Emerson, Lake and Palmer - Emerson Lake & Palmer

Year of Release: 1996
Label: Rhino Records
Catalog Number: R2 72223
Format: CD
Total Time: 41:08:00

The members of Emerson, Lake and Palmer were known quantities when they formed in 1970 - Keith Emerson with The Nice, Greg Lake with King Crimson and Carl Palmer with The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown and Atomic Rooster - which allowed them to hit the ground running when they released their debut, self-titled album in 1970. From that album, perhaps the most widely known track is "Lucky Man," which, I have learned, was a last minute addition to the album. It is, at the very least, one track that non-prog rock fans might associate with the band. Living in the 21st Century, when aside from "Lucky Man," "In The Beginning" and "Karn Evil 9," ELP are rarely heard even on classic radio, it's hard to imagine a time when ELP were big news. Heck, it's hard to imagine a time when progressive rock was big news. And, I'll admit that I was just a young'n when this album was released, coming of age (so to speak) long after the band's and progressive rock's heyday was essentially over. But maybe, after all this time, this is the approach to take. How well does Emerson Lake and Palmer wear after 33 years? Does it seem quaint? Or does it still stand as a solid suite of music.

As much as I like Greg Lake's voice, which has very nearly always been warm and inviting, it is the keyboard work of Emerson and drumming of Palmer that I like most about this album. There is great interplay between Emerson and Palmer, evident in the opening track "The Barbarian," which is reminiscent of the ELP heard later on Pictures At An Exhibition - a harsh, distorted, heavy and angular sound, though Emerson's playing is much less percussive than on Tarkus. In "Take A Pebble," Emerson's playing is lyrical, showing his appreciation for some of the greatest modern classical pianists. Lake does very well with the mellow vocal delivery that bookends this piece, and here his musing, humming bass is a good compliment to Emerson. Palmer's percussion snaps and snickers beautifully. This middle section of "Take A Pebble" shows that, had they gone in a different direction, we'd be talking of ELP as a jazz trio. The feeling that this piece leaves you with is reverent silence, as live I imagine that listeners were mesmerized into a respectful hush. I do feel the piece is, overall overlong, but it's well worth listening through the whole thing. There is a segment with a country-western feel that foreshadows in some ways their later rendition of Copeland's "Hoedown."

The beefier "Knife-Edge" throbs menacingly, and looking at the lyrics, the subject matter has it own grimness. This leads into the three part suite "The Three Fates." The first part, "Clotho" has Emerson playing the dark and throaty Royal Festival Hall Organ which groans and growls in grand and austere style. "Lachesis," the second part, is a rather nice solo piano piece. For the third part, "Atropos," Palmer's drums and Lake on bass are added to the mix, it is Emerson and Palmer that are the forefront. Palmer's drums - the toms and bass, I think - have a hollow, thudding sound, so it bodes well that these are behind Emerson's tinkling piano and Palmer's crashing cymbals and whirling percussion. The piece ends with an explosion - fait accompli?

"Tank" brings Palmer's percussion to the forefront, or so that was the intention, but instead it is Emerson's reedy keys and Lake's bass that dominate the mix? until we reach the middle portion of the piece, where Palmer takes the lead, and then gets to solo? crashing and bashing with both skill and speed - and his kit sounds massive, given the various percussive tones achieved. Out of the solo, the band launch into a passage that initially swings, but is swallowed by distortion, and Emerson's shrieking synths (at time's a little too high pitched for my ears).

Of course, the album ends with "Lucky Man," a track that Lake wrote when he was 12 and suggested to the band when they needed another track to make the album fit the required length. I have long liked the whole feel of this piece, from Lake's soft, warm vocals to his acoustic guitar to Palmer's crisp percussion. Some dislike Emerson's Moog solo that ends the piece, some saying it doesn't fit the rest of the piece. Having heard this hundreds of times now, it's hard for me to say. It has always worked for me.

