Emerson, Lake and Palmer - Black Moon

Year of Release: 1992
Label: Victory Music
Catalog Number: 383 480 00-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 48:55:00

Emerson, Lake and Palmer. To most prog fans this trio of surnames needs no other introduction, and even the simpler ELP will suffice. But for those who are only now just discovering the pleasures of progressive music both classic and contemporary, this English triad is comprised of Keith Emerson on an assortment of keyboards (plus moog, grand piano, etc.), Greg Lake on vocals, bass, and guitar and Carl Palmer on drums and percussion. Each were members of other bands before forming ELP, Emerson with The Nice, Lake with King Crimson and Palmer had worked with Atomic Rooster and The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown... Their debut, self-titled album was released in 1971, followed by the album the band is likely most known for, Tarkus, though their third release, Pictures At An Exhibition, and their fifth Brain Salad Surgery might also fall into that category. By 1978 it was over, essentially. The band released the often panned Love Beach... and though live releases and compilations were released in the interim, the band wouldn't record another album together until 1992's Black Moon (excepting the Emerson, Lake and Powell release in 1986).

If you looking to discover what the mystique of ELP is all about, then this isn't the album to start with. Dip back to the albums mentioned above, as these are the ones that the band made their names on and why this trio is still respected in progressive rock circles. This 1992 edition of Emerson, Lake and Palmer were not nearly as progressive as they had been in the past. There is nothing on this album that advances the cause of music any, though there are some nice melodies (the Emerson piano piece "Close To Home" for example). That isn't to suggest that ELP suck here. They just aren't the prog rock innovators they were in the 70s. In fact, I'd dare say the 90s edition is a very good, highly skilled rock band. The kinship that the ELP of Black Moon have to the ELP of their classic period is in the adaptation by Emerson of Prokofiev's "The Dance Of The Knights," here called "Romeo And Juliet." Look at past releases and you will see other Emerson adaptations. If any comparisons of this album to any past work were to be made, I say its closest to Brain Salad Surgery, and specifically to the energies of "Karn Evil 9." However, Black Moon is a heavier, beefier album than the band had previously released. Oh, their classic albums aren't necessarily light weight by comparison, but throughout everything is played big ... that is BIG, from Palmer's pounding drums to Emerson's keyboard bursts to Lake's booming bass. It's an album that struts. The exceptions are the acoustic-based ballads "Affairs Of The Heart" (a one night stand told in romantic tones), "Farewell To Arms" (a somewhat treacly plea for peace) and "Footprints In The Snow."

Having said all that, however, for me personally, I dug this album and still do. Reviewing the Welcome Back DVD has brought me back to listening to this album. One of my favorite tracks on the album is "Romeo and Juliet," which admittedly is very synthy sounding, followed by "Changing States," which is a bombastic, loaping epic synth, piano, and organ piece (this is where I'd make my Mannheim Steamroller comparison, too), with elements of baroque. But, in all honesty, there isn't a track here that I don't like in some way. Lake's rich, deep vocals are warm on the softer pieces, determined on the heavier numbers, "Black Moon" (an ecology song) and "Paper Blood" (greed). There are maybe too many mellow tracks, where one or two would have been sufficient to balance out against the more energizing pieces. The dramatic intro to "Farewell To Arms" gives way to a much slower, almost plodding rhythm ... things don't pick up until the end of the piece. I do like Lake's voice here though. The outro features overly parpy and shrill keys from Emerson, however. The delicate "Close To Home" is a nice, warm, mellow piano piece from Emerson, though at times it does seem his fingers get a little ahead of each other.

It's a little hard to be objective about an album I have listened to hundreds of times in the past 10 years, a dozen times just in the last few days. I feel I know this album very well, though I never subjected it to a technical analysis, pick apart each Emersonian keystroke, every Lakean string vibration, every...well, you get the picture. In a way, though, we might say this is an ELP that faced the reality that the progressive music that were making in the 70s was not going to fly in the 90s and they would have to reinvent themselves. Whether this direction was lead by Emerson or Lake, I don't know... I'm guessing the latter, given the balance of vocal tracks to instrumentals and the prominence of Lake's vocals within each. Certainly, as much as they enjoyed making music, I'm sure the financial rewards for success also played a part in the direction they took. Which does make "Paper Blood" a bit ironic. When the wealthy or the seemingly wealthy decry the power and influence the wealthy have, it comes across as nothing but lip service. And yet, maybe the members' fortunes were in dire straits and, banking on the fact that they already had name recognition, a reunion album with a more commercial appeal might change those fortunes.

Hmmm...I'm editorializing here, I realize. And I think Emerson was doing soundtrack work, Palmer had Asia and Lake had a solo career, so perhaps the need for money angle is off base. Nonetheless, this ELP had a very commercial sound that but for the sonic elements bared very little in common with the ELP of the early 70s. And anyway, it wouldn't have mattered, as they were up against Nirvana and the explosion of grunge. When viewed independent of their historical output, wasn't an awful album. As I said, Lake's voice was in good shape, though deeper than it had been; the performances were good... this is why I still give it a high rating.

Reissued by Sanctuary Music Group UK in 1996 (CMRCD227)

Black Moon (6:56) / Paper Blood (4:26) / Affairs Of The Heart (3:46) / Romeo And Juliet (3:40) / Farewell To Arms (5:08) / Changing States (6:01) / Burning Bridges (4:41) / Close To Home (4:27) / Better Days (5:33) / Footprints In The Snow (3:50)

Keith Emerson - keyboards, organ, piano
Greg Lake - bass, acoustic guitar, vocals
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: December 2nd 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.emersonlakepalmer.com
Hits: 2124
Language: english


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