album still sands shivers up my spine. Not else much to say other than jaw dropping, bombastic brilliance In my opinion along with KC 'Red' and Yes "Close to the edge" these are the defining albums of the genre.

ELP broke every rule with this album. In the end isn't that what Prog rock is?

Report this review (#123939)
Posted Wednesday, May 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars

For me this release is one of the most overrated from the entire progressive history. I'm saying this because of the lack of emotion which resides behind their music most of the time. I also cannot understand the style of keyboard player Keith Noel Emerson. It could be very technical and whimsy but I don't get the idea behind. I don't have anything against using keyboards but I don't like this type of approach and sound. I prefer Eloy with their spacey and inspiring sound instead of this.

I simply cannot feel anything when listening to this album. With very high effort I can find some good passages (for example on Toccata - composition style in a with clear classic influence - and Karn Evil 9 - 2nd Impression - maybe the best part here). And if I don't find anything really enjoyable this is for me a clear indication that this music is not really my cup of tea. Maybe I'm wrong and I failed to see some undiscovered connections between my way of understanding and enjoying music and ELP style to express themselves but this is simply just the way I feel about.

I don't want to spend additional time trying to say the same things in a different manner. If you like keyboard oriented progressive than maybe you can give a chance and try it. I'm just finishing by recommending this release only to ELP fans. This is not for somebody who's trying to discover progressive music or at least not maybe from the right begining. 2.25 stars

Report this review (#124123)
Posted Thursday, May 31, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars I have a hard time writing a review for an album like this --an album that I consider a "masterpiece" of its genre-- because I realize that it will certainly NOT be to every Prog fan's liking. Also, quite frankly, I don't even think that the album is flawless from beginning to end. I DO feel, however, that the entire "Karn Evil 9" track makes this album essential to the Classic Symphonic Prog fan.

"Karn Evil 9" is keyboard-and-drum-driven Symph Prog at its most bombastic/pretentious/unpredictable/majestic. This means that, while many of you will find it to be completely exhilarating, the rest of you will say that it's "too over-the-top busy" (those of you who prefer spacy or laid-back kinda stuff) or it's "not heavy enough" (those of you who need guitar to be the primary instrument). So...while I consider this to be essential listening to the Symph Prog fan, I also concede the fact that Post-Rock, Metal and Folk fans will probably not be into it.

Like it or not--THIS is what Prog was all about in its heyday: The artists doing exactly what they wanted, in a way that they wanted, for as long as they wanted (even if it meant continuing a song from side 1 of an LP to side 2:) ... and NOT giving a damn about what a Rock act was "supposed" to sound like. Oh, and they still seemed to be having alot of fun while doing it.

5 stars on the Prog-ometer

4 stars on the Personal Taste Meter

Report this review (#124267)
Posted Friday, June 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
4 stars Worthy of its high praise, "Brain Salad" features just about everything ELP is famous for: gigantic organ melodies, smooth and beautiful vocals, skillful and dynamic drumming, pretentious bombast, occasionally brilliant but usually interesting epic songwriting and mediocre filler material. "Brain Salad" has it all (plus HR Giger ta boot)!

In all seriousness, "Brain Salad" is a hallmark of the genre, whether you like it or not. It is aggressively creative technologically, and shows the respected prog-giants further experimenting at what the limits of their respective instruments can do. I hate "Jerusalem" just as much as the next guy, but "Toccata"-- and of course the "Karn" suite-- are simply stellar. The requisite Greg Lake ballad is delightfully sinister and catchy, and the even more requisite "rowdy rock-n-roll" song can is actually a fun listen. "Karn" steals the show (it's a dynamo), making for a exciting mixture of sci-fi sing-along and instrumental complexity.

More importantly, this is the only ELP album in which Emerson's huge keyboard's don't completely squash the sound and leave the listener wishing for a guitar lead.

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 5 Lyrics/Vocals: 4 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Report this review (#126409)
Posted Wednesday, June 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars I own 3 ELP albums, all three are some of their most ackowledged work, and this one, Brain Salad Surgery, was the first i got. It's not a bad album, not at all. It has it's good sides, and it can even rock out att certain points. Still, i feel like the only real reason for it's third star was the fact that it's such a classic.

When i first got BSS, which was one of my absolute first prog albums, along with The Snow Goose, Close to the Edge, Thick as a Brick and In the Land of Grey and Pink, i was extatic over the album for a long time. I loved the artwork, i loved to sit back and listen to Emerson run that keyboard up and down with such speed and ferocity that it seemed out of this world, and with Carl Palmer banging away in all his glory, it really seemed like "The Bomb". I don't know exactly what happened since then, but somewhere during that year and a half or so my musical changes must have changed a lot, and nowadays the only track i can stand (along with Jerusalem, which i find slightly charming) at all is Karn Evil 9. And i'm not even talking about the whole thing, no, the only parts i find any REAL pleasure listening to is the first impression, due to it's extreme catchiness and ability to actually rock (especially the intro, which used to blow me away completely) and the third, which features some nice moog-soloing and a totally cheesy computer voice. 2nd impression never impressed me, with Keith Emerson's piano noodling and a completely atrocious steel drum part which is just as out of place as nothing i have ever heard before.

Besides that, i have never understood the chioce to call KE9 an "epic", since it is nothing more than one long song with 3 distinct part which bear no connections whatsoever to one another, lyrically, musically, or stylistically.

Lyrics are, as always with ELP, pretty stupid, and while i understand that it is not for the lyrics that you are supposed to listen to albums such as this, i have a hard timecompletely disregarding them when they are so outrageously corny as on Ke9: 3rd impression.

But more than all of this, there is one thing with ELP which prevents them from probably ever getting more than 3 stars from me on any of their albums. I have said it before, and i will say it again many times, as long at it still rings true; ELP's music is cold. Colder than ice. There is no emotion whatsoever in most of the notes they play (the exception being, curiously, the guitar solos by Lake on the first impression), and this is, to some, their main strength. They display great skill on stage, Keith is undoubtedly a great keyboardist, Carl Palmer is a wild drummer, and virtuosity is the main feature of the band. There rarely time for dreaming in ELP's music, it's almost always always 90mph which is the lowest speed allowed, and i understand that many people like this display of power from three gifter musicians, plus it's also a statement of sorts. Prog, "music for the mind". Well, it's certainly not music for the heart, but in this case, i am sure that, as well, it is not MY mind that it is suited for.

Still, i know that i am wrong, and i know that people will read this review and ask themselves "what'ya takin' about, boy, you on crack?" and that is alright, as i recognize that my experience of ELP is a purely personal one and that if you are new to prog and enjoy keyboard-driven music, you SHOULD get this album (after Tarkus, of course..) because there is a large chance you will like it, just like i did once upon a time.

And just do conclude this atrocity against prog that is my 2-star on one of the truly classic albums of the 70's, i will declare that me favourite song off the album is indeed.. Benny the bouncer. (and the whole crows breathes out, relieved in their insight that this man is indeed crazy)

Report this review (#130109)
Posted Tuesday, July 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Jerusalem An organ driven ballad. very majestic and also melodic. 5 stars. Great drumming from Palmer.

Toccata Mostly weird organ soloing and moog wailing with some great drumwork. 0 stars turn me on An acoustic ballad in the typical Lake manner. Which is a good thing. The track even gets a faster part with wah wahed electric guitar. 5 stars

Benny the bouncer Aww...Lake singing like Lemmy from Motorhead? And the melody is just bland with a barroom piano solo that a lot less notable players could pull off. 0 stars.

Karn evil 9 1st impression A typical Elp rocker driven by hammonds. Still, Lake´s singing is nothing to write home about on this one. Not even a melody. Still, I like the instrumental break by Emerson (even on the moog). And Lake plays a decent electric guitar part concluding the track. Is it just me or he sounds like Steve Hackett? 3 stars

Kaen evil 9 2nd impression Ok, a weird piano instrumental. And even long one. Some parts are interesting, but there´s not much of it there. 1 star

Karn evil 9 3rd impression Great in parts, but not as a whole. The sung part is fine, but the last three minutes with the horrendously vocals by Lake and the mindless synth conclusion is useless. 2.5 stars

Overal rating: 2 STARS

I WOULD RECOMMEND IT ONLY TO FANS AND COLLECTORS. Even though it is considered a classic, better buy Trilogy, Pictures afrom the exhibition or, buy a compilation, possibly THE ANTLACTIC YEARS, as there are all the great songs by the band, plus some I don´t think are that great, but they are considered to be.

Report this review (#132054)
Posted Monday, August 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I absolutely love ELP. I was there when they published each of their L.P.'s. (yes, I'm 52 year old) When I first hear BSS (back in 1973), I thought it was wanderfull. On those days no one sayd in was "too mush". To me Karn Evil 9 is rerrific, and this was, for years my favorite album I don't love Benny the bounser, but ELP puts one of those fool litle songs on each album. The rest of it deserves five stars. I absoluteli love long solos and dificult melodies.
Report this review (#136513)
Posted Thursday, September 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Though additional albums were to follow, Brain Salad Surgery was ELP's last hurrah. Regarded by many as their pinnacle, it is perhaps their most consistent album, though not without fault.

The first song -- Jerusalem -- gets the album off to a great start, courtesy William Blake. Ginastera's Toccata is up next, and ELP are in great form on this song, which is virtually tailor-made for their style. These two songs are among the best ELP ever recorded. Unfortunately, Benny the Bouncer is typical ELP filler, a la The Sheriff and Jeremy Bender. Still You Turn Me On is the requisite Lake composition, obviously included for commercial potential, but it is lacking when compared to From The Beginning.

Which brings us to the Karn Evil 9 suite. There are many who feel this is ELP's masterpiece, but to me it's a step below Tarkus. While Part 1 starts off with great promise, Parts 2 and 3 drag on a bit too long for my tastes, and the production is muddy -- it seems as though I get aurally strained trying to take it all in. But there is certainly a lot of great playing here -- it's ELP after all -- and this was the last time they were able to capture the magic on tape. I'd say Jerusalem and Toccata are required listening for any prog fan, with the rest being merely recommended.

Report this review (#139223)
Posted Wednesday, September 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Can I say this album's weak?

Yes, in my ears, this album didn't punches enough. Only a few parts of this album knocked my head off. "Jerusalem" don't do much. This track not strong enough for me. The strongest part of this song was its lyrics. Moreover "Toccata", most of its structure formed by the ripeless stuff by Keith and Carl. The third track, Greg's ballad, "Still You Turn Me On" was good. This track feels strong in my ears. I think this is the best ballad effort done by Greg, who agree? "Benny the Bouncer" was a joke! But, it's rated far above the first two tracks. And the so-called centerpiece of the album, "Karn Evil 9" comes. Who forget the opening riffs that played by Keith? This 30 minute song straightly breaks my brain. By the way, thanks to Peter Sinfield who adopts the title name. It would be horrible if the opus named "Ganton 9", remember?

Well, this was a good album. But still contain too much weak sections. They are: "Jerusalem" (though not as weak as the other ones), "Toccata" and the second impression of "Karn Evil 9". And I think this album is overrated. 5 stars is too much for this album. I would give 3 stars. But remember, this album mostly helped by the last epic track.

Report this review (#145695)
Posted Thursday, October 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Man of steel pray and kneel, with fever's blazing torch, thrust in the face of the night. Draws a blade of compassion, kissed by countless kings, whose jewelled trumpet words blind his sight. As if ELP wasn't stacked with enough talent, Peter Sinfield (who was just let go from King Crimson by Robert Fripp) comes on board to contribute his wonderful lyrics to the epic of the album.

Another guest lyricist, although not aware or even alive to to consent was William Blake, who's poetry is used as the words to Hubert Parry's English patriotic hymn Jerusalem. ELP's cover of this was meant to to be a single in England but unfortunately, the BBC intervened and banned it from the airwaves. Despite how the BBC feels, ELP's version is very nice,as it is lead by Lake's beatiful, yet powerful voice.

Toccata is a reworking of an Alberto Ginastera piano concerto. As the famous story goes, Ginastera heard it and loved it so much, he told Keith he captured the essence of his music and made sure they were cleared to use it, as his estate was apparently prepared to take legal action against it. The song itself is awesome. It has a great atmosphere and makes excellent use of electronics. Keith isn't the only one to use synthesizers as Carl used innovative percussion synths.

It kind of seems that by Brain Salad Surgery ELP had developed a sort of checklist of songs. The Lake ballad of the album, Still You Turn Me On, has kind of silly lyrics but Lake's voice is more than enough to overlook that. Benny the Bouncer is their third Western/Ragtime piece, being preceded by Jeremy Bender and The Sheriff. This one definitely seems to be more light- hearted and a joke of sorts. I used to hate it and saw it as a weakness but now see that it is a bit of humor and have changed my mind about it.

The big track is the epic, Karn Evil 9. At 29'37, this is their second go around for a monster track. The first attempt, Tarkus was very successful, both in terms of reception by fans/critics and artistry. As they did in Takus, ELP went for an in-depth theme, writing about the now-trite idea (not their fault) of a war between man and machine. It is longer and structured differently than Tarkus. Where Tarkus is one tight compostion that revolves around the same ideas, Karn Evil 9 is made up of three movements, none of which have to do with each other, musically. The first impression is the most well-known and in theme is where the carnival twist is brought out, describing an evil show in a futuristic world that displays ugly, horrid things (Left behind the bars, rows of Bishops' heads in jars and a bomb inside a car. Spectacular! Spectacular!). The second impression is an instrumental that features Keith's virtuoso piano playing (don't forget Palmer's playing either). It shows a cool use of the moog, to create steel drum sounds. The third impression is the battle between computers and humans. The story is open to interpretation as it is unclear what side is victorious. The lyrics of Sinfield are thought provoking and unique. It all comes to an end with a robotic sound jumping pithes, while getting louder and more rapid, possibly revealing the closing in and new reign of the computers.

Overall, Brain Salad Surgery is a very complete album. The music, lyrics and themes all seem to lock in and make for one of ELP's strongest and most popular albums. This is a masterpiece of progressive rock, being both innovative and as artistically satisfying as it is technically satisfying. The efforts of all three musicians (with the addition of the words of Sinfield) have never worked together more than on this album. 5 Stars.

Report this review (#157598)
Posted Thursday, January 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
TGM: Orb
5 stars Review 3, Brain Salad Surgery, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, 1973


Some fans like to think of this album as ELP's magnum opus. It certainly shows technical skill, power, a complete disregard for musical conventions and grandiose pieces that don't wear too thin after a few listens. It also has the added bonus of relatively diverse musical choices (from the heavy electronic classical(?!) interpretation of Toccata to the soft tones of Still..You Turn Me On to the progressive beast that is Karn Evil 9). The biggest let-down on this album is that it doesn't really feel like an album, but rather like a collection of several very good songs. There also isn't really any single track that I'd consider absolutely vital to someone who isn't an ELP fan already (well, maybe Toccata). There's no weakness, and everything's great, but this album doesn't really have a Tarkus or a Musical Box or a Gypsy or a Schizoid Man to leave you gasping for more and riveted to your chair. Perhaps my favourite part of this album is Palmer's drumming throughout, especially on Toccata. It always annoys me to see Phil Collins, although he's good, getting way more votes than Palmer on all those best drummer ever polls.

The version of Jerusalem was a fairly ambitious choice. However, the arrangements are great, Emerson's organ backing Lake's triumphant 'Bring me my bow of burning gold...'. It's great entertainment, an original take, and a good opener.

Still... You Turn Me On is pretty obviously a Lake composition. Short, melodic and with gorgeous haunting verses interspersed with slightly awkward choruses that take a few listens to acquire. If you like Lucky Man, you should like this, if not, I can't see it being too annoying to listen through.

Benny the Bouncer is another short track, based on a weird club-style piano, light drums and Lake's half-drunken vocals. It's quite amusing, but nothing really superb.

Toccata is a driving reinterpretation of a classical composition. The drumming; chimes, electric drums and all is absolutely amazing, the Moog is hectic, screeching and energetic, and, most importantly of all, the atmosphere and direction is always there.

Karn Evil 9 may not be every progger's piece of cake, but is definitely something most ELP fans should enjoy. The concept is the enslavement of humans by computers, which at times has superb lyrical results, and at others lines like 'no man yields who flies on my ship'. The first impression pt. 1 is opened with a good vocal part, together with Emerson's Hammond organ, and has a moody energy, great keyboards and foreshadowing perhaps weakened by an occasional moment of tacky lyrics and vocals.

The First Impression part 2 is a big improvement on that, full of energy and bursting with lightness, and the bass is supporting suitably silly keyboard parts that take the serious edge off the song. Lake's vocals are as good as anything he's done, and the lyrics aren't bad, per se, and the instrumental section is as polyphonic as you could expect from a three-piece band. I love the thing that sounds like a great guitar solo, but could be a keyboard solo. I particularly like the brief moments when Palmer's left alone. He can both hold up the rhythm section throughout the song flawlessly and also develop on that any time he wants.

My criticism for the second impression is that it is really nothing except good music. I can't see any real relation to the concept, or musical ties between the pieces. The music is all very cooperative, and usually seems to have all members of the band playing. The random yipping after the opener only improves it, and Palmer's drumming is eclectic and sounds like steel drums. The second part of it has some echoes of Toccata and excellent drawn out atmosphere with bass and piano together with the occasional hollow tap on a percussion instrument. The shift to a slightly heavier and more pompous piano part doesn't come off too well. It goes back to some variations (I think) on the opener section, and there are some brilliant moments. Unfortunately it still overall feels to me like a bunch of random ideas thrown together into a bit of a mess. It changes abruptly and obviously to an overblown third impression.

The third impression starts well with bits of pseudo-classical organ interspersed with light moog, a good sung part continuing the concept. The 'computer's lyrical parts were obviously the good ones, and its . The instrumental section is again the real triumph here, though the keyboard parts sometimes seem a little brainlessly or ostentatiously added. Additionally it doesn't really, for me, evoke the idea of a battle. As hard as I try, I can only think spacey or confused when listening to this. When the vocals kick in again, it's to good effect, and the computer's final duet with Lake is pensive and impressive, and shows why I don't dislike the concept overall. Although I've come to accept the ending, as is the case with King Crimson's In The Wake Of Poseidon, its feeling is ruined by the inclusion of bonus tracks.

Of the bonus tracks, there's not much to say, they'll get a fuller mention on the Works II review. Brain Salad Surgery itself has an almost spitting drum-part, silly keyboards, basically random lyrics, and a generally laid back feel. There's a good 'lead' guitar part in the background and the quiet bit in the middle, which is always a nice change from pure keyboard-domination. Not brilliant, but good.

When The Apple Blossoms Bloom is basically a nice jazz fusion piece, with eclectic keyboards, good percussion and a quiet bass part. It's great. The excerpts just irritate me. I can only listen to the opening of BSS itself once in a sitting before it annoys me, and I get equally annoyed if I have to dash to the stereo just to turn it off at the exact moment WTABB ends.

Overall, a very strong four stars that only misses the fifth because of a lack of overall direction and personal nitpicking in Karn Evil 9, as well as too much keyboard dominance on that song for me. I'm one of the unconverted heathen who likes polyphony and thinks that In The Cage is vastly overrated, and proud of it. Despite the high rating, I wouldn't start an ELP collection with this. It's not massively accessible, and if you just don't like ELP, I can't see this having anything really which you'd like.

Rating: Almost. Almost. Four stars. Favourite Track: Toccata

Edited up to a 5, at last. Not because my fundamental views on the album have changed all that much, it's still got a flaw or two. On the other hand, this is possibly the best played album of all time. Three very distinctive, absolutely mindblowing musicians (and Carl Palmer and Greg Lake at their finest are every bit the monster that Bruford and Squire were, in fact, I'd say even more so), pulling out fantastic tones for the entire thing and working together astoundingly closely. As I've got more and more capable of listening for the actual musical components, this has become comfortably my most listened to, and possibly even my favourite ELP album, and so I think it might be unfair to, on a technicality, deny it the fifth star. So, crank the volume up, and enjoy. And yes, now it feels perfectly like an album to me, not a fully resolved one, but nonetheless a brilliant, brilliant album.

Edit, and I'm now of the view that Toccata is ELP's crowning achievement... that's a must have, along with Jerusalem and KE-9, 1st Impression pt. 2.

Rating 14/15, and five stars. With a recommendation, if you're new to prog rock and don't like this at first, explore a few other albums and subgenres, wait for your ears to get a bit more experienced and then give it another go. It only gets better.

Report this review (#159568)
Posted Wednesday, January 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A really pleasant and diverse ride. Nothing for the nervous though, as this contains musical extremes from both ends of the spectrum. This healthy mix of old and new, strange and accessible must have been one of the keystones in making ELP the great commercial success story they became. Self-indulgence and bombast are almost synonymous with much of prog, but never more so than with ELP, making this a showcase of both the negative and positive sides of this style of music.

For me, that's all good. ELP isn't a shy group of musicians, so there's no chance of this not being overblown, because these guys are it by nature! If you don't really care about the guitar, do it properly.

Jerusalem is a remake of a traditional, patriotic English hymn and also the official song for Englands cricket team. Cricket fans? Most importantly though, it serves as one of the cornerstones in one certain Monty Python-sketch, making it a glorious tribute for Britain's best comedy gang. That's what I've always hoped, and for reasons unknown, it sure wouldn't surprise me! The remake is in one word, that's right, bombastic, and one of my most played songs. Soaring church organ, massive drum beats from Palmer. Makes it hard not feeling pride and strength, if not for England, for something.

Next up is a song that seems to polarise a lot of fans. Toccata is an interpretation of a classical piece and features one of the most devastatingly heavy, violent organ passages I've come across, after an eerie intro. Again powerful percussion from Carl Palmer, with an impressive solo in the middle section, showcasing the fantastic skill of the man. One of the best!

A well-needed rest sure is needed after these two monsters and they come in shape of Still...You Turn Me On and Benny The Bouncer. Nice and tranquil 12-string guitar work from Greg Lake makes the three minutes of the first one a worthwhile excursion. Benny The Bouncer on the other hand. Where to begin? Spectacular is the wrong word. An epic of disgrace. The keys! The vocals! The bar piano! The fight! But what you can't deny is: you always end up smiling...

Much can be said about Karn Evil 9. I'll settle with saying that the introduction of 1st Impression, Pt. 2 and 3rd Impression never fails to send chills down my spine. And yes, Keith Emerson sure knows what he's doing.


Report this review (#164984)
Posted Wednesday, March 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars I first bought this album when I was about 13 years old. At the age of 48, I approach Brain Salad from a far different point of view. Two things strike me about ELP, the jazz musicianship that seems to be bubbling underneath the surface of every tune, and on this album in particular, Greg Lake's muscianship. I had the opportunity to watch an ELP concert video of their california jam appearance, and I was amazed by Greg Lake's guitar abilities. The riffs that over the years I had assumed were keyboard created by Emerson were in fact being produced by Greg Lake on the guitar, for example TOCCATA, towards the end of this tune Lake adds some fine guitar riffings, not neccessarily on a par with lets say, Robert Fripp, but nonetheless, stylish enough for the music. On Karn Evil number 9 1st impression, it is actually Lake's soloing on the guitar that is out in front in key points of the music, driving the tune. IMPRESSION 2, goes to my theory that ELP had a damn good fusion album in them that never got out, if only they had taken one album off from being a prog band to explore this side of their music, on the California Jam video, towards the end of TAKE A PEBBLE, the band breaks into a great bebop type set, with Lake adding great baselines along with palmer, who I didn't expect could handle this kind of music. It's Emerson's moog playing that actually gets annoying at times, and greg lake's vocals sounding too pompous courtesy of the pete sinfield lyrics. If only they had taken the time to release an album patterned after something like Zappa's SHUTUP AND PLAY YOUR GUITAR. But alas this has never happened. So I recommend when listening to this album pay attention to the guitar riffs that Lake puts out, and the overall underlying jazz influences that are all over this album.
Report this review (#168057)
Posted Saturday, April 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Get Me a Ladder, The Only Way Is Down

I tried, I really did, honestly (to find a weevil in these martian fire-flowers) but have to confess that this is probably the closest you will find to the unattainable perfection we all search so futilely for.

ELP had learned the lessons from its predecessor Trilogy, i.e don't write anything that you can't reproduce on stage and end up touring just half an album of new material. No weak tracks here, and I can say that every one of them has been my favourite at one time or another.

We were still ascending when we made Brain Salad Surgery, we were enjoying a sensational amount of success, and I suppose we felt as if we could do anything and we certainly tried. Musically, lyrically and visually, we really went for it.' Keith Emerson in 2014

Interestingly, the band was not allowed to perform Jerusalem in the UK, presumably on the reactionary advice of the censor who hesitated at the idea of some dirty long-hairs 'butchering' a national hymn. Shame really, as this version is completely respectful to the original and Lake's vocal is one of his best ever. Palmer's drumming is sublime, and manages to be incredibly busy AND utterly supportive despite the plethora of spectacular rolls throughout the track's short duration. Not sure if fatboy actually plays bass on this as the bottom end, to my ears at least, sounds as though it comes solely from Emerson's Minimoog bass?. Keith had tried an arrangement of this piece with the Nice in the late 60's but it never came together to his satisfaction and was abandoned.

Tocatta - Ginastera's music is something of an acquired taste and certainly not for the feint-hearted so Emerson has done a remarkable job of transforming the 4th movement of the Argentinian's 1st piano concerto into a format that displays the band to best effect and convinced the initially reluctant Lake to climb on board. This is the closest ELP came to abandoning conventional tonality altogether and certainly a close run thing with The Barbarian as the heaviest and most challenging piece they ever recorded. For years I thought the electronic 'oscillator epilepsy' that comes near the end was contributed mainly by Emerson's modular Moog system, but I have been advised that most of the sounds here come via Palmer's electronic percussion. The composer's publisher Boosey & Hawkes originally refused permission for ELP to release the track which forced Emerson and the group's manager Stewart Young to fly to Switzerland and obtain the maestro's blessing in person.

Yep, we need a soothing ballad now after that onslaught, and they deliver in style with Lake's Still You Turn Me On being a contender for the best song he ever wrote. This would have been the perfect single from the album but rather pedantically, the performing rights 'bean counters' deemed that as Palmer does not play anything on this track, it could not therefore be released under the name ELP. Keith's harpsichord part on this is simply stunning and displays a subtlety and restraint to which he is seldom afforded due credit

The intro to Benny the Bouncer contains one of the first instances of a polyphonic synth being used in recording history, and on reflection, this hilarious vaudeville parody seems an odd choice on which to debut such innovative technology. The track gets some flak from ELP fans, but I love it to death and the piano solo is one of the most exhilarating sections in popular music EVER. Very funny and witty lyrics from Lake and Peter Sinfield which serve to undermine the charges against the latter of being a pretentious dilettante and ELP as humorless. Greg's approximation of 'arry Champion as a cockney doorman is mercilessly accurate.

Karn Evil 9 on its own must be deserving of being considered Prog's equivalent to Pop's 'Sgt Pepper'. Emerson had misgivings about using the 'Roll Up' part in the lyrics with a ringmaster inviting the audience to 'the show' due to the inevitable Beatles comparisons but relented in the end. In it's 30 minute span it encompasses everything that visitors to this site value above all else. Fantastic playing, innovative technology that ENHANCES the music as opposed to DISGUISING same.

Economical solos and breathtaking exploitation of dramatics and accents?. (Check)

Key changes, tempo changes and timbral diversity? (Check).

Humour, Irony, Wit, Gravitas, Good and Bad Taste, Irreverence, Anarchy and Conservatism? (Check)

There is no noodling over a riff for 10 minutes here and the music is meticulously conceived right down to the last high-hat stroke to be faithfully reproducible within the live environment. If proof were needed, the resultant tour and triple live album Welcome Back My Friends is testimony to this artistic rigor. Similarly, the description 'Symphonic' is usually a lazy misnomer when applied to the majority of Prog giants.There is very little formal symphonic development in Yes, Crimson or Genesis. However the term is perfectly apt for this triumvirate suite where themes and motifs are developed with the conventional academic discipline as deployed by the likes of Sibelius, Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Copland, Bartok, Janacek et al.

