Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Emerson Lake & Palmer - Black Moon CD (album) cover


Emerson Lake & Palmer

Symphonic Prog

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
2 stars It would be better if they never got back together to the studio and only play alive. So many years without ELP and they come up with an album that would be great to other bands, but not to one of the best progressive bands. This record is gold in comparison with their next studio album, "In The Hot Seat" (1994), in which only the first track counts and its average. In "Black Moon", there are some moments, like "Changing States", "Close to Home". But again, a band that once recorded Brain Salad Surgery could have reached further. The band just seem to be burned out. Except for Palmer, which is the same magician he always was.
Report this review (#14585)
Posted Monday, December 29, 2003 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Who's the new singer?

By the time "Black Moon" was released, Lake's voice had changed remarkably. The distinctive tones are still there, but he sings in a completely different, and much lower key. This is somewhat disconcerting at first, but you do get used to it.

"Black moon" was ELP's last credible album. It's certainly not their best, but they play and write as a band, even if to some extent the tracks are ELP by the numbers. There is a tendency to steer clear of the true prog which they explored on their early albums, the offerings here being more straightforward songs.

The opening track, apparently inspired by the burning oilfields of Kuwait during the Iraqi invasion, is a keyboard swamped piece of AOR, with little sign of the inspiration which created "Karn Evil 9" and the likes.

The obligatory classical interpretation is a stomping version of "Romeo and Juliet", you can almost picture Emerson's keyboard histrionics as he pounds the keys.

A good album, but not by any means one of the ELP greats.

Report this review (#14586)
Posted Thursday, March 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Fairly decent AORish prog that never hits any great highs but does at least manage to avoid the lows of ELPowell.The worst thing about this album is the flat production.Mark Mancina should not have been allowed anywhere near.Where's Eddie Offord when you need him?? Ignoring that there are some good songs.'Paper Blood' has some excellent Hammond work from Emerson and 'Affairs Of The Heart' showcases Lake's mature baritone quite nicely.There's also the very pleasant piano peice 'Close To Home' and the lovely 'Footprints In The Snow'.Those are the highs really.The rest is average at best.Overall a respectable comeback album that should have lead to better things but unfortunately.......
Report this review (#14588)
Posted Friday, June 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Emerson, Lake & Palmer got back together in 1991, older and hopefully wiser, to record this 1992 release, which has much more of a rock/pop feel than the Progressive Rock on their first five albums. However, unlike "Love Beach" (their earlier attempt at a more commercial sound) this album actually works. If you can listen to mainstream commercial rock and pop then you will probably like this album. All the tunes are catchy and the lyrics are good. Musician and producer Mike Mancina produced the album and contributed the song 'Burning Bridges'. Although the album has a more commercial sound there are still the Lake ballads, the 'serious' numbers and Emerson's take on a piece of classical music. So it's still ELP, just an ELP that has 'progressed'.

The Gulf War inspired the title track. The title comes from Lake's shock at seeing on TV the Kuwaiti oil fields burning and the thick black smoke filtering the sun into a 'black moon'. His lyrics talk of 'deserts burning' while Emerson's synthesizers and Palmer's percussion recreate the sounds of automatic rifle fire, fighter-bombers and shells slamming in. The band unashamedly borrowed the three-drumbeat riff from QUEEN's 'We Will Rock You' as the anchor for this track. After I got over that, it works. Good stuff.

'Paper Blood' is a real commercial rocker, but none the worse for that. Lake's lyrics talk of the power of money and appear to be a comment on how fortunes can quickly change for the worse (the band's, by any chance?). Could this be the reason for the carrousel on the album cover?

'Affairs Of The Heart' is a Lake/Downes love ballad with acoustic guitar and some pleasant orchestration, somewhat in the vein of 'Lucky Man' but with a more commercial flavour.

'Romeo and Juliet' is Emerson's arrangement of the superb 'Dance of the Knights' from Prokofiev's score for the ballet Romeo and Juliet (or the equivalent 'The Montagues and Capulets' from the orchestral suite Romeo and Juliet Suite No. 2 Opus 64ter). Apparently Emerson described it as 'an obvious choice'. So obvious in fact that I often wondered why it had not been done on one of the first five ELP albums. I'm going to have to eat the words in my review of "Pictures At An Exhibition" and say that here I prefer the original. If you get the chance, go to the ballet or listen to the orchestral suite: a big orchestra playing this piece is hard to beat. I would have preferred ELP to have been more adventurous and given 'The Montagues and Capulets' a bigger twist by playing around more with the score and using fatter synthesizers, more guitar and percussion. Still, what they did is very good and should impress fans of Progressive Rock.

'Farewell To Arms' is a hymn to peace and has a very Scottish feel to it with Emerson's synthesizer sounding like bagpipes. Granted it's not Progressive Rock, but it's a lovely song nonetheless.

'Changing States' is an Emerson instrumental sounding like an upbeat movie soundtrack (horses galloping through the surf on a beach, boats ploughing through the waters - you get the picture). Not Progressive Rock either, but well composed fluff and pleasant enough.

'Burning Bridges' is a song composed by Mike Mancina; sort of 'Michael Bolton meets ELP'. Again not Progressive Rock but, so what, I like it. A very catchy tune with nice strings, and a little bit of Emerson's synthesizer keeps me happy. A slick, commercial piece.

'Close To Home' is a pseudo-classical piano instrumental written by Emerson and Lake. It's no masterpiece but is again pleasant; almost the sort of thing one would expect to hear in a plush bar or restaurant. However it doesn't feel pretentious to me.

'Better Days' is another pop song a la Michael Bolton, this time a Lake song about a down-and-out, written after Emerson told him about a bag lady who he had taken pity on and slipped a ten-pound note. An OK song.

'Footprints In The Snow' is a great love ballad by Lake. It's pure pop with a very catchy tune, decent lyrics and nice backing orchestration. I like it.

The Sanctuary Records CD has some bonus tracks: the Single Edit of 'Black Moon' and edits of 'Affairs Of The Heart', 'Paper Blood' and 'Romeo And Juliet' complete with fade-outs. Not essential additions, but shortened repeats of the album's tracks.

I'm glad I own this album of very accessible, polished music. Progressive pop? Commercial rock? Whatever. I've heard worse Progressive Rock many a time. Three stars (Good, but non-essential).

Report this review (#14591)
Posted Wednesday, December 15, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is ELP`s comeback album after 12 years ( bar ELPowell, 3, ) . I must say that this could have been better with maybe Greg Lake producing but a bold effert none the less, Black Moon, Good solid track to start proceedings which in the beginning sounds like the Endless Enigma.

Paper Blood is next up a remake of Greg Lakes Ride the Tiger project with Geoff Downes and is and improvement on the former. Affairs of the Heart does now show Greg Lakes shortcomings i.e his deeper voice, but is OK.

Romeo and Juliet is missing something and I cant put my finger on it. Farewell to Arms , Burning Bridges, and Better Days are really ordinary AOR songs which should be better.

Changing States sounds like a Soundtrack to me and needed a bit help from L & P to give it that bit extra.

This leaves Close to home which I think is the best instrumental on the album and maybe the best track. But last but definately not least is the beautiful Footprints in the Snow on which Greg really shines , at least this wasn`t as catastrophic as the dreaded In Hot Seat.

