If ever there was a reason to grab a piece of music based solely on its cover, Emerson Lake & Palmer’s 'Brain Salad Surgery' is that record. It features a painting by HR Geiger of a machine-entrapped skull with eye paradoxically closed. The mouth is oddly fleshed out revealing a woman’s supple lips where metal becomes hair braid. Death becomes sleeping. It’s a glorious piece of art, and with gatefold opened, it’s splendor is even more profound.

If ever there was a reason to argue that an album cover is not an apt criteria of judgment, it’s 'Trilogy' by the same band, softly drawn, pastel busts of each member. There is a juvenile crudity to their expressions. The record feels as though it’s going to ask you what you’re feeling, instead of giving the listener such privilege.

Emerson Lake & Palmer have always stood as scions on the crossroads between art and art commerce, that band whose commercial appeal is well drawn, but their steadfast, nearly emboldened sense of experimentation challenges the banality of record sales. These two albums are not simply the commercial vehicle albums in the band’s ample discography. Rather, they are some of their greatest challenges to passive listeners, radio rock sameness and those cheap suited hucksters who keep everyone in sequins.

On 1973’s 'Brain Salad Surgery' the band stretched their well honed, yet far out sound into a stereo performance installation; and it only kind of worked out. Everything on the record is meant as grand statement, making undeniably brilliant, well crafted songs like 'Jerusalem' and 'Still… You Turn Me On' difficult to access; at least, on first and second impressions. In the expansive environment – which is often the better way to think of 'Brain Salad Surgery', as a field on which the band played more than a static record – the band eschewed Carl Palmer’s songwriting offerings, using classical motif, bringing in members of King Crimson to player further and deeper toward the edges.

The deluxe version of 'Brain Salad Surgery' gives some breadth to the experimental nature of classical rock fusions. Alternative takes on both of the 'Karn Evil' tracks and the seminal 'Toccata' are nice, yet they’re not as informative as delving further into the original album. Some of the original album’s lack of gloss and studio conformity, after all, gives it the unique character.

Conversely, its predecessor, 'Trilogy' is the kind of album that revels in re-release territory, built up by second bonus discs, full of alt-takes and demos. Remixed and set into a brand new, far more expansive sequence, the Jakko remixes of the 1972 album are an elevation of the source material to a new level. While no one would question Greg Lake and Keith Emergson’s songwriting abilities, this album was their most simplistic studio production effort to date.

I’m not a prog-rock purist, my tastes often light in the genre, but 'Trilogy' is the ELP album that everyone’s mother or nice uncle could love. It was something that could find its way to the turntable on while the kids romped in the yard. The Jakko mixes don’t remove that air of accessibility, but it does add a layer. It would be worth noting that the next time 'Trilogy' goes on it my house, it will be the bonus disc, not the original.












Related Links:

http://emersonlakepalmer.com/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emerson,_Lake_%26_Palmer
https://www.facebook.com/EmersonLakePalmer


Commenting On: Profile - Emerson Lake And Palmer








ie London, England

tick box before submitting comment
 


First Previous Next Last