The lyrics in Prog are normally one of its weak points but Lake and Sinfield really make a great effort here to explore the ramifications of the dawn of a dystopian technological age where our inventions ultimately come to destroy us and our human values. Some may now consider the corrupt 'circus' analogy as somewhat cliched but in 1973 this was thought provoking and extremely prescient, so full marks to ELP for that.

It is strange however, that the mainly acoustic 2nd Impression avowedly inspired by Chick Corea, is based on themes contained in the following 3rd Impression which has led me to believe it was composed AFTER the 3rd part of the suite? At times jazzy, eerie, haunting, genuinely scary and 'silent movie' scary this latin influenced track (the Minimoog marimba) runs the whole gamut of Emerson's many stylistic influences.

SUMMATION: At least 30 years ahead of its time as evidenced by polyphonic synths, electronic percussion and sequencing (the classic swept filter effect that segues side one and two of the original vinyl)

From this point on, there was nowhere else for ELP to go, (electronically at least) as they had taken analogue technology to beyond the limits dreamed of in 1973. It would be another 8 years before MIDI appeared and thereafter the digital revolution of sampling.

Best album by the best band in the best genre with the best cover. (A Full House)

Report this review (#169570)
Posted Friday, May 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars ELP reached the height of their powers in 1973. They were one of the most in demand acts right up with Led Zeppelin, The Who and Deep Purple. Building on the success of the first three studio albums and one live one ELP was now on top the rock world. Excess everywhere Persian carpets, groupies galore and the excess food, alcohol and drugs. In the midst of that came Brain Salad Surgery. Even though all the other albums to date had their special moments and wow factor ELP was the most experimental on this one. Starting with taking on of the most popular hymns in England and turning it into a single much to the chagrin of the conservatives in England or the synthetic wonderland of the adaptation of Italian classical composer Ginastera's Toccatta to the seemingly out of place vaudeville style Benny the Bouncer to a three part unrelated Epic in Karn Evil 9 ELP ventured into a lot of areas. The question was would there fans come along?

Trilogy was a studio masterpiece that couldn't be reproduced until the 90's because of the overdubs so what to do if your looked at as the creative electronic wizards? Simply put as lavish as the production is ELP was able to simplify the add ons and still play the whole thing live. What a show it was!

Karn Evil 9 1st Impression (both parts) was a highly energized rocker that while had different sections related brillianty and rocks tremendously. (My favorite part is the transition at around the 5 minute mark.) Something ELP never again really captured. The second part of the 1st impression was actually due to time constraints of the vinyl became a classic rock staple. The second Impression is noted for Keith's piano work. In an interview he explained this was to be his first piano concerto that somehow fell through. The band then adapted it as an instrumental again using Carl's synthesized percussion as on toccata. The impression is really a fusion piece with a lot of trading off between Keith and Carl. Finally building to the climax of the 3rd Impression the album closes. The lyrics would have you believe in the future world of a computer gone mad to take control of the one who created him. There are some beautiful melodies and some dark and evil sounding parts as well.

So add all this up and this classic of Prog and of rock and a tribute to a band who would never find themselves again. After BSS and subsequent tour ELP took a 3 year leave of absence and came back with the misguided Works Vol 1. That is another story this one ends with 5 Stars. See the Show!

Report this review (#170817)
Posted Monday, May 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Brain Salad Surgery ,,,,,,, STILL ..... YOU TURN ME ON , since 1973 , as one of the most powerful releases by E.L.P , for nearly every week in my so called life , there must be room in my time to listen to this album , in addition to first album , Tarkus & Pictures (live ) , it's now more than a habbit , it's simply my way of living with perfect arts ..... my rating is 4.5 stars for all tracks , Still... you turn me on 5 full Stars ............................Tracks Toni
Report this review (#171945)
Posted Thursday, May 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Brain Salad Surgery is not only the most popular album from ELP, but probably their best. If it weren't for some sections of Karn Evil 9 and Benny the Bouncer, I would have given this album five stars. Keith Emerson's keyboards and playing ability are at a peak on this album, and this is the most keyboard-heavy album not only for their catalog, but for that era (except for some Kraftwerk material). However, the heavy keyboards don't slow this album down. In fact, I like that they gave Emerson more time for keyboards, because this album shows how much he can do. Just listen to the second impression of Karn Evil 9. Who was playing like that in 1973? The only person that could come close to him in '73 was Rick Wakeman. The weird thing about this album is that despite the heavy keyboards and very little use of guitar, this album still produced a hit song that made them even more famous than they were (Karn Evil 9, First Impression part 2). Then again, the early 70's may have been the only time in the history of rock music where you can be a band like Kraftwerk or ELP and still have a large following. Toccata is a great cover (yes, it is a cover, look it up) from Alberto Ginastera's 1st Piano Concerto and they do a great job keeping along the lines of the original piece. Jerusalem is an interesting way to start the album. In fact, ELP wanted it as a single, but conflicts with BBC Radio (I believe) kept them from releasing it, and they eventually opted not to release it. Still... You Turn Me On, although good, sounds like it shouldn't be on this album. It is a light, acoustic love song that Greg Lake (of course) wrote, and is his only solo contribution to the album. Benny the Bouncer isn't that good, and is the weakest track on here. Only a few problems bump the rating of this album down to four stars. This is ELP's greatest album, and I would recommend it to any prog fan.
Report this review (#172391)
Posted Wednesday, May 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
Crossover/Symphonic/RPI Teams
4 stars Of all the albums ELP released, Brain Salad Surgery is the best. But it's still far from being what ELP could have potentially done. Unfortunately after this release it was a never ending downward spiral for the group, with an occasional hiccup (like the Emerson Lake & Powell effort in 1985).

The album doesn't really start off on the right foot, with a boring adaptation of William Blake's Jerusalem. Fortunately it's a short piece which leads into the wonderful Toccata, an adaptation of Alberto Ginastera's 1st Piano Concerto, 4th Movement. Emerson's heavy use of synthesizers in this piece is a fine example as to why Emerson's name is so popular among progressive rock fans.

Unfortunately, ELP drops into mediocrity with another acoustical ballad by Greg Lake, followed by the silly Benny the Bouncer. At best, both are forgettable and easily fit the ELP formula of some great pieces amidst a bunch of shorter filler tracks, a formula that has prevented ELP from ever having the masterpiece it potentially could have made.

Fortunately for the world of Prog, ELP save the rest of the album for one of their best and well-known pieces, the nearly 30-minute long Karn Evil 9. Unfortunately the entire performance of this song had its first movement split into two parts because it could not fit on one side of an LP. Even when it came out on CD, this remained so until later re-releases had the performance whole as it was originally intended. For ELP, these circumstances provided an unusual side-effect, as the second part of the first impression became a big radio hit on AOR stations.

Penned by Peter Sinfield, the story of Karn Evil 9 is told in three impressions, with the second being an instrumental interlude. The first impression tells the story of a world in which the decadence of the old world is preserved in carnival exhibits along with some things which are rare in the future. The third impression is about a war between computers and humans. Both the first and third impressions are absolutely amazing and are probably the best tracks ELP ever made. The instrumental interlude, on the other hand, is pretty tame stuff.

Not quite a masterpiece, but definitely the best of ELP's albums. Easily four stars and highly regarded by the majority of symphonic prog fans.

Report this review (#176301)
Posted Monday, July 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars I can't believe that I haven't reviewed an ELP album yet.

Let's start with their best, Brain Salad Surgery.

This is the album that epitomizes everything that ELP was about. The grandeur, the fantasy, the technical skill, the offbeat interest in other genres, the classical influence, the weird humor that doesn't quite work, Lake's sentimental guitar pieces... everything is packaged in Brain Salad Surgery. If you haven't heard it, get it. If you have heard it, revisit and take a pleasant stroll down memory lane.

Here's what you get on this great album.

Jerusalem (4/5): ELP is known for occasionally drifting into disparate genres, but who would have expected them to cover a hymn from the Church of England? That they can make even this appealing to hard core prog fans (albeit with help from the most brilliant poet of the English language, William Blake) should earn them some kind of award.

Tocatta (4.5/5): Take the award that they earned with Jerusalem and multiply it exponentially. These guys take a weird modern classical composition and crank up the weirdness to ELEVEN. (If you haven't seen This is Spinal Tap, then the allusion probably eludes you, but take my word that this is a compliment.) A difficult piece is made an even more difficult piece, but by God, it's rewarding if you listen to it more than once.

Still... You Turn Me On (3.5/5): One of the best compositions to feature Lake's guitar. Predictable and poppy, but Keith stir things up enough to reward your listening.

Benny the Bouncer (2/5): This is the odd track that doesn't measure up. It's got the same feel that Jeremy Bender has (even to the ragtime influence) but it isn't as attractive. Fortunately, it doesn't last long.

Karn Evil 9 (1st Impression - Part 1) (4/5): Introducing the epic that earns ELP favored status in the Valhalla of prog. This really could be cut into two parts. The parts that are introductory are just above average, but the parts that lead into part 2 are just as good as part 2. If you like part 2, you owe it to yourselves to listen to part 1.

Karn Evil 9 (1st Impression - Part 2) (4.5/5): This was split up into parts 1 & 2 in order to make part 2 the single. It was a wise commercial decision, as part 2 is the most likeable work on the album. It also is great at showcasing ELP's various talents. Enjoy.

Karn Evil 9 (2nd Impression) (5/5): If I had to choose one track that epitomized ELP's creativity and technical skill, this would be it. This thing has classical art written all over it. You don't get symphonic prog if you don't get this.

Karn Evil 9 (3rd Impression) (5/5): This gets 5 out of 5 too, but for very different reasons. This track is the sublimation of the ELP sound. Working together, they never reached heights like these again. We aren't talking technical skill, as in the last track, but we are talking about overpowering symphonic power, with decent lyrics to match. This is my favorite ELP track.

Anyhow, this is definitely a masterpiece of prog. 5 stars all the way.

Report this review (#176384)
Posted Wednesday, July 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Without a shade of doubt, the best Emerson Lake & Palmer release and one of my top 5 of 70's progressive rock albums. The concept of this record is very similar to what the band did on their previous release but this time proportions changed. Albums starts with popular British anthemic song Jerusalem. It's not a long piece but it's filled with the same pathos as Endless Enigma from Trilogy. It was released as a single as well (good ol' 70's) and I think it wasn't bad idea because it's really catchy song (yet filled with passion). Toccata is next one. It's sort of variation on Ginastera's piano concert and it's done in very avant-grade way. I'm not sure if it was a good idea but if song ended at 3:30 it would be fine. But it's over 7 minute long piece and it's way too chaotic. Still You Turn Me On is great ballad. It's in the vein of From The Beginning from Trilogy and it's same good in my opinion. Benny The Bouncer yeah honky tonk stuff far more dynamic than The Sheriff from previous album but it keeps the same scheme and proves both albums are done the same conceptual way. To me 'Benny' sounds a bit like old western song where ghosts of cowboys appear on the black and whire screen. Spooky. The main part of the album is three-piece suite called Karn Evil 9. First one is truly rock and roll, vivid and mighty (matchy bass lines simply hit to the bone, it's what Steve Harris did later in Iron Maiden). Somehow that little guitar solos apppearing here and there sound very modern and.... heavy metal? Anyway outstanding stuff. The second impression of Karn Evil is totally instrumental battle between Emerson and Palmer. Keith is probably the best modern artist. Spirit of Ginastera was in the studio. It's amazing how neo-expressionism mixes here with both nationalisms present in Ginastera's music btw. Listen to that Latin-American vibe in ELP music. That's it. Alberto was born in Buenos Aires:) Third impression is typical Emerson Lake And Palmer symphonic piece. But not exactly so typical because Soviet Union anthem fragment appeared somewhere near the end of this epic song. That cacophony put into impression symbolises war and pain, to me it's like total chaos and destruction. Very strong moment of the album. So after the half hour of Karn Evil 9 we finally reach the end. Without a shade of doubt, one of the strongest release ever. Three virtuosos and their MUSIC. Definitely a must in any prog fan collection.
Report this review (#176528)
Posted Friday, July 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#177907)
Posted Wednesday, July 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
5 stars Otherworldly

Right from its beginning Brain Salad Surgery transports you to another, alien world and does not let you come back back until after the end of the album. It is as if this album came from another, alternate universe that is kind of like ours, yet also different. This album is not only an absolute masterpiece of progressive Rock, but an album with a unique feel, sound, and atmosphere - there is nothing else like this!

The group had already released several strong albums including the excellent Trilogy, but Brain Salad Surgery is the pinnacle of their career and stands above everything else they did before or since. The massive three part epic Karn Evil 9 is simply out of this world deserves every progressive Rock fan's attention.

An absolutely essential album!

Report this review (#177996)
Posted Wednesday, July 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is an intense display of progressive rock with some excellent instrumental sections throughout. Even the name sounds so bizarre and intrigueing. So anyways:

Jerusalem, nice organ on this one and melody is also pretty. Very much like church music of course but with ELP's twist on it. Slighty boring in comparison to some of the later tracks but a nice track none the less.

Toccata, find this harder to listen to and a bit self-indulgent at times but then again thats what makes ELP so lovable some times. Really for me this just felt like it had potential and could have become a well constructed song but fell short and feels too spontaneous and random.

Still...You Turn Me On, a suprising track from this band but a nice acoustic and electronic mixture which creates a very calming atmosphere. Constructed more like a pop song and we get to hear more of Greg's vocals. I liked this short interlude especially after such an intense piece like Toccata.

Benny the Bouncer, certainly one of the weaker tracks and a little too silly to really be enjoyable to listen to. Comical, but not really a great song. There is however some nice honky tonk piano from Emerson, which is probably one of it's only redeeming qualities.

Finally, the conclusion worth waiting for.

Karn Evil 9- First Impression-Part 1, nice track with some great synth about halfway through. Also great keyboards in general throughout, as well as drumming, vocals and bass.

Karn Evil 9-First Impression-Part 2, probably the most famous part of the Karn Evil 9 series. Great lyrics, vocals and keyboards. Some amazing keyboard solos and even a very short drum solo.

Karn Evil 9- Second Impression, Mostly jazzy throughout with some outstanding keyboards but not entirely exciting overall.

Karn Evil 9- Third Impression, dramatic intro that creates the mood. Also, some nice vocals and melodies throughout.

Overall, this album is actually a large varitey of sounds and styles, and while they are sometimes a little indulgent, generally they songs are quite enjoyable and interesting.

Report this review (#178301)
Posted Sunday, July 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars The cover art is one of the most fantastic things I've ever seen on an album cover. The prog has very much promise; with lots of Hammond organ pumped riffs, synth experiments, great bass line, propulsive drumming, epic pieces and a few sci-fi themes, BRAIN SALAD SURGERY has a ton of potential with progsters. But upon hearing the first notes of ''Jerusalem'', you may not realize this at first, but the album is missing one thing; great production.

The production throughout most of the album is just flat. ''Jerusalem'' is one of the better adaptations ELP ever did, but is marred by weak production. I could say the very same thing for the first impression of ''Karn Evil 9''. I remember when I first heard this album, I thought it was one of the best pieces of prog ever, overlooking the production faults.

Another thing that has changed from first listen to now is how much throwaway material is here. ''Still...You Turn Me On'' is just another sappy ballad from Greg Lake that is dispensible to my ears, ''Benny the Bouncer'' sounds like ELP goofing off one day in the studio, and a lot of elongated soloing with the keyboards happens too much everywhere else. For instance, ''Tocatta'' is a very bouncy, energetic piece of work only to be ruined by Keith and Carl playing with their new toys for too long.

''Karn Evil 9'' has potential to be one of the best prog epics ever. Unfortunately on my part, I can't seem to get over how uninteresting I find the second impression, and the third one has too many stupid sci-fi themes perfectly coordinated to battle music I could find in Star Wars. The first impression is my favourite of the bunch, but I would like it more had it been produced better.

It's a great springboard into the world of prog for any new progster, as I was when I first heard this album. The prog essence will grip you right away, but the album's many flaws start getting more noticeable as time wears on. I can't give it less than three stars, but my opinion gets weaker the more times I listen to the album.

Report this review (#178568)
Posted Thursday, July 31, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars BRAIN SALAD SURGERY! It will murder you, it murdered me!!!!

(Of course, I quoted from the eponymus song that actually isn't on the album, only on Works 2 - fortunatley ) - But let's turn back to this album with the Alien-cover. Although not my favourite from ELP, it's very close to Tarkus which is the best I think. Now the epic is the last one, and the first part (4 songs) show the diversity of styles: ancient hymn, lyrical ballad, contemporary avantgarde music and a funny ragtime piece about a pub fighting, Benny the Bouncer - don't compare it with Jeremy Bender, that's a rather different story. Karn Evil is amazing in each part - they are really Impressions! The first begins with a fugue-like organ intro, and it becomes really an odyssey as the lyric says, Lake must have had troubles with repeating that high note. After 3 verses - the story begins: Fight tomorrow! Very impressive Moog melodies, and it is real fighting between the instruments, that's how I try to describe it, but it's more than that. After the rock and roll vocals Lake's guitar solo comes in, that's one of my favourite parts. The other two parts are also impressive and cleverly invented, yes that's the word: they INVENTED music! And that's one of their most interesting inventions. I don't know if the ending is good with that crazy loop, it's the one point I find hard to understand, but as a whole the album is something new and impressive, that's no doubt.

The only ELP album that beats this is Tarkus, but this is almost that good, and the epic song is a bit more accessible (for me).You've got to see the show... It's rock and roll...

Report this review (#180698)
Posted Sunday, August 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars If further explanation is required, check your Webster's under 'Fellatio' - Liner notes from the '96 remaster

The Story

My tale with this legendary effort from Emerson, Lake & Palmer [ELP] begins the same way a lot of my tales with classic albums do. In my younger days my father had bought me a magazine seeing that it featured articles on Pink Floyd and Rush (two of my favorite bands, then and now), but it also featured a lot more, since that particular issue was a special edition, The Story Of Progressive Rock and had articles on many other artists whose name was completely new to me. Among the sea of reading about bands that I was familiar with already, but hadn't heard (Jethro Tull, Genesis), and bands that were completely strange and new (Hawkwind, The Soft Machine) I found one group to be particularly interesting with the stories and essays about them - ELP. Not to mention that within the magazine's top 40 progressive rock albums of all time (I had only two of them at the time - Dark Side Of The Moon and Rush's A Farewell to Kings) number five sported a chilling cover art and the same name of the band that had entertained me without even having heard them. Naturally, when I returned home from the trip that we were on when I received the magazine I set out to buy these classic albums, now fallen in love with the genre that I had come to finally give a name to - progressive rock.

I'd find the album rather quickly, (much to my surprise in hindsight, since I've only ever seen about 2 or 3 copies of it over the years) and on first listen I was more than impressed. A young mind such as mine would have trouble comprehending just what it was that I was listening to, but I knew that I liked it. There was no doubt about that. I remember sitting around with some friends at home one day when an unfamiliar person approached me, he had been playing poker a couple of rooms over with my father and had heard Toccata playing loudly. He came over and said, ''ELP?? Man, you listen to them?'' I proudly proclaimed, ''yeah! they're great!''. He gave an approving nod and we chatted for a moment before he had to return to his table and we continued to groove to the tune of Still... You Turn Me On. Looking back on that moment shows just how universal the music is for the people who know it. It moves through generations and is just as fresh to new ears as it was to the people who knew it from the genre's heyday.

It's funny to note that before the discovery of this website it seemed that progressive rock was a perfect mystery to everyone I met, except for some of the most random people that I would meet in record stores or friends of my parents who had followed the genre since it's inception. For a young King By-Tor and his friends though, the genre offered unlimited possibilities, and this album was just a scratch on the surface.

But let's get to the music:

The album

What makes Brain Salad Surgery as legendary and generation transcending as it is is a combination of many things. The bombast and virtuosity of the players on the record make for a larger than life sound, and the album's themes make for a wonderful combination. An album which features a 31-minute epic about a dystopian future can only be accurately represented by such music, after all, can you imagine any other band attempting this project? Carl Palmer sets up the frantic pace as only the founder of heavy prog legends, Atomic Rooster, can and Keith Emerson puts his alumnus skills of The Nice combined with his already rampant talent to use making the album as creepy as possible with his key work. All the while Greg Lake seems to have learned from his time with King Crimson and he puts the lungs and the bass to work in ways some might not have thought possible.

Who in the progressive world can honestly forget or deny the wonderful opening of this disc? All three members attack at once at the queue of Emerson's keys on the (somewhat maligned) Jerusalem, the band's chosen single for the album which would never be released in Britain thanks to it's content. Lake's vocals are immediately noticeable on the album thanks to the power they already present (yes, not everyone is a fan of his, but still - it's hard to deny the emotion he was able to put behind his vocals) and singing such a wonderfully constructed poem as one written by William Blake (And Did Those Feet In Ancient Time). Emerson shines immediately as well, soloing to his heart's content over the frantic drums and relatively simplistic bass that keeps the beat and makes the song more approachable on the whole. A wonderful piece.

Of course the album would not be without it's signature interpretive instrumental. Story tells of Emerson playing in The Nice and hearing a piano piece that absolutely wowed him to the point where he had to grab the player and ask ''what the hell'' he was playing. Toccata is the adaptation of Ginastera's 1st Piano Concerto, 4th movement, of course the manic drum section coming into the middle would be an original segment as written by Palmer. Each member of the band is absolutely furious in this track. Emerson lets loose on the keys and stirs up some of the creepiest sounds ever made coming into the section half on which Palmer continues to absolutely fly on the drums. This is easily one of the most impressive instrumentals in the history of prog rock. Is it over the top? Yes. Is that a wonderful thing? You'd better believe it.

Things had better slow down about now or we're all in danger of our heads blowing clean off. ELP takes the time to chill in the next composition, the relaxed and wonderfully melodic Still... You Turn Me On. Calm keys and drum parts turn into an almost porno-groove section at the chorus and then slow back down again. Lake's vocals are soft and serene in this track, and Emerson's playing, though much more subtle, is still highly impressive. The bass parts acually play a large part in the mood of the song, even if they're barely audible at times. This is a great track to really groove out to, even if it is unfortunately short.

ELP was also very infamous for their more comical pieces. Benny The Bouncer is that piece for this album. A rather funny story is backed by saloon piano and a wonderfully jumpy bass section. Emerson's solo is still rather impressive, even if it's rather funny in context, and Palmer's drumming is so frantic that can't be missed, even underneath the vocals and piano parts. This is the shortest composition on the album and also the one that gathers the most complaints. While prog rockers tend to be highly serious about their genre with no room for comedy there comes a point where one song really can't spoil an album. This song shouldn't spoil anything as it is since the musicianship is still tight, even if the content isn't 100% serious. How a 2-minute song can spoil an album that is 45-minutes in length is beyond me as it is. Just sit back and enjoy.

Of course, the album would probably not be as acclaimed as it is without the behemoth that sits in wait at the end of the album. The song is structured the way it is since in the days of vinyl Karn Evil 9 was too long for one side and had to have part 1 of the first impression housed on the first side, but many cd remasters have the song as one complete track. And what a track it is! Truly one of the best of the many masterpiece compositions released by the classic prog artists. This one sits pretty along side Close To The Edge, Supper's Ready and A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers with it's wonderful playing, melody, solos, story and concept. The first half of the first impression features so much amazing work from Emerson that it's hardly believable! Emerson's backing of his own keyboard work sounds so good, and so impressive, Palmer is his always impressive self and Lake just belts out those excellent vocals as he does. Some purely creepy and some more comical lyrics from this one ranging from ''bishops' heads in jars'' to a ''stripper in a till'' and the show keeps going indeed until the end of the first side.

The oh so famous lines (legendary, even, by now) open the second half of the first impression along with a tambourine and some more synths ''welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends!''. Emerson's keyboard works in tandem with Lake's vocals on 1st Impression - Part 2 making for a very surreal mix while the deep synths of Emerson's first solo put that uneasy feeling back in your stomach which is later soloed on top of with a lighter sounding tone which is no less impressive. Another stellar section from Palmer reintroduces the band and the First Impression soon comes to an end, but not before getting louder for a grand finish.

Frantic drums and a soft but fast paino are all that's left for a moment as 2nd Impression gets on its way in it's impressive fashion. The keys become more synthetic sounding deeper into the song, but this is completely appropriate in context. This instrumental section does slow down into the middle of the song, but soon picks up again with more fast piano work and the ever-frantic rhythm section of the combined Lake and Palmer.

A triumphant synth and some lighter keys underneath introduce a passionate Lake and everything is back on its way after the instrumental interlude. Some wonderful lyrics (''his hands strike the flame of his soul') make for a wonderful conclusion with 3rd Impression as Lake's vocals compete with Emerson's computerized voice for domination of the song. What a truly terrifying piece, certainly not one to listen to late at night with the lights out (believe me, I've done it - and that was not smart). More classic moments come later on in the song (''I~am~perfect!~Are~you?''). Emerson's triumphant keys come back for yet another impressive solo partway into the song and after a couple minutes of rampant playing the vocals come back for one last competition and then everything fades into nothing... until the keys come back for one last strike, getting faster and faster until the song ultimately closes.

There's a lot of progressive rock in the world today and this was easily one of the pioneering albums. While many people may not find it to be perfect it can't be said that this is not a masterpiece. From skilled and highly impressive playing to the lyrics that can really make you think to the disturbing sleeve, this is one of the pinnacles of an era. There is nothing unessential about this album, and if you're going to have a progressive rock music collection this album should be one of the first ones in it. 5 stars out of 5 - there's a reason I decided to make such a long deal out of this review, the album is fantastic and anyone remotely interested in prog should hear it.

Report this review (#182599)
Posted Tuesday, September 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Wow. If this album so critically aclaimed, than a lot of other stuff should be too. Often looked at as ELP's best album is, in my mind, the most overrated album of all time. True the extremely high amount of talent in the band is clearly shown, but they seem to have forgotten that music is supposed to be catchy. Prog is my favorite genre, but in some parts of Karn Evil 9 and other songs, they made it almost too proggy to the point where it isn't even catchy, which essentially is the point of music.

Jerusalem 4/5, A short song of ELP's with really nice organ. Probably the seond best on the album (with the exception of a few parts in Karn Evil 9).

Toccata 2/5, ELP's version of a classical peice. It shows the great amount of talent of ELP, but this song is really, really bad.

Still You Turn Me On 5/5, A very nice ballad with great guitar. Easily the best on the album simply for being the most solid on the album.

Benny the Bouncer 1/5, What on Earth is this?? This song is completly terrible. It's simply an awful ragtime song by Greg Lake gone wrong.

Karn Evil 9 3/5, Well, this song is certainly hard to pinpoint. It has such genius moments, and then such horrible moments (3rd impresion ending). This song is probably one of the only songs in my mind that are actually TOO long. I'm sorry to say, but many parts need to be cut out. It seems like this song is just a bunch of random ideas that don't fit stuffed together. Great moments, but many bad moments.

Overall, I think this album is simply acquired taste. Some will veiw it as really bad, but some will veiw it as a work of art, and some will think it's just okay. This album is certainly a work of art that many people have to stand VERY far back to appreciate.

Report this review (#182608)
Posted Tuesday, September 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars You know , reviewing your favourite album isn't a gratifying experience because you may feel your cohesion , spelling and writing skills may no be up to this masterpiece.However , I 'll do my best and if I come with a better idea I ' ll edit it.

1973 was probably the year of progressive rock and also the year in which rock music was in better shape.Take as an example , Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy Queen's debut album Black Sabbath's Sabbath Bloddy Sabbath Ziggy Stardust Made in Japan and many more may come to your mind if you think of it.Prog rock was at the top of their came having: Dark side of the moon Selling England by the Pound Tales of Topographic Oceans Lark's tongues in Aspic In a glass house Hymn of the seventh galaxy A passion play Focus 3 and I may not do justice to a lot more that I forget right now.

The purpose of this was to set up the context in which Brain Salad Surgery was released.Emerson recalls that the band was in good spirits at the time and everyone were on their most receptive phase.This fact is important probably because ELP were very talented but also ambitious and competitive.Now let's go straight to the matter.

