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Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Cotillion 9040
Released: January 1971
Chart Peak: #18
Weeks Charted: 42
Certified Gold: 8/4/71

Carl PalmerGreg LakeKeith EmersonWe were forewarned by the British music press that Emerson, Lake & Palmer would be a "supergroup," and indeed it was hard to see how they could miss. An extraordinary inventive and tasteful organist, Keith Emerson, as the prime moving force of the Nice, was one of the few performers capable of holding his own against the flood of guitar oriented heavy rock groups of the ten thousand ton variety. He is also one of rock's most flamboyant showmen, and watching little Keith toss a Hammond organ around on stage and indulge in one of his orgies of key ripping was an unforgettable sight.

Unfortunately, the Nice suffered from extremely weak vocals and a lack of strong original material and as a consequence Emerson failed to get as much exposure as he might have. Now with Emerson, Lake & Palmer the situation has changed. Though Emerson is "featured" on piano and organ, he has some extremely strong support from Greg Lake (formerly with King Crimson) on vocals, bass, and guitar; and from Carl Palmer (formerly with Atomic Rooster -- a group formed by Arthur Brown's ex-organist Vincent Crane) on drums. There are also some very good new compositions by all involved.

It is rather hard to typify the music that Emerson, Lake and Palmer play, though I suppose that your local newspaper might call it "jazz influenced classical-rock," which means that while Eugene Ormandy might buy a copy Tommy Roe sure as hell wouldn't. If you're familiar with the Nice you probably know what to expect. Everyone turns in a fine performance and I was most surprised by Greg Lake, as I was not much taken with him before -- his singing here is extremely good as is his bass playing. Keith Emerson is heard to great advantage and at last he might achieve some of the recognition he has long missed. To my thinking Emerson (along with Brian Auger) is one of the few organists in pop music today worth his weight in semi-quavers. He is also a very sensitive and effective pianist.

This is such a good album it is best heard as a whole. However, my own particular favorites are "Knife Edge" and "Lucky Man." "Knife Edge" is a very tight, well put together song with some absorbing and heavy organ and a beautiful solo by Emerson. "Lucky Man" has interesting lyrics and someone (probably Emerson) plays a terrific solo on something that sounds like a cross between a flutophone and a Waring blender which I assume to be some insidious sort of synthesizer much like those one would learn to build for $37.50 in Popular Mechanics. While Carl Palmer is an exceptionally good drummer I find his solo on "Tank" to be a bit too mechanical and a little boring. "The Three Fates" has a very nice pipe organ solo, but towards the end becomes disturbingly reminiscent of "Baba Lu." The album is very well recorded and makes good use of many special effects. (In this respect it is much like "Godzilla").

Though this album is very, very good I would not recommend that you rush out and buy it, simply because you may just not be too excited about this type of music. Listen to someone else's copy first. You might very well enjoy it.

- Loyd Grossman, Rolling Stone, 4/15/71.

Bonus Reviews!

The musical subtleties offered by Emerson, Lake & Palmer are quite fascinating to anyone who really digs music; however, on "Knife-Edge" and "Lucky Man" they come down to earth and really groove. Both of these progressive rock cuts are quite commercial, and with decent exposure on progressive rock stations this group could build into a major contender.

- Billboard, 1971.

This is the other half of King Crimson mixed with part of the Nice. The result is more Wagnerian, more methodical, and more strangely rocking, although it's a member of the same relatively new category of English sound. Mostly instrumental, (lots of trippy piano) and a few vocals recorded to sound like they're coming straight from the heavens or something . This is a major album quite likely to appeal to all those in the Moody Blues/Deep Purple/ocean-rock camp.

- Danny Goldberg, Circus, 5/71.

Lively, ambitious, largely successful debut album, made up of daring instrumentals ("Three Fates," "The Barbarian") and romantic ballads ("Lucky Man"), showcasing three very daunting talents. "Take a Pebble" is rewarding and pretentious enough to have been a Moody Blues track, except that the Moodies could never solo like Keith Emerson. The trio would never be as concise or precise in their work again. * * * *

- Bruce Eder, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

Emerson, Lake and Palmer offers the signature song "Lucky Man" and the dynamic tension of "Knife Edge." * * *

- David Yonke, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.

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