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Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Emerson, Lake & Palmer were progressive rock's first supergroup. Greeted by the rock press and the public as something akin to conquering heroes, they succeeded in broadening the audience for progressive rock from hundreds of thousands into tens of millions of listeners, creating a major radio phenomenon as well. Their flamboyance on record and in the studio echoed the best work of the heavy metal bands of the era, proving that classical rockers could compete for that arena-scale audience. Over and above their own commercial success, the trio also paved the way for the success of such bands as Yes, who would become their chief rivals for much of the 1970s.

Keyboardist Keith Emerson planted the seeds of the group in late 1969 when his band the Nice shared a bill at the Fillmore West with King Crimson, and the two first spoke of the possibility of working together. After the Crimson lineup began disintegrating during their first U.S. tour, Lake opted to leave the group. Upon officially teaming in 1970, Emerson and Lake auditioned several drummers before they approached Carl Palmer, not yet 20 years old and already an overpowering talent, as well as a former member of the Crazy World of Arthur Brown and Atomic Rooster.

The trio's first rehearsals mostly picked up from the Nice's and King Crimson's respective repertoires, including such well-known numbers as "Rondo" and "21st Century Schizoid Man." In August of 1970, ELP played their first show at the Plymouth Guildhall, just ahead of the Isle of Wight Festival in August of 1970, where they astonished more than half-a-million onlookers with their sound and instrumental prowess. One month later, the group finished their debut album, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, comprised of their strongest early originals and two dazzling classical adaptations filled with rippling piano and synthesizer playing by Emerson along lightning-fast drumming by Palmer, anchored around Lake's bass work. That album was an instant success, rising to the Top Five in England and the Top 20 in America with considerable help from a last-minute addition -- pressed to fill out the running time of the album, the group settled on a composition that Lake had written as a boy, called "Lucky Man." The latter became their debut single and made the Top 50 in America.

The trio's stage act rapidly became the stuff of legend, Emerson's organ pyrotechnics -- which dated from his days with the Nice -- getting him compared to Jimi Hendrix. The recording of the second ELP album, Tarkus (1971), tested their cohesiveness while stretching their sound in new directions and dimensions, with a much more complex electronic keyboard sound and a running time on the title track that took up the entire first side. But "Tarkus" the composition, despite its difficult birth (at first, Lake didn't resonate very well to the musical textures or time signature that Emerson and Palmer had begun with), ultimately defined the ELP sound as most people understood it: loud and bombastic, somewhat gloomy in its lyrical tone, and boundlessly exultant in its instrumental power. The Tarkus album reached number one in England and the Top Ten in America, and it seemed at this point as though the trio could do little wrong -- after a couple of abortive attempts, they captured a new feature of their concerts, a rock adaptation of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, at a March 21, 1971, concert at Newcastle City Hall, and it, in turn, became another major hit. Indeed, as a result of the release of that album, several million teenagers of high-school age suddenly had Mussorgsky's name and music -- after a fashion -- in their consciousness, to the delight or chagrin of music educators (depending on their outlook) everywhere.

It was eight months before ELP's next record, Trilogy, was released in July of 1972. In the interim, they toured extensively, and made it their business to cultivate the college audience that took most naturally to their work. Lake never sang better, nor did the group ever sound more comfortable and laid-back on that album, and among the eight very solid numbers in a classical-rock vein, there was tucked a track that became virtually the band's signature tune, a version of Aaron Copland's "Hoedown." The group also enjoyed its most successful pop single off of that album in the Lake-authored ballad "From the Beginning."

Such was the group's credibility that when it came time to record a version of the first movement of Alberto Ginastera's "Piano Concerto No. 1" and the publisher denied them permission, they approached the composer himself, who fully approved of the track that became "Tocatta" on Brain Salad Surgery, released in 1973.

The most popular album in their history, Brain Salad Surgery dominated the charts and the airwaves upon its release -- it was also their boldest group effort, offering the "Karn Evil 9" epic that filled more than the side of an LP, as well as the best playing and production in their history, and some of the most elaborate packaging of the fairly daunting progressive rock boom. By this time, the band had formed its own label, Manticore Records (named for one of the mythological creatures portrayed in "Tarkus"). Through Manticore, ELP also released material by ex-King Crimson lyricist Pete Sinfield and the Italian progressive rock band PFM; Sinfield's presence as a composer with Lake on Brain Salad Surgery also helped strengthen one of the group's lingering weaknesses, its lyrics -- where Lake's use of language had always tended toward the pleasant but simplistic, Sinfield, a veteran of King Crimson, provided lyrical complexity nearly as daunting as the best of the group's music.

