Super groups are usually hit or miss. There are great successes like The Yardbirds
and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
. Then there are the major flops like the recent Rock Star Supernova
. But I must say one of the best is back were they started. Emerson, Lake and Palmer, comprised of the high regarded Keith Emerson from various bands, Greg Lake from the epic King Crimson and Carl Palmer, another person held up to high regards, is that band. With Keith’s beyond words keyboard playing, Greg’s smooth and melodic voice and Carl’s jazzy ecstatic drumming, this seemed like one of the biggest movements in music. And it did leave a mark with possibly their best effort Brain Salad Surgery
In this album they incorporate pounds and pounds of Classical music. For example Karn Evil 9 2nd Impression
sounds like George Gershwin walked right into Emerson’s body and took over. The piano is just drenching with the exhilarating up beat feel that Gershwin used. After that it goes in to one of the most tranquil moments on the album using strange sounds in the background. Another example of Keith’s greatness is in the dark, eerie and sinister sounding Toccata
where her uses artificial brass and woodwind instruments. They also have great chemistry in that song with drastic changes in volume and time.
, this album gives off similar, dark and mysterious songs. In about every song you can find that meditative dark quality. Like I said above, Toccata
, uses strange and eerie sounds. Also with Still You Turn Me On
, it comes of as a very relaxing song with beautiful acoustic guitar, and very soothing vocals. But then it starts getting very depressing. That upbeat voice becomes a very sad feel and the guitar turns inside out with very weird effects as they do with a handful of songs. In Karn Evil 9 3rd Impression
they use very bizarre computer voices. That can get annoying but it does complete the song. Finally there is Benny The Bouncer
. The sound of the song is extremely upbeat as if you were sitting at an old west bar and a fight broke out. But the lyrics make this song evil. Despite the happy feel the lyrics are very gory (for its time). It has talk of chopping someone limb from limb and putting him back together. I actually find it humorous singing those lyrics with such an upbeat feel.
A very bad quality of that song
is Greg Lake’s vocals. It is very raspy with that annoying British sounding accent. The kind where the words slur and they don’t pronounce the ‘h’ in ‘head’. It is very distasteful. I can say that is the only song where I despise his vocals. With that one exception, his vocals are very melodic and smooth. Still You Turn Me On
is where he really stands out. Aside with the very deep lyrics, his voice is very relaxed. It’s a breath of fresh air hearing clean flawless vocals. On the contrary of Still You Turn Me On’s
relaxed vocals, Karn Evil 9 1st Impression Part 1
and Karn Evil 9 1st Impression Part 2
his vocals are drastically stronger but still keeping a smooth feel. Those two songs have the most catchy and famous vocals and it is what made these guys famous. They really get to a point where it is forceful. One of the bad things of this album is that he does not sing in 2 of the song songs.
Progressive rock has a way from going dark to bright and slow to fast. This takes loads of chemistry. If these guys can do one thing, then it is just that. In Karn Evil 9 1st Impression Part 1
they are always doing that. Constanly starting and stoping together. In Karn Evil 9 2nd Impression
, as I said before, is very up beat and energetic piano in the beginning and then complete tranquility. Another proof of chemistry is the fact that this whole album sounds like an improvisation. You can’t have a group with just talent because chemistry can be vital.
The main thing that just blew me away was Carl Palmer’s jazzy drumming. It’s a very different type of progressive drumming then, for example, Neil Peart but more of the flashy type. Just like Keith Emerson incorporates classical, Carl Palmer incorporates jazz. He has many drum solos and each never seizing to amaze me. Not only in the solos but also in everywhere else he doesn’t let up with his perfect touch. If it weren’t for his flawless drumming then this wouldn’t appeal to me at all.
Brain Salad Surgery
is one of the most successful progressive albums to date. It can be held up to such great successes such as In the Court of the Crimson King
. This mixes tranquility and darkness with some great melodies and soothing vocals.
Lake doesn’t sing in 2 songs
Still You Turn Me On 4.5/5
Benny the Bouncer 3/5
Karn Evil 9 1st Impression Part 1 4/5
Karn Evil 9 1st Impression Part 2 4.5/5
Karn Evil 9 2nd Impression 5/5
Karn Evil 9 3rd Impression 3.5/5