November 20 – The Debut of Emerson, Lake & Palmer

11/20/70: ELP – Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Flailing, booming, bozos, clunky, heavy-handed, savage, imposingly gothic edge, 5/5 stars, A grade, C grade, lively, ambitious, almost entirely successful, impressive musicianship, deliberately archaic, daunting talents…

By its nature, rock music is subject to impassioned stances taken by fans and critics, and perhaps no sub-genre elicits stronger opinions than prog. One of the most successful prog bands, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, released their eponymous debut 50 years ago today, and the responses from critics as seen above illustrate the wide variation of views on the genre as a whole, not just this record.

The Song Remains the Same: Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, and Carl Palmer entered the studio in July 1970 having yet to play on stage together. Sessions lasted three months, and the competed album contained six tracks over 41 minutes, including three instrumentals and arrangements of classical works by the likes of Bartók, Janácek, and J.S. Bach. It reached number four on the U.K. album chart, and 18 on the Billboard 200 in the U.S. The single Lucky Man/Knife-Edge climbed to 48 in the U.S., and as such are the best known songs on the album.

Emerson, Lake & Palmer (Music) - TV Tropes

But tracks like the keyboard-drenched Barbarian (a rather audacious opener for a debut record), Greg Lake’s jazz-inflected Take a Pebble, and Tank, which features Emerson on clavinet and Moog, also make this an enjoyable album. Some of the keyboard adventures of late Emerson, himself classically trained, get to be a bit much for me – specifically the pipe organ (same goes for Neil Young) – but it doesn’t dissuade me from listening ELP one bit.

Keith Emerson, '70s Rock Showman With a Taste for Spectacle, Dies at 71 -  The New York Times

I see myself as a music fan, period, and don’t subscribe to all-encompassing maxims about any musical classification. Sometimes I want to hear “bloated” prog bands, other times The Clash or Hüsker Dü hit the spot. I’d rather not limit myself. I couldn’t if I tried, actually.

Tracklist

Side One:

  1. The Barbarian
  2. Take a Pebble
  3. Knife-Edge

Side Two:

  1. The Three Fates: a) Clotho b) Lachesis c) Atropos
  2. Tank
  3. Lucky Man

-Stephen

https://www.allmusic.com/album/emerson-lake-palmer-mw0000650116

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emerson,Lake%26_Palmer_(album)

4 thoughts on “November 20 – The Debut of Emerson, Lake & Palmer”

  1. I’ve never heard this album- but I have heard some ELP – just not a fan of prog rock. … I am looking forward to your 50th anniversary on a little album which came out 50 years ago- next Friday.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I never really followed Emerson, Lake & Palmer much, but really liked “Lucky Man” and a few of their other songs I’ve heard. It’s funny to see Lake singing “Lucky Man” while apparently chewing gum!

    Like

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