Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Tarkus (1971)

AllMusic Review: Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s 1970 eponymous LP was only a rehearsal. It hit hard because of the novelty of the act (allegedly the first supergroup in rock history), but felt more like a collection of individual efforts and ideas than a collective work. All doubts were dissipated by the release of Tarkus in 1971. Side one of the original LP is occupied by the 21-minute title epic track, beating both Genesis’ “Supper’s Ready” and Yes’ “Close to the Edge” by a year. Unlike the latter group’s cut-and-paste technique to obtain long suites, “Tarkus” is a thoroughly written, focused piece of music. It remains among the Top Ten classic tracks in progressive rock history. Because of the strength of side one, the material on the album’s second half has been quickly forgotten — with one good reason: it doesn’t match the strength of its counterpart — but “Bitches Crystal” and “A Time and a Place” make two good prog rock tracks, the latter being particularly rocking. “Jeremy Bender” is the first in a series of honky tonk-spiced, Far-West-related songs. This one and the rock & roll closer “Are You Ready Eddy?” are the only two tracks worth throwing away. Otherwise Tarkus makes a very solid album, especially to the ears of prog rock fans — no Greg Lake acoustic ballads, no lengthy jazz interludes. More accomplished than the trio’s first album, but not quite as polished as Brain Salad Surgery, Tarkus is nevertheless a must-have. — François Couture

Track Listing:

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “Tarkus”

  • “Eruption” (Emerson) – 2:43
  • “Stones of Years” (Emerson, Lake) – 3:43
  • “Iconoclast” (Emerson) – 1:16
  • “Mass” (Emerson, Lake) – 3:09
  • “Manticore” (Emerson) – 1:49
  • “Battlefield” (Lake) – 3:57
  • “Aquatarkus” (Emerson) – 3:54″
Keith Emerson, Greg Lake 20:40
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “Jeremy Bender” Emerson, Lake 1:41
2. “Bitches Crystal” Emerson, Lake 3:54
3. “The Only Way (Hymn)” Emerson, Lake 3:50
4. “Infinite Space (Conclusion)” Emerson, Carl Palmer 3:18
5. “A Time and a Place” Emerson, Lake, Palmer 3:00
6. “Are You Ready, Eddy?” Emerson, Lake, Palmer 2:09
Total length: 38:55

 

Schill Score:  5/10

 

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Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Pictures At An Exhibition (1971)

AllMusic Review: One of the seminal documents of the progressive rock era, a record that made its way into the collections of millions of high-school kids who never heard of Modest Mussorgsky and knew nothing of Russia’s Nationalist “Five.” It does some violence to Mussorgsky, but Pictures at an Exhibition is also the most energetic and well-realized live release in Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s catalog, and it makes a fairly compelling case for adapting classical pieces in this way. At the time, it introduced “classical rock” to millions of listeners, including the classical community, most of whose members regarded this record as something akin to an armed assault. The early-’70s live sound is a little crude by today’s standards, but the tightness of the playing (Carl Palmer is especially good) makes up for any sonic inadequacies. Keith Emerson is the dominant musical personality here, but Greg Lake and Palmer get the spotlight enough to prevent it from being a pure keyboard showcase. — Bruce Eder

Track Listing:

 

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “Promenade” Modest Mussorgsky, arranged by Keith Emerson 1:58
2. “The Gnome” Mussorgsky, Carl Palmer 4:18
3. “Promenade” Mussorgsky, arranged by Greg Lake 1:23
4. “The Sage” Lake 4:42
5. “The Old Castle” Mussorgsky, Emerson 2:33
6. “Blues Variation” Emerson, Lake, Palmer 4:22
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
7. “Promenade” Mussorgsky, arranged by Emerson 1:29
8. “The Hut of Baba Yaga” Mussorgsky, arranged by Emerson 1:12
9. “The Curse of Baba Yaga” Emerson, Lake, Palmer 4:10
10. “The Hut of Baba Yaga” Mussorgsky, arranged by Emerson 1:06
11. “The Great Gates of Kiev” Mussorgsky, Lake 6:37
12. “Nut Rocker” Tchaikovsky, Kim Fowley, arranged by Emerson, Lake, Palmer 4:26

 

 

Schill Score: 4/10

 

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