The album opens grandiose enough with an English anthem called Jerusalem that talks about the possiblility of Jesus being in England in his lifetime.Well the only thing I can say after hearing such opener is:Holy Jesus!!! This song is terribly moving , I wish I had this as an anthem in my Country.

Carl Palmer recalls the album as a junction of Talent , timing and technology.These three aspects really can be noticed on the second track Toccatta a rendition of Alberto Ginastera's 1st piano concerto 4 th movement.Palmer forgot a couple of words about this song: Power Adrenaline.Without those two you may not imagine how this song is.It's the most aggresive and complex piece of music ever written alongside Red and Larks tongues in aspic for you to have an idea.I feel like Alex De Large when listening to this song.

Greg Lake alway wrote exellent ballads that were the point of entry for many ones to the band Still you turn me on is not an exeption and also gives us the chance to relax after such a demanding piece as Toccatta

Benny the bouncer is a ragtime piece that gets the most bashing from not ELP fans.The only thing I can say is how can a 2 and a half minute piece spoil such a masterpiece!!!!

Now we get to the most important part of the record , the core , the 30 minute epic Karn Evil 9 with it's 3 impressions.This song is a rollercoaster that goes to an average speed of 300 mph non stop.But without lacking techinque , the tighness of the music is simply outstanding , Palmer makes himself a name as a drummer's drummer on Karn Evil 9.Greg Lake manages to deliver killing bass lines (and guitar solos , if you had a doubt concerning his musical skills)to heep up with Emerson's keyboard , which is slaughtered through this unforgettable half hour

. Now , How would you close an album like this one?? Just call Peter Sinfield and write an epic which is half as long but twice as intense.And the good thing is , in the final verse Lake sings Rejoice!!! Glory is ours!! Yes , they were true , they have earned all that glory and reputation for creating a genre defining album. And you see ELP are labeled as bombastic , pretentious , overblown but I would also add another adjectives that will do justice to them: creative , talented and charismatic.And I won't forget the qualty that best defines progressive rock , nor pomposity , neither mucisianship...Its the guts , the guts to play the music that you love no matter how hard the bashing is , the guts to experiment with synthetizers when no one used them , the guts to be in the Isle of Wright in your first concert and not play tunes from your previous bands but to rework a Mussgorsky's theme in great form.Those are the qualities I would like to remember when someone names Emerson Lake and Palmer.

For the newcomers to progressive music: This album is not a masterpiece , it isn't even an exellent adition to your music collection , it's a duty as a progger.

Martin Deluca

Report this review (#182892)
Posted Friday, September 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Some classic albums are so important to rock history it really makes you accept the fact they are masterpieces even if some parts of it clashes with your personal taste. To me, Brain Salad Surgery is one of them. See, I was never a truly ELP fanatic. Sure I liked them a lot, but I never bothered much to the case of actually have to have all of their albums. In fact, I bought only one (Trilogy) at the time. To me bands like Yes, Genesis, Renaissance, Gentle Giant and others were on the top of my list. ELP was never a priority. However, I was not foolish enough not to reckon their importance. And important they were!

This is clearly the case of this CD: Brain Salad Surgery is definitly one fo the top ten albums of the 70's if you want to know about prog music. It was the trio's peak of creativity. It won high praisng and sales and deservely so. Again I should point out that it is not perfect for my taste, since some of the piano solo parts seem a little boring and Benny The Bouncer was never a song that captivated me in any way. Still it amazes me that such elaborated, dense and outright non commercial stuff reached the top of the charts by the time it was released. Good timeing? Maybe. The band would never release such a work in their career, but after this one, how could they? Most bands would die to have only one timeless CD, and ELP did more than one for sure. Hats off to them.

Brain Salad Surgery is the kind of album that takes some time to really sink in as a whole. It is not for your easy listening time. It is a bit like classical music: you have to be in the mood. But then, there is nothing more rewarding. Highlights for me are the most popular tracks: Jerusalem is one fo the most gorgeous songs ELP have ever recorded, while Still...You Turn Me On is maybe Lake's best composition. Karn Evil 9 (ist Movement) is also great.

I rate this album somewhere between 4 to 4,5 stars, for personal reasons (it does have some faults according to my taste). But it is one of prog's finest hours in prog's heyday. A must have to any music lover.

Report this review (#186679)
Posted Wednesday, October 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Please check out my youtubes: Search for Kerry ELP.

Someone please tell of a progressive rock album that is better than BBS so I can have a good laugh. Actually, I wouldn't laugh if you mentioned Relayer by Yes, but I would have to say thay you're comparing apples and oranges; the very best apples and oranges, mind you. Or does ELP sound more like pineapple?

As Greg Lake once said, It's art. One person will cry over it and the next person will piss on it. But having disected every keyboard, bass, drum and vocal part of the album I still marvel at the musical and artistic prowess displayed on it. Many people will not comprehend how Keith deveops themes, how unpredictable yet stiking his rhythms are, how he squeezes artistry out of crude new synthesizers, how he blends the old and the new, blends the simple with the sophisticated, how he captures, condenses, and enhances the long winded Ginastera piano concerto into a tight bold fresh ELP piece unlike anything anyone has ever heard before...then there's Greg and Carl.

Still You Turn Me On, with it's beatiful 12 string, harpsichord, and those futuristic harem sounding guitar effects.....or how about Carl's percusstion in Toccata or the haunted house middle section of the 2nd Impression....or just about the coolest set of fills ever played toward the end of the 3rd Impression.

Music simply doesn't get any better than this, folks....different maybe, maybe performed better at times, maybe engineered better at times...

If you want something to eat dinner to, or dance to, or have sex to, or drone while your attention is elsewhere, look elsewhere. If you want music that is both superior in craftsmanship, and that is in your face intense and that makes it's own rules, that will stand the test of time, that is brilliant whether played by ELP or a high school band, well, you get the picture.

And this is only what I have to say tonight...tired...right before bed....

Report this review (#190606)
Posted Thursday, November 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars In 1973, Emerson, Lake & Palmer returned to progressive rock magnificence by putting together an album in the vein of Tarkus, only this time, the epic piece is situated at the end of the album. Here, they managed to bring some of the quirkiness under control, even though it is still (understandably) present in "Karn Evil 9." The themes are wide-ranging, from English patriotism to machines taking over the planet. While the album has its share of weak moments (as all ELP albums do), this one should not be missed.

"Jerusalem" William Blake's English anthem is given a bold treatment, full of organ and words that are sung with a valiant passion.

"Toccata" One of two instrumentals, this is Emerson's version of Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 28 by famed Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera. It relies heavily on the synthesizers and features a drum solo in the middle. In the liner notes, Ginastera himself stated, "Keith Emerson has beautifully caught the mood of my piece," even though Emerson's synthesizers during the last two-and-a-half minutes are unruly and primitive-sounding (one cannot help but think of "Space Invaders," for instance).

"Still...You Turn Me On" This is the obligatory Lake-penned acoustic song. It unfortunately lacks both the commercial appeal of "Lucky Man" and the mystical air of "From the Beginning." Still (no pun intended), it is an enjoyable little song incorporating a sitar.

"Benny the Bouncer" This is the obligatory comic relief. It's a ragtime song with Lake singing with a cockney accent.

"Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression (Part One)" The centerpiece of the album is split into three impressions but four tracks. It begins with tricky organ runs before quickly introducing a thundering bass line and pounding drums. Lake begins singing over an alarming piano run before repeating the refrain, "I'll be there." The synthesizers are prominent but kept tasteful, letting the organ and bass guitar bear most of the musical weight. Palmer's drumming is at its best on this track. The list of exhibits in the sideshow represent Lake's eccentric lyrics when they're good (rather than absurd). There is also a rare energetic guitar solo that will be reprised in part two.

"Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression (Part Two)" Part two fades in and welcomes us back to the circus freak show; it is a continuation of the second half of part one.

"Karn Evil 9: 2nd Impression" The second impression is a strange interlude between the first and third. Essentially, it consists of Palmer's jazzy drumming and Emerson's showy piano work, with Lake demonstrating some flashy fretwork on bass guitar. The jazz feel quickly gives way to something more primitive. Soon the music becomes slow, barely hearable, and creepy. Eventually the music picks up and goes into a raucous double time segment. The second impression doesn't fit the overall feel of the other two impressions of "Karn Evil 9" at all, and it doesn't flow very well, but perhaps that was the intention.

"Karn Evil 9: 3rd Impression" The final division is a return to the dark grandeur that characterized the first impression. Emerson makes great use of synthesized horns and other sounds. The lyrics were penned by the one and only Peter Sinfield, describing how it comes to pass that computers have taken over and mankind is defiant toward the rule of the machines. While Lake does the singing, Emerson's voice makes a rare appearance, albeit through heavy distorted effects. There is a fine organ solo in the middle, and, while the music during the instrumental interlude sometimes sounds out of control, ELP does a fantastic job using the chaotic parts to lead up to the final vocal segment. All in all, this is one of their best.

Report this review (#190645)
Posted Thursday, November 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Pretentious, overblown, keyboard-driven prog madness. If you think you're knowledgeable of prog and you don't have this, what are you waiting for? This is a landmark in progressive music.

1. Jerusalem- The music is a hymn adapted by ELP and the lyrics are a poem by Blake. It works as an extremely effective opener to this album, and the instrumentation is spot on. Great, majestic entrance. I couldn't see this album being opened any other way. This is definitely my favorite church hymn! 9/10

2. Toccata- Here comes the prog. If you are one of those listeners who shies away from ELP's notorious pretentious tendencies, this song will most likely annoy you. This song is genius, from the electronic drums to Emerson's driving keyboards. I've heard accusations that this song sounds like a video game, and that's actually a funny way to describe it, since it almost works. However, it is definitely in a good way; this song is a masterpiece adaption and ELP really crafts their signature sound perfectly here. Never a dull moment! 10/10

3. Still.You Turn Me On- What would an ELP album be like without the necessary Lake ballad? It is a good acoustic ballad with good vocals by Lake, but I sometimes skip this if I don't feel like listening to it. The wah-wah guitar is amusing, however. 7/10

4. Benny the Bouncer- A joke song. I prefer joke songs like the Sheriff and Jeremy Bender, though this song has really grown on me over the years. I used to skip it all the time, but it's at least enjoyable and contrasts with the more serious material on the album. A great song to introduce what comes next, when you think about it. 8/10

5. Karn Evil 9- I'm not splitting this up. Every impression is ABSOLUTE GENIUS. This is one of the pinnacles of progressive rock, and for good reason! The instrumentation is amazing, and the structure is always interesting and innovative. If ELP made more epics like this, they wouldn't have as much controversy. Flawless. 10+/10

When first thinking about what to rate this album, I was going to give it 4 stars for being a flawed masterpiece. I then re-considered and realized that this is the only ELP album that is an absolute masterpiece of progressive rock, despite a "joke" song and a ballad that interrupted the flow. Really, the album wouldn't be the same ELP style without them, and this album is worth owning for Karn Evil 9 alone, let alone all the other goodies.

ELP at their best.

Report this review (#194081)
Posted Wednesday, December 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I originally intended only to review albums with relatively few reviews here on PA. However, having seen the current average rating for this classic, I felt compelled to review it here.

ELP hit dizzying new heights with this remarkable 1973 release, producing one of THE pillars of progressive rock. It is the album that introduced me to the genre we know and love, at the tender age of 8. I loved it even then! ELP are often criticised for inconsistency, and whilst generally a fair point, this is certainly not true on this album.

This classic is innovative, ground-breaking, bombastic, pompous, well ahead of it's time, and, utterly brilliant. It is ELP's finest album and one of the best prog albums of them all.

Jerusalem is a wonderful opener. I already loved the hymn but this masterful version is superb. Such power and emotion. Lake's vocals are tremendous. Can we have this as the English (or British?) national anthem please?

Toccata is superb. Edgy, threatening and featuring outstanding work from Carl Palmer, a man well ahead of the competition. This piece sounds as fresh as it did back in '73.

Still You Turn Me On is the obligatory ELP ballad, one of which featured on each of their albums. Get over it.

Benny The Bouncer is the only throwaway track and for me should have been replaced by the actual track Brain Salad Surgery. I will forgive them a 2 minute duffer when the rest of the album is so good.

Then follows almost 30 minutes of some of the most innovative, compelling and outstanding music I have heard in the 3 piece epic, Karn Evil 9. There are virtuoso performances from all the band throughout Impression One, the most famous of the three. Emerson puts the brand new Polyphonic Moog through it's paces here (Emo was the test pilot/launch customer) as he takes synth excursions off into a new stratosphere.

The Second Impression goes in a different direction, with the keyboards and percussion dominating. This is my least favourite of the three movements, although still exceptionally good.

The Third Impression shows ELP setting a template for many of their successors. This is a wonderfully pompous piece of music, with more amazing synth work from Emerson. The dramatic build-up and finale still move me 35 years later.

A simply amazing album, and I am astonished that this lags well behind CTTE, Selling England, TAAB et al in the average ratings on PA. This is an absolutely essential album for ALL progressive rock fans.

My question is not can I give this album 5 stars? My question is how can this masterpiece get ANYTHING OTHER than 5 stars?

Report this review (#196850)
Posted Friday, January 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is an album that any fan of progressive music must hear, it might be the absolute best of the classical- inspired prog rock albums.

Jerusalem starts things out, a re-working of an old Englishg hymn. It's notable for an extremely powerful vocal delivery by Greg Lake. A fantastic opener. Toccata is next, and it just might be the BEST classical interpretation ever done by a rock band. Never before had a classical piece received this treatment. Emerson absolutely shines here with a very tasteful choice of keyboard sounds and, of course, absolutely mind-blowing playing. Palmer puts his electronic drums to use here, which is comething that usually makes me cringe, but it works beautifully. Difficult to describe, you have to hear it for yourself. Might be the best thing they ever did. Really. Masterful piece.

Still... You Turn Me On is the obligatory Lake acoustic ballad, and it is MILES ahead of past efforts like Lucky Man and From The Beginning. It's the weakest tune on the record, but it's still very good.

Benny The Bouncer is a fun little song done in the same style as Jeremy Bender and The Sheriff. It's a ragtime song, I guess, very bouncy and certainly a lot of fun. Clocking in at just over 2 minutes, it's the perfect break from all the serious stuff. Sounds like they were just having fun in the studio. Might not work for everybody, works for me.

....but of course the meat of the album is the huge, half an hour Karn Evil 9, which I will break into its four parts.

1st Impression, Part 1 (Impression, ha, you gotta love these guys....or hate 'em, whatever) is the best of the suite, and might just be THE pinnacle of progressive rock. Seriously. This is some awesome stuff. Emerson absolutely blows you away with this one. The shear number of different keyboard sounds and muisical ideas in this 8 minutes of prog brilliance is astounding. This is how to make prog rock ROCK. Lake does a perfect job putting you in the setting of this futuristic carnival, or whatever the hell Karn Evil 9 is about. I really don't care. 1st Impression Part 1 is awesome. Simply awesome. I never grow tired of it.

1st Impression Part 2 is the classic radio staple, and their biggest hit. Carrying over the musical ideas presented in Part 1 and adding a pop sensibility. Don't let that fool you though. You still get the incredible ELP instrumentation and purely progressive song structure. Watch for the end. Awesome build- up and absolutely chill-inducing vocals from Lake.

2nd Impression is a piano-driven interlude in the same vain as Fugue from Trilogy. Maybe not for everybody, but Emerson goes absolutely insane. This might be the most technically impressive keyboard playing ever put on a rock/pop album. Give it time to grow on you.

3rd Impression closes things out, bringing the Karn Evil concept to a close as a futuristic struggle between man and computer. Overall, a wonderful blend of sci-fi concept and classically inspired music. The first half is epic and bombastic as anything they've ever done, and rivals 1st Impression Part 1 as the best part of the album. The second half does seem to drag on a bit, but up to this point it's all been incredible, so I'm not gonna kill the guys for it. Some wonderful studio and keyboard tricks really highlight the close of the album.

Overall? A shining 5 star achievement. Go get this Absolutely essential.

Report this review (#200578)
Posted Sunday, January 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars An excellent piece of progressive rock, this is ELP's peak and one of the greatest Progressive Rock album ever. While it may be pretentious, pompous and overblown to some (those who can't handle intricate playing and 30 minute suites about machines taking over the world), to me and many others it is what makes this album brilliant. Even the cover art is out of this world and controversial, in fact it was even more controversial when the original art had a phallus under the women's lips.

First off we have an adaption of an old English hymn; Jerusalem is a powerful number with great vocal delivery from Greg Lake and wonderful drumming from Parmer. Topped with Keith Emerson's church organ synths makes it a great opening number.

Toccata is a very aggressive and experimental piece. It displays both Emerson's love for adapting classical music and Palmer's new electronic drum kit. It's so aggressive it gives Heavy Metal a run for its money. The timpani solo may be a bit too long but other wise it's one of the best songs on the album.

The next two are short and more radio friendly tunes. First we have another trademark Lake ballad with Still... You turn me on, with nice acoustic guitars and calm keyboards from Emerson, topped with the occasional wah-wah pedal to and it makes for a nice easy listen after the chaotic previous track. Then we have Benny the Bouncer, another comedic rocker which has influences from ragtime and Jazz to give some comic relief before the next track.

At 30 minutes long, Karn Evil 9 is the longest track of the bands career and is divided into 3 impressions. Some say that these are connected and some say these are 3 completely different songs grouped under one suite. The best is the 1st impression with upbeat carnival like music set with dark lyrics about an underground circus show with all the exhibitions showing common Earth objects like virgins, bombs in cars and even a real blade of grass, now viewed as freak attractions. The second impression is entirely instrumental consisting mostly of Piano, Bass and Drums. The third impression is about machines and computer ruling over mankind; with a war in which the machines win, and let one human live for the sake of gloating. This is ELP's magnum opus and one of the best epics, along with Supper's Ready and Close to the Edge.

Some CD's (including mine) have 2 bonus tracks, which were recorded during the album sessions but never made it on to the album. Both can be found on Works Vol.2 The track 'Brain Salad Surgery' is a weird number with march like keyboards and growling lyrics from Lake, which makes this track really enjoyable, I wouldn't mind of having this on the original release because it seems to go with the album (maybe they could of used it instead of Benny the Bouncer). When the Apple Blossoms Bloom... (a very long title with no point typing it all up) is a simple instrumental which seems to experiment with Emerson's keyboards.

A 5 star masterpiece which is one of my favorite albums ever and despite some songs which may not seem Prog, it really doesn't mater when you have Karn Evil 9.

Report this review (#207936)
Posted Saturday, March 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars It finally all came together for ELP with this recording, their landmark accomplishment. Brain Salad Surgery remains a cohesive set, brilliantly excecuted in composition and instrumentation. Emerson's sound was still rooted solidly with his Hammond, and for all it's sci-fi imagery there remained an analog animal earthiness in the glowing tubes within the organ and leslie's wooden cabinets. Sonically it's not perfect, yet for it's era it does hold up extremely well. Could they repeat this feat ? Despite the opportunities offered by advancing technology, they were never able to reach such lofty heights again. Brittle and buzzy, with Greg Lake's voice sadly fading from it's early glory, later efforts just helped to emphasize how special the earlier works really were. Fortunately we have this album, and it remains their Kind of Blue, or Love Supreme. I just love it !
Report this review (#210643)
Posted Tuesday, April 7, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars An ELP Classic!

Brain Salad Surgery marks questionably ELP's last accessible release and the begin of their slide as a band, at least for a time. These guys were furious musicians in their playing and stage antics. They are also some of the Prog masters, especially when one considers the pretentious element of Progressive Rock.

This album is chock full of Prog goodies, with the exception of Benny, which no doubt, was thrown in for a bit of not only comic relief, but an example of the band's proficiency in crossing genre lines. However, this album is incredibly important for one reason. Introduction to the Classic Rock world listener for years to come, to a Prog Rock staple. Karn Evil 9. This song is so well known on the radio that the average listener may not realize the song they listen to is much more than a circus-like tune, but insight into the magnificance of ELP's abilities.

My personal favorite on this album is Toccatta, mainly because it exhibits something I've loved to see over time, the incorporation of Classical music into Rock. Albert Ginastera's Piano Concerto #1 "Tocatta Concertata Presto" is the piece from which Emerson expands his imagination.

Of course, "Still...You Turn Me On", another venture into simplicity for the most part, from a band that can be anything but simple, does not fail to produce a great song that makes one want to hum along.

ELP has many albums that rank as must haves, and this is certainly one of them.

Report this review (#214068)
Posted Wednesday, May 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars ELP's Brain Salad Surgery opened a new horizon for three personnel band. The keyboard ablazed guitar's place in stage. Emerson is the man that would take care of this point. Stiil the only One until now. He's Hendrix in keyboards. Played with marvelously spirit the entire "Karn Evil 9" was abominating. The keyboard; bass (I like the speed and power of Lake's versatility); and drums; were chaining as one like the wave in the ocean.

This album was breaking my room back then. Nodding my head. Spreading my ears. Punching my heart like a platinum hammer. "Jerusalem" is quite sweet, but yet it was too psychedelic in the next minute. "Toccata" is a match answer for classical piano. Good interpretation by Emerson was never too standar. And "Still... You Turn Me On", for this one I asked once, is this a song about maryjane's dope or what? I like the implicit theme in that song. I mean the way that Lake used to knock-out the stupidity of human is brilliant.

So there was "Benny The Bouncer". It's kind a unique and funny song. Speed of Palmer's drums was chasing, or played as a "best-man" to, Emerson's keyboard, piano, organ, and Lake's bass. Country reign sound is awoken up out of this song. A hard lyric has covered by a ear-catchy music.

And..... there is a new horizon, in progressive rock land.

Report this review (#219851)
Posted Thursday, June 4, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars ELP has never quite reached the list of my favourite prog bands (but I do like SOME tracks by them, so they might reach... ehm, something like the 40th place in my prog list - surely no higher than 300th on my list of ALL artists). But the reason why I haven't bothered to review their works before is their massive popularity. This particular album I picked up from the PA's list of the Most Popular Albums of all time. And right now I enjoy presenting the opposite opinion. In short: Brain Salad Surgery is mostly awful stuff. I like their version of the famed church hymn 'Jerusalem' with William Blake's superb lyrics, and Greg Lake's folky ballad 'Still... You Turn Me On'. But the rest... Aargh!

'Toccata' (rapery of Argentinean Alberto Ginastera's 1st Piano Concerto) is horrible keyboard noise I can't stand for one minute - and it lasts over seven minutes. But even more unbearable is the "humorous" 'Benny The Bouncer' with Lake's idiotic shouting, not singing. The album's musical centerpiece is naturally the half an hour long 'Karn Evil 9'. It is everything that later made Prog a bad word in a nutshell. Oops, only that it's way too LONG to fit into that nutshell, of course. Play that to your date if you wish never to see her again. You can't fail. On some compilation was an excerpt of it, you know what I mean, it's the well-known "Welcome back my friends to the show thatnever ends" carnivalism. I wished, as I listened to this album, that it would a worse part of the opus, but no, instead it is its best part actually.

The liner notes (in the 2004 edition with bonuses I don't bother to talk about; just the same awfulness) point out how fantastic work this is from the technical view. So what. Sure, Keith Emerson is a virtuoso keyboard player, and Carl Palmer can give you a hell of a drumming, but in their musical battles they miss, in my opinion, the idea of good music. An idiotic Hammond riff is an idiotic Hammond riff, no matter how skillful it is.

A word about the album title and the cover art. No doubt it's been repeated over and over in the reviews how it refers to oral sex. Original working title was Whip Some Skull On Me (tasteless!), which was replaced by Get Me A Ladder (a line from 'Still...'). The final title came from Dr. John's hit 'Right Place, Wrong Time'. The art work originally had a penis in front of the female mouth but was airbrushed away. H. R. Giger later raised into bigger fame with his design for ALIEN movie. Naturally the cover art is one of the most famous rock album covers, but is it good-looking really? No, in fact it's mostly hideous. But as such it fits the music perfectly.

PS. I like ELP's debut much much more than this one. If you think I wanted to bash the band itself, you're wrong. I'm not attacking against ELP in this review but against Brain Salad Surgery. Thank You.

Report this review (#220661)
Posted Thursday, June 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars If I could only have one ELP, this would be the one. They travelled into musical territory in this album that I've never heard anyone else achieve, and the attention to detail is extraordinary. There are moments of melody and harmony throughout the work that transcend their own form, e.g., spots during the middle section of Karnevil9 where the energy level changes like a racecar shifting gears. The fact that they got Giger to do their cover should be endorsement enough in itself. Brain Salad Surgery, Close to the Edge and Dark Side of the Moon, each went far beyond the form.
Report this review (#222729)
Posted Tuesday, June 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Brain Salad Surgery is considered by most fans as ELP's finest hour on studio,and is the album that carried on their legacy for over three decades.Althoug it isn't quite on pair with Trilogy's subtle perfection,this is still an outstanding prog album,which unfortunately gets too pretentious at times.

Jerusalem opens the album as a precious gem,lasting nearly 3 minutes.The piece is a reworking of a traditional christian jingle(very popular in England by then),with lyrics built upon a William Blake poem.What really makes the song stand out,though,is the thrilling melody and a remarkable drumming performance by Carl Palmer,which leads the song to it's brief yet dramatic conclusion.Another very good tune is the Greg Lake ballad Still You Turn Me On,highly melodic(the spotlight of this song is the melodramatic vocal harmonies of Lake)and quite quick as well.Tocatta and Benny The Bouncer,however,are let downs,the former getting lost in priceless virtuosity show off,while the latter is yet another funny tune in the line of Are You Ready,Eddy? from the Trakus album.

All this tracks must leave space,however,to the main atraction,the 30-minute progressive opus Karn Evil 9.Divided and sub-divided within 3 parts or impressions,this epic composition suffers radical changes of mood several times throughout it's lenght.While the first impression parts 1 & 2 are both stunning pieces of excellent symphonic prog,the second impression again gets somehow lost in unecessarily long keyboard soloing.The last impression concludes the piece back to the symphonic mood of the opening minutes,more tightly structured and crowned with dramatic vocals.The robotic sounds in the last moments unfortunately sound awfully dated,as well as the concept of the whole song.All in all,this is an excellent(although imperfect)piece of progressive rock,and contains some of the best passages in ELP's carrer.This song used to leave space for pure improvisation on stage,and indeed threatned to become a monster when performed to live audiences(as happened in the unbelievable spectacle of the '74 California Jam).

The trio of virtuosos are as always outstanding(at least technically)in their instruments,although I personally have the impression that Keith Emerson stretched a bit too much here,with overlenght soloing that contributes for the unhealthy pomposity of the album.

In spite of it's flaws,a 5 star rating isn't quite suitable for this classic(and time hasn't been much kind to it either),but it is and will remain in years to come an excellent addition to a prog collection.

Report this review (#223135)
Posted Thursday, June 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars 1973-- what a year for music. Especially progressive rock where by now the gloves were clearly off and being firmly slapped in the face of the listening world. This was no longer an experiment gone too far or a misled product of a post-drug culture. No, prog rock was real, tenacious, and for a short while during '73, in charge of popular music's cutting edge. A fully-functioning and completely viable art form that was actually starting to turn a healthy profit and Carl Palmer, Greg Lake and Keith Emerson understood that better than most of their peers. That's not to say artistry wasn't crucial to the new high-minded atmosphere but if it could be tamed with a bit of discipline and a sense of showmanship, it could be turned into something everyone might enjoy, not just lovers of complex rock. Perhaps this is what makes Brain Salad Surgery both a pinnacle and a breaking point for the genre, a farewell to the organic explosions of Tarkus and hello to the big time of better equipment, light shows, and sold-out arenas.

