EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER LEGACY CONTINUES
'Trilogy', 'Brain Salad Surgery, 'Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends, Ladies And Gentlemen...'
Release Date: 30th September 2016 (BMG)
With a name-check history and virtuoso musicianship, Emerson Lake & Palmer epitomised the term 'Supergroup' and were one of the biggest progressive rock bands in the world during the 70s. A legacy that continues to this day, and a band that reformed sporadically, each time to huge acclaim.
When pianist Keith Emerson died earlier this year, the world lost a huge talent, a character, and one of the nicest guys I've ever met.
These albums, the band's fourth, fifth and sixth, are represented here (yes there have been numerous reissues over the years), with bonus sleeve notes from Chris Welch.
Formed in 1970 by Keith Emerson (The Nice), Greg Lake (King Crimson) and Carl Palmer (Atomic Rooster), the band released their eponymous debut, 'Tarkus', and the live 'Pictures At An Exhibition' in quick succession, and the remasters are reviewed here. Debuting at the Isle Of White Festival, the band immediately found success, both on stage and in the charts, on both sides of the Atlantic, and became known for their classical influences and live improvisation as much as their grandiosity and virtuosity.
In fact, these three albums epitomised ELP as being as grandiose as they were are self-indulgent, and while that won a lot of fans and cemented world-wide success, it also epitomised much of what punk was rebelling against. Hoedown? More like a showdown by the late 70s.
'Trilogy', originally released in 1972, was the band's third studio album and continued to showcase the group's individual talents as much as the band. Drifting between classical segments, notably Keith Emerson's piano or keyboard segments, solo spots and full band unity. From the opening track of 'The Endless Enigma' ELP could put harsh hard rock and whimsical segments side-by-side seamlessly.
Bassist and vocalist Greg Lake uses the acoustic guitar more and more here; with or without the others he still produces a fine number. A stand out is 'Hoedown', the Aaron Copeland number that quickly became a signature tune for the band. Proof that a well played keyboard can take the lead riff and rock with the best of them.
The title track runs to over eight minutes and with a progressive driving rhythm with hints of jazz, Carl Palmer's drum tracks not only take solo spots but link Emerson and Lake in unison. 'Abbadon's Bolero' takes a traditional bolero in a marching 4/4 direction; innovative and equally one for musos to get their heads around.
The bonus disc features a new remix of the whole album as well as two bonus takes.
ELP's magnum opus, the one album all must own, is 'Brain Salad Surgery'. Featuring cover art from 'Alien' designer HR Giger, the album sees Moog innovator and fan Emerson debuting the Moog Apollo, the first polyphonic synthesizer which was still a prototype at the time. Widely considered one of the greatest albums of all time, all three members pull out every sonic stop going, and more.
From the hymn of 'Jerusalem' to the classic piece 'Toccata' and the more humorous 'Benny The Bouncer', it's a cracking album with every mood going.
Then there's 'Karn Evil Nine', a thirty minute epic split into three parts and taking up a side and a quarter. And it is epic in every sense, from the drummer's prog guide to drumming to Emerson's seamless shift from Moog to piano and back again, and Lake's bass keeping it all together, it is just magnificent. It’s one you know even if you don’t know you know.
'Karn Evil Nine' is a musical and lyrical journey to be revisited and explored frequently. A full album remix, some single b-sides and alternate versions make for a very bumper bonus disc too.
'Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends, Ladies And Gentlemen... Emerson, Lake And Palmer', to give it the full title, is the live album to begin and end all live albums at the grandiose end of the spectrum. The title comes from the band's intro on stage, and that is partly taken from a line in 'Karn Evil 9'. Released originally in 1974 as a trifold 3LP, it was applauded for featuring all but one track from 'Brain Salad Surgery' and each individual's performance is at a zenith too.
'Tarkus' on disc one runs to twenty-seven minutes and is a full sonic assault, and the more whimsical 'Take A Pebble' runs to eleven minutes to medley in other moments from the band's debut.
Disc two opens with 'Piano Improvisations' which contains not just an Emerson solo spot but Palmer showing off his skills with aplomb too.
If you want to make epic even more epic, then try the thirty-five minute rendition of 'Karn Evil Nine'; virtuosity and improvisation, solo spots without noodling, phew!!
The sound and the arrangements on the live album do suffer a little, because in places the original arrangements were quite complex and there were no backing tapes or studio overdubs to compensate. So in that respect it's a full and honest representation of ELP at their best.
Much of the bonus material across these discs has already been available (audiophiles will have the 3disc of 'Brain Salad Surgery' already, a DVDa 5.1 mix) but the new masters do sound excellent and do the music justice.
The tour from which the live album was taken would be a bit of a physical and financial burn out, so the band slowed down to recover and undertake solo work, before splitting at the end of the decade and reforming in various projects since.
With the passing of Keith Emerson there is all the more reason to explore these. 70s prog rock at its most indulgent and grandiose zenith.
Keith Emerson – Hammond Organs, piano, harpsichord, Moog Modular III-c, Minimoog, Moog Constellation polyphonic ensemble (consisting of Moog Lyra solo synthesiser, Moog Apollo polyphonic synthesiser (prototype), and prototype Mood Taurus bass pedal synthesizer), clavinet, ring-modulated 'computer' voice on 'Karn Evil 9: 3rd Impression'
Greg Lake – vocals acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass
Carl Palmer – drums, percussion, percussion synthesizers
Disc 1- Original 1972 album (2015 remaster)
The Endless Enigma (part 1)
The Endless Enigma (part 2)
From The Beginning
Disc 2 – The Jakko M Jakszyk 2015 Stereo Mixes
From The Beginning (alternate version)
The Endless Enigma (part 1)
The Endless Enigma (part 2)
From The Beginning
Brain Salad Surgery
Disc 1 – the original 1973 album (2014 remaster)
Still... You Turn Me On
Benny The Bouncer
Karn Evil 9 1st Impression (pts 1 & 2)
Karn Evil 9 2nd Impression
Karn Evil 9 3rd Impression
Disc 2 – The Alternate Album 2014 stereo remixes
Karn Evil 9 3rd Impression (original backing track)
Jerusalem (first mix)
Still... You Turn Me On (first mix)
Toccata (alternate version)
Karn Evil 9 1st Impression Part 1 (alternate version)
Karn Evil 9 1st Impression Part 2 (alternate version)
Karn Evil 9 2nd Impression (alternate version)
Karn Evil 9 3rd Impression (alternate version)
Excerpts From Brain Salad Surgery (NME flexi disc version)
When The Apple Blossoms Bloom In The Windmills Of Your Mind I'll Be Your Valentine (b-side)
Brain Salad Surgery (b-side)
Brain Salad Surgery (instrumental)
Karn Evil 9 3rd Impression (different version)
Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends, Ladies And Gentlemen...
Original 1974 album, 2016 remaster
Take A Pebble
- Take A Pebble
- Still... You Turn Me On
- Lucky Man
- Piano Improvisations
- Little Rock Getaway
Take A Pebble (Conclusion)
Jeremy Bender/The Sheriff
Karn Evil 9
- 1st Impression
- 2nd Impression
- 3rd Impression