20
Mar
07

Emerson Lake & Palmer “Works – Volume 1”

Side one is Keith Emerson’s “Piano Concerto No. 1” with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1977 I was blown away– he had (re)invented classical music! We didn’t call this prog rock at the time, but “classical rock.” (This was before the term “classic rock”.) I think I may have used the word “genius” to describe this at one time, but it sounds pretty comic now– like a bad movie score– the kind of score where time is condensed. The settlers arrive and cut down trees, cut marble from the cliffs, and work together to build a great university!– and then we see the fresh graduates emerging, with robes and mortarboard hats! And that’s just the first movement– the second is a peaceful existance– but of course it’s short. The third movement is the great storm AND the villian (at the same time) but then there is triumph over the forces of evil and nature, and a soft snow falls, and then glorious spring! with little large-eyed animals bugging about.

Side two is all Greg Lake, and he starts by doing a bad Neil Diamond. Then more of the same. “Nobody Loves You Like I Do” is the standout song, it’s really a pretty good song, if you ignore the lyrics. I feel like someone else must have had a hit with it– it’s really familiar– or maybe this was the hit.

Side three is Carl Palmer, more movie soundtrack, but this is more like a geeky animated sci-fi fantasy battle scene that morphs into a beer commercial– it sounds like someone is playing “Rocky Mountain Way”– so I look at the credits and sure enough– Joe Walsh! Later there’s the “Theme from The White Coked-up Shaft” w/drum solo. The drum solo is awesome– that’s what Carl Palmer DOES. The last song on the side is “Tank”– it sounds like the soundtrack to a dated, short documentary on “commerce” that then somehow turns into a big screen musical version of a melding of Planet of the Apes and Jesus Christ Superstar!

Side four starts with cannon fire and a standard version of Aaron Copland’s overused “Fanfare for the Common Man” which is unbearable no matter how much (or because) they try to turn it into a Yes song. And then finally! the worst of all! “Pirates”– which sounds like a mini-movie, part National Geographic special, part rock opera, which in one long, long song goes from hilariously corny to dreadfully boring.

The best, and funniest, thing about this album is the overly serious, all black with somber white print three-panel fold-out cover, which when opened has three incredibly pretentious portraits of the geniuses responsible for this great work of art. Keith Emerson sitting at the far, far left of his portrait, tortured and dwarfed by an enormous grand piano. Greg Lake, the poet of love, silk shirt open, wind blown hair, wears a beautifully crafted acoustic guitar with a heart shaped sound hole.  And Carl Palmer sits on his throne behind his massive drum ensemble (we only see part of it and have to use our imagination) in a black muscle shirt, exhausted after a mighty workout, a sweat rag sitting crumpled atop a floor tom. This is when rock’n’roll was serious business.

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4 Responses to “Emerson Lake & Palmer “Works – Volume 1””


  1. March 21, 2007 at 6:47 am

    Haha! What more need be said? I sure can’t say anything, because I don’t have this record, though I think a hi-skule friend did, and I’m sure I was forced to listen to it at least once or twice.. I don’t remember if there was a hit from this or not. The best thing about this record is that it’s things like this that forced the whole “punk rock movement” to happen, even though it was already happening for a long time by the time this came out.

  2. April 3, 2007 at 6:01 pm

    Of course before there was PUNK ROCK, there was punk rock the style, which was a way record companies were trying to market some of these new bands (who later disappeared, or became PUNK ROCK)– but before all that, there was essentially punk rock like The Who, and I would have included, along with stuff like that, Keith Emerson, at least, just because he used to do things like stab knives into the keyboard of his big Hammond organ to hold keys down, and then pull it over on top of himself and act like he was having sex with it.

    By the time I saw ELP in a concert, at the Cleveland Coliseum they were on the tour for this record, and they tried to have a whole orchestra tour with them, which was pretty impressive. But they ran low on money, and that didn’t last long– and the orchestra didn’t make it to Cleveland– too bad. Anyway, their show was good– at least they were exciting, even in a big place like that, which is more than I can say for most of the bands I saw in the 1970s.

    Bands used to put out these big souvenir booklets with their concerts– which were actually quite costly to print. I saved a few of mine, including that show. I’ve got see if I can find these things– they are hilarious. I’ll write some discriptions here!

  3. May 15, 2007 at 8:42 pm

    I just now saw this comment on my comment. I forgot about those old-style big concert booklet things – I never really saw too many really “big” concerts like that, but I do remember those things somehow. I think I have a couple from something or other. In trying to remember what the biggest concert I ever saw was, it would probably have to be Paul McCartney at the old Municipal [Cleveland Browns/Indians] Stadium in Cleveland, in – man, I have no idea what year that could have been. Sometime in the 80s I think, late 80s.. 1990 maybe? I was in serious nosebleed seat territory, and Paul & his band looked like a bunch of fleas. I can only really remember how ridiculously huge the crowd was, I don’t even remember the music at all. Apart from that, the other big ones I saw would have been the Grateful Dead/Bob Dylan/Tom Petty at the Rubber Bowl in Akron, which is one of my favorite concertgoing stories, because I actually FELL ASLEEP during the Dead’s set – which pretty much sums up my opinion of them anyway. And the other really big concert I saw was Neil Young/Sonic Youth/Social Distortion at the old Colosseum south of Cleveland in like the – what – early 90s sometime.

    Anyway, I don’t have souvenir booklets from any of those!

  4. June 8, 2007 at 3:42 pm

    I just found my “PROGRAMME” to the ELP North American Tour 1977– it’s halarious! I think I have to write a whole seperate post for it, when I get time!


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