But the music didn't suffer. This fourth studio LP from the trio with Giger's biomechanical eroticism gracing the cover was as accomplished as anything they'd done and in many ways better than the previous and less focused Trilogy. In fact of their studio releases this one best stands the test of time. Not as restrained as the debut but more palatable than Tarkus, the three musicians had found an ideal blend of flash, form, function and fun. Keith Emerson's compositions are as inspired as always, Carl Palmer's performance is much tighter than in the past. And Greg Lake firmly at the heart of things making it all come together and smooth out with a big, rich studio timbre and cohesive lyrical content. Considering it's nearing 40 years old, Brain Salad Surgery sounds remarkably fresh. The eternally cool 'Jerusalem' is a fine start though could've been placed anywhere in this set and worked beautifully, the sheer weight of Emerson's pipe organ, Lake's boyish vocal delivery and Palmer's soldierly drums. 'Toccata' sends in the troops and maneuvers into a drum/keyboard volley sounding quite like an old video arcade on a Saturday afternoon filled with kids feeding handfulls of quarters into squealing machines. Lake's 'Still..You Turn Me On' is a successful ballad, lovelorn and sounding of distant times, and obligatory saloon silliness of 'Benny the Bouncer' the comic relief here. Finally the huge 'Karn Evil' movements are a triumph for this band, a perfect moment where everything they did well came pouring out, their Sgt. Peppers moment, gloriously good.

A flawless album? No. A masterpiece? Could be. Certainly a summit for them and the era they represented, and an undeniable victory for prog that year along with Selling England by the Pound, A Passion Play, Tales from Topographic Oceans and many other great releases during a spectacular time for modern music. Imperfect, and quite essential.

Report this review (#226027)
Posted Saturday, July 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars It's time for some more brain salad surgery in PA.

I do not rate many albums as five stars albums. But this is one of them. I think ELP is a heck of a band and my opinion is partly formed by this album.

Starting with the stirring Jerusalem, this album quickly sets the standard for how the fusion between rock and classical music should sound like. This is not elevator music where the classical music instruments has been replaced with keyboards. Brain Salad Surgery is through and through creativity of the highest order. Brain Salad Surgery is the real thing. Just listen to the likes of Toccata and Karn 9. The real thing indeed ! Inbetween, the ballad You Turn Me On and the vaudeville song Benny The Bouncer is acceptable. Both of them is not my favorites and maybe I should had deducted a star for the inclusion of them. But the rest of the material is so strong that they are forgiven. The best piece of music is off course Karn 9. It is an almost perfect combo of rock and classical music. I also find Jerusalem very good and one of my alltime favorite songs.

I have spent my whole life looking for an album like this and I found Brain Salad Surgery. It is really only a 4.25 stars with Benny The Bouncer dragging down the rating. But I still gives it full house because this albums is one of my five desert islands discs.

5 stars

Report this review (#234293)
Posted Sunday, August 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Classic of the Worst of Prog, but Not so Fast!

For haters of prog rock music, there is probably no better album to pull out than Emerson, Lake, and Palmer's Brain Salad Surgery. Nearly everything that was ridiculed about the genre is here in spades: loud organ wankery, overly bombastic theatrics, and bad lyrics that think they're somehow deep. The magic P-word applies here perfectly. Direct quotes from jazz, swing, and classical pieces appear throughout, often imbedded in almost painful re- interpretations.

But wait, we are not prog haters. We are prog lovers!!! So a piece like Toccata, though chaotic and over-the-top, is probably my favorite part of the album. Dark, dissonant, and exploratory, I feel like the band truly is pushing the boundaries of themselves and the piece. Whether it works is a matter of taste, in my opinion. Another matter of taste regards Keith Emerson's keyboard tones. I frankly get sick of his organ sound after awhile. It's a bit plain, he doesn't vary it enough, and it overpowers the mix all too often. At the same time, I've always liked his definitive use of the Moog. Similarly, I really enjoy the clean piano used in the jazzy part of Karn Evil 9, which is perhaps the only part of the disc I truly enjoy along with Toccata.

The pop parts of this album are not pleasant to me. I disliked the 1st Impression ? Part 2 of the epic Karn Evil 9, which is played on classic rock radio, long before I even knew which band played it. Still You Turn Me On is a good enough Lake ballad, but Lucky Man and most of all From the Beginning are so much better. Benny the Bouncer is an annoying throwaway. Jerusalem is the kind of Crimson-y slow prog that bores me, but I recognize that many enjoy it.

The defining element of this album is the monster ELP epic Karn Evil 9. As I said, the third section (Second Impression) is my favorite part. The more experimental prog, played with clean jazzy piano rather than the classically inflected organ, is much more my style. I don't mind the tango section or the steel drums, though I recognize that these parts are just as over-the-top as the louder sections in their own way. In the end, I think it comes down to the tonalities of the keyboards, the instrumentation. (I also much prefer when Lake gets to play guitar, either lead or acoustic, but of course those moments are few and far between). The first and last sections of the epic are enjoyable but not where my tastes lie. Again, the second section (the main "Welcome to the Show that Never Ends" theme) is just bad rock posturing to me, something I actually avoid.

So, more than anything, this album suffers from being extremely uneven and simply not matching my taste for prog very well. The high points (at least for me) are actually buried in the album, and there are plenty of cringe-worthy sections. Enough so, that if I were to make an album of ELP for my own enjoyment, most of this album would be discarded. This album gets a little tip up just for its significance, but still lies right in the middle of the prog stack for me. 3/5 stars.

Report this review (#238299)
Posted Wednesday, September 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
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.

Report this review (#241266)
Posted Friday, September 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars I can never understand why there are so many ELP haters out there. Sure, after this album, the quality went down. Eventually way down. But there are plenty of other great prog bands whose output declined even more than this band (Genesis, anyone?).

Sure this is bombastic, overblown, and showy. But that's part of what made ELP so much fun. And this is one of their finest efforts. They even make the British standard Jerusalem big and majestic, making you want to stand up at the pompous lyrics.

Toccata, ELP's first foray into the works of Ginastera, is a complex wonder of early synth genius, with amazing drumming by Carl Palmer.

Still...You Turn Me On is a nice quiet song, despite having the silliest lyric on any Grag Lake song: Every day a little sadder, a little madder. Someone get me a ladder. ?!?

Benny The Bouncer is a cool honky tonk song. Many people here don't like these forays on ELP's albums, but I've always found them to be a nice diversion.

And finally, Karn Evil 9 is one of the great prog epics, a suite in three parts that rivals, and even surpasses in many ways, amazing epics like Close To The Edge and Thick As A Brick. Here, Emerson shines as both composer and player, weaving incredible keyboards whether in classical, jazz or rock styles, all of which are blended amazingly.

This is almost as close to perfection as an album can get.

Report this review (#241609)
Posted Saturday, September 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Emerson, Lake and Palmer - Brain Salad Surgery

Review by ProgKidJoel

Welcome back my friends... To the show that NEVER ends!

ELP's fourth album, Brain Salad Surgery, is thought by many-a prog fan to be their best and most consistent effort to date. Filled with super-harmonics and pure bombastic prog, it takes little imagination to see why. Only marred by the lack of guitar work, and bass work which is often too low down in the mix, this is a near perfect album, and one of the best in the history of prog, in- debatably. One of the landmark prog albums of the seventy, this album was played when ELP was at their technical peak, and this is insanely evident in the composition, instrumentation and general atmosphere this album supplies.

Opening with a cover of an English hymn in JERUSALEM, ELP make their presence felt known through the perfect organ and drum opening, and eventually through the resounding vocals of Greg Lake. Many have remarked that this was the version which brought the hymn back to life ? And this is a fair statement. This track revived the original, removing the sterility and adding true emotion and energy to a fantastic track. This is a solid opener, showing all members to be in true form for what is one of the most thrilling prog albums of the '70's.

TOCATTA, the follow-up to JERUSALEM, is a lot less direct to begin with, opening with soft keyboard noises, and eventuating into a track which is somewhat reminiscent of the band's super-epic, TARKUS. The drums and synths work perfectly to create a labyrinth of noise, which sounds like it is been played by six men, instead of two. A genuine technical showcase, its hard to believe this track is simply called an "adaption" of Ginsatera's first piano concerto. Around two minutes in, the track fills with thumping bass and remarkable snare technique. Ample use of stereo-phonics and other recording effects keep the mix entertaining and original through its bombastic and militaristical nature and atmosphere. At around 3 minutes, an onslaught of signature Carl Palmer drumming ensues, involving insanely tense timpani strikes and occasional gong hits. This eventually settles to continue in a softer manner, playing perfectly off the chuch bells which follow. The last two minutes of this track are remarkable ? insane drumming and perfect synthsmanship (is that a word?) fill up the listener's ears (and head) with confusion and tension which truly could be cut with a knife. A near-perfect track!

STILL YOU TURN ME ON is a perfect pop track, featuring flowing acoustic melodies and cheesy, although genuine, lyrics. The vocals are a stand out on this track, and the atmospheric synth effects are also important. There's not much to be said about this track, although unlike many other short ELP tracks, this is not a filler and stands well on its own.

Here it is ? No ELP album would be complete without a comedy track, and on Brain Salad Surgery, we find out comedy in the form of BENNY THE BOUNCER. Unlike many other comedic ELP tracks, this still features genuine musicianship, particularly in the piano sections. Great and highly rhythmic piano fills and solos build this track up, and play perfectly with the bar-fight sound effects in the background. The drums are also great on this track, providing a lighter, jazzier refrain from TOCATTA. This is a great fun track, but in the grand scheme of BRAIN SALAD SURGERY, this seems insignificant.

KARN 9 EVIL, FIRST IMPRESSION: PART ONE is the first part of Brain Salad Surgery' (and ELP's) defining epic. Marked by perfect synths and epic vocals, this is a highly memorable track. This track is a truly brilliant feat or prog, and contributed to the mass of slack ELP receive for their supposed pretension. This track is marked by its individuality from the rest of the ELP catalogue, and its melodic synth playing is a true testament to Keith Emerson's skill as a keyboardist. At around 2:30 in, a marked change in pace mixes the track up, with a different tempo and keyboard effect in use. This track is filled with some of the technically best keyboards and drums ever, and the bass adds some depth to the track to make a more fleshed out sound. Through its many rhythmic and melodic changes, its easy to see why one might think this is the best ELP track.

FIRST IMPRESSION, PART TWO is another great section of the KARN 9 EVIL suitem featuring super memorable riffs and lyrics. Although not poetically insightful, or challenging, the lyrics provide a welcoming and entertaining atmosphere to this track. At around 1:20, the track breaks into semi-chaos, filled with insane synths and great (although very muffled) guitar fills hollowing through the epic structure. This track also has one of the best drum fills I've ever heard, in the form of a 6 second attack on melody from Carl Palmer.

SECOND IMPRESSION is a marked change from the first, featuring much more organic sounds, particularly exchanging piano for the synths in a majority of the melodies. The drumming, as always, is hard to believe in this instrumental, and the jazz piano skills of Keith Emerson really shine in this 7 minute extravaganza. The playing is incredibly clean, and proves that ELP (Or atleast E and P) are some of the most technical and original musicians around. This track features time signature changes and freak- outs en masse, and this gives a highly chaotic feel, especially in the lead-up to the THIRD IMPRESSION.

Brain Salad Surgery comes to a close with KARN 9 EVIL: THIRD IMPRESSION, represents another marked change in the stylistic direction of ELP's best. This track is once again filled with epic synths and drumming, although feels much more darker due to the heavily distorted guitar chords throughout the song. The lyrics are interesting in this track and provide some relief from the (usually) uninspired lyrics from ELP. This track does break down nicely, its last few minutes providing a perfect contrast to the rest of the album. The last minute of this song is synth riff heaven, providing original structures and technical treats. A perfect closer to a perfect album!

One of the essential prog records of the 70's, which every self-respecting prog-fan should own!

If you don't already own this, you shouldn't hesitate to make it your next purchase!


Report this review (#241824)
Posted Monday, September 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Exactly what is the best ELP album, that is a controversial question. I'd personally vouch for Tarkus, and that's where I'd suggest a newcomer to start with ELP. However, many say that Brain Salad Surgery is the best of ELP, and it's not hard to understand why- this album touches all of ELP's strengths- acoustic love ballads (Still... You Turn Me On), energetic bar tunes (Benny the Bouncer), classical reinterpretations (Toccata), and of course, multi-part epics (the 30-minute Karn Evil 9).

The album begins with Jerusalem, not a bad tune- however, it's not great, it serves more as a sign of things to come. Then is Toccata, a long, stirring tune, keyboard-dominated of course (what else would you expect from a band with the one and only Keith Emerson?). Then is Still... You Turn Me On, a very good love ballad with good acoustic guitar and vocals from Greg Lake- this is his song, where he gets to shine, and shine he does. Benny the Bouncer, continuing in the tradition of Jeremy Bender, Are You Ready Eddy?, and The Sheriff and acting as a fun, silly song, a bit of a counterpoint to the more serious works on the album- like the one that directly follows it, the half-hour long epic, Karn Evil 9. Well, this song showcases everything that is good and bad about prog- on one hand, there is excellent instrumental performances, energy, and a grand, pompous feel- on the other, it is long, gets absorbed in it's own greatness, and has a grand, pompous feel. As expected from ELP, the song is well-made and enjoyable to listen to, and features some really, really, cool parts, the kind of thing you can just listen to over and over again and it never gets old. And, as expected from a 30-minute prog epic, it can become somewhat lengthy and repetitive, dawdling too long in vast displays of instrumental virtuosity- unlike Tarkus, which seems to end far too soon, Karn Evil 9 is feels exactly as long as it is- very. In conclusion, it is a good addition to any prog rock collection- especially if you manage to get it for less than five dollars like I did! It earns 3.25 stars, rounded down to 3.

Report this review (#247727)
Posted Sunday, November 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars How would I describe Emerson Lake and Palmer's Brain Salad Surgery? Pompous. This album is when this super group said to themselves let's make an album that will put us in the history books as the most talented rock group to be assembled. I don't know if they accomplished their goal but they still made a mighty fine album in the process. The albums starts off with Jerusalem which is a nice start, but very short. Next is Toccata, all I can say is WOW. Toccata is ELP showing off their amazing talent, Palmer performs some of the coolest drumming licks I have ever heard and, when was the last time you heard a drum sound like a keyboard? Still... You Turn Me On is a very a great ballad that Greg Lake wrote and Greg Lake is actually a pretty good singer/song writer. Next comes Benny the Bouncer which I think is the only real flaw on this album, I think it was meant to just be a fun little filler but, I don't like it because Lake sings it in a weird way that annoys me. Finally, Karn Evil 9 (divided into fourths). What an epic, awesome song. I believe Karn Evil 9 is the magnum opus of ELP and no other of their works come close to this one. If one considers themselves a fan of prog rock these four tracks are considered a must.

Jerusalem 4/5 Toccata 5/5 Still... You Turn Me On 4/5 Benny The Bouncer 2/5 Karn Evil 9 "Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression, Pt. 1" (5/5) "Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression, Pt. 2" "Karn Evil 9: 2nd Impression" "Karn Evil 9: 3rd Impression"

This Album is indeed great and essential to an fan of progressive rock but i will not give it 5 stars. The reason is that I cant listen to it non-stop, Its not a cd that i would leave in my car for a month. I got sick of it after 2 straight listening's, yes its amazing but its to much to take in and Benny the Bouncer brings it down. So i give it 4/5

Report this review (#250136)
Posted Thursday, November 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
2 stars I rue the day that Greg Lake walked from KING CRIMSON to join up with Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer, sending KC down the path to jazzy and metallic glory. Lake's voice, properly deployed, is a joy to behold, as in the first couple of KC albums and a handful of ELP tracks. But for the most part he was buried in Emerson's keys that were beyond bombastic. While ELP redefined the makeup of a rock band, their best material was that which more closely followed the dicta of the genre, which was seldom on display.

By the time of "Brain Salad Surgery", the dinosaur was flailing big time. This is an even more polarized effort than the uneven "Trilogy", with few examples of even the level of songwriting and restraint shown on that effort. Apart from a reverent version of "Jerusalem" and the emotional ballad "Still You Turn me on", here we have virtually non stop histrionics and grandstanding that helped to epitomize what a few loved but most hated about progressive rock, even some of its biggest fans. The absolute low point is Lake disingenuously screeching something about "rock n roll", as if to say, hey we're elite intellectuals but we still have machismo.

I do feel a twang of regret at the idea of rating such a historically significant group so poorly, but then I force down a mouthful of this salad and realize two stars is all I can muster. Too much processed cheese.

Report this review (#263680)
Posted Sunday, January 31, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars Roughly this release in the early seventies is similar to their album Tarkus. One great epic and several insignificant short songs. At least that's how it works on me. Biggest difference between the two albums is that BSS is far more experimental and all things considered the epic appeals to me far less than Tarkus.

In fact if I analyze it more detailed I conclude that the first 13 minutes (1st Impression) of the Karn Evil epic do the job really. This is memorable, nicely flowing music. Second impression is more mr. Emerson demonstrating some piano play with a bit of structure but it sounds more like a piano solo on a live gig, showing off what he is capable of. But that's something else than playing a great song. Last nine minutes (3rd impression) the structure returns slightly but it's not my favourite part by any means. Sounds distorted especially towards the end.

The short songs are very experimental but not in an enjoyable way as far as I'm concerned. It's probably the reason why this is a controversial album even amongst prog reviewers. A typical love or hate album. I join second option if you don't mind. Not my cup of tea this one. But I do understand why many call it a masterpiece. That is when I put my personal opinion aside. One thing is certain. This is not a dull, 13 in a dozen album. But that's still something else than enjoyable music. So I will have to give 2 here because of required taste. Mainly for fans.

Report this review (#264210)
Posted Thursday, February 4, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars By the time this album came out I was buying ELP's music sight unheard. This album turned out to be my 2nd favorite after "Tarkus," of course.

I didn't care for "Jerusalem," but it isn't a bad tune. It did eventually grow on me. I would always skip to "Tocatta" and play it first. "Tocatta" is fresh and innovative. The whole band do some interesting things on this.

"Still, You Turn Me On" isn't as good as "From the Beginning," but Greg does this really cool guitar riff at the end of the chorus. It just sounds heavy.

"Benny the Bouncer" is humorous and very sarcastic. It has that Catholic vibe to it at the end. I sing it a lot and try to get the accent the way Greg sang it. It is catchy and I am surprised they didn't make it a 45.

"Karn Evil #9,(1st,2nd,3rd impression)" out does all their previous stuff. The intro has moody and thoughtful written all over it. The second verse is musically different than the first and is my teacher for prog constructed material. I didn't care for the first impression part 2 because it was too repetitious. Even Greg played nearly the same guitar solo twice. The lyrics were very disturbing, but Greg must have been seeing how things were getting in society as he wrote the words. No matter how messed up something is, it is all "Entertainment" for mass consumption. No matter how perverse or irreverent it is, there is money to be made from its exploitation.

The 2nd impression takes you away to the Carribbean with African sounding drum beat. I think it is Carl using a synth on his drums. It is great sounding.

The last impression takes the listener into the deepest parts of space. I think of Star Trek when I listen to it. It is a wild ride to be sure.

I give this one 5 stars.

Report this review (#278208)
Posted Friday, April 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars UPDATE: Hmmmmmm... Very difficult not to give this five stars. I think if we had "out of 10" ratings on this site I could give it a nine and finally sleep at night. I even enjoy the third impression of KE9 a lot more nowadays, though I'm no Star Trek fan.....

REVIEW: Loving this dosage of hardcore keyboard prog. If there's ever a 70's album which succeeds to sound almost heavy or "emo", without featuring any guitar, it's this.

Emerson's keyboard work is perhaps the most virtuosic in the band's career. The same can be said for Palmer's drumming. Lake has a strong voice and faultless bass too. So it's obviously the peak. But that doesn't make it automatically perfect, and not a 5-star album by any means (none of ELP's are in my opinion). The bombastic and very impressive nature of this record, takes something important away from it's potential warmth. There's less compositional depth than something like 'Trilogy' because the focus is on the impressiveness. Having said that, 'Trilogy' isn't very impressive...

'Karn Evil 9' is fantastic overall but let down by the overblown, sci-fi-esque third impression. The 30 minutes is generally well-spent though and the storyline is very thrilling. 'Toccata' I love. This is a good slice of classical-cover prog, complete with drum triggered synthesizers! 'Benny the Bouncer' is okay, nothing special and rather out of place (but better than the other ragtime/pub-piano offerings in the ELP catalogue). 'Still... You Turn Me On' is another fine Lake acoustic. 'Jerusalem' just isn't really neccesary.

So for me, this album is great all over, no real filler- but some weakER points. The main attraction is obviously 'Karn Evil 9', which packs in a lot of great material, but some padding as well.

Report this review (#278728)
Posted Tuesday, April 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars 8/15P.: Sometimes less is more - and more is less.

Unfortunately ELP's albums became uninteresting for me after Trilogy which in my opinion was a terrific record filled with many highlights. Brain Salad Surgery is sheer megalomania, to a very big extent blown up and not the real music for me. I know Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends (the 1974 live album with 15 minutes improvisations framed by parts of other songs), the California Jam film (here, Emerson plays his piano solo while spinning around with the piano in the air) and the Works albums (including Emerson's piano concerto, lots of honky-tonk classics and loads of Greg Lake ballads), and each of these recordings is in a way symptomatic of the decay of the progressive rock genre. Brain Salad Surgery is where it started, and it proved that music theory doesn't help you make a good album when you aren't inspired. Or rather when you want to be bigger than you can be.

Brain Salad Surgery's breaking point, in my opinion, is definitely the "Karn Evil" suite which just doesn't captivate me. But sadly, side one isn't better.

Jerusalem is my favorite song of the record, appealing with mighty Hammond organs and Greg Lake's superb vocals which create a beautiful British feeling. Everyone who knows the original version of this British hymn (for example from the Last Night of the Proms transmissions) knows that ELP have changed the piece a lot; especially the Moog synthesizers during the stanza in the middle are really uplifting and pleasant.

Toccata is interesting, too, but in a different way. Ginastera, the writer of this piece, is known as quite an experimental composer, and Emerson captures this manic, frantic mood very well with distorted Hammond organs and futuristic synthesizer effects (by the way, Ginastera approved of Emerson's adaptation quite a lot). The second part features Carl Palmer with his composition for drums and percussion, making use of both untypical percussion instruments (tubular bells, bells or gongs) and futuristic drum synth effects which were somehow invented by him in those days. This is not music to listen to every day, but a thrilling try at more experimental music, somehow continuing what has been begun with the Gnome and Old Castle parts of Pictures at An Exhibition and the beginning of The Endless Enigma Pt. 1 on Trilogy. But admittedly this music is by far better on the paper than on the CD. At least I regularly catch myself feeling that this music is a total mess while thinking that it is challenging and hence good.

Still... You Turn Me On is Greg Lake's ballad which in my book is less spectacular than comparable pieces like The Sage or the beginning of Take A Pebble which were simply more charismatic; Still... sounds a bit thin, something which may be also due to the minimalistic and 'futuristic' production. Emerson is featured on the harpsichord here, a nice timbre, but it doesn't change that Lake's previous ballad were better. An okay song, but no stand-out track. And I better don't mention the lyrics...

Benny The Bouncer is a joke, I know. But Greg Lake's voice is annoying here, the music isn't appealing in any way and the composition is forgettable. The keyboards, whatever this exactly is, are dull, too. Dull and thin, to say the least. The Sheriff from the previous album had a full and powerful sound, fat Hammond organs, an interesting rhythm and more relaxed vocals. Unfortunately, a really weak track which should have been replaced with the at that time unreleased title track of the album, Brain Salad Surgery.

Now we arrive at the last track, Karn Evil 9, stated by some as the best work of ELP and of music in general. Until now I didn't make it listening to this track in total because it is so overdone, but still quite empty in its core.. The main riff of the pretty rock'n'roll part 1st impression, Pt.1 wouldn't be bad when being integrated into another track, but I think that it simply lacks substance to be stretched out to a complete longtrack. From time to time there are nice passages, but for me this track is pointless and doesn't really go anywhere. Pt.2 isn't any better, the vocal melody (and how it's delivered) and the whole design sometimes are very straining and I don't get much listening pleasure from it. The chord progressions sometimes remind me of Focus (especially Sylvia), but Focus are more successful since they take their time and do not race through the composition. It seems the band has lost its complete feeling and emotional resonance by concentrating on the more shallow aspects of music, i.e. the athletic and record-establishing aims which too many metal and progressive rock musicians of today also share. The Second Impression, entirely instrumental, is the part which I like most of Karn Evil. Here we get superb keyboard improvisations by Mr. Emerson, especially on the Moog synthesizer and the grand piano, and Carl Palmer (employing shakers and other groovy percussion instruments) and Greg Lake accompany these improvisations in a very skillful and playful manner. Doubtlessly, Lake and Palmer are a superb rhythm section, and one instantly hears that the music gets more impressive when they are allowed to play more freely. Finally, the Third Impression is quite similar in mood and sound to the first one, and again the melodies aren't really fitting with my taste; the computer voices may have been very progressive in 1973, but I don't get the use of this science fiction thematics at all, as much as I'm not interested in the see the show!-theme which is present everywhere in this track. The instrumental part in the second half of the third impression is also a bit too directionless, although the ending with the sequenced synthesizer melodies is an unusual, but nice way of ending the album.

So, all in all a really weak 3 star rating from my point of view for a doubtlessly important and significant, but ultimately overblown record which I just am not able to listen to all the way through - and this statement comes from someone who adores Yes' Tales from Topographic Oceans and Relayer. Those who do not know Emerson, Lake and Palmer should, in my opinion, start with Trilogy, which has a more 'organic' and rich sound and more concise compositions. It would have been two stars had it not been for the big effects which this album had on the music scene.

Report this review (#282389)
Posted Monday, May 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album is almost like a glimpse of the future of prog, and in some ways the past of prog. All in all this is a little gem of an album, of course revolving around the final track (although on some cd's it is split into parts) KARN EVIL 9, an epic closer at just under 30 minutes, and its a fantastic song full of complex keyboard textures and a 'song within a song' structure. Although the other songs on this release arint as strong and become quite a mixed bag, starting out with the grand almost fanfare sound of JERUSALEM, the epic instrumental of TOCCATA, the beautiful folky STILL..YOU TURN ME ON, and the quite wierd BENNY THE BOUNCER that sorta sounds like The Who's 'Borris The Spider' a little, none of which even match up to the final song but more so just sound like a lead up, something to hold your attention until the song arrives. I dont really need to go into detail about either the music or the playing on this album as i think everyone knows just how classic and iconic this album is, production is great (although i have the re-mastered version so they have cleaned it up a bit more from the original) and yeah just a great wee album in general;

Jerusalem - 9/10 Toccata - 9/10 Still... You Turn Me On - 8/10 Benny The Bouncer - 7/10 Karn Evil 9 - 10/10

My Conclusion? yup a great release from this great band, its a strong reccomendation from me, 4 stars.

Report this review (#285150)
Posted Saturday, June 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Brain Salad Surgery, ELP's fifth album, is also the highest point in their careers. Ambitiously written to have a 30 minute suite (Karn Evil 9 - that was edited initially because of the LP limitation of 25 minutes on each side), this is the album that at the same time made their greatest statemement and also broke the camel's back. The tour that followed was huge, but the egos after the enourmos success made the band stop all activities for almost 2 years and upon their return in 1977, things were not the same anymore.

I gladly picked this album on the Remastered edition because the problem with the division in 'Karn Evil 9' was fixed. Now we have the track in its entirety clocking over 30 minutes. As it should be!

One of the highest points in Prog Rock golden years and a must have for every serious Prog lover.

Report this review (#285240)
Posted Sunday, June 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This album is indeed difficult beast to tame. But I won't like to listen prejudices and simply refuse this album as incompatible with me. I have tried it. After all, it's masterpiece for many, isn't it ? They can't all be fooled by ELP fame (option I don't like to think about). So I've tried it. And failed. Then I've tried it again and again failed, but with bigger success (in failure). This time, it's better again so it's obvious now, this album is a grower, you have to understand how to play its game to look behind the curtain and move to backstage.

I see this as that there are accessible/simple (Benny the Bounder)/melodic (Jerusalem or all three at once. Tracks are forming one group and then more experimental (what makes ELP unique) and virtuoso-like - which of course means synths (for some it's sad fact, but I say why not).

Tracks like Toccata are this kind of song. My girl said about this album one word: "weird" and it's what it mostly is, trying to find something new, combinations of sounds unseen before and a lot of these strange noises that can bring some people to ecstasy. Not me though.

