Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Emerson Lake & Palmer - 1970 "Emerson Lake & Palmer"

Emerson, Lake & Palmer is the debut album by the British progressive rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer, released in 1970. The album was intended not as an effort by a unified band, but as a general collaborative recording session, and as such, some of the tracks are essentially solo pieces.
The album peaked at No. 18 on the Billboard 200. "Lucky Man" reached No. 48 on the Billboard Hot 100. On the UK charts the album peaked at #4.

With former members of King Crimson, The Nice, and Atomic Rooster, Emerson, Lake & Palmer were a veritable supergroup, and the 1970 release of their debut album, ELP, was the first step for a band that went on to define progressive rock. With capable Keith Emerson at the controls of the Moog synthesizer and the Hammond B3 organ, Greg Lake on guitar and vocals, and talented Carl Palmer on drums, the debut release leaned heavily toward a new technical wizardry that became the band's halmark.

Lively, ambitious, almost entirely successful debut album, made up of keyboard-dominated instrumentals ("The Barbarian," "Three Fates") and romantic ballads ("Lucky Man") showcasing all three members' very daunting talents. This album, which reached the Top 20 in America and got to number four in England, showcased the group at its least pretentious and most musicianly -- with the exception of a few moments on "Three Fates" and perhaps "Take a Pebble," there isn't much excess, and there is a lot of impressive musicianship here. "Take a Pebble" might have passed for a Moody Blues track of the era but for the fact that none of the Moody Blues' keyboard men could solo like Keith Emerson. Even here, in a relatively balanced collection of material, the album shows the beginnings of a dark, savage, imposingly gothic edge that had scarcely been seen before in so-called "art rock," mostly courtesy of Emerson's larger-than-life organ and synthesizer attacks. Greg Lake's beautifully sung, deliberately archaic "Lucky Man" had a brush with success on FM radio, and Carl Palmer became the idol of many thousands of would-be drummers based on this one album (especially for "Three Fates" and "Tank"), but Emerson emerged as the overpowering talent here for much of the public.

From the booming bass that kicks off "The Barbarian" through the final Moog synth squiggle of the "Lucky Man" outro,"Emerson Lake & Palmer" is the powerful opening salvo of ELP's mixture of classical,jazz and hard rock-best known to the world as "progressive rock"-that presented such obscure classical pieces as Bela Bartok's 'Allegro Barbaro'("The Barbarian") and Janacek's 'Sinfonietta'("Knife-Edge")in fresh contexts.Other highlights-on an album featuring nothing BUT highlights- include Greg Lake's 12 minute-plus epic "Take A Pebble" and Carl Palmer's fusion-esqe drum piece "Tank".This record has been remastered on CD a few times,first on the dismal-sounding Atlantic one from the 80's,and again on the Victory and Rhino in the 90's which,while an improvement from the first one,were pretty below the standards of most remasters from that period.This Shout! remaster(done by Andy Pearce at Masterpiece London)is right in the class of the Yes Rhino remasters and the Genesis CD/SACD/DVD hybrid's,with Lake's bass guitar sounding big and beefy,Palmer's drum work crisp,and Keith Emerson's keyboards as clear as pure mountain water.Despite the lack of bonus tracks,ELP and prog-rock fans should not hesitaite in picking up-or upgrading with-this reasonably-priced remastered jewel.

The cover art painting is by the British artist Nic Dartnell. Although it has been said to be originally intended for the American group Spirit, and that the bald-headed man on the left of the cover is Spirit's drummer, Ed Cassidy, the artist denied this in an interview with Mike Goldstein of RockPoP: "I'd like to take a moment and dispel a rumor that, according to Wikipedia, the image is somehow linked to the LA band Spirit. The fact is that, at the time I painted the ELP "Bird", I also painted a portrait of Spirit which I sent to them in LA. A very similar bird was featured in the corner of that painting. I got a message from Spirit to say that if they had received their painting in time they would have put it on the back of Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus. I became friendly with Randy California over the years and I took the photograph that is on his 1982 12" EP All Along the Watchtower. The bald image in "Bird" has no connection to Ed Cassidy of Spirit and doesn't look anything like him. Ed still has the Spirit portrait – so I'm told."

Tracks Listing

1. The Barbarian (4:33)
2. Take A Pebble (12:34)
3. Knife-Edge (5:08)
4. The Three Fates (7:45)
- a. Clotho (Royal Festival Hall Organ)
- b. Lachesis (Piano Solo)
- c. Atropos (Piano Trio)
5. Tank (6:52)
6. Lucky Man (4:36)

Total Time: 41:30

Musicians

- Greg Lake / vocals, bass, electric & acoustic guitars, producer
- Keith Emerson / Hammond organ, piano, clavinet, Royal Festival Hall pipe organ (4), modular Moog
- Carl Palmer / drums, percussion

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