Peter Steward's Web Site

   

Home Page Music Reviews Book Reviews Biography My Writing Sign Guestbook Contact Me

Emerson, Lake and Palmer

British progressive rock trio

Emerson, Lake and Palmer 

Tarkus

Pictures at an Exhibition

Trilogy

Brain Salad Surgery

Works Volume One

Works Volume Two

Love Beach

Black Moon

 

 

 

 

 

Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Emerson, Lake and Palmer (1970) - 8

How often do we find with classic groups that their first album is arguably the best? That certainly holds true with what is a classic prog rock album before the flights of fancy overtook them and they began to produce rather bombastic over the top rock. It shows without doubt what a great band this trio could have been. Okay they stayed pretty good but at times they allowed their virtuosity to run away with them. Here it is more or less kept in check although there are signs at times of Keith Emerson running away with himself.

Overall there's just enough discipline to keep this album together and that's what makes it an all time classic to be celebrated alongside the likes of Deep Purple in Rock. Many of these pieces are timeless and I'm a big fan of Greg Lake's voice which is absolutely sensational on the classic "Take a Pebble" which lasts well over 12 minutes but somehow never manages to run away with things and is beautifully brought back on track by Emerson's keyboards. "Lucky Man" isn't quite as effective but elsewhere there are certain hints of where the band is likely to go but in a more responsible less over the top style than on later albums. This will always be one of my favourite albums of all time and quite an achievement for an album released in 1970.

Tarkus (1971) - 4

There are those that will claim this album was a milestone in prog rock and that the title track which paints vast panoramas across almost 21 minutes of soundscape set the standards for long pieces. Sadly I can't agree. As much as I love the first album, this was a huge disappointment. The title track originally took up one half of the album and, whilst there is some surface charm to it, Emerson's keyboards threaten to get out of control and turn a unique sounding band into a self indulgent one. It's all abut the futility of war - but didn't so many albums tred that path in the early 70s.

Okay I suppose it would cause a stir in the rock defining days of 1971 but there's just too much filler. The second side tries to inject some charm into proceedings but sadly there's some nonsensical stuff like Jeremy Bender and sad attempts to write a rock n roll piece. Always close the album with a strong track seems not to have been followed here as "Are You Ready Eddy" is hugely disappointing. Elswhere the lyrics on "The Only Way" could make you cringe "Can you believe, God makes you breathe/Why did he lose six million Jews -" Oh dear!