In the wake of this string of successes, ELP released a triple-live album, Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends, in August of 1974, which was their last new release for over three years. It was also at this point that the bandmembers began chafing at the restrictions that the trio put on their individual ambitions -- Emerson's boldest compositions were pure classical music, requiring orchestral accompaniment; Lake's songs didn't necessarily have much for Emerson or Palmer to contribute; similarly, Palmer's music was going in directions that would have left the others as little more than sidemen. A trio of solo albums would have been the answer, but they'd also seen how solo releases by members of such top acts as Yes and the Moody Blues had failed to sell in numbers resembling those of their respective groups.

The result was Works, Vol. 1, a double-LP that was essentially three one-sided solo albums by each member and a fourth group side. Released in March of 1977, the record fared relatively poorly, both commercially and critically. Additionally, following the release, the group was never the same -- Works destroyed ELP's unity, and their remaining motivation for recording seemed only to be their contractual obligations. Worse still, they had squandered valuable time over the hiatus between Brain Salad Surgery and Works, during which the public's taste was changing -- by 1977, the notion of extended suites, conceptual rock albums, and classical-rock fusion that were trademarks of ELP's sound seemed hopelessly ponderous and pretentious, as the rise of punk rock and disco combined to undermine any notion of intellectualism in rock. Works, Vol. 2, released in November of 1977, was nothing more than a collection of obscure B-sides and odd tracks dating back four years -- though it received more positive reviews in some quarters than did its more ambitious predecessor.

Their next album of new material, Love Beach, was later described by the bandmembers themselves as nothing more than a matter of going through the motions. ELP split up in 1979, with Lake embarking on a moderately successful solo career, while Emerson took to composing film scores and recorded the occasional solo project, and Palmer, after a stint with the band Carl Palmer's PM, joined the pop supergroup Asia. In the mid-'80s, Emerson and Lake got together with drummer Cozy Powell as the short-lived Emerson, Lake & Powell, complete with a self-titled 1985 album and a tour.

In 1991, Emerson, Lake & Palmer reunited for the Black Moon album, followed by a tour, which led to the release of Live at the Royal Albert Hall and another studio album, 1994's In the Hot Seat. The trio mounted several additional international reunion tours during the mid- to late '90s, although disputes over an intended new album short-circuited their planned late-decade recording comeback. Emerson re-formed the Nice for a reunion tour and live album early in the new century, and later collaborated with Mike Bennett in the making of a triple-disc set entitled Reworks: Brain Salad Perjury, exploring new permutations of ELP's sound. He and Palmer each toured with their respective bands, with Palmer later rejoining Asia for a 25th anniversary tour, while Greg Lake toured with Ringo Starr in 2001, and subsequently formed his own band. Lake and Emerson scheduled a tour of the United States and Canada performing in an acoustic format in 2010, and the trio planned to reunite for a single 40th anniversary performance in July of 2010, presented as part of Classic Rock magazine's High Voltage Festival at Victoria Park in London. Sadly, Keith Emerson died in March 2016 at the age of 71. In a fitting memorial to the late, great keyboard virtuoso, a number of reissues arrived later that year, as well as Anthology, an exclusive three-disc collection of tracks that spanned the band's career from 1970 to 1998. ~ Bruce Eder
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Live At The Mar Y Sol Festival '72

x

Track List: A Time And A Place (Live Recordings)

Disc 1
Disc 2
Disc 3
Disc 4
x

Track List: The Birth Of A Band: Isle Of Wight Festival

1. Pictures At An Exhibition

2. Take A Pebble

4. Nutrocker

x

Track List: The Very Best Of Emerson, Lake & Palmer

1. Lucky Man

3. From The Beginning

4. Trilogy

5. Jerusalem

6. Toccata

7. Karn Evil 9 (1st Impression - Part 2)

8. Still...You Turn Me On

9. Pirates

10. Fanfare For The Common Man

x

Track List: Then & Now

Disc 1

1. Toccata

4. A Time And A Place

6. From The Beginning

Disc 2

1. Karn Evil 9: First Impression Pt. 2

2. Tiger In A Spotlight

3. Hoedown

4. Touch And Go

5. Knife Edge

6. B**ches Crystal

7. Honky Tonk Train Blues

8. Take A Pebble

9. Lucky Man

x

Track List: Love Beach

1. All I Want Is You

2. Love Beach

3. Taste Of My Love

4. The Gambler

5. For You

6. Canario (From Fantasia Para Un Gentilhombre)

7. Memoirs Of An Officer And A Gentelman

x

Track List: Works Volume 1

Disc 1

1. Piano Concerto No. 1

2. Lend Your Love To Me Tonight

3. C'Est La Vie

4. Hallowed Be Thy Name

5. Nobody Loves You Like I Do

6. Closer To Believing

Disc 2

1. The Enemy God Dances With The Black Spirits

2. L.A. Nights

3. New Orleans

4. Two Part Invention In D Minor

5. Food For Your Soul

6. Tank

7. Fanfare For The Common Man

8. Pirates

x

Track List: Tarkus (Deluxe Edition)