Report this review (#39201)
Posted Monday, July 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Black Moon is ELP's one of the most accessible albums which has good quality music in it. To brush it aside as a mediocre work will be wrong. the songs are tight, the keyboard sounds perfectly like Emerson and it will definitely entertain a wide range of listeners. Lake's vocals here is more in control and I kind of like it very much. A 4 star rating from me.
Report this review (#49826)
Posted Monday, October 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Delusion, this was my first feeling after listening (twice) this record ELP is the music I was surrounded since I was 14th. After years I still have all their LPs and bought the first 4 + Works I CDs. Still... they turn me on :) Every one of those is something special. BSS definetly the best ever. The record is literally filled by Lake's ballads (Affairs of the Hearts outstanding tall) but let's see 'em:

Black Moon: it's funny, i could have easily mistaken this one as a Toto song. It's pretty but not that kind of song I wait to replay Paper Blood: here I got the clear impression something was wrong with my expectations Affairs of the Hearts: this one I loved really, their sound seems so "american" Romeo and Juliet: pretty Farewell to Arms: after the Pirates-like intro I painfully thought: oh my another ballad Changing states: plenty of nice moments, forgiving the western-movie-like tempo, it still lacks of inspirations. The ending is really sad, and empty Burning Bridges: another unusual piece for ELP hard to listen Close to Home: again some moments but same feeling: a jam crawling in emptiness Better days: not bad, but same story: a baseline waiting for something never happens Footprints in the Snow: not bad

Too bad good days are gone


Report this review (#59118)
Posted Sunday, December 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
2 stars Lots of changes abound in "Black Moon", but most painful is the odd shift in timbre of Lake's voice, which went from positively beautiful to husky and mediocre. What happened? He scarcely sounds like the same person. More disconcerting is the shift in songwriting to a much more accessible, almost radio-friendly sound; gone are the sweeping compositions and exciting instrumentals... there is very little to get excited about here, but not a lot to be disgusted with. They band still plays well, but they could have stirred up the creative juices a little more to give us something worthwhile-- even within the short, song-based framework they decided to record this one in.

Songwriting: 2 Instrumental Performances: 2 Lyrics/Vocals: 2 Style/Emotion/Replay: 1

Report this review (#126415)
Posted Wednesday, June 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
1 stars If you except "Emerson, Lake & Powell" released in 1985 this is the first true ELP album since their very average "Love Beach". Forteen years ago! Is there still a place for ELP in those days ? Let's hear.

The opener strongly reminds the Genesis type of compositions while they were three. Over-powered drumming (a la "We will Rock You"), almost heavy-rock sounds. Not a great start for an ELP fan I'm afraid. After five minutes of this "heavy" treatment, ELP will propose a nice and more traditional finale. Light and sweet then hypnotic (like during their interpretation of the "Bolero", ages ago).

The same heavy mood goes on in the next song. "Paper Blood" has absolutely nothing to do with the traditional ELP we have loved in the seventies. I can understand that a band needs to evolve to avoid boredom but I can't cope with this type of (d) evolution. As usual, we'll get the classic sweet and gentle ballad to remind us "Lucky Man", "Still..." etc. No need to say that "Affairs Of The Heart" is far to reach the quality of its glorious predecessors.

Since ELP have definitely difficulties in creating great songs, why not pumping into the classic repertoire and re-arrange a Prokofiev song ? I am not at all a specialist of classical music and I do not know the original. I can only say that when ELP did the same excercise with "Pictures", I quite liked it. With this one, the same boring feeling prevails. Just like during the syrupous "Farwell To Arms". Really pityful. I have almost the same feeling than during "Works" (whatever version) : an extreme disillusion. When ELP almost meets folk...

Shall we finally a good ELP song on this album ? Well, once you are ready to lower your expectations, "Changing States" might well be the one. Somewhat pompous as in their glory days, this track has the seal of a classic ELP song. Finally ! Emerson is rather effective, and Carl has probably never played better on this album. A nice instrumental moment and by far the best song of this album.

A bit of uneffective pop moment with "Burning Bridges" just gets you back to earth. We are heading again the all-time lows of their music. Press next of course. You'll enter into the classical territories with a piano solo. Actually, with so many poor songs, this might as well be one of the most bearable ones available on this album. Still, it sounds more as a piano bar song than anything else. But to my ears, it sounds way better than the funkish / AOR "Better Days". Awful.

To close this album, ELP offer another slow ballad. Not too bad but just good to fall asleep.

This album is poor. Almost no tracks is bringing a little passion. One star. Just ignore this album from your ELP discography.

Report this review (#130708)
Posted Sunday, July 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Emerson v Emerson with Victory Records as the Loser

I was really surprised at how low people rate this album given that it is probably the strongest ELP studio release since Brian Salad Surgery appeared in 1973.

Given that a reunion was completely unexpected and that our three heroes now found themselves aboard a sinking ship adrift on the choppy high seas of corporate 'rawk' (HMS Victory Records, who went under) they deserve great credit for producing a record as good as this one. Stories abound that Victory originally approached Emerson to compose a soundtrack for a movie and 'suggested' that he get Lake and Palmer on board. The fact that no-one involved can even name the film in question begs some questions. There are many others who view this version of events as apocryphal and would consider more plausible, Emerson's urgent need of huge amounts of cash after a vicious divorce had 'cleaned him out'

Go figure....

Short pieces are the order of the day here, with no extended suites as in days of yore. Some reviewers are convinced that the band were 'under instructions' to write concise, sharp and snappy radio fodder for this but Emerson's version of events is quite different. He has stated that he had 'carte blanche' from the record label to write and record whatever he wanted, irrespective of genre or track length.

OK, this AIN'T Trilogy or Tarkus but neither is it Love Beach or In the Hot Seat either. There is not a bad track on the album and although rather bereft of any obvious ELP instant classics, we have a very fine collection of symphonic prog tunes where a welcome 'modern' economy is evident.

The only real niggles I have are that Carl Palmer appears to have decided that in 1992 there is no place for 'interactive' drumming anymore, so his contributions are no more than a very elaborate 'click track' for Lake and Emerson to keep time. Although this adds considerable weight and power to the rhythm, and is consistent with a desired contemporary feel, much of the previous subtlety and interplay between the trio is lost as a result.

Also, Greg's voice has understandably lost much of its range and tone down the years, but I do miss that unique 'tenor sings rock' texture that only he and say, John Wetton seemed to possess.

BLACK MOON - A real 'grower' this one, as on first hearing I relegated it to 'stadium grunt' due to its use of the We Will Rock You drum beat (are you squirming yet Carl ?) but after repeated listens, the overall structure and complexity reveals itself, layer by layer. Check out the closing organ solo over the very inspired 'folky' bridge chord progression. True killer. Why, even fatboy has honed a social conscience for this one with his depiction of the planet ravaged by eco unfriendly nations etc

PAPER BLOOD - a simple 'rocker' but damn fine for all that. Greasy organ open fifths from Emo hammer out the deceptively simple riff over which Lake intones a tale of the futility of the acquisition of wealth (Right on sister! Greg's tits appear to have been firmly in the wringer when they booked the studio) Rather refreshing 'solo' from Mr E, which consists of some incredible stabbing of an ambiguous 'cluster' chord over the incessant rhythm? (You have to hear it)

AFFAIRS OF THE HEART - Greg's first contribution to the album, and a very fine acoustic ballad it is too with Emerson playing a very minimalistic (by his standards) and beautiful accompaniment on ethereal piano and synths. Like so much of his 'background' work on this record, the textures and timbres are exquisite. From memory, a version of this song was recorded by Lake and Geoff Downes ?

