The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Monday, March 24, 2008

Emerson, Lake & Palmer


3-24-08 Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Recently, while writing an index for 6 years of blogs, I realized that I have never (that I can remember) had a specific, dedicated blog to ELP! I think I once wrote about how nobody seemed to like “Love Beach”:, but now…the glory of ELP!!!

LP BEST OF (Collection) ATLANTIC US SD 19283

LP BRAIN SALAD SURGERY MANTICORE US MC 66669

7" BRAIN SALAD SURGERY (Excerpts, flexidisc) MANTICORE UK LYN 2762

CD BRAIN SALAD SURGERY kami sleeve JVC JPN VICP-62118

LP EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER ISLAND FR 6339 026

LP EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER ISLAND UK ILPS 9123

CD EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER kami sleeve JVC JPN VICP-63171

LP EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER re-issue MANTICORE UK K 43503

7" FROM THE BEGINNING / LIVING SIN COTILLION US 45-44158

LP IN CONCERT (Live album) ATLANTIC US SD 19255

CD ISLE OF WIGHT 1970 (Live album) EAGLE US EV30135-9

7" JERUSALEM / WHEN THE APPLE BLOSSOMS IN THE... MANTICORE UK K 13503

LP LOVE BEACH ATLANTIC US SD 19211

7" LUCKY MAN / KNIFE-EDGE ISLAND NL 6014 041

LP PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION ISLAND DE 85804 XT

LP PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION ISLAND UK HELP 1

CD PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION kami sleeve JVC JPN VICP-62116

CD TARKUS MANTICORE DE 258.171

LP TARKUS ISLAND DE 85 527 IT

LP TARKUS ISLAND UK ILPS 9155

CD TARKUS kami sleeve JVC JPN VICP-5443

LP TRILOGY MANTICORE DE 87 227 XOT

CD TRILOGY kami sleeve JVC JPN VICP-63174

LPx3 WELCOME BACK MY FRIENDS…(Live album) MANTICORE UK K 63500

LPx2 WORKS, Vol. 1 ATLANTIC US SD 2-7000

LP WORKS, Vol. 2 (Collection) ATLANTIC US SD 19147

Keith Emerson, solo

7" HONKY TONK TRAIN BLUES MANTICORE UK K 13513

CD INFERNO (O.S.T.) CINEVOX IT CD-CIA 5022

LP NIGHTHAWKS (O.S.T.) BACKSTREET US BSR-5196

Greg Lake, solo

7" I BELIEVE IN FATHER CHRISTMAS / HUMBUG ATLANTIC US 45-3305

LP MANOEUVRES CHRYSALIS US FV 41392

Carl Palmer, solo (?)

LP 1PM ARIOLA UK ARL 5048

1970 was a fun time for me, and a good time for new music. Keith Emerson comes from The Nice, Greg Lake from King Crimson and Carl Palmer from Atomic Rooster.

The Immediate label records by The Nice are good late 60’s UK keyboard fun. I really like the two final albums by The Nice, “Five Bridges” and “Elegy” (both on Charisma). Greg Lake sang on the first two King Crimson albums – “In The Court of The Crimson King” and “In The Wake of Poseidon”. Sadly, Carl Palmer is not on the great album by Atomic Rooster, “Death Walks Behind You”.

So, Emerson and Palmer were attracted to Lake’s label, Island Records (UK), as opposed to Emerson suggesting Charisma Records (UK) for this new group. I’ve never read how it went down – is there such a thing as autobiographies for any member of ELP?

In the US, while A&M Records were licensing a lot of great stuff from Island UK (Free, Cat Stevens etc.), ELP somehow ended up on an Atco / Atlantic subsidiary, Cotillion Records (same label that had the O.S.T. for “Woodstock”!) Time would bear out the knowledge that any imported pressing of the debut ELP album sounded better than a Cotillion copy (hence my having several vinyl variants). Great album, and a great debut. “The Barbarian” (cut 1, side 1) is monstrous, and very, very cool. In fact, I can defend everything on the debut album – great stuff.

I initially had an 8-track tape of “Tarkus”, the 2nd ELP album! It took ages for me to get an LP of it, and I now have several neat variant pressings. I was very impressed with this album at the time, and it’s still my favorite. On a visit to Singapore, I found a CD version of this album actually on the Manticore label (via Ariola Germany). And I luxuriate in a kami sleeve (little paper album sleeve) CD from Japan of “Tarkus”.

Hot on the tails of “Tarkus”, I found an inexpensive original Island UK LP of “Pictures At An Exhibition” – a record that took some time to come out in the US. I played this LP to death! I loved the cover version of “Nutrocker”! It was neat to consider that there were elements of King Crimson in the work of ELP (a fact that would solidify when KC’s Pete Sinfield wrote the lyrics for ELP’s “Brain Salad Surgery”).