I said it few times, but either I don't believe in concept of "pretentiousness" at all, or everything in Prog is pretentious. It doesn't matter, being pompous isn't negative for me (being arrogant is, but every one of us has his disadvantages and bad habits, some of us are simply more visible).

Fanfares ? I like them, so because I have to decide, I can both like and appreciate this epic track.

4(+), some things prevents it from being the highest rank.

Report this review (#287860)
Posted Tuesday, June 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars BRAIN SALAD SURGERY comes at a pivotal time in the history of ELP. Despite already succeeding with several hit albums under their belt, the band had actually been together for only 3 years at the time of this album's release. A virtual overnight success (literally) from their first live performance, here is a band that had released no less than 4 albums of original material within the first 19 months of their inception, three of which made the Top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic ! So it goes without saying that there was perhaps a lot riding on this one. As such, the band took a little more time than usual with BSS, taking time to re-think their game plan, now that financial success was for the most part well-established. It was also the first album released on their own record label, MANTICORE.

Rather than playing it safe with shorter songs, or potential hits, BRAIN SALAD SURGERY is particularly admirable in the ways in which it takes even more "risks" than its predecessors. It contains what is arguably their most experimental piece ("Toccata"), as well as their longest thematic composition to date ("Karn Evil 9"). The only place in which the album "follows formula" is in its inclusion of the token Greg Lake "hit-potential" solo piece ("Still....You Turn Me On"). As such, BRAIN SALAD SURGERY is a near-perfect exposition of everything that made Prog's Golden Era great - great solos, great arrangements, great song-writing.

Production-wise, however, it is a bit thin (especially on opener "Jerusalem"). Emerson had yet to get a very full piano sound on record, and BSS is no exception. Which is a shame, actually, because "Karn Evil 9 - 2nd Impression" is one of the best recorded expositions of Emerson's forte on piano.

It's just a shame that BRAIN SALAD SURGERY was released before the age of compact discs, as the length of Karn Evil 9 prevents it from fitting onto a single side of vinyl, a fact which diminished its impact somewhat in its original form.

Five stars......a true classic of Prog's Golden Age !

Report this review (#294780)
Posted Monday, August 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars This used to be my favorite ELP album, back when I didn't like them on the whole as much as I do now, but even after losing that distinction, I still hold this album in high regard. Well, sort of. It's a fine album, but over time, I've come to this conclusion: no album is a better summary of the good sides and the bad sides of British prog rock, and I almost shudder to guess whether the band could keep walking this dangerous line without falling into a total lack of quality control.

The biggest thing I notice is that, in a lot of ways, this album is less "ELP's take on prog" than "ELP does a generic prog album." The surface elements are the same as before, of course - same immaculate keyboard technique, same Lake singing and guitars, same Palmer as ever - but there's a crucial difference here from previous albums. However "overblown" or "pretentious" or whatever epithets one might have thrown at the band in the past, one could not deny that the core of much of the band's work was solid, no BS "normal" songwriting, albeit surrounded with all sorts of abnormal trappings. On this album, though, it's increasingly difficult to isolate Lake's impact, apart from "Still ... You Turn Me On" (it's no coincidence, I think, that Emerson gets the sole music credit for almost everything else); this album is very heavy on the synth jam aspect of ELP's shtick, and while the band members are certainly just fine when playing in that mode, they also lose much of that special something that made them so fascinating from the very beginning.

It also doesn't help that the album, in terms of pretense, is bloated even by ELP standards. Part of the blame for this comes from bringing in Pete Sinfield as the band's lyricist (though he actually only contributes on two parts of the album); I'm sorry, but while he is the clever dude who came up with lyrics to "21st Century Schizoid Man" and "Epitaph," he's also the idiot who came up with lyrics to "Cirkus" and "In the Wake of Poseidon," and his contribution to part 3 of "KE9" is definitely one of the greatest negative factors here. Even disregarding lyrical pomp, though, there's something about the production that has come to bother me quite a bit over the years; all that overdubbing and echo and whatnot may make things sound more important than otherwise, but I'd much prefer it if the music itself were the driving impressive force instead of the production trying to tell me when I'm supposed to be in awe. As mentioned earlier, this sort of approach to prog makes me uncomfortable, as it's the approach taken by far too many bands that have destroyed prog far more effectively than any punk revolution could.

And yet, for all of that, the album gets a high grade; I did, after all, say that the album also represents the good sides of prog. ELP may have lost some of their restraint and discipline when making BSS, but what they didn't lose was their talent. However misdirected their efforts may be in some aspects of the album, the power of the band members' talent was such that they couldn't help but still entertain the listener a good portion of the time (how large a portion would depend greatly on one's already determined attitude towards prog, whereas the first two albums could possibly be enjoyable even to a non-prog- devotee). Funny how certain bands can still produce good works even when largely on creative autopilot ...

Anyway, the album kicks off with "Jerusalem," a cover of an old British hymn with lyrics by William Blake that's sort of an unofficial British national anthem (kinda the UK equivalent of God Bless America). Truth be told, I'm not entirely sure what the point of this track is in this album's context. The band seemingly knew that to try and do anything 'creative' with such a well-known and revered number would lead to the British political establishment falling on their necks, and as such the arrangement is very conservative for ELP. This unfortunately isn't a good thing, as the regal and majestic nature of this performance involves a lack of novel keyboard parts or creative adjustment of tempos or, I dunno, interesting thematic overlays. Even Lake's voice isn't given much of a chance to shine here, buried as it is beneath the keyboards. However, I don't want to convey the idea that I dislike this track, because I don't - it's perfectly ok, and actually works in a sense (for me) if I think of it as the band warming up for the remainder of the set.

Besides, "Toccata" is next, and this is where the album truly begins its greatness. An adaptation of the 4th movement of the 1st Piano Concerto by an Argentine composer by the name of Alberto Ginastera, this may or may not be the best of ELP's classical adaptations, but aside from a couple of parts of Pictures, it's certainly their most creative. This is an incredible piece of modern-classical discord, driven forward in the first half by some of Emerson's best ever playing for the band (best defined not in terms of speed, but rather in aggression and well-made choices for keyboard types and sounds). Then Carl manages to do the unthinkable, to begin playing an ostensible drum solo but one that I didn't even conciously notice was a drum solo the first ten times I heard it, if only because it doesn't exist solely to draw attention to technique. No, this is a very deep, low-pitched solo, one that you feel more than you hear ... until, that is, he starts triggering all sorts of cool and nutty electronic swooping noises with his drumset, creating a disorienting wall of sound until Keith chimes back in with the main theme and we close it out. Now THAT's the sort of thing I'm talking about when I almost consider maybe giving this a ***** rating.

The next two tracks are also excellent, and each represent the continuation of a niche that fans had come to expect on ELP albums. The first is the album's obligatory beautiful, excellent ballad, here called "Still ... You Turn Me On." While it has one of the worst lines EVER (I'm sorry, but "every day a little sadder, a little madder, someone get me a ladder" is unforgivably bad), the lyrics are quite nice otherwise, and while the porno wah-wah guitar in the chorus is totally out of place, the melody is incredibly beautiful. Maybe songs like this weren't where the band wanted to go, as if they thought they had become too good for such pittance, but man, Lake was GOOD at writing these sorts of things. Ah well, c'est la vie (which isn't a very good song, but that's for later). Closing out the album's "introductory set" is part three in the band's goofy keyboard ragtime series, the ever so hilarious "Benny the Bouncer." The horrifying lyrics about Benny getting in a fight, getting his head chopped up and ending up as the bouncer at St. Peter's gate are delivered with aplomb in Greg's nastiest voice, and even though I didn't come around to "Jeremy Bender" and "The Sheriff" right away, this was an instantaneous success with me when I first heard it.

As good as the first four numbers are, though, the crux of this album's reputation lies not with them, but rather with the behemoth that occupies the remainder of the album. This is the "Karn Evil 9" suite, taking up just short of half an hour and the entirety of the second side (as well as the last eight minutes or so of the first). It is divided into three parts (or "impressions," the pretentious boobs), with the first impression split over the two sides and the second half of this impression serving as one of the band's radio hits (unlikely as it may be). Both musically and lyrically, it is unbeLIEVably bombastic and overblown - I kinda get the feeling the band (particularly Emerson) aimed to create the most grandiose, important, epic piece of music the world had ever seen, but since they weren't the earthly incarnation of Apollo, God of Music, but instead 'just' a nicely talented trio, they of course fall very short. The lyric theme tries to be deep and scary (all about a future where the 'bad' things of today only exist as spectator attractions, and where machines rebel against their human masters in the end), but while sometimes they're amusing, other times the lyrics are just so stupid that I can't take them seriously without feeling extremely ashamed of myself. So yeah, it's kinda freakin' flawed.

But dagnabbit, this suite may be a failure on a certain level, but what an INCREDIBLY entertaining failure in several parts. I just can't help it, I am still passionately in love with the whole "1st impression," even as the better parts of my nature assail me for being such a dweeb. I love how it starts as this menacing tense epic prog anthem, with Lake not really singing anything neat melody-wise but still making it come alive, and then becomes a GREAT synth-led jam which in turn becomes a GREAT bombastic pop song. I love that incredible "epic" guitar line Lake plays at various intervals between verses. I love how the music stops when Lake sings the word "shocks." I love the break into "WELCOME BACK MY FRIENDS TO THE SHOW THAT NEVER ENDS" and how the song just keeps grooving on that melody and how these cool jams that exist only for the sake of having jams are so entertaining anyway. Pure dorky prog bliss for 13 or so minutes, that's what this is.

The suite starts to lose people a bit in the "2nd impression," a lengthy instrumental focused around (of course) Keith's keyboards, but I enjoy it just fine. There's no discernable structure to it, and it's probably overlong, but I can honestly say that the 'boredom sensors' within me don't begin reacting during its ramblings. It varies well in mood, texture and speed, so monotony is hardly a problem, and overall it's the closest that ELP have come (for me) to making a "sit back, relax, listen" piece. However, while the "2nd impression" does me no harm, the "3rd impression" has most definitely grown off me over the years, and while in some sense I get a bit of dorky pleasure from it, it's much harder for me to enjoy it than before. There's a decent sci-fi vibe running through the music, but it gets really difficult to enjoy them after the lyrics turn into "Star Trek: The Musical." Add in that the jamming here isn't anywhere near as enthralling as the jamming in impression the 1st, and you have a serious nine minute let down at the end of the album, one that unfortunately slightly spoils my impression of the whole. That said, though, the ending up-and-down synth arpeggio is pretty amusing, so that's at least something.

So there you have it, the prog album that simultaneously makes me want to praise and curse the entire genre. I apologize to worshippers of the album if I seemed overly mean throughout - I really do enjoy and respect a great deal of it, and a high **** is definitely nothing to sneeze at. But there's no question that I prefer the debut now.

Report this review (#295110)
Posted Wednesday, August 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars I am not a huge fan of ELP, enjoying only the first 4 albums. This one, BRAIN SALAD SURGERY, is their finest moment. Some of the work on here is sublime and wonderful. However, there is also the usual goofy tune ("Benny the Bouncer"), that ELP could just not do an album without. Why? I usually grow bored with some of the more classical work of ELP, but everything on here holds my interest most of the time, although the 2nd Impression of "Karn Evil 9" goes on a little long. Still, this is the only ELP work that I find to be consistently good over the entire album. TARKUS and TRILOGY come close but BRAIN SALAD SURGERY is ELP at their peak. And it's always downhill after the peak! 4 stars
Report this review (#296904)
Posted Tuesday, August 31, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This is where Emerson, Lake & Palmer went over the top! It's pretty clear that these guys were suffering while recording Brain Salad Surgery and it really showed in their arrangements and conceptual themes. Just look at the rehearsing video of Karn Evil 9 on YouTube and you'll see what I mean!

After the band released their first consistent studio album in the shape of Trilogy, they swiftly returned to the mixed bag format that was so prominent on Tarkus. Unfortunately Brain Salad Surgery doesn't have a suite that is worthy to be compared with Tarkus, but allow me talk about the album in its chronological order. First off, we get two very pleasant adaptations of classical pieces among which Toccata is arguably the most well recognized thanks to its breathtaking performance on Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends. The studio version feels a bit stale in comparison and just doesn't reach the magnitude that I expect of it.

Songs like Still... You Turn Me On and Benny The Bouncer sound like what we've come to expect from ELP albums since both of their two previous releases also featured at least one joke tune and the obligatory Greg Lake ballad. These two performances are easily the bleakest of the bunch and I could have easily done without them. As for Karn Evil 9, I always found it too long and pretentious. Why not shorten it and release a side long epic, it worked for Tarkus so why not here? There is a very good reason behind the fact that most progressive rock epics are around 20 minutes long and this performance could have easily been trimmed down to that format. All this band needed to do was to let go of their egos and trim down all of the sections and, if you ask me, especially Keith Emerson's excessive performance on 2nd Impression.

Even though most fans consider the two Works albums to be the first signs of fatigue in ELP's discography, I never needed to look further than this album to spot some serious flaws.

**** star songs: Jerusalem (2:44) Toccata (7:23) Karn Evil 9 (1st Impression - Part 1) (8:44) Karn Evil 9 (3rd Impression) (9:03)

*** star songs: Still... You Turn Me On (2:53) Karn Evil 9 (1st Impression - Part 2) (4:47)

** star songs: Benny The Bouncer (2:21) Karn Evil 9 (2nd Impression) (7:07)

Report this review (#304314)
Posted Friday, October 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars One of the best albums of ELP and certainly their last good one. Sure, you really start seeing/feeling/smelling the excess and self-indulgence here, but at least they still have good music to offer. One of the things about Brain Salad Surgery(a euphemism for oral sex apparently) that I like but some criticize is Palmer's use of electronic percussion. "Toccata" is one of my favourites here because it is so electronic and crazy. ELP fans were already used to Emerson going apesh*t on his Moogs, but I wonder what they thought when they heard this song. Like me, they probably thought it was Keith making all those strange electronic noises. But no, Palmer had a special synthesizer drum-kit made for him. By the time electronic drums were becoming popular in the early 1980s, nobody was making music this adventurous in the mainstream anymore. Palmer also uses his new toys at the very end of "Karn Evil 9". Come to think of it, it must be him making those weird electro-marimba sounds in the middle of "Karn". (Okay, I admit I'm not exactly sure where one 'Impression' ends and the next begins; I'm used to listening to this as one whole 30-minute piece).

"Benny The Bouncer" is as pointless as "The Sheriff" and "Jeremy Bender". Next. Of Lake's ballads, only "From The Beginning" is better than "Still...You Turn Me On". Although it has some lame lyrics(somebody get this guy a ladder!), the music and Greg's vocal performance are great. I just love that twangy wah-wah part. "Jerusalem" is a fine 'cover' song if you will. One of their best 'cover' songs(some might say "interpretation" but whatever). "Karn Evil 9" is the heart of the album obviously. I've only heard this album on CD so I can't say for sure if the first part of the first impression was on one side of the vinyl and the rest on the other or not. I actually know somebody who has this album on vinyl, but I didn't think to check if this was the case or not before typing my review. Anyway, there are some more stupid lyrics here("seven virgins on a mule, keep it cool, keep it cool"). Didn't Pete Sinfield write some of the lyrics here? He goes from "Epitaph" to writing bad ELP lyrics to writing a hit song for Celine Dion. Yikes.

The music on "Karn" goes from mediocre to great. I love the robotic voice at the end. The playing on the album is generally great with not too much showing off. The cover art is classic (apparently the original painting was stolen recently). The production is a step down from Trilogy, which I think is their best and most consistent album. This doesn't deserve 5 stars mainly for the production, "Benny" and the fact that they didn't compose the first two tracks. So I'll give this a 3.5 but round it up to 4.

Report this review (#305118)
Posted Sunday, October 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Now let's not be silly...

How can any serious prog rock afficionado give a single star for this album? Come on, let's have a little decorum here, this is PROG archives, not POP archives. I mean, even the album art with its remarkable sleeve design is worth 2 stars on its own! Sorry, forgive me. Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion. I do apologise and will try to adhere to the review guidelines....

For an in-depth analysis of all the tracks on BSS, there is a plethora of excellent reviews that speak much more eloquently than I could ever. Please refer to them.

But if you still haven't heard BSS let me tell you it is just about as close to the ultimate prog rock album you could possibly hope for. From start to finish it is replenished with so much complexity, beauty, humour, power and passion. And I say this not as a dyed-in-the wool ELP fan, but as someone who is 'very keen' on them.

Here I would like to address the constant labelling of ELP as a 'P' band , and in particular BSS as a 'P' album. When discussing progressive rock, I do find the ubiquitous 'pretentious' (often most used when talking of ELP) somewhat incongruous, not to mention, exasperating. I mean, pretentious how? How is it possible for a pioneering, seminal prog rock band made up of prodigiously gifted musicians and composers to be pretentious? They are what they are. Pretentious is when you TRY to be what you are not or cannot be.

Arrogant, brash, outrageously self-confident, excessive...these are labels (lazy prog rock cliches in fact) ELP detractors might prefer to employ without my caring a hoot. After all, as Carl Palmer unashamedly puts it, 'It is showbusiness!'

But let's leave the 'P' word for those who try in vain to emulate the great pioneers like ELP, King Crimson, Jethro Tull and Genesis.

Oh...and for the 1-star reviewers, why not take a look at Britney's website, she may for all I know have released a new album you might find less taxing.

Ooops! I did it again.

Report this review (#369236)
Posted Saturday, January 1, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album is an interesting fusion of rock and classical themes. A good friend of mine (and huge ELP fan) lent me this when I was a teenager and I didn't know what to make of it for a long time. I hadn't heard anything like it before. I remember studying the cover too. I found it quite futuristic all those years ago.

I always found the tightness of the group quite impressive and imagined how they must have painstakingly worked together. I think that's how my friend felt about this particular record. It was definitely what he would have introduced to anyone as an example of what they were all about. I can quite understand how some people find this work overblown due to its bombastic nature. This is a beast that slowly grew on me over time.

I instantly recognised the melody from "Jerusalem", which was an adaptation from a well known hymn I sang at primary school in England. The organ and Lake's voice make it very emotional and atmospheric. "Tocacata" follows, suddenly changing the mood. It is extremely dramatic and fast moving. Emerson's special synthesized effects sound intriguing and Palmer's percussion is different too with the use of drum synthesizers.

The gentle, acoustic "Still.. You Turn Me On" is a gorgeous piece and stands out from the other more masculine tracks on the album with its soft harpsichord in the background. Lake's voice is very attractive here and softer than on the other pieces."Benny The Bouncer" also sounds different to the other pieces. It is a very likeable song about a saloon punch up and the piano bring it to life very well.

The second half of the album is taken up by the Karn Evil 9 impressions which are broken up into four parts. Impressions one and two are my favourites. There are some good lyrics (Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends..). In all, it's definitely an album many either love or hate. I personally feel it would be an excellent addition to a prog rock collection. Four solid stars.

Report this review (#389741)
Posted Saturday, January 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars I am well aware that it is fashionable to denigrate ELP for their arrogance and ambition. I know, for instance, that if ELP were a species of dinosaur, paleontologists would likely name them Pompousaurus Rex. Really, I get the aversion. However, most of the negative reviews here neither take the band's work in context to the time period their albums were released, nor do they appreciate the audacity of the band. And they were certainly audacious...and talented. And that is the fatal flaw in ELP: they were simply too talented, too ambitious and too immersed in the classical form to adequately maintain an equilibrium within the rock vernacular. What the hell am I actually saying, you ask? Their attempt to graft classical and jazz forms onto a simpler form like rock failed as often as it succeeded.

Rather than play about with classical and jazz music and tease and tantalize rock fans with such virtuousity -- like more endearing progressive rock bands such as King Crimson, Procol Harum, Yes and Tull -- ELP went off the deep end and made the ill-fated assumption that 'classical-rock-fusion' could actually work long-term as a musical form. No. Sorry. Too weighty to maintain a forward impetus. The band eventually collapsed under its own leaden pretension on the album 'Works I'.

But let's look at the parts and pieces that make up 'Brain Salad Surgery'. It is not a flawless album, certainly, and side one is far better than side two (perhaps because there is more variation), but the overall sound and delivery is cohesive and there are many great aspects of the recording. And few rock bands will ever outperform ELP. Say what you will, these fellas can flat-out play. They make regular 4-chord rock bands sound junior high music class (complete with the geeks in band hall).

First, and as with all important albums of the 70's, the album cover itself is notable. Designed by H.R. Giger of 'Alien' fame, the cover was disturbing for the time period and still an arresting piece of art viewed almost 40 years later. Giger's biomechanical cover theme translated beautifully to the Karn Evil 9 sections of the album, particularly the 3rd Impression of Part 2, a sci-fi rock opera featuring computers taking over the world a la The Terminator. Overblown, perhaps, but the final lines, Man: 'I am all there is.' / Computer: 'Negative! primitive! limited! I let you live!' / Man: 'But I gave you life!' / Computer: 'What else could you do?' / Man: 'To do what was right.' / Computer: 'I am perfect! are you?' speaks to the fundamental concept of science fiction and science ethics regarding computers and artificial intelligence currently (and certainly throughout a film like 'Bladerunner' and the 'Star Trek' and 'Terminator' series). Fairly groundbreaking and perceptive from a rock 'n' roll format in '73 (although certainly old hat for the Asimov/Arthur C. Clarke crowd).

Second, what's not to like about bringing the poet William Blake to rock? The overarching grandiosity of Blake's 'Jerusalem' is perfect for ELP, isn't it? Who else in rock can pull off building 'Jerusalem in England's green and pleasant land'? It is one of those successes in the classic form (like the enjoyable forays into Aaron Copeland's work, like 'Hoedown' and 'Fanfare for the Common Man') that allowed ELP to rise above pedestrian rock groups. This is followed by 'Toccata' an adaptation of a Ginastera piano concerto that the composer himself found compelling, and it is perhaps the intriguing interpretation of a classical composition by ELP. Carl Palmer's use of synthesized drums is groundbreaking on this piece, and really his drumming throughout the album often proves to be the most awe- inspiring aspect of the release.

Third, 'Still...You Turn Me On' is a great reflective song, full of subtle sound and wry lyric, and the 1st Impression of 'Karn Evil 9' (Parts 1 and 2) is on par with the greatest rock operettas, like The Who's 'Tommy' or Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody'. Is it pompous? OH GOD YES! But it is self-deprecating and the most fun song on the whole album ('Pulled Jesus from a hat, get into that, get into that'). Where else but perhaps Tull's 'A Passion Play' are you going to find a line like 'seven virgins on a mule'?

Finally, the last two Impressions of 'Karn Evil 9' are okay, but perhaps mirror the type of excess that those that berate ELP have fertile ground for contention. It is overlong and not particularly as inspired as the rest of the album.

All in all a very good album, really, in parts absolutely amazing; although, as is the case with most of ELP's efforts, their reach exceeds their grasp. Or however that saying goes. Four and 1/2 stars (the extra 1/2 being for the album cover).

Report this review (#391959)
Posted Tuesday, February 1, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars " Guaranteed to blow your head apart."

A heaping helping of fodder for critics of progressive rock to eat for breakfast. If ELP went off the deep end with their 1972 album Trilogy and it's subsequent world tour , then they were about to take the plunge with this firestorm embelished with everything that gave progressive rock labels like "pretentious", "bombastic" and "overblown". But the critics weren't clear on the concept. Wasn't this the whole raison d'etre of Emerson Lake & Palmer in 1974? And they didn't stop with the music. They had to have a cover that would blow everyone else's cover out of the water from Yes to Led Zeppelin. The Hans Rudolph Giger 5 module ccover art, which also introduced the ELP band logo. stirred up some controversy when an errect penis had to be airbrushed out on the original painting. ELP even had to change the name of the album because of overt sexual references to the less apparent final name which was taken from a lyric in a Dr. John song.

But for the connoisuer this was progrock in it's highest form : An extended showpiece in 4 movements featuring smatterings of jazz, classical and even hard rock with freakish sci-fi lyrics, a reworking of a modern classical piece with stamped approval from the composer himself as well as an ode to their homeland based on Hubert Parry's anthemic Jerusalem. Why not ? Emerson demolished Leonard Berstein's America in his previous band The Nice. Perhaps because of having Greg Lake's input this was more tastefully done and became a hit single even though the BBC banned it.

Although the record follows the configuration of their 1971 Tarkus album, Brain Salad Surgery is much more to form musically and includes the now compulsory Greg Lake acoustic ballad and light hearted R&B / ragtime rave up.

Overblown? Pretentious ? Bombastic ? OK. Brain Salad Surgery was a defining progrock album from the movement's glory years and certainly ELP's last great album as a band and arguably their masterwork, although some afficionados would argue in favour of Tarkus. Some leftover material from the Brain Salad Surgery sessions can be heard on 1978's Works Vol. 2 while most of the album can be heard in all it's progrock splendour on the Welcome Back My Friends Live blowout from 1974.

Report this review (#404620)
Posted Monday, February 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
1 stars 1/10

There is something wrong when you admire most in the album is its cover, and nothing more.

Excuse me, I tried but could not. Emerson, Lake and Palmer are not for me. From what I've heard in the progressive rock, these are the worst group of all. Pompous, arrogant and cold. There is no hint of emotion in his music - just technical proficiency. What will it show your skills if the music does not reach the heart of the listener?

And the music is awful. I repeat: AWFUL! Emerson should be the most annoying keyboard I've ever heard. I have nothing against the Moog synthesizer, but the way it is used here in Brain Salad Surgery unnerves me! And there are still people who dare to compare it with Rick Wakeman. Logically, this beats! I am also unable to support Lake singing, because in my opinion the only place where he had a decent song was In The Court of Crimson King - luckily he is skilled in the work of guitar and bass. And Palmer is a good drummer, but not equal Bruford, Collins or White. His style sometimes reflects the pomposity of the band, as evidenced by Toccata - and this I think is not good.

These men could fail to be less technical and inject the least emotion or character in their music. Somehow they tried to do homage to classical composers (Karn Evil), but these must be turning in his grave with tremendous undone! 1 star!

Report this review (#414306)
Posted Thursday, March 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars Brain Salad Surgery is a borderline decent album in my opinion. ELP are definitely very talented and well respected musicians, but this is the album where they started to become ultra-pretentious. After the opening, "Jerusalem", I pretty much knew what was expected. It's a very imperial sounding opening, but not much more. "Toccata" is a loosely classical-inspired jumble of loosely organized noise. I always found this to be abrasive and unimportant. "Benny the Bouncer" is blues-ragtime goofery and only serves as being completely annoying.

But then the record starts to get much better, but not great. "Karn Evil 9" as a whole features tight musicianship as you'd expect from such a band and ELP. There are some fantastic catchy moments here, but they are few and few between some purposeless and random instrumental passages that don't fit at all. Pretentious at its core, but still progressive with undeniably great musicianship. Most people seem to enjoy this, but I definitely don't. This one if for hardcore ELP fans only, in my opinion.

Report this review (#431145)
Posted Monday, April 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Brain Salad Surgery ? 1974 (3/5) 10 ? Best Song: Still You Turn Me On? This was originally the centerpiece of the band's legacy. Me, I can see that, I can also see that sometimes abusing drugs is a socially acceptable activity. This is the centerpiece of just exactly why Emerson, Lake, and Palmer are one star artists and Jethro Tull are four star artists. Have you heard 'Toccata' recently? It sounds like a [%*!#]ing precursor to the goddamn Star Wars space battles, only replace all the instruments with warped celestial robot synths that sap the spirit out of everything they touch...just like the dark side! This is sprawling excess of the most poisonous variety. That is, when they're forcing complexity and classicism down your throat. When they're doing soft- scale grading lover pop, like with 'Still You Turn me On', then you can sit back and enjoy the tasteful nature of Gregory Pond's vocals. I haven't said he's me second or third favorite prog rock vocalist for nothing. Know what sucks, though? 'Benny the Bouncer'. Oh god, what were these [%*!#]ers thinking? They were thinking 'as long as we slap a big sidelong epic finale to the thing, nobody will give a good god damn what we put in the middle. That's where Benny the Bouncer comes from, and gosh is it rotten hog[&*!#] of a ragtime tune. That epic, though?Karn Evil 9 (did they really do eight more? If so, I want out of this picture, mac) is something else. It's a half-hour of music, and no it ain't no Thick as a Brick. It ain't even no Passion Play. For one, these guys like to jam out, but they also like forgetting their melody lunchboxes at home. Hey, at least it's better than 2112. Tee hee.
Report this review (#441637)
Posted Monday, May 2, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Many negative reviews of Brain Salad Surgery characterise it as the album where Emerson, Lake and Palmer went too far. I would disagree: for me, it's the album where they didn't go anywhere at all. Whilst most of the other major prog bands who had debuted in 1970 or before had continued to advance and develop and, in the case of King Crimson, completely reinvent their sound, here ELP seem to me to get complacent, essentially following the Tarkus/Trilogy playbook and turning the volume up a bit.