ROMEO AND JULIET - Prokofiev gets thrust into the ELP blender and comes out screaming. The beat has a real 'Hendrix' vibe and the synth sound used for the main melody is spine-tingling. Emerson has stated in an interview that before arranging this piece for the band he played the original piano score over and over again until he got it down perfectly...then threw the manuscript paper away (Prokofiev might have thrown it back, but who cares?) This track was a particular standout on the subsequent world tour.

FAREWELL TO ARMS - Perhaps the first 'baby clanger' on the album. Quite a decent tune but spoiled by Lake's rather mannered vocal (you know those really irritating instances when he 'speaks' the tagline of a song?) and the feel is not dissimilar to a rather sluggish adaptation of 'Elgar' The closing synth solo almost saves the day however, and there is more than a passing nod in the direction of 'Lucky Man Moog' here.

CHANGING STATES - this is an ELP version of a tune that Emo composed for a solo album (where it was called Another Frontier) Not really that different until the slowed down bridge section appears that precedes the ending. I actually prefer the solo album version but the superior organ, bass and drum sounds here make this a real treat. 'Bach' is the obvious inspiration here and Emerson whips up a real storm with his own inimitable appropriation of what the 'fugue' form should sound like.

BURNING BRIDGES - Surprisingly, this was a song written with ELP in mind, by the album's producer Mark Mancina and very fine it is too, replete with a strong melody and memorable chorus to boot. The organ sound and melodic shape employed throughout is redolent of 'Procul Harum' and never fails to summon the hairs on the back of my neck to attention. Exhilarating. (Mr Mancina is now a very successful and prolific composer of movie soundtracks).

CLOSE TO HOME - Emerson's solo piano piece and unfortunately not one of his best. Not a stinker by any stretch of the imagination, but this tune has always struck me as having 'odd' phrasing in the main hook and fails to satisfy despite some masterful playing and an interesting developmental section in the middle. Perhaps A Blade of Grass would have made a better choice. (I think this alternative solo piano track was included as a bonus track on subsequent reissues of the CD?)

BETTER DAYS - Mercy! this is almost funky?, with staccato clavinet and as close as Carl will ever get to approaching an 'urban' vibe on his kit. This type of modernity had been attempted before by ELP, but compared to other (atrocious) efforts on In the Hot Seat and Love Beach it proves they COULD assimilate contemporary developments within the broader context of a progressive style. I am advised that the storyline was inspired by an incident in Emerson's life where he (anonymously) gave a considerable amount of cash to a homeless person in the street. (NOT his ex wife presumably) The ending section to the fade out is magnificent. No pyrotechnics or 200 notes a minute here, just fantastic use of timbre, texture and dynamics to get the job done. Breathtaking (and simple)

FOOT PRINTS IN THE SNOW - Emerson must have loosened the reins to give Greg TWO solo pieces on the one record? Anyway, this is another fine acoustic song with a particularly memorable hook and although very understated, rather surprisingly provides the album with a satisfactory conclusion. (ELP usually started with a hurricane and built up to a climax)

So in summation: This album is NOT even remotely AOR or POP and I am puzzled by the charges of same leveled against it from previous appraisals. Certainly, the tracks are shorter than we have come to expect and there is no overriding 'concept' piece upon which to focus our attention. So what?

I just wish that those anodyne and soulless charlatans like Marillion, IQ, Pallas et al get the chance to hear what their own mutant baby christened 'Neo Progressive' COULD have been if put in the hands of the masters.

Report this review (#169136)
Posted Wednesday, April 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
Tom Ozric
4 stars To back up the previous reviewer, ExittheLemming, I would also consider this E.L.P. reunion album as a strong 'come-back' album, out of any of the 70's Prog-Giants (particularly Genesis and Yes from the same era...). Black Moon seems to continue in a more traditionally Progressive sounding realm, indeed the title-track opener is superb, even with the QUEEN-like rhythm from drummer Carl Palmer. Emerson reverts back to the Hammond Organ, not particularly for the nostalgia alone, but also to incorporate a 'vintage' sound in a modern context. The whole arrangement of the song suggests an epic feel, and a passionate return to the fundamentals of their whole artistic expression. We still get some complexity, classical symphonic inspiration, and a tightly composed set of songs here, as well as some commercially oriented material, but quite non-offensive, truth be told. A marked improvement from the few mediocre 80's recordings they were responsible for (E.L.Powell, '3'..). Quite a sensational live recording followed-up this album. Black Moon remains a testament to the power of this phenomenal trio, and a fairly strong resurgence for fans and Prog-Heads 'Karn Evil 9' here, but still an exciting blend of songs which demonstrates the intricacy and catchy sensibilities of this group of gifted musicians. This was the 'bee's knee' for me when it came out, and I still return to it time after time. The vinyl version leaves off an Emerson solo Piano piece, 'Blade of Grass' (from memory)...Closer to a 4 star, than a 3.
Report this review (#169140)
Posted Wednesday, April 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Nice to see some thought provoking discussion about ELP on here from Exitthelemming and TomOzric. Having said that I think a three-star rating for Black Moon is about right.

What made ELP so unique, great and exciting at their peak was the combination of brilliant musicianship and aggression/bombast - the older the band got the harder it became for them to re-create that. Black Moon sounds like a group of musically talented middle-aged men (as they were). Enjoyable enough, but mostly lacking the energy and excitement of the early 70s albums. Funnily enough my favourite track is Burning Bridges, written by producer Mark Mancina who seems to have more of a handle on what modern ELP should be doing than the band. It's almost ridiculously overblown and pompous with booming Hammond, wailing synth fanfares and portentous vocals and lyrics about God knows what (a pyromaniac?). Definite shiver down the spine classic ELP. Sadly the rest of the album doesn't quite measure up. Romeo and Juliet is too predictable a choice for a classical cover and sounds a bit corny (like Mars on the ELPowell album). ELP's best classical reworks were always the more off the wall less mainstream stuff like Knife Edge, The Barbarian and Toccata which all rocked furiously (something Romeo and Juliet emphatically doesn't). A band version of Ginastera's Creole Dance that Keith was performing live at the time might have been a more exciting, adventurous option. Better Days and Paper Blood are probably the other standouts on Black Moon, particularly the latter featuring some excellent bluesy harmonica from Greg and Keith's classic screaming Hammond chords. They are probably also the songs on here that best suit Greg's now 50-fags-a-day voice.

Carl Palmer does sound like a drum machine on a lot of this album which lends a rather cold, mechanical air to proceedings. His drumming is way better on Love Beach (superb in fact) and I tend to give that album more spins than BM. Despite the questionable material the band still retained a lot of their youthful energy on Love Beach.

