Emerson, Lake and Palmer
Tarkus


4.0
excellent

Review

by Brendan Schroer STAFF
November 20th, 2011 | 46 replies | 4,392 views


Release Date: 1971 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Recommended for any progressive rock fan, even if the second half isn't quite as good.

During the 70's, progressive rock was generally known as an "outcast" genre, despite occasional mainstream success from the most popular bands in the style. Critics generally cited it as being "pretentious" or "throwaway trash," while the public generally turned it down for more accessible AOR and disco for the era. All in all, it's really a shame that progressive bands were just thrown into this dark pit of rejection, considering there was much more talent to be had with these artists than with the mainstream work being played on the radio at the time. Emerson, Lake and Palmer are a big example of this fate (and they'd try to change their sound later, to negative results), and never does it shine more than on their sophomore album Tarkus.

At first glance, the trio's second album is very daunting, mainly because the first side is dominated by only one song: The title track. The second side of the record consists of shorter, generally more accessible arrangements. While the second side is a bit of a mixed bag, one thing can't be denied in all of this: The title track is truly one of the best progressive epics of the 70's, easily able to compete with the big guns like "Supper's Ready" (Genesis), "Close to the Edge" (Yes), or "Cygnus X-1, Book II, Hemispheres" (Rush).

The epic opens up with a choir-like crescendo into the main instrumental motif; The trio are all exceptional musicians, and they have the chance to really shine here. Carl Palmer's sweeping, swift drum work is complemented by Keith Emerson's melodic-yet-complex harmonies gracing the forefront, only to have Greg Lake's rapid bass work sandwiched in perfectly; It all creates a mesmerizing quality that is still just as powerful today as it was back then.

Everything soon slows down for the ballad-style section "Stones of Years." Greg Lake has quite a soothing voice, and the subtle bass/drum fills in the background give this portion a very dreamy, floating feel to it. Soon, a keyboard solo comes in, this time more subtle than in the intro. Keith Emerson shows a remarkable sense of variety and restraint here; This whole collective section is one of the best sections of the song, mainly because of how well-controlled and balanced it is. After this, all hell breaks loose; Every instrument clashes for a battle to the death in the most technical section of the song. The part doesn't last long, though, as it goes right back to a slower section, and so on.

The way the band control their dynamics and know when to balance out their sound is a huge factor in how this song is so good as an epic; Any musician can simply wank on his/her instrument for 20 minutes and slap the "epic" label on it, but ELP show remarkable compositional skill through the aforementioned control of their music. The themes are well placed, and the work building off of them follows suit splendidly. Overall, this song is a classic of progressive rock, and an outstanding track all in all.

Side two isn't quite as good, but has its perks as well. While one can do without the country-styled "Jeremy Bender" or the old time 50's rock and roll of "Are You Ready, Eddy?", other song pick up the slack nicely. Bitches Crystal is a technical piano-driven number with very fast percussion and a quick-rolling bassline; definitely a highlight of the album. "Infinite Space (Conclusion)" makes its case with a deeply somber tone mixed with subtle drumming and bass riffs. Overall, this side of the album is good, but simply not as fantastic as the title track.

Overall, this album is excellent for any prog fan, if just for the splendid first song. In any case, this album feels more complete as a full album than the band's debut and demonstrates a step-up from the meanderings of said first record. For a few albums, ELP would grow and grow; Too bad they eventually succumbed to commercial music...



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Comments:Add a Comment 
JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
November 20th 2011



19981 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Title track is awesome.

Jethro42
November 20th 2011



12377 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

''During the 70's, progressive rock was generally known as an "outcast" genre''

More like a flourishing genre. It's only at the very end of the 70s that we've assisted at a progressive decline of classic prog and the definitive advent of the ruthless Dark Age of the genre through the 80s, giving way to punk, new wave, AOR and shit. Business as usual.

Jethro42
November 20th 2011



12377 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah prog has always been the black sheep of rock, but it always had influenced a big deal of ''more popular'' music genres from the 70s. Even if it was perpetually denied by a big part of the medias, the emerging prog soon went further than its native Europe and has eventually spreaded across the world. All like Miles Davis or painter Van Ghog, progressive rock gained a solid fanbase worldwide in time. Today, progressive rock is recognized worldwide, respected and in health more than ever.

scissorlocked
November 20th 2011



3508 Comments


jethro for prog-historian of the year ;)

Digging: John Roberts - Ausio

Jethro42
November 20th 2011



12377 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

hahaha you're too kind scissor. My ideas (French) are coming to mind way more naturally than my English does. Take note that when I write more than 3 lines, I can happen to edit my text 3 or 4 times on here.
English takes me triple the time to express myself properly. It makes me practice at least.

FiveLeavesLeft
Staff Reviewer
May 22nd 2013



9673 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

\p/

KILL
February 4th 2014



70586 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

bitches crystal is a fuckin jam

Digging: Gal Costa - Gal Costa

VermTheInquisitor
February 4th 2014



489 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I expected a higher rating, album is sweet

KILL
February 4th 2014



70586 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

some of the songs aint that great

conesmoke
February 4th 2014



5176 Comments


Armourdildos for the win!

VermTheInquisitor
February 4th 2014



489 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Most of this stuff is enjoyable, and is sweet. But brain salad surgery is their best

KILL
February 4th 2014



70586 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

nah s/t rapes their discog tbh

VermTheInquisitor
February 4th 2014



489 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

s/t is close to brain salad, still the second one destroys everything

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
February 4th 2014



19981 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is probably the weakest of their first 5 albums (I'm including Pictures at an Exhibition as one of those 5 even though it's not a studio album).

MeatSalad
February 4th 2014



14190 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Best thing about this alb is the art

Digging: Love - Forever Changes

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
February 4th 2014



19981 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

and the title track.

pissbore
February 4th 2014



9935 Comments


tbh i enjoy side 2

KILL
February 4th 2014



70586 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yea cept 2112 is a much better record

MeatSalad
February 4th 2014



14190 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Side 2 isnt bad, its just average

KILL
February 4th 2014



70586 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

bitch this aint even caress of steel level



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