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Emerson, Lake and Palmer - Brain Salad Surgery
Label: Atlantic Records
Release: 1973

Tracklisting:
Jerusalem
Toccata
Still...You Turn Me On
Benny the Bouncer
Karn Evil 9 - 1st Impression Part 1
Karn Evil 9 - 1st Impression Part 2
Karn Evil 9 - 2nd Impression
Karn Evil 9 - 3rd Impression
Brain Salad Surgery - Emerson, Lake and Palmer
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Average Blamo User Rating: (4 votes)

ELP finally start to go down here. Although this album is pretty much regarded as their classic, and is certainly their most well known, i'm going to have to disagree. Brain Salad Surgery is a totally uneven album, with a great 1st side, and a poor second. The much-revered "Karn Evil 9" is just too long, and gets boring quickly. There. But there are certainly positives on this record - like, for instance, their excellent rendition of William Blake's "Jerusalem". Sure, it's
completely pompous, but it's also outstanding. "Toccata" stands as the album's best piece - it's another classical reworking, and it also features another studio drum solo. However, this time it works - Palmer's actually doing interesting stuff with those drums - this is one of the earliest examples of synth-drums, and it works well here as it sets an atmosphere, rather than sounding like a dull bash-about.

As for the other songs on the 1st side, both are decent efforts - Lake contributes another decent solo ballad in the standard "Still...You Turn Me On", and the band complete a sort-of trilogy with "Benny the Bouncer", which fits in nicely with both "Jeremy Bender" and "The Sheriff" - "Benny the Bouncer" is probably the best of the lot, with some great honky-tonk playing and (for once) great lyrics from Greg Lake, sung in a cockney accent. Great little ditty.

And from there, we go headlong into the humongous "Karn Evil 9". The 1st Impression is actually fantastic, with some blinding musical interplay, and lyrics from Lake that are actually half-decent and humourous...and of course, you have the part that everyone knows - "Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends" etc...these 4 minutes or so pretty much encompass everything ELP - Lake's lyrics, Emerson and Palmer's shit-hot musical playing, and the excellent dynamics. It's an excellent song.

Unfortunately, ELP then decide that it would be a good idea to bore everyone for 20 minutes. Emerson's 2nd impression seems to go nowhere in all of it's 9 minutes - it's basically an Emerson wankfest. The same can be said about the 3rd impression, which is even worse. Emerson solos for about 6 minutes, and the rest of the time is filled up with some of prog-rock's most embarrassing moments. The horrid computerised voices of Emerson, and such lyrical gems as "ties a rope to a tree and hangs the universe"...no, Lake. No, Sinfield. Just no. Both 2nd impression and 3rd impression are so offensive, they have to be docked several points. Just terrible, and ELP never really recovered.

All in all, the album's a good record, but not nearly deserving of the "classic ELP" status it gets. Karn Evil 9 just brings the entire thing down. A high 6, but nothing more.

Reviewer Rating of CD :

the peak and the worst album of their career all in one!!!!

how? well, on this album catchiness is thrown out the window in favor of extended jamming. not that i'ma gainst that, inf act ELP makes som eintriguing music on this album. it' sjust not for everybody, and could be looked at as the beginning of the decline.

it has the karn evil suite, which is no where near as good as Tarkus. there's some good music on it, but it didnt' deserve an album and a half of space.

the other half is perhaps the best half of music ELP released. jersulaem is a great hymn, tocatta is all fucked up, still you turn me on is the peak of lake's ballad writing, and benny the bouncher is cute.

it's the best place to start with the band. everything is here, really.

Reviewer Rating of CD :

 


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