In short I would put Black Moon above In the Hot Seat but below Love Beach, ELPowell and even the Three album which amidst all the AOR has the brilliant Desde La Vida - probably the best prog piece Emerson has produced since Pirates. Even as an ELP diehard three stars is the most I can give Black Moon.

Report this review (#169162)
Posted Wednesday, April 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars In 1992 ELP reformed to record Black Moon and set out on a World tour. I was very excited to hear that as ELP was one of my all time favorite bands and they had done nothing since the EL Powell mid 80's collaboration. I thought back then this album was a greally good effort. Sure the band had added the some of the trappings all music had in this day being influenced by MTV. They also had shortened their songs by quite a bit and in many way only appeared to offer the long time fan only glimpses of the past.

Lets review what an ELP album has to have. It needs a ballad, it needs a classical adaptation and it needs an epic. Even love Beach had all three. So does this album have this? Well certainly the ballad, kind of an almost John Denverish,in sound and structure, Affairs of the Heart. It has the classical adaptation, albeit short, in The Theme from Romeo and Juliet by Prokofiev.

Does this have an epic? Not really and there in lies its fatal flaw from being a classic to being merely good. Instead ELP try and add ELP epic moments to shorter songs. For instance the end of the Title Track where Keith does a multiple keyboard orchestration but someone forgot to tell Carl he needed to come along as well or the synth solo at the end of Farewell to Arms. Unfortunately these aren't epics and the closest we get to one is the 6 minute instrumental Changing States which comes off a lot like Canario did on Love Beach. I think though Carl still felt like he was drumming for Asia as there is none of the frantic quality he always put in an ELP classic. Instead it is a laid back Palmer who seems like he is just counting out time. I have to say it just wasn't Carl but ever since In the Air by Phil Collins came out every drummer threw away his cymbals and minimalized. There are moments in this song that do you get you thinking about how good these guys still were and even though its not quite enough it was better than 99% of the music coming out in this time period.

Then there is Keiths solo piano piece called Close to Home. I always have loved this one. It reminds me of Jefferson Airplanes guitarist Jorma Kaukanen's Embryonic Journey. Just an quiet introspection of the artist and his instrument. After that it gets a bit sketchy with Burning Bridges written by the albums producer Mark Mancina. I knew Mark when we were both younger and it is a well crafted pop/rock power ballad but not for ELP although Mark sure knows how to get the best sound out of Keith's Synths. They do soar on this CD.

Some of the rest of the songs sound like they could have been on a Greg Lake solo album rather than an ELP and putting an Emerson solo on such a song does not make it ELP. Still all in all these guys did a pretty good job with this and the tour was fun as well. My opinion has changed since 1992 but this is still a 3 star.

Report this review (#170814)
Posted Monday, May 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
TGM: Orb
3 stars Review 38, Black Moon, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, 1992


I really like this much-maligned (here, at least) album, though it's probably not for everyone. Greg Lake's voice has certainly faded since its glory days, but is still passable, and has a certain verve and aggression that suits numbers like Black Moon and Paper Blood. Palmer does have a rather less constantly-shifting style that takes a while to get used to and appreciate, but still gives some solid moments. Emerson is on top form throughout, whether with vicious Hammond or gentle piano. It's not going to be another reiteration of their glory days, but it is a collaborative effort and well worth taking a listen to.

Black Moon's classic title track opens with a tense, dark atmosphere created mostly by Emerson's shimmering keyboard choices, including a bizarre, brief, crashing piano solo. Palmer and Lake kick in with a rather We Will Rock You -esque beat, though it's heavily elaborated (one or two brief bass solos also colour it). Lake's vocal, strong and aggressive, drives through the excellent and biting lyrics ('We don't get active, we become immune/Black Moon.'), and the synths give a certain strut to the political lyrics. We get two incredibly good solos from Emerson, and towards the end Palmer gives us some interesting classical-ish drumming choices which hark back to the glory of Toccata. A classic ELP track, equal with much of their past fare.

Paper Blood is aggressive ELP-fare, with a superb performance from Emerson on the hammond, giving some stabbing bursts of energy as well as that lovable blues block organ. Palmer's heavy, but quite relaxed, drumming suits the song down to the ground, and Greg Lake doesn't do badly on the vocals/lyrics department. Some strong harmonica adds yet another colour to the mix. A very thick riff holds the song together.

Affairs Of The Heart is (Shock, horror. They've betrayed prog) a ballad, with some standard Lake acoustic strumming complimented by a couple of bursts of interest. His vocals (despite some extremely good lyrical lines ['faces like a ghost with eyes of jade]) do finder it harder to cope with the extended showcase, but when Palmer and Emerson (especially, some amazingly emotional soft keyboard additions, piano and others) come in, it does take off very impressively.

The interpretation of Tchaikovsky's Romeo And Juliet has a very vicious and dark colour of its own, with strutting synths, loud and superbly interesting drumming and even Greg Lake guitar soloing of the highest order. Palmer definitely feels very much in his element on this one, and I'm a sucker for a dark (/re-)interpretation of classical pieces. Great stuff.

Farewell To Arms has a harder time contending with the rest, because despite some reverent organ and absolutely beautiful piano from Emerson (as well as excellent bass, and not-so-great acoustics from Lake). Palmer doesn't quite match up to himself in the song, feeling a bit subserviant to the mix. Lake's vocals are basically the song, and, though generally good, but overblown, they do border on the tacky at times. A whirly moog solo that from Emerson, almost a nod to Lucky Man, leads us out.

Changing States seems almost like a soundtrack piece, with an array of great piano, synthesiser and organ parts leading to the pompous and cheerful addition of a bizarre drum-bass combination which whimsically take a solo or add in something. Emerson gives us both the main tune and some variations on smaller instruments which take a little listening to notice. Basically, ELP doing what ELP do, but with a different basic sound. Lots of variations from everyone involved, a panache and grandeur that isn't to be missed.

Burning Bridges (written by manager, Terry Mancina) begins with a tense drum-part and some thick organ, with the later addition of some piano and bass, before it develops to a pop tune (I love it, don't care.). Greg Lake gives us some great vocals and lyrics to this pop tune. Keith Emerson's wonderfully dripping brief piano and organ solos, and his musicianship throughout shows how great musicians can work superbly in a pop context. Carl Palmer also provides some very fierce work in addition to his basic beat. Pop tune, but I like it.

The odd Close To Home is a piano solo (so I can't help the musicians). The feel is rather carefree, structured, but not tightly so, and played gently and carelessly on a warm afternoon. There is a rather developing feel throughout the solo. Warm and cheerful, but I can't evaluate it.

Better Days is a punchy, almost-electronic-feeling piece, with catchy bass and drums, some rocking keyboards from Emerson, mostly tolerable (narrative) lyrics and good vocals from Lake. Palmer gets to use some bells as well as a bass drum-heavy beat. All in all, a good pop song, with Emerson and Palmer giving it a little extra class.

Footprints In The Snow is another of the ballads, with the usual Greg Lake acoustics, which I can't say I find very interesting, but also some gorgeous piano additions, background keys and small bass parts. Lake's voice doesn't really have too much difficulty handling the spotlight, and the lyrics are good enough for the piece, though not great. The gradual build up in the last verse is sublime, and the conclusion for the album is prety strong.