So, 33 years on, do ELP have anything to regret or cringe about with this album? Is there anything truly dated about it? I'd say some of the organ tones are dated, and yet they are also classic. Maybe Emerson's Moog solos, but you know, on this album, I still think they're cool, so I'd say no. For those just discovering ELP, their beginning is as good a place to start as anywhere, as long as you start before the 80's began. When prog veterans speak positively of ELP, it is of that period 1970 to just about 1977, and usually point to Tarkus and Brain Salad Surgery as the gems in the ELP ouvre, with this and Trilogy running close seconds. So basically, if you like one of those four, you should like all of those four.

I've read that the first CD release by Atlantic of Emerson Lake And Palmer had some production issues in terms of sound clarity and dynamics - and I'd agree. So, this being that edition, I won't comment on the sound clarity. It was subsequently re-issued on CD by Rhino Records.

Originally released by Atlantic Records in 1970 (19120-2)

The Barbarian (4:28) / Take A Pebble (12:27) / Knife-Edge (5:05) / The Three Fates (7:43): a. Clotho - b. Lachesis - c. Atropos / Tank (6:47) / Lucky Man (4:37)

Keith Emerson - keyboards (Hammond B3, Moog)
Greg Lake - bass, vocals, guitar
Carl Palmer - drums and percussion

Emerson Lake and Palmer (1970/1983/1996)
Tarkus (1971)
Pictures At An Exhibition (1972)
Trilogy (1972/198?/1996)
Brain Salad Surgery (1973/1983/1996)
Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends (1974)
Works, Vol. 1 (1977)
Works, Vol. 2 (1977)
Love Beach (1978)
In Concert (1979)
The Best Of Emerson, Lake & Palmer (1980)
Black Moon (1992)
Live At The Royal Albert Hall (1992)
The Atlantic Years (1992)
Works Live (1993)
The Return Of The Manticore (Box set) (1993)
In The Hot Seat (1994)
The Best Of Emerson, Lake and Palmer (1994)
Classic Rock (1995)
Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival (1997)
King Biscuit Flower Hour: Greatest Hits Live (1997)
Then & Now (live) (1998)
The Very Best Of Emerson, Lake and Palmer (2000)
The Original Bootleg Series From Manticore Vaults, Volume 1 (2001/2006)
The Original Bootleg Series From Manticore Vaults, Volume 2 (2001)
Live In Poland (2001)
Show That Never Ends (2001)
Live (2002)*
Best Of The Bootlegs (2002)
Solo Anthology (2002)
The Original Bootleg Series From Manticore Vaults, Volume 3 (2002)
Live In Poland (2003)
Greatest Hits Live (2003)
An Introduction To? (2004)
Three Classic Albums (2004)
Ultimate Collection (2004)
Critical Review 1970-1992 (2005)
Bootleg Box Set (2006)
Original Bootleg Series From The Manticore Vaults, Vol 4 (2006)
Lucky Man: Best Of Emerson, Lake & Palmer (2006)
The Birth Of A Band: Isle Of Wight Festival (2006)
The Essential Emerson, Lake & Palmer (2007)
From The Beginning (CD/DVD) (2007)
Works 1 & 2 (2009)
A Time And A Place (4CD Box) (2010)
Live At The High Voltage Festival (2010)

Pictures At An Exhibition (VHS/DVD) (1970/2002)
Welcome Back (VHS/DVD) (1993/2001)
Live At The Royal Albert Hall (VHS/DVD) (1996/2001)
Works Orchestral Tour: Olympic Stadium, Montreal, 1977 (DVD) (1998)
The Manticore Special (DVD) (1998) (broadcast on TV 1973/1974)
Masters From The Vault (2004)
Live At Montreux, 1997 (DVD) (2004)
Critical Review 1970-1995 (DVD) (2005)
Beyond The Beginning (DVD) (2005)
Music In Review (DVD) (2005)
Pictures At An Exhibition - 35th Anniversary Edition (DVD) (2005)
Live Broadcasts: Collector's Rarities (DVD) (2006)
Pictures At An Exhibition - Special Edition (40th Ann. Edition) (2010)

*this is of the Isle Of Wight festival, too.

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: June 1st 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.emersonlakepalmer.com
Hits: 1503
Language: english


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