#TwoForTuesday: Emerson, Lake, and Palmer

I might be embarking on a new series called “bands I liked whose albums I never got around to buying.” Or maybe just “Progressive Rock.” Pretty much the same thing.

A good example of both is the trio of Keith Emerson (keyboards), Greg Lake (bass, guitars, and vocals), and Carl Palmer (drums and percussion), better known as Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, or just ELP, which is much easier to type. I remember hearing the commercials for Tarkus and parts of the title track (which was over twenty minutes long) in 1971 and thinking I should look into them. But, as with practically everything when you’re fifteen, if your friends aren’t talking about it, you tend to forget about it until the next time you hear one of their songs on the radio. Which happened quite frequently in the 1970’s, to the point where I guess I didn’t feel the need to own any of their music. Kind of like today, when no one actually owns music, they simply stream it from one of the many services.

One of ELP’s trademarks was taking classical pieces and adapting them to their power-trio format. A perfect example is their 1971 live album Pictures at an Exhibition, where they took the music from Modest Mussorgsky’s suite of the same name and arranged it to fit their format, and wrote additional music in the same style. Mussorgsky’s “The Gnome” was arranged by Palmer; and it’s our first song today.

1973’s Brain Salad Surgery included an adaptation of Hubert Parry’s hymn “Jerusalem,” which you’re familiar with if you watch a lot of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, the extended “Karn Evil 9,” which included Emerson’s only vocal credit, and “Still… You Turn Me On,” an acoustic beauty sung and played by Lake. It’s our second song today.

Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, your Two for Tuesday, January 5, 2016.

5 thoughts on “#TwoForTuesday: Emerson, Lake, and Palmer

  1. I’m a prog rock fan though not fanatic in the sense that many are. I have a great appreciation for the intricacies of the genre as well as the virtuosity of the musicians who play the music. It can be pompous and overwrought at times, but still in general I like prog rock.

    My first exposure to the talents of Keith Emerson was on the Nice album Five Bridges Suite that was recorded with a symphony orchestra. Thus when ELP came on the scene I was adapted to their sound since I had also been a big fan of the early King Crimson albums.

    Not until relatively recently did I actually purchase any ELP recordings. Many of my friends had recordings by them so I still listened to their music over the years. ELP was a great group for the ears of certain rock fans but not for the masses.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out


    1. I’m finding all the music on YouTube. You’re right, prog-rock players tended to take their music, and themselves, a little too seriously, and it turned off a lot of potential fans. Case in point: Robert Fripp, who’s a remarkable guitar player, but came off in his Guitar Player magazine column as a real jerk. Every month the letter column was full of complaints about him, and when GP finally cancelled him, he spent his last column lambasting the readers. On the one hand, a shame, because he had some great ideas; on the other hand, a relief, because it meant I wouldn’t be looking at a letters column full of disgruntled readers…


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