The bonus material on my remaster is banal. Four edits with reduced atmospheric build-up. No point in listening any further than Footprints In The Snow, really. I could have done without the extras.

Basically, around half of this album is heavily pop-based or ballad-styled, so if you don't care for that, put it somewhere later on in your ELP-list. However, this half is very well done, and the other half (Romeo And Juliet, Black Moon, Changing States, etc.) is certainly not to be missed by anyone who likes ELP (or doesn't), and I think a reasonably open-minded prog fan should be happy with it. Not a masterpiece, certainly, but a very good album in a changed musical world.

Rating: Four Stars Favourite Track: Black Moon

Edit: Dropped carefully to three stars. Same recommendations apply, but I think that three reflects them better by comparison to some of my other ratings.

Report this review (#171828)
Posted Wednesday, May 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Of among all the comebacks which we have attended (and, in many cases, suffered) in the last 15 years, one of the worthiest was that of the emperors of the symphonic rock, Emerson, Lake and Palmer. After an absence of fourteen years from their last studio work (apart from the projects Emerson, Lake and Powell and Three), it was the whole mystery to know how the famous power-trio would sound. They did not do very much noise announcing their return, but nevertheless they offered a product of great quality. In fact, the record is a stylistic continuation of their last albums of the 70: short, very well interpreted tracks, including the typical ballads based on the acoustic guitar and Lake's voice ( Affairs of the heart , Farewell to arms and Footprints in the snow ), the instrumental tracks led by Emerson's keyboards ( Changing states and Closer to home ), the powerful songs in which the three musicians sound compact and play of equally to equally as for level of protagonism ( Black moon , at the level of their big classic ones of long ago; Paper blood , with Lake playing harmonica in the introduction; Better days , slightly more experimental and with a more modern sound), an almost AOR half-time ( Burning bridges ) and a version of Prokofiev's classic "Romeo and Juliet . All in all, a very good record.
Report this review (#172393)
Posted Wednesday, May 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is nowhere near as good as the great ELP albums of the early 70's, but that doesn't mean that it isn't good. There are no grand epics but there is a collection of good songs. Lake's voice has changed and so has Palmer's drumming style, but this is still better than a lot of albums out there in the prog world in my opinion.
Report this review (#172808)
Posted Sunday, June 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars This is easily the best Emerson Lake & Palmer album since Brain Salad Surgery that was released 20 years earlier! Of course, Black Moon is not as inventive and adventurous as the bands classic 70's albums. However, that is irrelevant since this is also a different type of music. Black Moon is more of a rock album, and it rocks quite hard at times too. The songs here are really good and memorable.

There are no long conceptual pieces here (like Tarkus or Karn Evil 9), there are also no ultra intricate, experimental things (like Toccata), but still this album really captures the true spirit of the band. We find here great instrumental passages; Romeo And Juliet, Changing States, good hard rock songs; Black Moon, Paper Blood, and even Greg Lake's ballads are good this time; Farewell To Arms, Footprints In The Snow. The latter are easily Lake's best songs of this type since Lucky Man and In the Beginning from the very early 70's.

This album is also very consistent. There aren't really any standout tracks, but also no weak tracks. In many ways Black Moon is the exact opposite of Works Vol.1 where the three members did quite different things from each other on their respective vinyl sides. Here on the other hand, they really feel like a band again, working together.

This album is highly recommended if you like this band. For me personally this is one of the three or four best Emerson Lake & Palmer albums of all time.

Excellent addition to any prog music collection

Report this review (#177995)
Posted Wednesday, July 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars I guess many fans of ELP hailed Black Moon as a triumphant comeback. I do recall quite a bit of fanfare for this release back in 1992 and it was enough to peak my curiosity at the time. I too thought it was a pretty good album, but really didn't think it was anywhere near as good as their 1985 album with Cozy Powell. Strangely enough, this album disappeared off the radar (at least in the States) in less than a few months. Apparently it did better elsewhere. Today, about 16 years later, it hasn't aged well at all in progressive rock terms.

Let's face it. This album hardly merits the mention of the word progressive in the traditional sense. It's nearly completely in the AOR/pop rock vein, with maybe the exception of the Romeo and Juliet instrumental. It's clearly on the tail end of that 1980s sound that so ruined many a prog band and fits in nicely with its dinosaurian contemporaries of the time, like Genesis' We Can't Dance, Asia's Aqua, and Eloy's Destination.

Probably the best quality this album has is that it's probably the first album where the entire band seems to be involved in a team effort. Also, for AOR/pop rock, it's not that bad, and is rather better than other similar pop music from the time period.

I suppose one can argue as to how progressive this album is. I'm not convinced that it even warrants usage of such an esteemed word. Because of this, I can't see it ever being higher than two stars. For fans, collectors, and those pursuing a historical study of the downfalls of great prog bands.

Report this review (#180783)
Posted Monday, August 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars ELP is a strange band, initially the first outright prog supergroup (and when you realize that Blind Faith only lasted one paltry album: arguably THE rock amalgamation of all time). Big boys, bigger arsenals of equipment and even bigger egos contributed to a phenomenon that espoused the fragility of fame and fortune in the music world, where you were indeed a "lucky man" what with all the horny groupies, the "tossed out the hotel window TV sets" attitude, the nasty drugs and the endless enigma of touring. Certainly, their recorded output up to Brain Salad Surgery is considered as topnotch examples of classical-infused power trio progressive rock but as the punkers stated their bloodless revolution (led according to lore by the aptly named The Vibrators), the virtuosos started running out of steam and ideas, egged on by the greedy corporations and the onset of diluted pop-prog by 1978-79. The death knell had sounded thanks to monolithic wastes of time, energy, vinyl and talent like the bloated Works Volumes 1 and 2, more embarrassing than anything and fuel for the untalented and frustrated to "revitalize" popular music by encouraging ugly idiots who could play two notes real well! By 1992, the punk phenomenon had petered into disarray (hey, how many combinations of 2 notes can you come up with?) and the music world was in a momentary lapse of marketing, hence ELP decided to go for the gap and try to wiggle through and make a splash. As many others here have commented correctly, it was a mitigated success, as "Black Moon" has some interesting tracks as well as some 'yuck'. Firstly, how can they agree on such a boring cover, with such dismal artwork, I mean the circus is a cool place and an attraction like the carousel can be enlightening but please, where was BSS' Giger when you really needed him? Secondly, the production is way too sterile and "poppy" with little warmth and no character at all. Who is this Mark Mancina anyway? The title track certainly has "oomph" as it steamrollers mightily with verve, confidence and authority, rousingly referring to the burning Iraqi oil fields of Gulf Storm and giving Lake's shakier voice some depth. One is almost reminded of Queen's anthemic "We Will Rock You" pounding, as Palmer does his best Roger Taylor imitation and Emerson reverts to blaring his fanfarish synths with undisguised ardor. Good emphatic opener, somewhat ruined by the next silly affair, the politically charged "Paper Blood", which could have been vastly improved had the lads rejected the gooey cheese they wrapped around it! A real corny and ultra-simplistic organ riff leads this horrid sing-along, I mean Asia could do this better and that is sad, perhaps this where the inspiration came from in the first place. The hysterical harmonica does little to relieve the pain. "Affairs of the Heart" reveals a quieter mood, time for Lake to provide one of his patented ballads but alas, his voice had altered greatly in the intervening years and he comes astoundingly across sounding more like David Cousins of the Strawbs, especially when the vessel resembles traditional British folk songs. The resemblance is uncanny and this sentiment will resurface later with equally Brit-folkish "A Farewell to Arms" as well as the closer "Footprints in the Snow". "Romeo & Juliet" is why I purchased this way back when in the first place and it is a classic piece of genius that has epic, empirical intonations full of bombast, majesty and clout. The sibilant synths marshal forward boldly, with swagger and utter poise, a modern diversion on Prokofiev's classic piece. Still revered today in many circles (and oft sampled) as ideal "entrance" music, be it at an event, a wedding or a concert. Simply magnificent! The Emersonian instrumental "Changing States" begins nicely with stately piano, church organ and a rousing "entrée en scene" that playfully rollicks onward, a good but not mindboggling return to form. "Burning Bridges" has little or no relevance to a prog fan, a pedestrian affair that is verging near revolting, tasteless corn! Even the organ snippets cannot save this bummer, got to (Black) Moon this one! Next! "Close to Home" is a piano solo that would do well in the bar lounge of a respectable 5 star hotel, say the Paris Ritz or even the Beverly Wilshire, Emerson doing his best Richard Gere/Pretty Woman midnight recital , as the wait staff boringly broom away the glitter, waiting to go home. Back to the sludge with the ridiculous "Better Days", a Chris deBurgh-like storytelling cough introducing a rather pedestrian sing-along rock song with funky clavinet and strained Lake vocals, "Stand on Me" repeated ad nauseum, with the wimpiest organ solo and the worst plodding drums ever from Palmer. Brutal trash. "Footprints in the Snow" mercifully revisits some faraway and discreet elegance, a genial nod to Cousins and his nasal twang with acoustic guitars and melancholic chorus. A little polish and a lot of spit would have elevated this a tad higher but three merry-go-rounds is more than enough!
Report this review (#204827)
Posted Sunday, March 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Prog Specialist
2 stars ELP plays ELP twenty years too late

