Albums In My Collection
– Black Moon
– Brain Salad Surgery
– Emerson, Lake & Palmer
– Emerson, Lake & Powell
– In The Hot Seat
– Pictures At An Exhibition
– The Return Of The Manticore
– Welcome Back My Friends…
– Works, Vol. 1
– Works, Vol. 2
What can one say about E.L.P.?
With Keith Emerson’s extraordinary and unique style of playing and keyboard tones, along with Greg Lake’s instantly recognizable voice, and Carl Palmer’s sometimes insane percussion, the trio quickly developed a style all its own. (Granted, the sole album attributed to Emerson, Lake & Powell—with Cozy Powell stepping in for the missing Palmer—was the only actual clone of the original act.)
Their early days saw the band achieving almost instant success, and for good reason—not only did each of the three possess talent in spades, but they had a unique line-up, and their creativity stood almost unparalleled when it came to their contemporaries. “Karn Evil 9, Impressions 1, 2, & 3” anyone? Ah, the memories…
But unfortunately, like most of their contemporaries on the Prog-Rock scene (Yes, Gentle Giant, Genesis, etc.), when the popularity of the genre started to decline in the late 70s in favor of Punk and (groan) Disco (for hell’s sake!!!), the band attempted to reinvent itself, to alter their style to fit the times, and, for the most part, failed to stop their rapid descent. They finally called it quits after the less-than-stellar Love Beach in 1978 (where they even attempted to alter their image, looking like “hip pop studs”—or even disco studs—on the lame album cover itself).
Their brief reformation/comeback in the early 1990s with the albums Black Moon and In The Hot Seat was only a marginal success. I actually saw them several times on tour during those years, and although their lives shows were still terrific, the new albums were not. It was clear to most everyone that the old magic was generally gone. Those last two albums contained some pleasant, albeit lackluster and uninspired material. The days of the band releasing another side-long Prog-Rock epic such as “Tarkus” or “Karn Evil 9” had completely disappeared, with the band concentrating on shorter songs in the AOR vein with only several tracks featuring any sort of nod to the glory days.
Nevertheless, the music of E.L.P. (whichever version—Palmer or Powell) inspired countless bands in the years to come (not to mention a score of future keyboardists and drummers especially). And more importantly, they left behind some of the most exciting material to have emerged from the early 1970s (the golden era of Prog-Rock), including the mighty, breathtaking, and perhaps all-around best album in their catalogue (and perhaps in all of Prog-Rock), Brain Salad Surgery.
Now, when it comes to the brief Emerson, Lake & Powell period of the band…
Although most people tend to write off this version of E.L.P. (or don’t even know about it, thanks to almost zero publicity when this sole album appeared in the mid-1980s), I find it quite enjoyable, especially after the Love Beach disaster.
Cozy Powell added some kick-ass spark to most of the tracks, and in my opinion, rejuvenated the creativity of Emerson and Lake. This sole album (especially on “The Score” and “The Miracle,” the two longer vocal tracks) showed that the guys still had something to provide the world of Prog-Rock and offered up a hopeful sign that the genre was not exactly as dead as all the American pop-loving idiot DJs and music critics claimed, despite the emergence of new music being offered by bands in the UK such as Marillion, IQ, Pallas, Twelfth Night, etc.
I, for one, embraced this brief comeback and was saddened the band (for whatever the reason) was unable to release more material. Regardless, their reappearance on the scene just after the New Wave Of Progressive Rock movement began was an added blessing to the scene and, somehow, made the NWOPR movement even more legitimate.