I missed “Trilogy” at the time – no idea why, as I now type. I didn’t even hear it until the 80’s, 90’s…uh, much later! But I snapped back to it, for “Brain Salad Surgery”! Snappy cover, even more like King Crimson etc. Great poster / lyrics sheet etc.

I made the effort to see King Crimson in 1973 – but – I somehow completely missed the ELP concert experience. Never went to see them, never even heard their triple live album until 20+ years later. Much better to watch a DVD of them, I suspect. Good friends of mine saw ELP (Ken and Warren), but…I finished with even King Crimson after “Red” – so no hope of me rekindling my interest in ELP – until 30+ years later.

So is it “Rock of the 70’s”, “Wanky Progressive Rock”, “Indulgent” or…? I am still good with the first 5 studio ELP albums. I don’t play them a lot – but the new Japanese CD’s of them sound pretty good. I have original LP’s of everything ELP that matters to me, and I love to find their singles. If push came to shove, I’d stick with just the first two albums. I will continue to buy variant pressings of the debut album, just to see if I can discover even better ‘sound’ for it.

Maybe it’s because they got rather popular – even for a UK progressive rock band – but I couldn’t sustain my fandom after “BSS”. No way. Like many people, I turned off from the commercial prog rock bands – like Jethro Tull, Yes, ELP – in favor of (new, interesting) French and German bands, Dutch artists etc. And new wave music.

4 Comments:

Blogger Brian Ware said...

In high school (71-73), ELP was my number one band hands down. I was obsessed with the first five LPs as well, but also bought the tri-fold live album at the time. I saw them live in Tampa (yes Jim, the dreaded Curtis Hixon Hall), and remember staying up until 1:00 A.M. watching them on Don Kirschner's Rock Concert. Palmer's immense drum throne did a complete 360 during his solo and Emerson's piano rose in the air and the whole thing did forward rolls while he somehow stayed seated. ROCK AND ROLL!

I bought Works Vol. 1 and was just bored by it and simply moved on to other things.

8:08 PM  
Blogger Ron Kane said...

I never made it to the triple live LP until years later. I was already working in record stores by the time of "Works" - heard it & didn't care - bought $1 copies years later. I made a point of getting "Love Beach" - it is as awful as it is frequently described.

Got the CD's I was missing in Japan last year, in their elaborate little album cover packages.

Still amused at the variants of the first few albums, could fill a book with the polarizing effect EL&P seem to have on people.

8:48 PM  
Anonymous Jim Donato said...

I try to have balance. In 1977-78 after bailing out of top 40 due to excessive disco, and discovering FM rock [in its death throes - not pretty] ELP was my favorite band long enough to just get pushed out of the way by New Wave, which also had lots of even cooler keyboards and was pop, and thus more fun. But the pretentious teenager in me liked what I heard. But for about a few months there Works Vol. 1 was my favorite album! Yeah. A pretentious teenager.

I remember trying to stay awake to watch the Callifornia Jam concert special on late night TV. I can't remeber if I made it to ELP. Now I can hardly listen to a lot of their stuff. At the time I had it all but for Tarkus. At the time I also thought Love Beach sucked wind massively! The most memorable thing about the LP was a sales insert for official ELP Love Beach tour merchandise, culminating in a $70 satin tour jacket! THAT says it all! Juxtaposed next to Devo or The Boomtown Rats it was no contest. Two years later I heard the Ultravox records that were out at the same time! F*ck THAT sh*t!! The ELP was the first to go once I discovered used record stores!

But when Trilogy was issued on CD I bought it and can easily listen to this album with no indigestion today. Not so with Brain Salad Surgery, long considered their acme by the masses. Except for the Crimson-like Toccata, it's a non-starter with me today. I bought the first US CD pressing of BSS just to see if the morons would segue the two halves of "Karn Evil 9 - first impression" together as it always should have been, but nooooooo. Thanks, guys!

It was interesting to revisit the album after 6-8 years away from it. It didn't do anything for me apart from Toccata, as mentioned. I could probably live with the first album again if I saw it cheaply enough. And Tarkus is probably the lost album that should have been my favorite by them. Again, if I should come across a cheap used copy [<$3] I would buy it.

But Pictures At An Exhibition never did much for me. Works Vol. 2 is so weirdly eclectic, I might like that one if I heard it now as an example of a good screwed up album that is completely schizophrenic and knows it. Beyond that, It's never going to happen.

But I still enjoy all of The Nice's oeuvre! That material is much more interesting to me. "The Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack" wipes the floor with anything ELP did 5 times over!

5:40 AM  
Anonymous Warren Bowman said...

Not sure about the other two, but Keith Emerson's book is called "PIctures of an Exhibitionist" Karn Evil 9 Pt. 2 still work for me.

7:46 PM  

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