When people in or outside the Progressive Rock universe discuss what was wrong with the genre, the name EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER always is mentioned, they are accused of pompous, self indulgent, arrogant, and many other things.......I always protest on such silly accusations, because Prog is a pompous genre and ELP played an important role in the definition of it.

ELP was one of the brightest stars of our beloved genre, but the price they paid for such brilliance is that they burned too fast, after a good debut and the respected "Tarkus", came "Trilogy" and Brain Salad Surgery", the peak of their glory enhanced by the fantastic live album "Welcome Back my Friends....", but it was only 1974 and while other bands kept growing, ELP started to progressively loose credibility, reaching the bottom of the pit with "Love Beach" an album that should had never been recorded.

After this disaster, they split and nobody believed we would hear more about them, but in 1994 the trio was back and releasing "Black Moon" in an attempt of recovering they well deserved place in Prog history, and honestly it was their best release since 1976, but this wasn't enough, the old formula was exhausted and what impressed us in the 70's, was only cliche in the 90's, specially after during the peak of the Swedish Renaissance.

The album is opened with Black Moon and it's promising opening of Synth and piano, but as soon as Carl Palmer hits the drums, the listener will discover it's only a pale echo of the past, very pompous and strong, with a Lake still in his peak, but lack of substance, as if they had lost the path and couldn't find the way back, the previously impressive keyboard solos, sound boring and unimaginative, not a good start.

"Paper Blood" is an improvement, the harmonica makes it sound fresher, and Keith selection of organ is impressive, but the problem subsists, a couple of good ideas,. but little substance, no matter how hard they try with the old formula, they are not able to cause the same impression as twenty years before.

What else can they do at this point?....I know, try with their ability to recreate classical musicians works, and they choose well, "Romeo and Juliet" by Serge Prokofiev is a pompous, explosive piece of music even when a bit repetitive, but instead of making what they know best, destroy the original work to create something new and radical, they follow the original composition with some effects but nothing more.

Until this point ELP has failed in the attempt of playing ELP music by following their old format, but there's still something to try....A Lake ballad in the vein of "Lucky Man", "Still yo Turn Me On" or at least "Ces't La Vie", but "Affairs of the Heart" is as simple and unimaginative as the name, and the same comment is valid for "Farewell to Arms"

I could continue with all the other tracks, but all of them sound like a pathetic attempt of playing ELP music following the old script, but except for the brilliant "Better Days", they keep falling miserably, turning in a tribute band of themselves, for God's sake, even the piano interlude"Close to Home" by the fantastic Emerson makes feel sleepy, they aren't able to do what they do best, maybe it was time to attempt something new.

The sad thing is that they are not doing anything wrong, they are following the frames they created, but what was imaginative in 1974, is less than average in 1994.

If it was almost any other band, the album would deserve at least 3.5 stars, but great bands are judged by their own standards and for EMERSON LAKE & PALMER, this album is worth 2 stars, maybe 2.5 to make it average.

Report this review (#229150)
Posted Friday, July 31, 2009 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
2 stars I am shocked by the number of good reviews, and horrified by the five star reviews this album has received. They must have been written by people that think the last half dozen Genesis albums are progressive gems.

First, Greg Lake sounds like he spent the previous twelve years sitting in his house chain smoking. Or maybe if he just cleared out whatever was blocking his throat, he could get some of that golden tone he once had. And Carl Palmer must have thought he was still pounding out simple beats for Asia. And the songwriting? Except for a couple of songs, everything here is AOR. Sure, Emerson's keyboards pump a little energy into the music here and there, but there is none of the grandiose boldness that once made ELP one of the top bands in the genre.

The saving graces of the album are Romeo & Juliet from the Prokofiev ballet, and Changing States, both of which can be found in slighly different forms, and under different titles on Emerson's far superior solo album, Changing States.

Really, the best thing about this album was the reunion itself, which gave us a chance to see ELP playing some of their classic material.

Report this review (#241350)
Posted Friday, September 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars 4 reasons to buy this album:

Black Moon (6:59)

Paper Blood (4:29)

Better Days (5:37)

Romeo And Juliet {Prokofiev, arranged by Emerson} (3:43)

I had heard all of these tracks live on DVDs and live CDs and enjoyed the new sound and thought that this album would therefore be a definite triumph. I was wrong. It is no triumph, but it would have been good enough to bow out on, rather than release the slap-your-granny- awful 'In the Hot Seat'.

The reunion of ELP was not as successful as they may have hoped but this effort blows 'Love Beach' out of the water, in fact off the beach altogether. The Black Moon album boasts prog in bursts and some inspired instrumentals from the power trio. There are some excellent moments, the aforementioned songs are terrific but others are quite memorable and catchy. The obligatory ballad chimes in with Affairs of the Heart and Lake is strong vocally. He sings different than the classic albums but it's pleasant enough. The drums are nothing much to write home about but effective nonethelesss. Emerson shines in places and seems to be enjoying the reunion. This was the last great hurrah from the band proving they still have some innovation and are deserved of the tag - one of the greatest progenitors of prog rock.