There's an epic track which doesn't even pretend to hang together as a single coherent piece (unlike the masterful Tarkus). There's a jazzy bit, this time crammed incongruously into the middle of Karn Evil 9, to the point where I almost wonder whether it was mis- sequenced there by a bumbling studio engineer and the band decided to declare it the second part of Karn Evil 9 rather than change up the running order. There's a Greg Lake ballad, which is horrendously oversaccharine and sappy and has some of the worst lyrics I've ever heard - "someone get me a ladder", Greg? Are you serious? - and of course there's a couple of classical adaptations in Keith Emerson's usual style, though by this point Keith's method of adapting classical pieces to rock group formats which had been so fresh and novel in The Nice and in the early ELP albums had already begun to seem forced and stale.

In short, this is an album which follows the ELP playbook to the letter and ticks all the boxes without taking any serious risks beyond throwing in a song that's longer than the length of a side, and since (like I said) the three parts of that song aren't really connected and could happily have stood on their own as individual tracks this was completely pointless and unnecessary - a stab at creating another epic purely for the sake of throwing in an epic, but without any of the actual effort involved in producing a coherent 20 minute song.

Whilst Yes were taking genuine risks in making Tales From Topographic Oceans, in a year that King Crimson adopted a completely new and startlingly different sound on Larks' Tongues In Aspic and Genesis brought their pastoral style to its brilliant fruition, at a point when Gentle Giant were masterfully adapting to the departure of their sax player and Pink Floyd were conquering the world with The Dark Side of the Moon, ELP to me seem to be the major band who are the odd men out - the one unit who, rather than growing and changing and developing their sound, were simply riding the prog bandwagon and complacently churning out crap. Brain Salad Surgery sounds like the out-takes from Tarkus and Trilogy, ideas which wouldn't have cut the mustard on those albums but were considered good enough to foist on the listening public in 1973, despite the fact that they still weren't ready for human consumption. There are so many points where just a bit of thought and polishing could have salvaged a composition or song that it makes me angry just thinking about them.

In short, where many see ELP's peak, I see only the beginning of the end, the moment the band project stopped being an experiment and started being a formula. The consequences of such a change in approach - from innovation to simply crafting a product to tick off the boxes on a checklist - would be fatal both for the band and for the original 1970s prog scene. I am full of love for ELP's debut album and the title track from Tarkus, but this album - this is where the rot set in, and it's what made them deserve the critical backlash that followed.

(2022 update: OK, for a while I'd left this review on the lowest rating for the sake of making a point, but on balance I was probably overstating the issue. I still stand by most of what I said about - this just isn't as tightly composed as Tarkus, and there's way too much in the way of showboating or novelty gimmicks, but I can't deny that there's many sections of the album which are enduringly memorable... but still, the material comes across much better on the ensuing live album, Welcome Back My Friends, than on here, and I still think you can draw a direct line from the messy nature of this album to the band's unravelling in the latter half of the 1970s.)

Report this review (#509071)
Posted Thursday, August 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Almost perfect

Donned with one of the most memorable and scary album sleeves in prog history, Emerson, Lake & Palmer's 'Brain Salad Surgery' remains a classic in the band's catalogue. More bombastic, more absurd and on the whole just a lot MORE, ELP were striving to create an album that wouldn't be forgotten. $ The album starts with an old English classic Jerusalem. Speaking as a British person, I've always found the lyrics of this song quite hilarious, as it ponders weather Jesus came to England and built a new Jerusalem. Great stuff! Whilst Emerson and Palmer do the best they can to spice up the track with keyboards and drums respectively, this remains one of the drier tracks on the album.

Toccata is a rollercoaster instrumental based on Alberto Ginastera's 1st Piano Concerto. This is undoubtedly the best instrumental the band ever did. The first 3 minutes of the track are filled with dramatic, exciting musical themes, with great sound production. After 3 minutes, only the drums are left, and the rest of the song is percussion based, with Emerson and Lake only giving a hand here and there, until the main theme is repeated at the end. First class music.

Sometimes cited as the most cringeworthy song in prog history, Still... You Turn Me On definitely induces just a few mental cramps. If you hadn't guessed from the title, this is Lake's attempt at a cheesy love ballad. However, the lyrics aren't just cheesy, they're downright awful! Who can forget the words, 'Every day a little sadder, a little madder, someone get me a ladder!'? In actual fact, I believe Lake purposely wrote hilariously bad lyrics, leading me to regard this as a fun piece after all.

Benny the Bouncer is the second ballad on the album. Like Jeremy Bender from 'Tarkus' and The Sheriff from 'Trilogy', this is the comedic track on the album. Not really prog, but this is a delightful and accessible track to enjoy with a funny story line.

At this point, we're only 15 minutes into the album, but we have just one 'song' to go. The piece in question is Karn Evil 9 a track so long that it had to be split over the two sides of the album originally. In actual fact, this piece is just under half an hour in length, leading one to believe this might be one of the all time great progressive rock tracks. Sadly, this is not the case as the track is split into three 'impressions', all of which share nothing in common. I personally believe the band would have been better off just calling the first track Karn Evil 9, and giving the other two their own name. Rather than having three excellent tracks, we are left with a slightly underwhelming suite. A whole should equal more than the sum of it's parts, but here it feels like less. However, this 30-minute behemoth can still be enjoyed.

The 1st Impression is the most enjoyable, but even this feels like 2 songs joined together! This is a very intricate, complex, dark, progressive track, and quite dense in it's structure, with no time to breathe at all! The first part of the song has a chorus with the lyrics 'I'll Be There', and this is how I've come to know that part of the song. Surprisingly enough, this is actually my favourite part of the whole suite. After the first part is done, we move into the apocalyptic carnival (Karn Evil geddit?) part that most people remember and enjoy. On the vinyl LP, this was split over the two sides of the record, and the second side opened with the immortal words 'Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends...', a phrase that has become synonymous with ELP. This is truly a bombastic, progressive piece that only the trio of Emerson, Lake and Palmer could create, and is one of their best songs.

The 2nd Impression is essentially a jazzy instrumental, which links the first and third impressions. Sadly, this instrumental contains no musical themes from either of the other impressions, making the suite feel incohesive. There's a spooky section towards the end, and it's great to hear what atmospheres the band can create within one track.

The 3rd Impression is a completely different matter. This 9 minute track is a futuristic tale of struggle between man and machine. There is essentially two bouts of lyrics seperated by a monster 5 minute instrumental, which is again very dense and intricate. There's a couple of parts in this instrumental that remind me of film music, especially Star Wars and The Wizard of Oz. The suite ends with a strange effect that gets faster until stopping completely.

This isn't the best prog album around, but it's a bloody memorable one. The worst thing about this album is definitely the joining of the three 'impressions' to make one incohesive suite. It's strange to think that if they had been seperate tracks, I might have given this 5 stars. A suite should really feel like a whole, and that's why I cannot rate this as a masterpiece. Nevertheless, this an astonishing classic album, and certainly worth your time.

Report this review (#544128)
Posted Thursday, October 6, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars For the sake of reviewing this much celebrated ELP album, which I have known since from around the time I got into prog, I listened to it a few times again. And found myself liking it a lot less than I used to. Today, when I eventually got down to write the review after a gap, I find my impressions continue to be similar. So, that's how it will be then. I confess that while I like Brain Salad Surgery and think it is a good album, I would personally no longer rank it essential listening.

The music on this album seems to be quite apt as a soundtrack for a science fi-fantasy or comic superhero flick. It then depends on you how much you warm up to that idea. Me: not very much at all. Quite frankly, this is a niche within rock music that I don't really dig and as such am not very receptive to fantasy in rock music. I make my exceptions and to that extent am guilty as charged of hypocrisy. But then, I guess music appreciation is about one's tastes and perceptions. At the end of the day, I am not quite so fond of how ELP specifically do it.

A good example of this is Toccata, based on the fourth movement of Alberto Ginastera's 1st Piano Concerto. Independent of the original composition, this is actually my favourite track off the album. It's very interesting to hear ELP grapple with dissonance in a piece of relatively loose organization. But it's not THEIR composition and is quite faithful to Ginastera's so far as the musical passages performed are concerned. Not so faithful is their interpretation. I find Ginastera's composition quite spine chilling while the ELP adaptation has the aforesaid superhero flick soundtrack quality. At the most it induces a chuckle or two from me and that's it. It is the flow and direction of the music, rather than the mood it evokes, that keeps me hooked.

My favourite passage of music off this album, though, is Karn Evil 09 1st Impression Pts 1 and 2. ELP mount a rollicking "show that never ends" as the music moves at breakneck pace, in terms of both tempo and development. I am not so keen on that guitar solo or as such on any of the melodies in the said tracks but am all ears as far as the arrangements go. Greg Lake's style of singing is very appropriate for this kind of track and gives it a kind of macho appeal that is more associated with rock than prog. At this point, the marriage of rock and prog seems perfect.

But the 2nd and 3rd Impressions seriously mar my overall, um, impressions of the epic. Standalone, the 2nd Impression is entertaining but presents precious little progress from where we left off in the 1st and feels redundant. The 3rd Impression has some very interesting moments but overall most strongly evokes the superhero flick feeling for any track in the album. If I said it reminded me of the music that accompanied B-grade Bollywood action flicks from the 70s or 80s, that might put my dislike for the 3rd Impression into perspective.

That leaves us with a trio of short tracks. Benny and the Bouncer is okay but doesn't really gel with the rest of the album and feels like a throwaway. Jerusalem is more sincere to the original but this time, I am not so keen on the original to begin with. Nice but not very memorable in my opinion. Still...You Turn Me On makes the strongest impression of the short tracks. But I am essentially looking at 17 minutes of music I enjoy without any reservations and 7 or so for which my appreciation is qualified, out of a total 45 minutes of music. My rating as far as my personal enjoyment goes is then easily explained.

But what about the influence and importance of this album and its place in ELP's discography? For a better appreciation of ELP, I would recommend their first two albums rather than Brain Salad Surgery. The more controversial question is how representative is it of what a proghead likes in his music. Well, seeing as no two progheads can agree on what is prog (!), that depends on what YOU like in your music. If you look for dazzling technical virtuosity and tons of energy in your prog, you won't be disappointed. But if you regard prog as music that unfolds and explores interesting musical possibilities for rock music, my recommendation to you would be much more reserved. In fact, if as a listener, you are more interested in the compositional aspects of music rather than performance, I'd not recommend this as an album to start your prog journey with and rather suggest the most loved albums of either Genesis or Yes.

Thus, in spite of its immense popularity in prog circles and its place among the top ELP albums, I give it three stars.

Report this review (#596352)
Posted Monday, December 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars One of the most overrated prog albums ever... Toccata is great, even the 1st and 3rd track are fine, but 30 minutes long Karn Evil 9 is hardly listenable for me, too much cheesy melodies and overall bombastic climax of this track give me a headache. Not so far from the feeling a have when I hear Queen or most of modern prog rock / metal bands like Dream Theater.

This band was on its peak on first two albums (hmm i havent heard Pictures...), they had great raw acoustic sound, after that they went downhill because of making their music too much over-the-top and epic (in the the bad way... the way Queen is epic for example).

I dont care about Benny The Bouncer, they have a track like this on every release except the self-titled debut.

Report this review (#614658)
Posted Saturday, January 21, 2012 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars The last true ELP album before the fall. Even if I love Works, I have to admit that Brain Salad Surgery is the last meaningful and "progressive" thing that the trio has done.

First of all a bit of trivia: The album's title is inspired to fellatio, and if you look carefully you can see the hidden shape of a penis below the mouth on the sleeve design of that Mr. Ginger who has drown the ambient and the monsters of Alien.

The structure of the album is quite similar to that of Tarkus with one difference: the side- long epic starts on side A as it was really too long for a vinyl.

The album is opened by "Jerusalem". It's a religious Anglican anthem with lyrics of William Blake which has been proposed also by Vangelis on Chariots of Fire and later by Par Lindh project, even if in that case we can speak of a "cover" as it's almost identical to the ELP version, apart for the singer who's not at Lake's level. (A lack of Lake....nice joke).

The "Toccata" is the arrangement of a theme from a contemporary Argentinian composer, Alberto Evaristo Ginastera (1916-1983) who was happy enough of the result as on the internal sleeve is present his comment.

The Lake's acoustic ballad is "Still.. You Turn Me On". It has the role of songs like Lucky Man or From The Beginning on the previous albums. It's one of the highlights for me, as I'm a fan of Lake's vocals and it's still progressive enough. Nothing to do with most of his side on Works.

Instead of the poor "Are You Ready Eddie?" or the outplaced "The Sheriff" we have "Benny The Bouncer" that's a nice short rock and roll song and then....the epic.

"Karn Evil #9" with the joke with "Carnival" is a very complex song. Somebody has written that it's a disconnected sequence of different things, but I honestly feel it like a unique thing. At least there are no sudden transitions and in any case all the pieces of the patchwork are very good and in line with the best of the trio. In the CD releases it's more evident as the suite can stay "all together into a single track instead of being split between the two sides of the vinyl. Also if you consider that this epic has been played live for a number of years, even during the last tours of the trio, it means that ELP still believe in this track.

"Welcome back my friends...."

Report this review (#763353)
Posted Monday, June 4, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars In late 1973, ELP put out their greatest achievement. This may not be their best album, but this was their peak in terms of creativity and commercial success. This is either my second or third favourite ELP album.

Jerusalem: The opener which is take on the English Anthem by Hubert Parry and William Blake. It has the opener, bombast, and thematic quality an Anthem should have. It is a great proclamation of England, even though the BBC banned it as a single.

Toccata: A song with an interesting history. This is an Adaptation of Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera's 1st piano Concerto, 4th movement. The composer's estate did not want the song on the album. In a fit of desperation, Emerson flew to Alberto and the played the song to his face and he loved it. On the lyric sheet, it contains the quote from Ginastera "Keith Emerson has beautifully caught the mood of my piece". It is a fantastic song with great Synth, Bass and Drum jamming, a trademark of ELP, and contains the first known electric drum solo by Carl Palmer. One of my favourites on this album.

Still...You Turn Me On: Greg Lake's ballad for the album. This became a trademark of ELP and this song is on exception to how good Greg was on the acoustic guitar. This song is one of the more defining moments of Lake's career, along with Lucky Man, and became a successful single in America.

Benny the Bouncer: The Sheriff has made a comeback! Haha, just kidding, this is another ragtime piece from Keith and is still pretty good, despite being the black sheep on the album.

Karn Evil 9: The showcase center piece of the album and, quite possibly, ELP's career. I do not believe that they did anything more bombastic, epic, crazy, excellent, or any other kind of synonym after this. This is the crowning achievement of the band, in my humble opinion. It occupies not just Side 2, as most other bands would do, it spills onto Side 1 as well. Even in its almost half-hour time frame, it does not overstay its welcome, crazy right? The 1st Impression is ultimately catchy with the organ/synth dueling Emerson does the whole song, Greg at his best musically and vocally and Carl just pummeling out the drums. The 2nd and 3rd are just as good and is the show stealer of the album, almost eclipsing the other tracks.

Overall, This is a must-have for ELP fans and Prog fans. Regardless of if you like it or not, you cannot deny the power, and premise this album had on ELP and music scene of the time. 5 Stars. Highlights: Jerusalem, Toccata, Still...You Turn Me On, and Karn Evil 9

Report this review (#833837)
Posted Saturday, October 6, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'm surprised that this album isn't as highly rated on this website as it seems to be in other places. Nevertheless, I believe that it truly deserves five stars.

Containing one of the best (if not the best) keyboard solo in prog rock history, "Brain Salad Surgery" is an energetic roller coaster ride full of classical influence, soaring synthesizers, complex melodies, and rocking riffs that'll ravage your ear drums. Opening with an old English melody, "Jerusalem" proves to be a gallant song that in my opinion aught to be the U.K.'s national anthem. "Toccata" then comes in to slap your face with electronically enhanced drums and Keith Emerson seizing on a bed of keyboards. But it's not unlike Pictures at an Exhibition as far as bringing classics back to life with new vigor and the use of newer technology. This is also very prevalent in the epic "Karn Evil 9", which spans across both sides of the LP. "Still . . . You Turn Me On" and "Benny the Bouncer" are not the highlights of the album, but without them I think the album would be too overbearing with all the complex classical passages. These two songs are a break from the chaos to merely have fun for a while, before the evil begins.

"Karn Evil 9" clocks in at just under 30 minutes and vigorously gives us plenty to listen to. The first movement serves as the rock anthem of the album (there's our keyboard solo). Movement two bridges the other two with excellent keyboard work and a lighter mood so as not to deafen the listener entirely. The third and final movement, which is about robots and man or something like that, is a well-crafted, brilliantly executed climactic finale to the "Surgery" as it were. No, it isn't a concept album.

In retrospect, I believe this album deserves a higher spot on our polls due to its pure prog rock energy and memorable solos/melodies. But this is just one man's opinion.

Report this review (#873818)
Posted Saturday, December 8, 2012 | Review Permalink
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

Report this review (#900031)
Posted Saturday, January 26, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Apparently you either love this album, or hate it. Either way, you can't ignore it.

This is arguably the best ELP album. Some say that Trilogy is better. Personally, I think they are different, and I like both about equally. But there is something about this album that has stayed with me through the years. The only song on here that I haven't really ever loved is Karn Eval 9, 2nd Impression. Outside of that one, this album, IMO, is flawless.

Jerusalem is agreat way to start the album. The fanfare of Emerson's keyboards introducing the band and the music is absolutely enthralling. Toccatta is an aural assault upon your ears. Still...You Turn Me On is a classic Lake tune with a beautiful arrangment. Benny the Bouncer is a bubbly little rocker with its tongue firmly planted in cheak. Then we hit two of the high points in ELP history.

Karn Eval 9, 1st Impression, is absolutely incredible. And Karn Eval 9, 3rd Impression, is an early take on machine versus Man, and who is destined to rule the galaxy. Both of these songs hit hard and hit often.

I always go back to this album when I want to listed to ELP after a prolonged break. Don't miss out on this absolute classic of progressive rock.

Report this review (#901184)
Posted Monday, January 28, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Brain Salad Surgery" is the absolute apogee of ELP for me. All of their past albums were good, but in my mind they don't at all meet up to this standard. Whilst the album lacks some "true" experimentalism heard on tracks such as "Take A Pebble", I love the over-indulgence of this work, but still maintaining the unbelievable talents of Keith, Greg, and Carl; 3 progressive virtuosos all playing together as a unit to create some mind-blowing music. Hence, "Brain Salad Surgery" would definitely be in my top 10 albums of all time.

The album begins oddly with a rendition of the Hubert Parry's hymn "Jerusalem". They really adapt it and mould it into their own styles - immediately introducing such grandiose and atmosphere onto a superbly pretentious work. Some great melodies are added by Keith Emerson on here (the album containing his best playing in my opinion), with a brilliant delivery from Greg Lake and Carl Palmer's never-failing percussion. As the liner notes rightly say, the song is better the louder you play it. "Toccata", another cover (this time taken from Alberto Ginastera) is much more eccentric and progressive than any of the tracks. If you ever want to hear the ultimate talents of ELP, I would without a doubt recommend this. The time signatures, the dynamics, the very intricate passages, somehow delivered with a lot of personality coming from the artists. Seeing as Keith Emerson was only requested permission by Alberto to use this song by flying out to Switzerland, I'm so glad he did! They say prog rock bands don't consider the audience but I felt he truly did here, and I couldn't imagine the album without it!

"Still You Turn Me On..." abruptly interrupts the chaotic "Toccata" with its subtle guitar arpeggios played in drop D tuning, one of Greg's sort of trademarks I guess. Another excellent inclusion of Greg Lake's songwriting abilities, often forgotten on such musically immense works, but astonishing. The song is amazing when you let it roll over you - the basic melodies, lyrics, and keyboard licks (for ELP at least). Probably the most flowing acoustic Lake piece, as whilst "From The Beginning" is more sonically interesting, it doesn't flow at all as beautifully as this. Nothing quite like it really. "Benny The Bouncer" is again another genre ELP like to explore - humorous, short honky-tonk stories narrated by Greg that capture (me) instantly. Easily my favourite of these sorts of songs, and just shows off the versatility of the band terrifically. The imagery is tip-top, and the stuff they can do with a basic blues chord sequence is staggering! For me, the track is key to the album, acting as a prelude to one of the greatest prog epics of all time! :P

"Karn Evil 9" is undoubtedly very sophisticated musically, putting Keith Emerson more in the limelight than the others (notably in that astounding "2nd Impression"), although Greg and Carl definitely have their moments throughout. The rhythms, time signatures and chord progressions are so majestic and refined to produce a signature sound, and the lyrics add some light-heartedness to the otherwise overly-serious track. The amount of melodies, both on the keyboards and vocally are phenomenal. They all string in with each other, despite the numerous complexities that keep you even MORE hooked and allows you to experience the great qualities of the track. All of this makes that half an hour vanish in about 10 minutes, even though there is a potential of about an hour's worth material in there. They still manage to play out and indulge more into each key section of the piece; hence creating a LOT of incredible solos. The track(s) work much better live than any other album, as shown in the footage of "The California Jam" where they managed to reach "top spot", mainly due to this astronomical prog monster, astonishing the minds of an audience of 1 million! To my ears, still sounds very ahead of its time, and displays some of the greatest music ever written by 3 of the greatest minds in the world of music: Emerson, Lake & Palmer.

A+: More than a masterpiece to me - some kind of historical artefact that overwhelms me like nothing else in the world.

Jerusalem: **** Toccata: ***** Still... You Turn Me On: ***** Benny The Bouncer: ***** Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression, Pt. 1: ***** Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression, Pt. 2: ***** Karn Evil 9: 2nd Impression: ***** Karn Evil 9: 3rd Impression: *****

Report this review (#984622)
Posted Sunday, June 23, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars The fantastic trio "Emerson, Lake & Palmer"'s fourth studio album was 1973's "Brain Salad Surgery" which I now have listened to some times, enjoyed and been marveled about alternately. 1973 these three rockers were progressive mega stars and this is a very interesting record. The cover us quite dark and dystopic and the record elapsing time is longer than usual LPs, that is great.

Brain Salad Surgery is in every way exactly as well played and perhaps more advanced and crazy than Emerson, Lake & Palmer's earlier works. How much the listener appreciate these crazy and enormous compositions will of course vary.This band resides in the difuse border lands between classical music and rock. This is absilutely no easy music and it's fantastic how ELP could make music so intriguing.

"Jerusalem" is a short but powrful starter with so powerful main themes played some times and great vocals from Lake(10/10). That song besides most of the "Karn Evil 9 suite" is what make this record so good. "Karn Evil 9 - 1st impression" is pure beauty for the ears. Here, ELP is very symphonic and the band shows it's virtuosity all the time in every member and instrument(10/10). The last part of Karn Evil is too shimmering. We take part in big musical discoveries and how great it is!(10/10). Karn Evil 9's second impression is dominated of classical piano and it's very nice(8/10) and "Toccata" is an experimental variation of very old themes. Here the band doesn't appologize for anything(8/10). "Still...You turn me on" is the most popular o sounding song here and Lake sings just great(8/10). "Benny the bouncer" is very short but it is a disappointment, the only almost boring song on the record(6/10).

This album is near a masterwork and bitwise the band performs amongst its best efforts - when Emerson's keyboards scream out its joy and Palmer's drums refure to obay anything and they are as symphonic they can be. But some times they here are too much, even for me, and a couple of songs are, on the other hand, to simple. This record is worth at least four stars and it is what I will give it. Four stars!

Report this review (#1132830)
Posted Sunday, February 16, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars ELP's Brain Salad Surgery is an essential album in any progressive rock collection. This is a fact. No opinion can change it. I can't believe some of the negative responses. Are you kidding me? ELP was a band that did what they were good at and made no apologies. They went straight for the throat. BSS is the culmination of all of their aspirations. Big, bombastic, self indulgent, daring etc. all of these in full force here. This is the pure definition of prog. Ignoring all of the boundaries and just going for it.

The album starts off with Jerusalem. A traditional English hymn trumpeting out in an explosive fanfare here. Awesome and very powerful.

Next up is Tocatta. Based on the Fourth Movement of Alberto Ginastera's 1st Piano Concerto on the Fourth Movement of Alberto Ginastera's 1st Piano Concerto. A masterpiece in itself. I used to use this song to test my new stereo equipment. It had al the highs and lows, the soft and the hard.

Still You Turn Me On. Probably the best of all of Greg Lake's ballads.

Benny The Bouncer. Just pure fun. Hilarious lyrics make up this piece of comic relief. Still the excellent musicianship is evident.

Next is The Karn Evil 9 Suite. A technical masterpiece full of the technical mastery ELP are known for with the lyrics of the great Peter Sinfield. I don't really know what else to say about it other than they don't hold back at all and the music benefits from it.

Like I said earlier, this is essential in a prog collection. Not having this would be like not having The Sex Pistols or the Ramones first album in your punk collection. Like having a Beatles collection minus Sergeant Peppers. Like having a metal collection without Black Sabbath's Paranoid etc.....

Report this review (#1396219)
Posted Friday, April 10, 2015 | Review Permalink
5 stars Review Nº 36

The three musicians that constitute the super-group Emerson, Lake & Palmer came from three established bands, before they have joined together. Keith Emerson (keyboards) came from The Nice, Greg Lake (vocals, guitars and bass guitar) came from King Crimson and Carl Palmer (drums and percussion) came from the Atomic Rooster. This is a super band that explores the maximum capabilities of their performers and of their music.

This is my third review of an album of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. However, this is only my second review of a studio album from the band. Their fourth studio album "Brain Salad Surgery" released in 1973 and their eponymous debut studio album "Emerson, Lake & Palmer" released in 1970, already reviewed by me, are, in my humble opinion, their two best studio albums and they are also both, my favourites studio works of the group.

"Brain Salad Surgery" became, without any kind of doubt, the most famous studio album from the band. The lyrics were co-written by Lake and Peter Sinfield, the ex-King Crimson band member. Sinfield was also the creator of the King Crimson's concept and he was also the only lyricist in their first four albums. Lake, of course had worked with Sinfield during his days with King Crimson. "Brain Salad Surgery" was also the first album imprinted by the band, under their new record label, the Manticore Records.

"Brain Salad Surgery" is an album with five themes divided into eight tracks. The first track "Jerusalem" is a classical British church hymn, with which the English people are much familiarized since their school days. It's the band's musical arrangement of the Charles Hubert Parry's hymn, based on the prologue of William's Blake's poem "Milton". It was the only single taken from the album, but it wasn't released in the UK because it was banned by the BBC for potential blasphemy. It might offend their listeners, and so, the BBC said they wouldn't play it on the air. It's really a great version of the original piece. The second track "Toccata" is an instrumental track based on the fourth movement of Alberto Ginastera's "1st Piano Concert", which is a modern classical piece of music created by a famed Argentinean composer, and rearranged by Keith Emerson. It's another great musical interpretation by the band. The third track "Still?You Turn Me On" is the album's obligatory acoustic number. It's another Lake's classic acoustic ballad in the vein of "Lucky Man" and "From The Beginning". It's one of the Lake's best ballads and proved to be a big radio hit in the USA. The fourth track "Benny The Bouncer" is another comedic rocker song on the same mould of "Are You Ready Eddie?" and "Jeremy Bender/The Sheriff" and was written by Emerson, Lake and Sinfield. It's hardly considered a great song, but it indicates some of their musical influences and demonstrates that they aren't properly frightened to attempt something more vulgar. The fifth track "Karn Evil 9" closes the album with its magnum opus. It's divided into three movements or impressions, and the first is also divided into two parts. Despite the lyrics being co-written by Lake and Sinfield, "Karn Evil 9" is an epic created by Emerson. "Karn Evil 9" is definitely the piece that marked the highest point into their musical career and in the group's history. With it, they reached the peak of the fame. Their only piece that can be compared with it, it's the suite "Tarkus", from their second studio album "Tarkus" released in 1971.

