There was a time when the used record bin was the right and proper means of reinvigorating interest in your parents’ 70’s rock. My local café and bar introduced a few stacks years ago, and there I was introduced to Emerson, Lake & Palmer.

I still drive by and make that association. But by “introduced” I mean, re-introduced. And by “re-introduced” I mean, until their albums were re-released as two-disc sets when I really got to know the breadth of the band’s work.

The first three ELP albums get the overhaul, in addition to an 'Anthology' release. From the outset, the band displayed a masterful progression in rock. Their self-titled 1970 debut (which in the beginning, wasn’t really conceived of as a band project, rather, a series of solo recordings) yielded one the band’s biggest hits, 'Lucky Man', a folk rock ballad by Greg Lake and offers some of the most accessible music the band would ever achieve. In this comprehensive, two-disc form, the album feels even more oblique, singular, stripped down songs broken even further apart for examination.

It isn’t until the fringe riding 'Tarkus', the band’s 1971 album that Emerson Lake & Palmer really found their form (at least what makes them so influential) eschewing jazzy interludes and folk rock commercialism; it is here that they begin to experiment and draw on each, that the studio becomes a de factor fourth member and no place is that more evident than the twenty-something minute title song. Consuming all of side A (back to the dusty bin again) it’s a sprawling songbook, a deep look inward at what experimental rock should strive toward. There are a few meaty, hard rock riffs and an assortment of dazzling keyboards that give the song a wide-open, breathing feeling.

On a release that has always created some distance in fans and critics (legend Robert Christgau gave it a precise and damning D+) 'Pictures at an Exhibition', again from 1971, is a live album of another ELP fascination, crossover classical. The extended version offers alternate recordings and studio versions of the Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky’s piece, and it’s compelling, but 'Pictures' is here what it has always been, a curiosity.

These album reissues are an art rock and audiophile dream come true. They are widely variant and wonderfully produced, setting forward a complete document on an influential group on the cusp of an ever-widening influential movement.















Related Links:

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


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