It may not be up to the standard of thier classic albums from debut to Trilogy, but it is streets ahead of Love Beach and In the Hot Seat does not even hold a candle to it. One of the better more recent ELP albums by a long shot.

Report this review (#242056)
Posted Tuesday, September 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars I heard "Black Moon" on the radio some years back and it didn't sound too bad. In fact I decided to give ELP another chance and I bought the "Black Moon" cassette. I was pleasantly surprised. It was definitely better than the crappy "Love Beach."

My favorite on the album was "Romeo and Juliet." It was somewhat lively and enjoyable. Unfortunately, gone are the days of their former glory. You will not find anything that is too adventurous on this record at all, save "Romeo and Juliet." Still, I did mildly enjoy popping the cassette in and listening to the whole album more than a few times. I don't know what happened to Greg Lake's great voice, but it had changed, and not for the better. I think though, that "Black Moon" is probably the next favorite for me. Lake still has some very visual stuff left in him. I called a local radio station and requested to hear "Black Moon." The disc jockey told me the band just did this one for their fans. I wished they had done it for the sake of real prog lovers. That is why I am giving it 2 stars.

Report this review (#278302)
Posted Saturday, April 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars "Black Moon" is the return of Palmer with Emerson & Lake. But sure this album isn't a Prog album. The style is various from Classic Rock to AOR to a strange fake Prog (in "Closer To Home", that is only a Romantic Classic Prog and in Prokofiev's rearranged version of "Romeo and Juliet"). In this moment I listen to "Better Days" and I remember this New Wave(!!!!!!!!) song as radio hit... This album have also good song, I think to "Black Moon" or "Affairs Of The heart", rather than "Close To Home". But I think that the magniloquence of Emerson (remember "Tarkus" or other 70's compositions?) was lost on the way, in the sense that there is no trace of it. This is bad. (Because if present is not good but if Emerson magniloquence is not present is still worse!).

So, if you since an album of Classic Rock... or better, an album of POP by a great Prog band I think that "Black Moon" is good. Vice versa I think that "Black Moon" is not a good album. But serious and honest yes.

Report this review (#372628)
Posted Tuesday, January 4, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Maybe you'll find my review a bit tendentious. Black Moon was my introductory album to ELP. This happened back in the days when i was a 15 year old boy that was already a fan of Pink Floyd, Supertramp and other more commercial bands of the 70's like Dire Straits and Queen.The way to accustom an ear to the prog world is ought to be progressive itself. For many people, listening to agressive prog like Yes, Gentle Giant and King Crimson for the first time is like killing the little chance they had to gain interest in this astonishing genre. This was the album that awakened the real passion i have for music complexity nowadays, therefore it has a deep sentimental value to me. I know that the levels of originality are far below the primordial standards, but you've got to remember that they had a very long hiatus on their careers, the reunion on the 90's must had required quite a study in order to conquer new audience. At least they dared to try something different, unlike many bland grunge bands at the time.Still an arguably eclectic set of tracks at the disposal of prog laymans.

3 stars - in general 4 stars - from me 5 stars - Progland foreigners

Report this review (#426437)
Posted Friday, April 1, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars The Emerson, Lake & Powell incident exluded (Palmer busy with Asia), this is the first Emerson, Lake and Palmer album since Love Beach. An album I don't think is loved among us.

Black Moon is still a romp in AOR land with a couple of forays into good old ELP land too. They have done a Yes and Pink Floyd here who also at that time moved into AOR. Radio airplay is the key. Something I am sure ELP got with some of the songs here.

The best stuff here is actually the straight AOR songs. The title track and Farewell To Arms is two very good songs. Their foray into classical music/muzak i also good. There are some not so good songs here. But my overall impression is that this is a good album. Far better than expected.

3 stars

Report this review (#569831)
Posted Friday, November 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars A strong return to form 13 years after their dissolution in 1979. The playing is surprisingly muscular, and the band tight and authoritative. Quite a change from the whimper and disappointment that was "Love Beach". The songwriting is more concise and contemporary, though Emerson does manage to get in one classical adaptation with the "Dance Of The Knights" from Prokofiev's ballet Romeo & Juliet. I was quite excited when it was released in '92 and have really enjoyed this album through the years, though if anything I had hoped that it would have been a bit more adventurous, or at least had forecast of greater creative glory to come for ELP. Unfortunately the story did not play out that way, but we have this record to remind us of just how good these fellows were when the stars aligned properly. ***1/2
Report this review (#808605)
Posted Wednesday, August 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Finally a decent cover art. After Love Beach I couldn't expect any good artwork haha. I think Love Beach is a way better than Black Moon. This is where Emerson, Lake and Palmer turned themselves into a crossover prog band. After all, Keith Emerson is leading the tracks again. And Greg Lake's voice... is it Greg Lake? His is sounding very different here. The energy spent by Carl Palmer to make Love Beach a good album was erased - the Love Beach's hero is the Black Moon bad seed. Once again, not a bad album. Good, sure. But weak times. Favorite track: Paper Blood.
Report this review (#946108)
Posted Thursday, April 18, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars I've long given up on ELP as their classic period had concluded with "Brain Salad Surgery" - at least in the sense of a complete album worth of admiration. Having heard their efforts since left me underwhelmed - if not bitterly disappointed. With that in mind, I've bought this CD only because it was marked down with a cut out inner sleeve. What I paid for was worth the expense though, in relative terms.

The title song "Black Moon" doesn't do a thing for me. indeed I find it rather ordinary and totally forgettable. What follows is "Paper Blood" a dynamic and excellent riff based piece that is akin to a Rock anthem, closer to Deep Purple's "Machine Head" era than anything to do with ELP, ever. But it's a great piece and the harmonica playing complements it splendidly. This tune alone was worth my purchase.

That Lake sings about "American Express" in a critical tone is a bit rich, considering the band were flown around in private jets with no expense spared. Surely, they are not short of a restaurant meal paid by credit card, or have they made bad investments?

Lake's socio-conscious messages carry through the album and it's hard to tell if they are genuine concerns, or just a populist approach. Nevertheless, his ballads here are far better when compared with "Love Beach" and the rest since BSS.

Emerson makes an effort to be noticed in a couple of mediocre compositions that are kinda OK, but far from his best. This band has largely lost their drive, one that made them Prog peers. I consider this album better than average since BSS, but hardly a masterpiece.

Surprisingly, ELP are still able to perform excellent live renditions of their classic era, so what makes them churning out sub-standard studio material remains a mystery. And here I agree with a previous comment that implies that Mark Mancina's involvement was detrimental to the end product.

Report this review (#1165005)
Posted Friday, April 25, 2014 | Review Permalink
2 stars I have recently followed "Emerson, Lake & Palmer's" career and most of their material hav yet been absolutely lovely to listen to. The last record I reviewed was Emerson, Lake & Powell from 1985 with a totally different drummer. This time I will write about "Black Moon" from 1992 with the proper line up. Twenty two years ago ELP made their second last record. The cover of this record shows a carousel whirling around. I wouldn't say it is especially interesting to look at. Unfortunately the music isn't very interesting either. Some songs have decent themes and enjoyable melodies. Though is the whole experience negative of this record.