Disc 1

1. Tarkus

2. Jeremy Bender

3. B**ches Crystal

4. The Only Way (Hymn)

5. Infinite Space (Conclusion)

6. A Time And A Place

7. Are You Ready Eddy?

Disc 2

2. Jeremy Bender (2012 Stereo Mix)

3. B**ches Crystal (2012 Stereo Mix)

4. The Only Way (Hymn) (2012 Stereo Mix)

5. Infinite Space (Conclusion) (2012 Stereo Mix)

6. A Time And A Place (2012 Stereo Mix)

7. Are You Ready Eddy? (2012 Stereo Mix)

8. Oh, My Father (2012 Stereo Mix)

9. Unknown Ballad (2012 Stereo Mix)

Disc 3
x

Track List: Black Moon

1. Black Moon

2. Paper Blood

3. Affairs Of The Heart

4. Romeo And Juliet

5. Farewell To Arms

6. Changing States

7. Burning Bridges

8. Close To Home

9. Better Days

10. Footprints In The Snow

x

Track List: Brain Salad Surgery

1. Jerusalem

2. Toccata

3. Still...You Turn Me On

4. Benny the Bouncer

5. Karn Evil 9 1st Impression, Pt. I

6. Karn Evil 9 1st Impression, Pt. 2

7. Karn Evil 9 2nd Impression

8. Karn Evil 9 3rd Impression

x

Track List: Emerson, Lake & Palmer

1. The Barbarian

2. Take a Pebble

3. Knife-Edge

4. The Three Fates

5. Tank

6. Lucky Man

x

Track List: In The Hot Seat

1. Hand Of Truth

2. Daddy

3. One By One

4. Heart On Ice

5. Thin Line

6. Man In The Long Black Coat

7. Change

8. Give Me A Reason To Stay

9. Gone Too Soon

10. Street War

x

Track List: Once Upon A Time In South America (Live Version)

1. Introduction Fanfare (Live - April 1, 1993)

2. Hoedown (Live - April 1, 1993)

3. Creole Dance (Live - April 5, 1993)

4. Fanfare For The Common Man - America - Rondo (Live - April 5, 1993)

5. Tarkus (Live - April 1, 1993)

6. Pictures At An Exhibition (Live - April 1, 1993)

7. From The Beginning (Live - April 5, 1993)

9. Knife Edge (Live - April 1, 1993)

10. Fanfare For The Common Man - America - Rondo (Live - April 1, 1993)

11. C'Est La Vie (Live - April 5, 1993)

12. Hoedown (Live - August 15, 1997)

13. Paper Blood (Live - April 1, 1993)

14. Introductory Fanfare (Live - April 5, 1993)

15. Lucky Man (Live - April 5, 1993)

16. Touch And Go (Live - August 15, 1997)

17. Black Moon (Live - April 1, 1993)

18. Tarkus (Live - April 5, 1993)

19. Honky Tonk Train Blues (Live - April 5, 1993)

20. From The Beginning (Live - August 15, 1997)

21. Close To Home (Live - April 1, 1993)

22. Knife Edge (Live - April 5, 1993)

23. Touch And Go (Live - April 5, 1993)

24. Knife Edge (Live - August 15, 1997)

25. Creole Dance (Live - April 1, 1993)

26. Paper Blood (Live - April 5, 1993)

27. Pirates (Live - April 5, 1993)

28. Lucky Man (Live - August 15, 1997)

29. Still You Turn Me On (Live - April 1, 1993)

30. Black Moon (Live - April 5, 1993)

31. Hoedown (Live - April 5, 1993)

32. Tarkus (Live - August 15, 1997)

33. C'Est La Vie (Live - April 1, 1993)

34. Emerson Piano Solo (Live - April 5, 1993)

35. Instrumental Jam (Live - April 5, 1993)

36. Pictures At An Exhibition (Live - August 15, 1997)

37. Lucky Man (Live - April 1, 1993)

38. Pictures At An Exhibition (Live - April 5, 1993)

39. 21st Century Schizoid Man (Live - August 15, 1997)

