Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Emerson, Lake and Palmer - Works, Volume One


After the Brain Salad Surgery tour, ELP took some time off so the members could record solo albums. Unfortunately, none of them managed to finish them, so they decided to release the material on Works, Volume I. Each band member got a side, with another side featuring the entire band. As can be expected, the end result is kind of a mess.
Emerson's side is taken up by a lengthy piano concerto. I felt that, while decent, this piece was all over the place and tried to do too much. I don't have much else to say about this side except that I give it a 5.
Lake's side consists of dumb orchestral ballads co-written with Peter Sinfield (his lyrics here are far closer to the Sinfield that wrote lyrics for Celine Dion than the Sinfield that wrote lyrics for King Crimson). The one song I liked here was "Hallowed be Thy Name," with its off-putting string chords, it's almost scary at times. This side gets a 3 and likes it.
I enjoyed Palmer's side the most against my better judgement. There are arrangements of pieces by Prokofiev and Bach, a hilarious song with a vocoder, and "L. A. Nights," an unholy fusion of proto-80's synths, jazz fusion, and boogie-woogie rock that shouldn't work at all, but somehow does. There's also a pretty decent symphonic re-recording of "Tank" from the debut, although it's hardly the definitive version. Palmer's portion gets a 7 from me.
The full band side has one pretty good song, a rendition of "Fanfare for the Common Man" with some entertaining synth jamming, but the other, called "Pirates," is just incredibly lame. The instrumental parts are okay, but the rest is Broadway tripe of the worst sort, with dumb, dumb orchestration and worse lyrics, and the whole thing goes on way too long. There are a few parts where I think the Broadway stuff gets so cheesy that it sort of works, but that fact's enough to make my heterosexuality want to shrivel up and die. I give side 4 a low, low 6.
As a whole, I can't really recommend Works, Volume One, although it's not an unqualified disaster. You'd be better starting off with the albums that preceded ELP's hiatus.

1 comment:

  1. Pugs: Oh yeah, right there w/ ya on this 1. A few minor points, tho:
    I like Emerson's "Piano Concerto." I think the orchestra sweeps along kinda nicely, & there's some very nice dramatic, percussive piano-playing toward the Nd. Haven't listened 2 it in YEARS, but thot it was OK NEway, & I still can hum the main theme....
    Lake's side is mostly really Mbarrassing, Xcept 4 "C'est La Vie," which I think succeeds in spite of itself. & mosta Sinfield's lyrics really suck. He did Lake no favors here....
    "Fanfare" is, 4 me, 1 of ELP's high points, right up there w/ "Karn Evil 9." I love the jamming! These guys shoulda done this kinda stuff more often.... It was mainly 4 this & the Piano Concerto that I re-bought this album a few yrs back. I had missed it, I'm ashamed 2 say....
    Can't wait 2 C what U make of the resta their "career".... Keep it up! -- TAD.