As usual, Carl Palmer drums, but the rhytms are quite usual and Keith Emerson doesn't make his best works on the keyboard. Neither does Greg Lake with his voice, it hasn't the same edge as before.

I like some of the songs: "Black Moon" initiates the album with a typical quite rocky ELP' song (6/10). "Romeo and Juliet" has something interesting in it, well it's a lovely melody but ELP here doesn't make anything extraordinary with the classical piece as with "Pictures at an exhibition"(6/10) and "Farewell to arms" and "Burning Bridges" have beautiful vocals and some of the holy feeling the band has proved before (7/10). The other songs, unfortunately aren't so special that I want to write about them. Sometimes it just feels like that the listening time is too long. As a whole this album doesn't work well. This was absolutely not the same band that produced so magic music twenty years earlier. Two stars!

Report this review (#1171431)
Posted Monday, May 5, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars ELP's first studio album since 1978's "Love Beach" album. With this happening after Keith Emerson recorded two albums with two different bands. First, the "Emerson Lake and Powell" (1986) album, with Greg Lake, and with Cozy Powell (who replaced Carl Palmer, who at the time was with ASIA and didn't participate). And later, with the band called "3" (with Carl Palmer, and with Robert Berry replacing Greg Lake) which recorded their "To the Power of Three" (1988) album. With both bands and albums having some influences from the mid to late eighties's musical sounds, but with the "To the Power of Three" album being even more Pop Rock in style, and with the two albums having moderate success, and with both bands having a brief existence.

For this album titled "Black Moon", the band was signed to Victory Music Records, a record label which also signed YES in 1993 and other famous musicians like DAVID BOWIE and his band called TIN MACHINE. That record label had a brief existence, and later disappeared due to financial problems. Anyway, ELP recorded three albums for that record label ("Black Moon" 1992; "Live at the Royal Albert Hall, 1993; "In the Hot Seat", 1994) before their split as a band in 1998.

For this "Black Moon" album, the band had, for the first time, external producers (Mark Mancina, Ian Morrow, John Van Tongeren), with the first time in their history on which Greg Lake was not the producer of their albums. The album also was influenced by a more "modern" sound for the nineties, with a more Pop Rock /Prog Rock musical style, with more modern keyboards and drums sounds. In fact, some of the drums sound like being played in an electronic drum kit, and some percussion parts in fact sound like being programmed. Also, Greg Lake's voice obviously sounds changed, due to the natural passing of time, with him singing in a lower register, but singing very well.

This "Black Moon" album is a very good album, in my opinion. Different to their most Progressive albums of the seventies, and maybe more related to the "Emerson Lake and Powell" and "To the Power of Three" albums but still with some Prog Rock influences. Maybe they sound more "mature", due to the natural passing of time, but they sound very well.

The best songs in this album are "Black Moon", Paper Blood", "Romeo and Juliet" (an arrangement by Emerson to a theme from Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet"), "Farewell to Arms" (which sounds to me in a similar way to ELPowell's "Lay Down Your Guns"), and "Footprints in the Snow". Even producer Mark Mancina (who also worked with YES and with Trevor Rabin) contributed with one song ("Burning Bridges"). Greg Lake contributed with two ballads ("Affairs of the Heart", written by him with ASIA's Geoff Downes in 1988; and "Footprints in the Snow", written only by him). Keith Emerson contributed with two very good instrumental pieces ("Changing States" and "Close to Home"). Carl Palmer co-wrote two songs with Emerson and Lake ("Black Moon" and "Paper Blood"). Emerson and Lake wrote two songs together ("Farewell to Arms" and "Better Days").

A very good "reunion album" from ELP. Maybe less Progressive and more "modern" in musical terms for the nineties, but very good anyway, in my opinion.

Report this review (#1535125)
Posted Thursday, March 3, 2016 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Team
2 stars After 14 years without a studio album and following up the mostly horrendous "Love Beach" album, Emerson, Lake & Palmer finally try again with a their 8th studio album "Black Moon". Fans were hoping for a return to form, but unfortunately, a complete return to form would not be happening as this album, though heavier than "Love Beach", the sound stays with a more popular straightforward rock sound.

The album starts off with a lot of hope however. The title track leads off the album with a heavy and driving song. It even opens with Emerson showing off on the piano a bit, and you automatically start to get your hopes up. A heavy beat is established, and you get a pretty much straightforward hard rock song, with some nice hints of their glory days, and right away it seems like, even if it is pretty standard, it is at least better than anything on "Love Beach".

Following this is another organ heavy "Paper Blood", again a track that stays on the heavy side, yet different enough from the opener as the organ is heavier and you even get a nice harmonica solo. It is still quite standard again, but at least it has a great rock edge to it and Greg Lake's vocals are quite good. Unfortunately, the next track is co-written by Geoffrey Downes, and when I saw that the first time, I lost all hope. Downes has been known to be the downfall of many great classic Rock and/or Progressive acts. The track is "Affairs of the Heart" starting with a nice strummed guitar and an okay, yet somewhat schleppy, ballad. But, it's back to the pop sound. Lake's vocals are still top notch and at least it's still not as weak as the music on the previous album.

Unfortunately, things go even further down hill from here and continue to do so. Its like they made the track list to go from the most interesting track to the most boring at the end.

"Romeo and Juliet" is a rocked-out version of the Prokofiev modern-classical work which utilizes one of the melodies and turns it into a rock march. Not too bad, and somewhat reminiscent of the re-workings of other classical music themes the band was famous for, but it's short and doesn't feature a lot of improvisation or ingenuity. It is really only a slight step above "Hooked on Classics". After this instrumental comes "Farewell to Arms". This is where I start to lose interest, as this track is just too much like something from "Love Beach", corny and overly sentimental.

"Changing States" is an instrumental written and led by Emerson. Again, it has some semblance to his earlier instrumentals, but offers nothing really challenging like in the past. Just pretty much a stately melody, but nothing very fancy. "Burning Bridges" is a boring pop song. "Close to Home" is just Emerson trying his had at new age solo piano in a piece that steals from Rachmaninoff but not giving him credit. I'm not sure what happened to emotions or dynamics in this track, but it's like Emerson had forgotten what that was. "Better Days" is a bad attempt at being current with a funky vibe, but ends up just sounding dated. "Footprints in the Snow" is as dumb as it sounds as Lake is contemplating following in the footsteps of Rod Stewart and that his next solo album is going to be a collection of old standards that the blue haired ladies will go crazy over. Thank goodness it didn't quite come to that. Some editions also contain another bonus track which is just more new age piano.

So, the album is only slightly better than "Love Beach" and their next awful album "In the Hot Seat" which has no saving grace. Listening to these albums is like listening to a bad imitation. Emerson had become one-dimensional, Lake was becoming a lounge singer, only Palmer really held on to his amazing ability and you hear some great drumming on here, unfortunately, the material doesn't support his talent. ELP's glory days were over and now they seemed to only be in it for the fame.

Report this review (#2054896)
Posted Sunday, November 11, 2018 | Review Permalink

EMERSON LAKE & PALMER Black Moon ratings only

chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of EMERSON LAKE & PALMER Black Moon

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