The cover art of the album was created by Hans Rudolf "Ruedi" Giger. Giger's artwork integrates an industrial mechanism with a human skull and the new ELP's logo was also created by him. Giger's ELP logo, became a standard for the band and has been used extensively, since that moment. Giger is a Swiss surrealistic painter, sculptor and set designer, who is better known for his design work on the science fiction film "Alien" directed by Ridley Scott in 1979.

Conclusion: Despite "Emerson, Lake & Palmer" be considered by many as the best musical work of the group, "Brain Salad Surgery" is undoubtedly, in my humble opinion, the band's creative zenith. The sound quality of the album is absolutely stunning. The group employed the most advanced electronic technology available in that time, and the whole album represented the highest point that the trio would never achieved again. "Brain Salad Surgery" was the ELP's crowning artistic moment, and whether we like it or not, it remains one of the band's most important recordings and one of the best rock albums of all time, made by one of the greatest bands ever, but so often misunderstood. "Brain Salad Surgery" can probably be easily considered the best Emerson, Lake & Palmer album. Every song on it, has something enjoyable and sincerely, it doesn't seem that any track is really filler. However, as I wrote before, "Karn Evil 9" is definitely its real jewel. With "Brain Salad Surgery", the group achieved such high point into their musical career that only few have achieved. I strongly recommend it to whom that is a real fan of the progressive rock music.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Report this review (#1490074)
Posted Friday, November 20, 2015 | Review Permalink
3 stars Hello there, plastic-bombastic!

Brain Salad Surgery is arguably one of progressive rock's most controversial albums. A few titles and artworks were denied, settling on this one, still with a dirty subtext, though less visible.

This is widely known as ELP's last true progressive rock album. Without a doubt, it is. However, the progressive factor seems to get out of control at times. Huge, powerful passages are simply all over the top. In places, this work gives the listener a feeling as if being approached by the armadillo-tank from the cover of Tarkus. It's obviously worth appreciation, but sometimes makes the album simply unpleasant. The breathtaking factor of Emerson Lake & Palmer's debut and sophomore (and "Pictures From An Exhibition") albums is clearly overshaded by the "size" that music grows to. Perhaps ELP had just a little too big of a brainstorm overload. However, Carl Palmer considers "Brain Salad Surgery" group's most accomplished work and recalls it was a pure joy to work on.

That is not to say that it does not have a potential. "Jerusalem" is a traditional English liturgical song. Quite predictable, but very enjoyable. "Toccata" is a quintessence of what I talked about in the previous paragraph. Synthesizers are getting all over one's head. Personally, I like the introduction of interesting percussion and the dissonant melody, but the drum synth appearing at the beggining of the 5th minute is just too much and makes me want to skip the track. "Still You Turn Me On" is a great acoustic piece kept in a very Jethro Tull-esque mood. Inventive, not too harsh on the listener, inspired and well played. In case of the "Benny The Bouncer", the bombastic factor seems to finally be working. It is a very comedic tune, again quite British with a strain of ragtime/boogie-woogie fashion and incredible drumming. Greg Lake's voice goes from gentle to "burnt by whiskey" type of timbre. "Karn 9 Evil" features many allusions to their much greater "Tarkus". In my opinion, this one doesn't bring anything new to the game other than just being your another multimovement suite. The 2nd part of the "1st impression" is sort of unbearable for me. This one shows the musical bourge element that ELP started having right around this period. "2nd impression" is possibly the best of all, strongly influenced by jazz, it features a Dave Brubeck-like soft, smooth melody. 3rd movement is another huge-feeling track, but quite interesting. Characterised by a nice theme passage with a good idea being transformed in many different ways for the best result. It also features a nice jazzy jam.

All in all, this album is something that every ELP fan should have, but something that newcommers should avoid. This is not a good way to start your adventure with prog rock. If you are an expirienced progressive rock listener, you will be able to appreciate many different factors of "Brain Salad Surgery", which lie burried in a garden of overabundance of sounds and moods on this album. 3.33 stars!

Report this review (#1547517)
Posted Sunday, April 3, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars REVIEW #8 - "Brain Salad Surgery" by Emerson, Lake, & Palmer (1973). 06/12/2018

Prog's most illustrious super-group ELP had an insane run from 1971 to 1973. Made up of the Nice keyboardist Keith Emerson, King Crimson bassist/vocalist Greg Lake, and Atomic Rooster drummer Carl Palmer, the band's first four albums are considered seminal works of progressive music. This period is considered to be the band's heyday, as all of their subsequent releases either fell flat or were miserable flops. Their final great offering is considered to be 1973's "Brain Salad Surgery", released on the band's own record label Manticore, although others have pointed to albums such as their eponymous debut, "Trilogy", or "Tarkus" as their finest album.

With all of their albums having charted, ELP was at the top of their game going into the recording of this album. There is no argument as to whether the trio were talented musicians; Emerson is considered to be the greatest keyboardist in the genre's history, Lake's impeccable and dynamic voice made up for his uninspiring bass work, and Palmer's voracious drumming style provided an edge to the group's music. Even without a guitarist, ELP managed to captivate rock fans around the world, going as far as to headline the 1974 California Jam which featured some of the most successful and mainstream rock bands that music had to offer at the time. Using top of the line recording techniques, the production of ELP albums such as "Brain Salad Surgery" is wonderful, allowing the listener to truly indulge in the band's oft-pretentious expanded instrumentals and epics. Similar to Yes's "Tales of Topographic Oceans" album released the same year, "Brain Salad Surgery" is considered to be the epitome of progressive elitism, even though this album definitely wears better on the ears than "Tales" mainly because it isn't a double LP.

ELP opens up the album with a thunderous reworking of Hubert Perry's "Jerusalem", which is a musical arrangement around William Blake's 1804 poem "And did those feet in ancient time" that is considered to be an unofficial anthem of England. With Emerson utilizing the brand new Moog Apollo synthesizer, the end result is a glorious opening to the album. It was released as a single in the band's native UK, which was promptly banned by the British government from being played on the radio and therefore did not chart. "Jerusalem" was not banned or looked upon negatively by the British at the time, but since it was a hymn and a rock band had covered it, the British public immediately assumed that ELP had "bastardized" the tune. Carl Palmer lamented on the censorship by proclaiming that the English had not listened to the tune, and simply had banned it out of spite. Nevertheless this is a really unique and grandiose cover which in my opinion gives the hymn justice, but I'm not English so maybe I'm missing something here. This is followed up by another cover, this time a reworking of Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera's 1st Piano Concerto, 4th Movement arranged by both Emerson and Palmer. Unlike the Hymn, Ginastera praised the band's cover of his work, titled "Toccata", hardly ten seconds after Emerson had presented the song to him for his approval. This is a much more abstract and experimental piece, and has warranted a bit of criticism from the prog community. Surely this is not as commercially viable or lyrical as "Jerusalem" but the band really flexes their muscle on this one, most notably working across a dynamic range to produce a rather dark sounding piece of music which fools around with range similar to Crimson's "Devil's Triangle" suite. I immediately noticed the harsh effect of Palmer's drums to back up the hyperactive keyboard virtuosity by Emerson; this song really serves as a solo piece for both men. While I would normally discredit a song like this as being boring or uninspiring, there really is a lot of music to soak up here for a listener who listens critically. The percussion knocks your socks off throughout the tune, and Emerson's heroics with the Moog brings this all together to provide a very satisfying coda for what is a rather long song at just over seven minutes. Fortunately this is evened out by the presence of two shorter tunes that follow it up, the first being Lake's "Still... You Turn Me On" which is an easily accessible love ballad and one of the group's most memorable songs. For the casual listeners, this is a much- needed reprieve from the experimental "Toccata". It is the album's "From the Beginning" or even a "Lucky Man", with Lake starting off with an intimate acoustic performance which is ultimately backed up by Emerson's synth and concludes with a synth solo. All in all it sounds very nostalgic to me; it has that emotional quality which a ballad altogether needs to gel with the listener. What really doesn't gel with me is the subsequent track, the tongue-in- cheek "Benny the Bouncer." It is co-written by ex-King Crimson lyricist Peter Sinfield, whose sole 1973 solo album released on Manticore was featured in my last review. ELP made it a necessity to include a humorous throwaway piece on their albums, and here they fail to disappoint, with some funky synth and Greg Lake speaking in a stereotypically British voice about stereotypically British pub behavior. While the song's chorus is tolerable, I just cannot resist trashing this tune, as it really takes away from the so-far exceptional nature of this album. Fortunately, the song barely breaks two minutes, and is over very quick. As for Sinfield, this would not be the only song that he would provide lyrics for on this album...

And for the moment we've all been waiting for, we reach the final song of the album, a leviathan thirty-minute epic titled "Karn Evil 9". While many progressive rock bands were limited by the physical constraints of vinyl to twenty- minute epics, ELP would break the barrier by simply putting part of the epic on the first side, with the entire second side being occupied as well. Considered to be ELP's finest moment in terms of musical virtuosity, "Karn" is split into "impressions", and has a dystopian theme to it similar to that of 1971's "Tarkus". To put it plain, this is one of the most intense epics ever conceived in prog, with the trio throwing everything they could possibly conceive at the listener. With only Lake's voice, some bass, Emerson's organs, and Palmer's drum kit, ELP creates a cacophony of futuristic noises and intense instrumental passages which draw influence from classical and modern rock movements while still retaining an element of conventionality and listenability. The first impression not only lays out the setting of the song, but provides some epic Greg Lake vocals in the first half on masterful lyrics written by Sinfield, and then some great synth solos in the second half. Emerson plays his keyboards and formulates his music as to compete with even the greatest guitar solos. You simply do not see this level of keyboard showmanship in rock anymore, which while it may seem dated to some, is rather unfortunate. The mere fact that this group did not need a guitarist shows how progressive they could truly get, and "Karn Evil 9" is the magnum opus of their contributions to prog. Thanks to the LP, the first impression is furthermore split into two parts, with the second part continuing on the second side and beginning with Lake's proclamation of "Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends!" whose effect is largely lost in CD remasters. This second part is considered to be the most famous part of the epic, going as far to even be cut out of the overall song to be viable for radio airplay - and boy does it work given the monstrous and grandious Emerson keyboard solos which are pure money. I feel that this album is best listened to with a dynamic stereo system, as to capture the intense rhythm section of Lake and Palmer which contrasts with the treble of Emerson's keyboards very well similar to how the drums and synth fused on "Toccata" earlier in the album. Altogether the First Impression lasts for a whole thirteen minutes, giving away to the entirely instrumental Second Impression that features Emerson dominating with the piano and Palmer taking a new approach by introducing a Caribbean steel drum - in other reviews I noticed that this choice of instrumentation led to some criticism which I feel is unwarranted. This impression has a much different feel than the first, with a more classical approach largely in part to the warm piano that is overly prominent - the drums on the other hand are not as obvious, being largely present through the middle portion of the movement, and therefore I didn't feel that they had much of a negative impact on my listening experience. While there is a brief moment of musical reprieve that tested my attention span, the second impression is only seven minutes, and is concluded by the Third Impression, which is largely a reprise of the First to close things out in a grand finale. Retaining similar musical themes yet with much more elaborate lyrics - in the liner notes Sinfield is credited with the lyrics here - All in all I'm not paying as much attention to the lyrics as I am the music per the case of Sinfield; his diction alone makes the vocals flow off Lake's tongue in a way that most cannot simply stimulate. Thematically, we learn of a war between man and machine, with a rather ambiguous resolution. Sinfield later revealed the intended ending, where the machines win after "helping" man win its own war. While not as resonant as the First Impression, the Third provides proper closure while giving us prog fans another SciFi epic that we can add to the ranks of unique themes that only prog has really had the nerve to experiment with.

While ELP has left a remarkable impact on the world of prog, interestingly enough their albums seem to pale in comparison to those of Yes, King Crimson, Genesis, or even Rush. While the group achieved tremendous mainstream fame bringing progressive rock to millions of new listeners, most of their albums simply were not very good. Even their first four albums only barely crack the 4-star range, and while they fluctuate around the top 100, it is a rather lukewarm showing by such an influential band. That being said I consider "Brain Salad Surgery" to be the band's best album at the moment - this is largely in part thanks to "Karn Evil 9" as a prog powerhouse that counters the less-advanced stuff on the flip side of the LP. Maybe in a way to keep mainstream success, the group included the ballads and humorous pieces which may garner less awe from the prog community. "Brain" is arguably the most seminal ELP album, and is well worth a listen thanks to its historical value on the genre, which urged me to give this album a five-star (91% A-) rating. There's lots of progressive stuff here, and even some more accessible music for the more casual listener. Only one filler track, and some parts of the epic can get a bit tiresome. "Toccata" is very inaccessible, and will only be appreciated by hardcore prog listeners.

Report this review (#1938747)
Posted Tuesday, June 12, 2018 | Review Permalink
4 stars Does the world really need another review of Brain Salad Surgery by Emerson, Lake and Palmer? Of course not, but a look back at this album, 45 years after it's debut, seems warranted. Often held up as the poster boy of everything bad associated with prog, BBS has a hell of a reputation.

To start off, let's look at the oft maligned lyrics to Greg Lake's lovely ballad "Still You Turn Me On". The cringe worthy plea of Greg's of "Someone get me a ladder" after declaring how sad and mad the world has become, as if Lake had lifted nonsense lyrics from an epic song by Spinal Tap. Clumsy perhaps, but not even close to absurd. The song is probably Lake's second best after "From The Beginning" with Emerson's accordion-like keys wonderfully melancholy and restrained, and without any input from Carl Palmer to break the song's magical spell.

The lead off track "Jerusalem" still sounds as awkward as the day it was recorded but it's still hard to find a similar opening album track in all of progdom, so it's charm remains. "Toccota", Keith Emerson's arrangement of the 4th movement of Alberto Ginastera's "1st Piano Concert" is still absolutely magnificent with it's tight as a glove playing and excellent tympani and drum work by Palmer . "Tocotta" really put ELP on to a plane almost above progressive rock, so outrageous and spell binding is the song's ability to captivate the listener no matter how complex and complicated the group's playing.

The throw away song "Benny The Bouncer" probably appeals to those who cherish "Jerusalem", but I wouldn't know about that. What I do know is that I'm still floored and intrigued by the fact that the title track "Karn Evil 9's" oft played on radio (Ist Impression part 2) in no way resembles the organ drenched opening of the song's (Ist Impression part 1) until some 3 minutes into the song proper. The familiar radio riff is no more than a tease until it's fully developed and played almost a minute later. Indeed, where Emerson's bank of Moog synths blast their way into the song's mix and into one's brain.

It's easy to see where the acoustic piano of Karn Evil 9's (2nd Impression) caused many to point out that the song was stitched together from disparate parts, regardless of how wonderful Emerson's playing is. The fact is that "Karn Evil 9" is no more or less disjointed than any other 20 minute prog epic with Jethro Tull's "Thick As a Brick" as a prime example and the group's "Baker Street Muse" as a secondary example. The closing of the epic's (3rd Impression) with it's spacy synths and modulated robotic vocal's signaled to all mainstream music reviewers the "Karn Evil 9" was preachy and pretentious while AOR hacks like Styx "artfully" decreed the same about Mr. Roboto in song just a few years later.

Brain Salad Surgery is still worthy of 4 stars in my book. It does have it faults, but much less than the ones that the chroniclers of music history have cast upon it. So, thanks to all the gods for the show that never ends.

Report this review (#1939013)
Posted Thursday, June 14, 2018 | Review Permalink
5 stars Emerson Lake and Palmer- Brain Salad Surgery

I am sure that for most ELP fans, this album is "THE ONE" in the same way that "Close to the Edge" is "THE ONE" for Yes fans and "Dark Side of the Moon" is "THE ONE" for Floyd fans.You know when an album is considered to be "THE ONE"- it invariably gets the deluxe treatment every time it is re-released.

I am one of those fans who see this album as their definitive statement even though I find the relentless bombast a bit too much at times and I definitely would not recommend introducing a potential fan to ELP by way of this album. Maybe the more subdued "Trilogy" album might do the trick.I made the mistake of thinking I could win over a friend by playing "Karn Evil 9 1st Impression" as loud as possible and he ran from the room in horror.So yes- it is incredibly brutal and intense and is imbued with an almost macabre ambiance -including the token light hearted song, "Benny the Bouncer"(check the lyrics) and yet there is something darkly beautiful about the album as well.The thundering Toccata is positively dripping with atmosphere and reminds me of being flying through a very dark and damp cave. The futuristic "Karn Evil 9 3rd Impression" is pure fantasy Prog at its best.I just love the way that track begins with the keyboard fanfare blasting over the top of an incredibly deep fuzzed base line which seems to growl out of the speakers.

The production on this album is truly extraordinary- slick, loud and powerful.Surprisingly,despite the massive sound, the album was in some ways stripped back as far as overdubs go so the trio could re-produce the tracks live. "Trilogy" by comparison is full of overdubs which is why apart from the albums' "Hoedown," most of the tracks could not be reproduced live the same way.

I do have have some reservations about this album. 'Karn Evil 9 1st Impression" starts off brilliantly, but seems to go on for too long, I could have done without that synthesized drum solo on Toccata which robs the track of its momentum - sorry Carl- and some of Keith's soloing during Karn Evil 9 9th Impression does sound a little cheesy. In other words there is a fair bit of excess- the sort of thing non Prog fans and Critics complain about when dismissing Prog Rock generally.But I still love this album and have no hesitation giving it two thumbs up. 5 stars

Report this review (#2009473)
Posted Saturday, August 25, 2018 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars ELP's fourth album "Brain Salad Surgery" is a very important album, no doubt about it. To some, it is one of the best progressive albums ever, and it is the favorite of most ELP fans. I am one of the exceptions. I definitely love ELP, but I always seem to love the wrong ones, like the debut album, "Trilogy" and both "Works" volumes. I consider those four their best albums, but not this one. I know I have been cursed by the Prog Gods for this, but I find it lacking in versatility and dynamics. Most of that is because of "Karn Evil 9" which takes up most of the album. Even though I am very familiar with the epic track, I have always thought it was over 30 minutes of bombastic music that doesn't let up much. It is dense, it is mostly unrelenting and it seems to go on forever.

I apologize to those that love that track, but I find that I enjoy their music that relies more on the classically inspired music then I do the rock jams. On this album, my favorite track is "Toccata", and yes it is another quite "over-the-top" track, but there are probably more dynamics in that 7 minute track than there is in the entire "Karn Evil 9" suite. "Still You Turn Me On" is a great ballad by Greg Lake also. But, other than that, I continue to have a hard time with this album. I recognize the fact that the music and performances are stellar, and I completely understand that people love this album, but its just too much of a good thing for me, or something.

I'm not going to go into anymore detail than that, most people who love Prog are quite familiar with this album, as am I. But I usually only listen to it when I am listening through their entire discography as a whole. At least it's not as bad as "Love Beach" and beyond however. There is that at least. 3.5 stars for me, but since it is a prog staple and because the performances are so excellent, I will give it 4 stars.

Report this review (#2113089)
Posted Monday, December 31, 2018 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars To me it seems like almost every big classic prog band from the 70s had that one album in which they pushed their ambitions far beyond anything else to create something truly grandiose and excessive. Genesis had The Lamb, Yes had Tales From Topographic Oceans, King Crimson had... well, most of their output, and Emerson Lake and Palmer had this album, Brain Salad Surgery. To be honest, while this definitely has more qualities of excess than previous works, I do find this to be much less of a drastic jump than what many other bands had, although a lot of that comes down to how bombastic this band already was. Despite the fact that Brain Salad Surgery does in fact attempt to take on even more ambitious concepts, I do feel as if just with a lot of this band's output, even from their prime, that the execution ends up being somewhat off.

The first issue I have with the album is the mixed grab bag that the first 4 tracks are, ranging so drastically not only in tone and style, but in terms of quality as well. While Jerusalem is no doubt an incredibly powerful sounding song, some impact is taken away by the fact that this is simply a rendition of an actual hymn, and does feel kinda dull by the end, despite its very short length. Toccata on the other hand is likely one of the band's best remakes of a preexisting song, showing their more avant garde tendencies to create a track that both sounds extremely dense, and also relatively empty at other points, in either case being the clear highlight of the first 4 songs. Other aspects of this song that impress me are the only Carl Palmer drum solo that doesn't bore me to tears, and the gradual build up from there, starting off quietly with bells ringing, and eventually sounding like the soundtrack to a crisis ona spaceship, the various synths sounding like an array of alarms, all signalling imminent danger. Still... You Turn Me On isn't bad, but I find it to be a fairly mediocre love song all things considered, Lucky Man is still their crowning achievement in terms of ballads for sure. Benny The Bouncer is the most overtly ridiculous joke song in an Emerson Lake And Palmer album, but it also manages to be the most enjoyable, being the only one that I actually find to be amusing in any way whatsoever, the extremely goofy ragtime sound crossing the line twice, becoming so on the nose that it manages to be entertaining.

The biggest issue I have with this album, despite the fact that it's definitely not the worst part of it, is that fact that I just cannot even consider Karn Evil 9 a proper epic, it's just a collection of extremely energetic prog songs that turn up every element of the band to their absolute peak, but honestly, they don't even try and make this a proper epic in any way other than possibly lyrics, not even having proper transitions between each movement. I also feel as if there is a disparity in quality between these sections. With this said, the entirety of the first movement is the greatest thing ever written by the band, and is definitely a major highlight of classic prog all together. The energy present here is utterly astounding, and what makes this even better is the relative lack of unnecessary instrumental breaks that can disrupt the flow of the song, most of them sticking to the central themes established. Despite the fact that the song has a combined length of over 12 minutes, I also find this to be amazingly catchy,especially with the keyboard melodies throughout being as good as they are. There really isn't a best part to this song, as every moment in it is near flawless, but the second half once the pace increases really highlights the playful nature of these tracks, with a lot of smaller moments such as a brief moment of silence to highlight a particular vocal line, the occasional insane drum fills just thrown in, and a brief moment of dramatically increased temp, all coming together to make a near flawless song brimming with energy, character and charm. The second movement unfortunately is a large step down from the previous song, being entirely instrumental and taking on a distinctly jazz approach. While the song does indeed display incredible skill from Keith Emerson, with his frenetic piano playing that jumps around to an insane degree, quite a bit of it ends up feeling less spectacular than what it feels like it should, although there are occasional moments of absolute greatness within, especially when the drumming is briefly accentuated, revealing more of the energy that the first impression had so much of. The worst aspect of this by far is quiet middle section, as it goes absolutely nowhere and pointlessly extends this track by about 3 minutes. The third movement is somewhat better, although I personally couldn't really get behind the extremely anthemic nature of this one for some reason, although the robotic voice strongly reminiscient of a Dalek was definitely a great touch. This song is uplifting and powerful for sure, but to me it's just missing something, not quite sure what, but whatever it is does stop it from being the impactful masterpiece that felt so close to hitting, and instead just being an all around decent prog song, but nothing truly mind blowing.

All in all, this was a very difficult album to solidify my feelings on, as there are some truly incredible moments to be foud here, but then there are others that either feel ill conceived or poorly executed, such as the fact that Karn Evil 9 just sounds like 3 loosely connected songs, with 1 of them being an utter masterpiece, one being great and just not for me, and one that I find to be incredibly flawed and more an exercise in technical playing rather than composition. The first half is mostly forgettable, with only Toccata really being a song that I wholeheartedly recommend, although it's another absolutely incredible one. I still personally believe that Emerson, Lake and Palmer's best album is Trilogy, as the band works far better when their excess is kept more in check, but certain moments of this definitely surpass it, despite the fuk package being one I can't always wholeheartedly enjoy.

Best songs: Toccata, Karn Evil 9 First Impression

Weakest songs: Jerusalem, Still... You Turn Me On

Verdict: This is Emerson, Lake and Palmer at their creative peak, it's just unfortunate that their songwriting didn't always match up to these grandiose concepts. If you are a big fan of this band, you'll definitely get a massive kick out of this, but I personally found a lot of elements that didn't work particularly well, despite portions of this being astounding.

Report this review (#2220656)
Posted Friday, June 14, 2019 | Review Permalink
2 stars There's an impressive amount of talent here, both in the performances and the arrangements. Other than a best-of CD, Brain Salad Surgery is the only Emerson, Lake and Palmer album I own (I'm reviewing the 2014 remaster). So my impression of the group is based on a limited sample, although Brain Salad Surgery isn't a departure from the other ELP works I've heard.

As a musical act, Emerson, Lake and Palmer is based on a piano-led jazz trio with occasional vocals. Nearly all of the time, the keyboards are front and center. Since there are just three instruments, the drums are more important than they would be in a larger combo. The bass is a supporting instrument whose role is often to expand the dynamic range, not to add tonality. Works for me. But the bassist/singer and the drummer also get their names on the marquee, and that seems to have created a need to alter the framework of the trio. Drummer Carl Palmer needs a solo every so often, and Greg Lake should get a vocal showcase. Right?

Of course, all three of the musicians here are excellent. But as the keyboardist, Keith Emerson is by far the best suited to be the main instrumentalist - - and Brain Salad Surgery works reasonably well when the bass and drums are there to support the keyboards. Although I wish more of the album was structured this way, my main complaint is not the musicianship or the arrangements.

The issue to me is the quality of the compositions. It seems like the group had a shortage of ideas when they entered the studio to record Brain Salad Surgery. Thus, they adapted a hymn and a piano concerto to account for about ten minutes of runtime, stretched 'Karn Evil 9' to nearly half an hour, and wrote two other songs whose brevity might excuse their lack of inspiration. The compositions do have their bright spots; for example, parts of 'Karn Evil 9, First Impression, Part 1' are very good.

But to me, Brain Salad Surgery is three bona fide stars of progressive rock demonstrating their chops - - and in the case of Keith Emerson, displaying his skills as an arranger. To employ a cliché, there's plenty of style here, but not enough substance.

Report this review (#2231630)
Posted Tuesday, June 18, 2019 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars I try to reserve 5 star ratings for albums that provide a truly magnificent experience, and this one deserves it. Brain Salad Surgery more or less adheres to the same pattern as Tarkus, with an epic, prolonged centrepiece backed up by a number of shorter songs. Only this time it is a far more consistent product with virtually no weak spots at all, and the band has also gained a better understanding and handling of both their instruments and the capabilities of recording in a studio.

The opening track, "Jerusalem" illustrates the shift in tone perfectly: it's a bombastic album opener that's meant to kick things off in the same way as "The Endless Enigma" on the last album, but it's more concise, more fast-paced and lively (in contrast to the snail's tempo at which "The Endless Enigma" crawls along) and, most notably, far better produced: the organs sound a lot sharper and militant (the result of numerous overdubs) and, most importantly, the synthesizer has at long last settled comfortably in its role as musical backbone: instead of being used exclusively as a flashy novel solo instrument, it is here allowed to enhance and spice up the beautiful main melody, and is more prominent than ever before on most of the other tracks too. The classical composition on which "Jerusalem" is based (a choral song by Hubert Parry) pretty much sounds like what the band was trying to imitate when they recorded "The Endless Enigma" so I suppose it's only fair that they'd put the original in the spotlight as well.

"Jerusalem" is followed by "Toccata", another classical adaptation, though you probably wouldn't immediately guess because of the track's high-tech and electronic feel. Once again, Keith is the main star. Carl gets to rock out on his timpanis and tubular bells and Greg is even allowed some muted electric guitar playing in the quiet middle section, but for the most part it's a merciless onslaught of keyboard manoeuvres set to a complex martial rhythm, with the organ providing an ominous background to the aggressive synth playing on top of it. At one point the track even breaks down to show off Carl's set of electronic percussion, producing sounds such as police sirens and other synthesized noises.

