Emerson, Lake & Palmer
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Emerson, Lake & Palmer
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Hot on the heels of their famous, critically acclaimed performance to 600,000 people at the Isle Of Wight Festival in August 1970, came ELP’s ground-breaking debut album ‘Emerson, Lake & Palmer’ (1970) ‘ELP’ comprised their strongest early originals and two dazzling classical adaptations filled with rippling piano and synthesizer playing by Emerson alongside lightning-fast drumming by Palmer, anchored around Lake's excellent bass work. ‘ELP’ was a huge, instant success, reaching No.4 on the U.K. albums chart / U.S. No.18, and setting the group well on the road to global stardom. Disc One is the 24 bit / High Density 2012 remaster of original 1970 album by highly renowned rock mastering engineer Andy Pearce Disc Two contains the Steven Wilson 2012 Stereo Mix (of the 2012 Remaster) of the original album, including four extra bonus tracks from the original albums sessions and four 4 alternate versions of original album tracks CD booklet features extensive notes of new 2016 interview with band members Keith Emerson and Greg Lake, by legendary rock journalist Chris Welch The LP is the original 1970 album, newly cut for the first time from the 24 Bit / High Density 2012 remaster, with faithfully reproduced original LP artwork Digital versions are: Standard, Made for iTunes and Hi Density, all taken from the 2012 remasters www.emersonlakepalmer.com https://www.facebook.com/EmersonLakePalmer?fref=ts
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On their 1970 debut, Emerson, Lake & Palmer has made up some energetic music which could be tender, mind-blowing and festive all at once. With just six songs, some lengthy, this makes the album worthwhile just by listening alone. Originality counts on this effort save for two songs, "The Barbarian"[The lead-off track] and "Knife's Edge[My main favorite], which the group has adapted. The former actually composed by Bela Bartok and the latter was composed by Leos Janacek with lyrics by Richard Fraser. Greg Lake's masterpieces here are "Take A Pebble" and "Lucky Man"[The closing track and my other main favorite as well]. The album's second half opens off with an epic masterpiece by Keith Emerson "The Three Fates", which combines i)"Clotho"-Royal Festival Hall Organ; ii) "Lachesis"-Piano Solo; iii)"Atropos"-Piano Trio for all those keyboard enthusiasts. "Tank" is an instrumental concocted by Emerson and Carl Palmer which really lets loose after a while, especially when Emerson displays his keyboard work to compliment Palmer's drumming while Lake's bass anchors it down. Also worth noting is Lake's guitar work mid-way through "Pebble" as well as "Lucky Man" not-to-mention the vocals on the latter.
For ELP fans the best place to start is right here. Get It Now, Listen & Rock On!
But... the second disk is entirely alternate versions and remixes of their original work. As such it's hard to get excited about them. Since people reading this are probably familiar with the original recordings, I'll skip the first 8 songs; you know them and you already know if you love them.
9 Knife Edge. With the crashing ending removed and replaced with... a repetitive and dull ending with a little squeaky dentist-drill like synth woven in. If this is how it was originally composed, no wonder ELP tore off the ending and put in that slow-tape-effect thundering crash for the original album. This ending is *boring*, and this song should never be boring.
10 is Promenade, which was a short filler piece used between songs on a later album. It's well recorded here, with a big cathedral sound to the organ, and it showcases Lake's voice, but it isn't and never was a standalone piece, so hearing it here in isolation just feels pointless. It's a nice rendition of what it is, but what it is is a short fragment, and so what.
11 The Three Fates: Atropos. Yes, this is just the last third of the longer work, remixed. This is a strange choice because the awesomeness of The Three Fates is found in the second movement, Lachesis That's where one of the most fascinating piano solos in all rock is found. Atropos, like Promenade, doesn't entirely make it as a standalone piece.
12. Rave Up, previously unreleased. This is clearly a not-quite-finished work, though it's got a neat, jazzy sound and shows where ELP could have gone if they hadn't gotten bogged down in Lake's lyrics. I'd love to have heard a polished and finished version of this because there's a lot to love in there. If there's a reason to listen to the second disc, it's this. Listen for the organ "staccato": effect that also shows up on Tarkus; it's like meeting an old friend in a new place.
13. Drum Solo. Basically, this is the drum section from Tank, almost verbatim. It's a fine solo - Palmer never fails to please - but it's not anything you haven't heard 20 minutes before.
14. Lucky Man. One of the FOUR times it appears in this collection. It's a remix, nothing more. It came out sounding nice but the original wasn't bad either.
15. Finally, something for a fan to get his teeth into! This is Take A Pebble, with significant tweaks to the melodic structure. And it's wonderful! The melody structure expands and becomes, in my opinion, much more beautiful than the original, with more emotion and... am I really going to say sweetness about an ELP song? I guess I am. If you like the original, which I do, you'll listen with rapt attention. Which is a mistake, because the song ends quite abruptly part way though, just when you're burning to see where this neat new approach is going. It's just a fragment from a studio rehearsal. It's jarring, and a nasty tease.
16. Knife Edge. Again,. Almost identical to the original, a few parts expanded slightly... and the lyrics left out, which honestly might not be a bad thing in this case. But without the distraction of the somewhat overblown lyrics, the song's repetitive nature gets emphasized. The dramatic ending is missing here, too; instead it just... stops. This simply didn't need to be here.
17 Lucky Man. Again. This is the version as first presented by Greg Lake. It's not bad, and it does have a different sound, but the reality is that Lake wrote this when he was 12, and while he was clearly deeply talented even at twelve, the version that made it onto the original album is better.
18 Lucky Man. Yet again. Electrified slightly, with a wah-wah effect on a guitar added. It sounds very period as a result. It's probably fine but having heard it three times already I found it hard to get excited about.
All in all, if you like ELP and need a copy of their first, this is a reasonable thing to buy, but given all the incompleteness and lack of improvement in the second disk, that disk isn't really anything you'll spend a lot of time with. The original music is and remains the reason to listen.