40. Honky Tonk Woman (Live - April 1, 1993)

41. America (Live - August 15, 1997)

42. Touch And Go (Live - April 1, 1993)

43. Pirates (Live - April 1, 1993)

x

Track List: Tarkus

1. Tarkus

2. Jeremy Bender

3. B**ches Crystal

4. The Only Way (Hymn)

5. Infinite Space (Conclusion)

6. A Time and a Place

7. Are You Ready Eddy?

x

Track List: The Best Of Emerson Lake & Palmer

1. Hoedown

2. Lucky Man

3. Karn Evil 9 (1st Impression, Part 2)

4. Jerusalem

6. Fanfare For The Common Man

7. Still...You Turn Me On

8. Tiger In A Spotlight

9. Trilogy

x

Track List: Trilogy

1. The Endless Enigma

2. Fugue

3. The Endless Enigma, Pt. 2

4. From the Beginning

5. The Sheriff

6. Hoedown

7. Trilogy

8. Living Sin

9. Abaddon's Bolero

Comments

Report as inappropriate
vixtoria77
Really dude LOL
Report as inappropriate
Don't read this. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Now you've started reading this.Don't stop Reading this is freaky. But if you read this and ignore it it will get bad luck.put this on 15 songs in 143 min.when you're done the press The and your crushes name will appear in big letters on the screen this is so
creepy because it actually works
Report as inappropriate
Keith - Still, you turn me on.
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kdpflugrad
Tarcus is quite a song
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One of best bands of all time,no doubt about it. ..what memories
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One of my favorite E L P songs.
Report as inappropriate
Best trio ever
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kdpflugrad
Love ELP
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kurtwheeler2 0 0 4
La Basa Nova!
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@mavmonster. . . y e s , what a way to start. When they came here (Albuquerque ) in '73, I wasn't aware who they were yet, and didn't go. Biggest mistake of my life.
Report as inappropriate
mavmonster
My first concert., 1973 in quadrophonic sound. Wow what a way to start!
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Genius musician's !
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such important lyrics.. it IS all clear..
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queenmomgail
Best concert I ever saw. Transported me away from reality. Amazing.
Report as inappropriate
In the beginning, I was a Lucky Man to discover ELP with such pleasant instrumental s and enchanting sound!
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Lucky Man, my favorite all time song! They were way ahead of their time!
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hauntingly beautiful version...
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philippepelu s o
ELP was light years ahead of their time with their intricate and progressive music. I would not put their music in any category, since it embraces jazz, rock, and classical. Tarkus is a good example. You can't tell what they're playing, they are flying at such an altitude of superior stratosphere . . . . it is un-believabl e . It's 21 minutes of pure musical purity......
Report as inappropriate
First part of Trilogy, The 3 Fates, Lucky Man, Take a Pebble:
My ELP favs !!
Report as inappropriate
Soo many good memories from this band
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From the beginning. A song for some Lovin
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Had the pleasure to see them back in 79, great show, great times, R.I.P. Keith
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Even Elton John admired Keith Emerson
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dominick528
Keith Emerson the Mozart of progressive rock
ELP such great memories!
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Miss you Keith.
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drew918
Rest in Peace Keith.
Report as inappropriate
Very sad day,I hate it.Wish I could change it.
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I am sadden of a great artistas May u be in peace and will Miss Ur Music. Rest. In peace
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chrisnordeng r e n
C'Est La Vie Keith, C'Est La Vie. My heart is heavy tonight, may you rest in peace.
Report as inappropriate
jdoody66
A master musician that was Keith. I was in awe when I first saw ELP and am saddened by the loss for Music.
Report as inappropriate
We've lost too many wonderful, talented artists this year. Keith is a shining star whose music lives on. RIP Keith.
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Rip Keith....you r pain has ended.
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Am so very sad, music today is lacking as I am spoiled with such beautiful talent. You will be missed and forever loved in my heart
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Keith was a true artist of the keyboard, very few like that. RIP
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Rest in peace bro
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RIP, Keith. You were the best.
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Guess them keys finally had enough abuse and fought back for good! ;) RIP Keith... forever a legend.
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I loved this band. One of the best. So sorry to hear about your band mates passing.
Report as inappropriate
One of the greatest tríos ever these guys rocked
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From the Beginning... . o n e of the greatest songs ever IMHO
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I love when I'm baked at the Dr or dentist office and this comes on the crappy lite radio they torture you with.
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But there it is from the beginning
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dawndirect
Love...
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hsuarez1939
My happiest days were with Emerson , Lake and Palmer. Thank you for the wonderful music.
Report as inappropriate
One of my all time favorite songs....mes m e r i z i n g !
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My very first LP. Did I understand it? No. Why not? Because I was a very young JERK!!!! Loved it anyway.
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Grew up on ELP , YES , CRIMSON, TULL in the 70's . Whats out there nowadays ??????
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pbgranma
Excellent !
Report as inappropriate
This is a true masterpiece and the mix is mind boggling.
Report as inappropriate
I think it full-tilt sucks that if you don't allow Pandora to interact with you on FB, you can't upload a photo.
Uggh !!!
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