Well, that one may be a little too over the top. Luckily, the two tracks that follow serve as a peaceful intermission after that little bout of musical insanity, and while they're not as essential as the rest of the album, they're still worth the price of admission. "Still? You Turn Me On" is this album's Greg Lake ballad; probably not his best but still very soothing. Keith plays some lovely accordion on it, too. And "Benny The Bouncer", the first in a series of ragtime tributes by Keith, has to be one of the most hilarious tracks these guys ever made, with Greg singing a silly tale of a bar brawl in a fake cockney accent along with muted drums and, of course, some excellent honky-tonk soloing.

But no matter how good these songs are, they still feel like afterthoughts when compared to the album's pièce de résistance, which is the lengthy "Karn Evil 9" suite: a half hour-long composition, divided into three "impressions" (one of which is further divided into two parts), describing an apocalyptic scenario of a dystopian futuristic society being destroyed by a war between humans and machines (that's something else I should mention: the lyrics on this album are actually competent [though that's not that much of a surprise since they're now written by former King Crimson lyricist Peter Sinfield rather than the band members themselves]. They convey the fantastic, intriguing images you'd expect from such a grandiose concept quite well, and steer clear of the embarrassing clichés that plagued the band's earlier lyrical efforts. It still comes close to word salad [perhaps even brain salad] at times, but it's imaginative word salad). To even begin listening to this monster must be a daunting prospect for any? Nah, who am I kidding? If you're crazy enough to still be reading these reviews you must be crazy enough to derive some enjoyment from this.

The first impression (which was originally split into two parts in order to make it fit on the LP) starts off as a fast, determined, organ-dominated tune lamenting the soullessness and the mechanization of the fictional world, before turning into an even faster tune which is styled like a series of circus announcements, showcasing items from past societies that were lost and mocking the technological accomplishments of the future. The second part of the impression begins with the famous "Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends", which is followed by one of the most badass organ solos in Keith's career (if you want to be impressed further, look up a video of a live performance of this song: while Greg is having fun on his electric guitar during this part, Keith plays the bass track on his synthesizer while simultaneously soloing on his organ with his other hand).

The second impression is instrumental, and is mostly centred around Keith's keyboard playing again. For once, he goes back to his old trusted Steinway piano, leaving his organ completely untouched and only using his synthesizer to imitate a steel drum in a jam-portion of the song. The piano parts together constitute one of the most intricate and demanding compositions Keith ever wrote, going from a very fast-paced part to a slow, brooding, ominous section which gradually grows more ferocious before leading to a restatement of the opening theme, and finally into the synth-heavy third impression, a threatening march-like tune depicting the man-machine war.

The funny thing is, from a purely compositional viewpoint, many parts of this album aren't even that much of a step up from Trilogy. I've thought hard and long about why exactly Brain Salad Surgery fills me with so much more satisfaction than its predecessor, but I've finally concluded that the production is really the one aspect in which Brain Salad Surgery truly shines, and which sets it apart from the band's earlier efforts. The boys really put care into creating a diverse set of arrangements and different sounds for this album: the orchestral percussion on "Toccata", the accordion and harpsichord on "Still? You Turn Me On", the piano solo in the middle of "Karn Evil 9", even the synth tones are far more diverse and fresh in comparison to Trilogy. And the songs themselves are more intricately layered and made up of far more separate tracks, too. I discover something new with each consecutive listen. Something I noticed only recently is the 1920s-esque piano which is hidden in the background of the first impression of "Karn Evil 9" and kicks in once Greg Lake sings about "Alexander's ragtime band". I love albums that keep surprising me no matter how many times I listen to them. Brain Salad Surgery has an admirable number of surprises up its sleeve, and I hope it can surprise me for many years to come.

Report this review (#2305158)
Posted Wednesday, January 8, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is the 4th album from Emerson, Lake and Palmer (ELP) released on 1973. The quintessence of this album (and I think of entire ELP catalogue) is the Karn Evil 9. This is an epic and powerful composition, consisting of 3 parts (called impressions) with nearly 30-minute duration. Not only the music that really defines what a progressive rock is, but the lyrics ? like many progressive musics ? is challenging to decode (extra works for audience like me without having English as mother tongue). For what I understood from several articles, Karn Evil 9 tells us a story about battle between human and artificial intelligence. The 3rd impression fortunately gives a lot of clue about this.

1st Impression: a powerful 13-minute show off of great musicianship of the trio. They work meticulously to create this composition. A short but dense example is the "..roll up! .. roll up!.." part, as if the bass, keyboard and drums are playfully teasing each others. The beginning of Part 2 is perhaps the most recognisable piece, with famous opening line "Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends". 1st impression is my favourite ELP tracks, and I enjoy every version of this song being performed live in several albums.

2nd Impression: is a 7-minute colourful instrumental composition. Started with kind of fast pace jazzy piano tunes, and I feel a bit of African dance music in the middle. An interesting article offers a interpretation that this part depicts the machine preparing the overtaking of human control. 3rd Impression: how did ELP get the idea of human versus artificial intelligent at that time? I grew up with sci-fi movies with that kind of story so it is not too difficult to enjoy this part while imagining the struggle of mankind against machine. The song and sounds are perfectly fits this story-line. "I'm Perfect. Are You?" is the chilling closing phrase from the machine.

Two other tracks in this album adapt classical pieces. "Toccata" is an adaptation from Toccata Concertata (Piano Concerto No.1 Op 28) written by Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera. I think this piece has a kind of complexity that Keith Emerson fonds of. The ELP version is vibrant, with a bit of space rock sound. Anyway, it is said that Ginastera is happy with the way ELP adapt this piece, describing that Keith Emerson was able to catch the mood of the piece beautifully. "Jerusalem" is adapted from Hubert Parry's choral song of the same title. Not too many re- arrangements for this song.

"Still ... You Turn Me On" written by Greg Lake is a beautiful ballad song, kind of a nice short break for our brain among other complex tracks. Greg Lake's guitar work is very nice and in a excellent detail. Rolling Stones magazine lists this as one of ELP 10 Essential Songs (even without Carl Palmer on his drum).

"Benny the Bouncer": a nice ragtime piece. A background sound of bar-fight and breaking glass go well with the track's title. A lot of fun in this song.

I consider this album as one of Progressive Rock Icons, and one of album that shape my interest in progressive rock music. A lot of respect for this trio. May Greg Lake and Keith Emerson rest in peace.

Report this review (#2381920)
Posted Friday, May 15, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars Oh my what an album! Two remakes starting the record brilliantly made by ELP their own with all their glorious virtuosity and passion. Lake's ballad "Still...You turn me on" is as much his show off as a vocalist (and he sings beautifuly) as a place for Emerson to shine with his ornamental and elaborate accompaniament. Benny the bouncer is an example of not my cup of tea (as all the other tracks where ELP tried to sound funny. For me it's an aesthetic where ELP comes out as a bit forced sometimes). This one though is probably the least irritating of them all. Now come the main course; Karn Evil9. Listening it on vinyl lets You appreciate their clever joining betwen the parts when one needs to flip the record. Lake sings with passion and with rocking energy and it suits him as well as his sublime parts. He is at the peak of his powers here. The whole band is. The middle part of the song is amazing piano full of emersonian sound and his typical juggling act which I love him forplus brilliant rhythmic section. For me it's the epitome of ELP sound. Or prog music in general. Hearing/reading an opinions about this one or Tales from topographic oceans being over the top, one questions if that person likes prog at all, as for me this is what prog is all about. The final part brings Lake back and Emerson comes in with his trademark bombastic fanfares with occasional detour into more jazzy territories. ELP are ending the track and the album on the triumphant note. And I say hell yeah! A masterpiece of the genre from the band that delivered even a few more.
Report this review (#2489469)
Posted Friday, January 1, 2021 | Review Permalink
3 stars This album has not aged well at all.

Jerusalem is my favourite track, it's short but sounds nice at least.

Toccata is where things start to fall apart. Horribly cheesy keyboard, worse than the "80s synths" that get [&*!#] on and the song just drags for the last minutes to show off the sound, which is annoying.

Still you turn me on is a solid ballad.

Benny the bouncer, what?

Karn First impression Part 1 is alright, Greg Lakes "I'll be thEre we'll be thEre" is not so nice as are most of the vocals which have a demo quality feel. Would be better with fx to the vocals, as is they sound half assed and don't flow with the music.

Karn First Impression Part 2, continues where the first part left off with the same offputting vocals, this time with an old timey feel. Also this song doesn't flow into the next and obviously doesn't to the first part which is one side one.

Karn Second Impression opens with energetic instrumental work that leads into an interesting slightly chaotic piano led section, quite nice.

Karn Third Impression starts out well enough, Greg Lakes vocals are a lot better than in the first part. Unfortunately, robot voices appear a little bit here that are unbelievably cheesy. They don't ruin the song but they definitely hurt.

At the end of the day this album has not aged well, inundated with sounds that would fit right at home in B Movie monster films and some of Greg Lakes worse vocals alongside a suite that does not work as one continuous piece of music, rather each section standing alone. For these flaws, Brain Salad Surgery is by no means a masterpiece, rather an acceptable product of its time outclassed by contemporary releases like Relayer/Red and outclassed by releases from modern outfits like Wobbler.

Report this review (#2536470)
Posted Sunday, April 18, 2021 | Review Permalink
5 stars Review #108

Something like this album shouldn't be ignored. In 1973 Emerson, Lake & Palmer released their fourth studio album (fifth overall) called "Brain salad surgery", an album that has become a classic case of a loved-hated album, probably the most recognizable work of the band with the unmistakable cover by H.R. Giger (the same guy who some years later would design the most terrible ALIEN in film history) with a great repertoire of the most varied songs.

The album starts with "Jerusalem", as the title suggests, this sounds like a religious ceremony at some moments, the elegance of Emerson's organ leads this ceremony in which Lake's vocals sound a little more spiritual than usual, very elegant entrance but not particularly one of the most remarkable songs of the album. "Toccata" is an adaptation of Alberto Ginastera's First Piano Concert, 4th Movement, the very particular style of ELP gave the piece a whole different interpretation from the original version (which I highly recommend to listen to), the energy of the song is highly inconstant, even for them (but that's a good thing).

"Still you turn me on" is absolutely majestic: this is a very sensual song mainly acoustic with a very recognizable riff that catches the attention of the listeners and makes you want to play it again; it's not in the same mood of other mainly acoustic pieces of ELP such as "Lucky Man", "From the beginning" or "The sage", this is something else.

"Benny the Bouncer" is by far the least interesting song of the album, not even the contribution of Peter Sinfield on the lyrics makes it an obligated stop, once again, the Old West Saloon kind of music they played in previous songs as "The sheriff" and "Jeremy Bender" appears on a record. Finally, we have the 29 minutes (divided into 4 parts) suite "Karn Evil 9", a tremendous song that goes and goes between the improvisation and the well-rehearsed moments, it is truly unmissable.

SONG RATING: Jerusalem, 4 Toccata, 5 Still, you turn me on, 5 Benny the Bouncer, 4 Karn Evil 9, Pt. 1, 5 Karn Evil 9, Pt. 2, 5 Karn Evil 9, Pt. 3, 5




I ranked this album #68 on my TOP 100 favorite Progressive Rock albums of all time.

Report this review (#2599469)
Posted Tuesday, October 5, 2021 | Review Permalink
5 stars Anniversaries have a way of "sharpening" one's mind. It was 58 years ago on Monday, 11/22/21, that the U.S. and the world witnessed the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Over these 58 years, writers, scholars, and conspiracy theorists, to name just a few, have attempted to come to terms with this dark day in our history. And, of course, Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones in "Sympathy for the Devil," would later shout out, "who killed the Kennedys?" No stranger to untimely deaths, the music world had already observed the deaths in an airplane crash in 1959 of Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper, and Richie Valens. In 1963, Patsy Kline was also killed in a plane crash.

So, following the "vacuum" created in the U.S. and Western Culture by the assassination of President Kennedy, in came the Beatles and British "Invasion" to "fill" this void (please see The Beatles Forever by Nicholas Schaffner, p. 9). Those familiar with the history of progressive rock acknowledge the genre's debt to John, Paul, George, and Ringo (and George Martin). By the time in 1969 when we experience "Epitaph" on In the Court of the Crimson King, "confusion" does have the "last word."

As lead vocalist and bassist on King Crimson's first album, Greg Lake helped launch the genre in which his contributions would expand through his later membership in Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. On their 1973 album Brain Salad Surgery, ELP, in a sense, re-visit the lyrics of "Epitaph," especially through the "Karn Evil 9" suite. The album begins with an almost reverential version of the Church of England piece, "Jerusalem," lyrics by William Blake; music by Hubert Perry. In "Epitaph," lyricist Pete Sinfield has an ominous view of the Prophet's milieu:

The wall on which the Prophets wrote is cracking at the seams.

For William Blake, he adds the following to the end of the lyrics of what we now know as "Jerusalem":

Would to God that all the Lords] people were Prophets" Numbers XI. Ch 29.v

In the Judaeo-Christian tradition, the Prophet speaks on behalf of God. Sometimes, the Prophet exposes the social inequities of his/her time; conversely, transformations of the wasteland into which humans have fallen are described:

I will not cease from Mental Fight, Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand: Till we have built Jerusalem, In Englands green & pleasant Land.

In their choice of "Jerusalem" to open Brain Salad Surgery, ELP begin with a momentous tribute to Prophecy and Imagination that recedes as we launch into Karn Evil 9.

Following "Jerusalem," Emerson continues his "making the classics familiar" in "Toccata," an adaptation of Alberto Ginastera's "1st Piano Concerto, 4th Movement." In this iconoclastic version, Emerson's demonic synthesizer and Hammond organ lines transform the piece "elsewhere." Palmer's drum synthesizers are slippery and disturbing. In the "quiet" juncture of the piece, Emerson, on synthesizer, and Lake, on guitar, play a "parallel" solo that hardly seems 48 years old.

Yet, this is fitting. We are basically a half of a century removed from the "golden age" of progressive rock. Especially on the weight of the Karn Evil 9 Suite, Brain Salad Surgery remains a "titan" of the genre. For Yes, there's "Close to the Edge"; Genesis, "Suppers Ready". For ELP, we have "Tarkus" and "Karn Evil 9." Certainly no musician, I've been nevertheless affected by the intense musicality of the "golden age" of progressive rock. Now, I have the pleasure of referring to You Tube and "the Daily Doug." I certainly recommend a visit to this site of Professor Doug Helvering, who, with his musical erudition, presents his first reactions to "Close to the Edge, "Supper's Ready," and "Tarkus." Professor Helvering, may I suggest "Karn Evil 9?"

To return to King Crimson's "Epitaph,"

Knowledge is a deadly friend When no one sets the rules. The fate of all mankind I see Is in the hands of fools.

1969/2021 "The Song Remains the Same . . . ." "Karn Evil 9": "1st Impression" begins lyrically with "our" Prophet in the Wilderness:

Cold and misty morning, I heard a warning borne in the air About an age of power where no one had an hour to spare, Where the seeds have withered, silent children shivered, in the cold Now their faces captured in the lenses of the jackals for gold. I'll be there I'll be there I will be there. ----------------- There must be someone who can set them free: To take their sorrow from this odyssey To help the helpless and the refugee To protect what's left of humanity.

But who is the Prophet who steps up to lead: a circus master who lays bare all of the absurdities of our modern age--

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends We're so glad you could attend, come inside, come inside There behind a glass stands a real blade of grass Be careful as you pass, move along, move along

How do we attempt to transform or transcend all of these wasteland absurdities of the Human Condition? We move to Lake and Sinfield's lyrics to the 3rd Impression. Only five years separate 2001: A Space Odyssey and "Karn Evil 9". However, Hal "reprises" his role in the Third Impression:

I am all there is Negative! Primitive! Limited! I let you live! But I gave you life What else could you do? To do what was right I'm perfect! Are you?

My "considered opinion (hope)," as we prepare, "God willing and the Creek don't rise," to enter 2022, is humanity will be prepared for its inevitable meeting with "Hal": global warming, the continued dangers of the world's stockpiles of thermonuclear weapons, the Covid-19 pandemic, and our headlong plunge into our "brave new world" of cyber reality. Yes, 1969/2021: "The Song Remains the Same"?

Confusion will be my epitaph. As I crawl a cracked and broken path If we make it we can all sit back And laugh. But I fear tomorrow I'll be crying, Yes I fear tomorrow I'll be crying.

Report this review (#2636614)
Posted Wednesday, November 24, 2021 | Review Permalink
5 stars Epic in both scope and scale, this was not only the album that got me into ELP and prog rock, but it remains one of my most listened-to and favorite albums ever all these years later. There might be more cherished works by the band for the more refined prog rock fans, but this is the ultimate culmination of what this supergroup represented. The album artwork is impressive, the music is fantastic, and the story of mankind fighting against the uprising of computers and AI was ahead of its time. Please give it a listen, this is essential for any fan of music.

- 10/10

Report this review (#2652522)
Posted Wednesday, December 15, 2021 | Review Permalink
5 stars Review: #14: Brain Salad Surgery

Welcome back my friends, to the show will never ends!

I want to start this review with a few words to this wonderful band, which is one of my favorites so far.

I think that no introduction is needed for, in my opinion, the best musical trio that humanity has been able to witness so far.

Emerson, Lake & Palmer (more commonly abbreviated "ELP") is the union of three of the best musicians of the 20th century, with bases in academic music and jazz, among other things. This band is enigmatic in the whole history of prog, since it is inexorable to listen to a song by them and not identify Palmer's hyper-planetary drums, Lake's figurative voice and Emerson's keyboards (here I want to make a small parenthesis to clarify the unnecessary fact that Emerson seems to me the best keyboard player that ever lived. It is impossible not to listen to him without being delighted by those extravagant melodies and his unique sounds full of grace and majesty).

But well, enough of the chitchat! Let's start with the review of this incredible work.

Brain Salad Surgery, ELP's fourth album is, in my opinion, the band's best album (mainly because of the perfect, and I stress PERFECT, composition of "Karn Evil 9", but that's for later).

This album conforms and ends with the golden stage (not to say, the best) of the trio. "ELP (eponymous album and debut)", "Tarkus", "Trilogy" and "Brain Salad Surgery" (something similar to the "Yes Golden Chain", which I already explained in my review to "Close to the Edge").

This time, I'm going to take the little trouble of analyzing it song by song, because, man.... This album is really worth it!

Jerusalem (4/5): This song offers us a harmonic and quilted introduction to the album, with Emerson's church organs in the background, while Lake's voice captivates us with his exciting and pure way of singing. There are some interesting rhythmic breaks in between.

Toccata (3.5/5): Probably the most atmospheric, percussive and messy track on the album. But all this doesn't take away from the smoothness and beauty of listening to Palmer show off with those tubular bells, steel drums and accompanying winds. There are some "funny" sounds in between, which accompany that desert atmosphere, but it's good because it offers us some catchy rhythms.

Still... You Turn Me On (5/5): This track is much calmer, peaceful, it's like a caress to the ear. Those beautiful keyboards of hope and the accompanying guitar that complements the prolific atmosphere of love and peace. The track has in the middle a sign to a lake or a dripping cavern, but returns to the peaceful rhythm I already mentioned. Too bad it lasts 3 minutes, but those 3 minutes are enjoyable!

Benny the Bouncer (3.5/5): This song, not that it's bad, but it leaves aside all the pragmatic atmosphere in which we were immersed, to put us in a western bar, or as if it were a song of "congratulations" for some reason that I didn't understand, heh. Don't get me wrong, it's nice to add these songs to these albums, it reminds me a lot of "Jeremy Bender" (Tarkus, Side B). Then, if you end up understanding the bar fight, due to the banging and glass breaking we hear in the background.

Karn Evil 9 (5/5): Well, what to say about this wonderful, spectacular, fantastic work of art. I think it goes without saying that it is the best part of the album, and one of the best compositions of all times. The first impression, as well as the second and the third, are impressive parts, full of passages, broken, changes of symphony and melody, perfect keyboards by the amazing Emerson, and the infallible and incomparable Palmer's drums... Please, somebody stop this man's madness! Those drums are not from this Palmer universe!

I always remember the first time I heard this masterpiece for the first time. I couldn't stop getting excited by the keyboards, or stop moving to the rhythm of Palmer's stratospheric percussion.

Maybe it sounds very monotonous of me to say most of the things I said throughout the review. Imagine that I'm not very good at explaining anything in depth, and imagine when I hear these things.... The first thing that comes to my mind is to go crazy because I've never really interpreted a work like this album!

In my top of favorite prog albums, this album comes in at position #29.

10/10. 5 stars for the best songwriting by one of the best bands ever, and the best musical trio I've ever heard. Yes, the album may not sound perfect to you, but it's close to the edge, wink ;)

Report this review (#2655727)
Posted Sunday, December 26, 2021 | Review Permalink
5 stars I listen and read about prog rock since 1996. On those years it was unusual to find "sounds like ELP", at least when compared to Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, Van der Graaf, Rush and other classic bands in this genre. I know some groups from Japan, USA and Argentina that were musically influenced by them; on the other hand, the other cited bands made a wide and consistent influence in several countries through the decades. Does this mean that, despite their success on the 70's, ELP's musicallity didn't age well? And/or didn't spread so much around the world?

It's a complex question and matter to think about. First, it's not because their musical influence on other bands is medium or low that they lack originality and musicality. It can mean that their roots don't make much sense for the majority of other musicians.

Second. Very few bands assumed a relation to the diferent styles like they did. When making a composition with jazz elements, this part would be the main contribution on the execution. 'Benny the bouncer' is the example on Brain Salad Surgery. The same can be said with the more poppy songs. Verify, for instance, 'Still... you turn me on'. Prog seems to be in a 'lower' level, and there's more of the other style(s) present. About this feature, I'm confident to assure that it was a very, very tough task to achieve it as well as they did. How many bands you know that when they got poppy the result was almost always weak songs? And how many bands you can recall that was confusing when getting to close to the jazz? So, this album in particular, represents what I love the most about the group on the 70's. I don't know any other band that can/could blend rock, classical music, jazz and pop the way they did. I'm aware many prog fans don't like it; it's a fact that this caractheristic many times made them sound non-prog; or made them sound something that cannot be surely classified as prog. But that's the beauty of it all ? it's astonishing and good music that nobody else achieved.

Third. Another band, much more popular than ELP, delivers a musicality that is not so common to hear on further bands. Pink Floyd. I recognize that Gilmour's style is very influential, but there aren't much groups that released works you could say "sounds like PF". Does this mean that PF isn't so big? No! Hell no. It's a giant on prog rock.

Fourth. How many musicians you know that can play two complex and diversified tunes on two diferent synth/pianos at the same time, without becomming to dramatic and/or classical? Keith Emerson is one of these professionals we can call irreplaceable. I don't know how to explain why, but the same could be said about Carl Palmer. Because of that, it'll be hard to discover other musicians with those abillities.

I hope that my predecessor points of view can help the younger folks to understand a bit why didn't ELP go viral on internet and social network groups.

But now let's go back to the parts of the album I stil didn't comment. The first track is vibrating and sounds like a hymn. The second track, Toccata, I can never tell if it will be enjoyable or annoying on my next listening. Hence, I'll consider it the weakest point on the disc. Generally works well when I can turn off from anything that sorrounds me, in order to be entirely concentrated to listen him. On the contrary, the suíte Karn Evil 9 is a superb premium example of prog-rock.

Tracks 1-4 are 4.3 stars (it would be 4.6 if Toccata wasn't there), and the remaining tracks are 5 full stars, without any doubt.

Report this review (#2875236)
Posted Saturday, January 14, 2023 | Review Permalink
5 stars Review #38!

Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends!

This album is interesting, to say the least. From the cover art to the title (a euphemism for the same thing as "Staffordshire plate", for all you Genesis fans out there), this album will leave you confused, amazed, and mystified in the best ways possible. The album starts with 'Jerusalem', an adaptation of an old Christian hymn that was unfortunately banned from radio play by BBC because they took it as an offense to religion. I don't know what went up their asses, but I think this is ELP's way of honoring sacred songs like these after just straight-up shattering their significance with older tracks like 'The Only Way(Hymn)'. Then is 'Toccata', an Emersonified rendition of 'Toccata Concertata', a classical piece by Alberto Ginastera. This beautiful, overplayed (in the best way possible) masterpiece works well and sets the listener up for the epic soon to come. 'Still, You Turn Me On' is a pretty little song that honestly feels a little out of place on this album. I love the funky chorus, though. The band would not let this song get a single because they thought it did not represent the band; they wanted them to get fame from being who they were, not from songs that were not 'them'. 'Benny the Bouncer' was based on a true story (!). It's just a little modern ragtime tune that really shows how much ELP was having recording this album. It is quite ironic that it was placed in front of an epic like 'Karn Evil 9', and it does a terrible job of setting you up for what's to come. But that brings me joy and makes me laugh, so I don't mind. Ending side one is 'Karn Evil 9 1st Impression, Part 1', which introduces the (seemingly) utopian carnival world this epic depicts. Full of technically impressive instrumentation and solos, this has all the wonderful proggy things a proggy guy or girl needs. 'Karn Evil 9 1st Impression, Part 2' acts as a conclusion. Greg Lake enthusiastically lists off a number of exhibits in the carnival. One of these is "A Real Blade of Grass!", alluding to the absence of most organic life in this dystopian world. The song ends in classic bombastic ELP style (you know what I mean). 'Karn Evil 9 2nd Impression' is a wonderful seven-minute jazz piece, full of Keith Emerson solos (including my favorite ELP moment of all time, the fake steel drum noise) and crazy Carl Palmer drumming. It is instrumental and so there is little Lake flair, but it is still a great track. I honestly don't know what this song is trying to tell the listener. It could be the war that leaves one man and one machine still alive. That's my best guess. The album ends with 'Karn Evil 9 3rd Impression', a wonderful conclusion to this wonderful album. This concludes the Karn Evil 9 epic with the story of a man and a machine left as the last standing in a war against their kind. There is a dialog acted out between them, an argument over who really won. "I LET YOU LIVE!", shouts the computer. In a powerful part of the song and this album as a whole the man remarks: "But I gave you life!" The question is left unanswered as to who won. The songs ends on a great note, signifying the end to a prog masterpiece.

Report this review (#2901794)
Posted Saturday, March 25, 2023 | Review Permalink
Hector Enrique
4 stars At the height of the shock wave generated by the progressive explosion, one of the representatives who most pushed the limits of the genre, taking it to new dimensions, was Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and probably "Brian Salad Surgery", their fourth album, is the one that most faithfully represents it.

Starting with the controversial cover, excessive to the point of being vetoed and retouched due to the demands of the record label, up to the musical experimentation with all the imaginable instruments, and also the unimaginable ones, that could be used by Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer to add textures and spices to the increasingly ambitious creation of proposals, "Brian Salad Surgery" is the maximum point of sonorous boiling point of the band.

From the adaptations of the powerful hymn "Jerusalem" by British composer Hubert Parry as well as the classic and at times psychedelic "Toccata" by Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera, through the stealthy ballad "Still... You Turn Me On" and "Benny the Bouncer", the third and final chapter of the tavern rock started in Tarkus with "Jeremy Bender", the fundamental protagonist of the album, the extensive and overwhelming "Karn Evil 9", makes its way.

A fundamental contribution to progressive rock from its most symphonic side, "Karn Evil 9" is a compendium of what three virtuoso musicians working in harmony can generate. The suite in its thirty minutes, unfolds in an ocean of effects and instrumentation, highlighting in the 1st First and 3rd Impression above all, Emerson's moog synthesizers, which include more variants than ever, the hyper active percussion of Carl Palmer, and a Greg Lake much more settled to give the tone in the most vocally demanding parts, besides dispatching with a very successful guitar solo in the 1st Impression. Unknown at the time, "Karn Evil 9" not only closes "Brian Salad Surgery", but also the most splendid cycle of the British trio.


4/4.5 stars

Report this review (#2938805)
Posted Tuesday, July 11, 2023 | Review Permalink

EMERSON LAKE & PALMER Brain Salad Surgery ratings only

chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of EMERSON LAKE & PALMER Brain Salad Surgery

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.