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Emerson, Lake and Palmer - Works Vol. 1
Label: Atlantic Records
Release: 1977

Tracklisting:
Piano Concerto No. 1
Lend Your Love To Me Tonight
C'est La Vie
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Nobody Loves You Like I Do
Closer to Believing
The Enemy God Dances With The Black Spirits
L.A Nights
New Orleans
Two-Part Invention In D Minor
Food For Your Soul
Tank
Fanfare For The Common Man
Pirates
Works Vol. 1 - Emerson, Lake and Palmer
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The year is 1977. Progressive rock dinosaurs around the world are quickly becoming extinct, as the meteor of punk crashes into the fair musical land of ye olde dragons. Big, gigantic cities such as the states of Yes, Renaissance, and Gentle Giant are quickly being turned into liquid shit through vastly under-par records and lots of compromise. So, what do you do if you're a prog rock supergroup that symbolises all of the genre's most terrifying exercises in self-indulgence? Why, you stick one finger up at those damned pesky punkers, and proceed to release a double-album filled with more explorations into the wonders of synths, drum solos and a classical piano concerto, which actually ends up producing one of your biggest hits, shockingly enough.

ELP weren't going to compromise for anybody (well, not at this moment anyway) and so they released the least accessible album of their entire career - one side for each band member, and another side with two super-long full band compositions on it, with special guest lyrics from Peter Sinfield. One side has a 20-minute piano concerto on it, another has various ballads on it, another is filled with jazz/classical pieces complete with studio drum solo, and the last side has a 9-minute reworking of an Aaron Copeland standard on it, alongside a song about Pirates. Ho hum - it all sounds a lot like a much longer version of their classic debut.

So...does "Works" work? (HAHAHA) Well...sometimes. I can certainly take Emerson's Piano Concerto - it's an extremely well done piece of classical music, and the start of the 3rd movement rules, alongside the big finale. Me like. However, all good feelings are near enough erased when the record is turned over, and we're greeted with the Lake side. Now, don't get me wrong - normally, I think that Lake creates solid songs...well, at least, he did, before this side. Bar the solid
"C'est La Vie", there is nothing interesting here - "Lend Your Love to Me Tonight" and "Nobody Loves You Like I Do" are just filled to the brim with sap, and "Hallowed Be Thy Name" just sounds poor - Lake is much better at writing the soft, catchy melodies that made songs like "Lucky Man" and "From the Beginning" famous, rather than this attempt at "rocking out".

So, what about Palmer? Well, Palmer certainly gets off to a good start, with one of the best songs on the whole album - "The Enemy God". A brutal classical piece, with some great drumming (well, obviously) and some great melodies. He also plays a great note on a reworking of Bach's "Two Part Invention in D-Minor" - really, Palmer should have concentrated on the classical side, like Emerson. Unfortunately, we also get "L.A Nights" which is totally unmemorable, a couple of jazz pieces, and "Tank", which is well....Tank, minus the mean bass and the huge keyboards that bookended the track on the classic original album.

And then we get to side 4, which is once again, inconsistent. Again, we start off with a great - in fact, the best song on the album. The MVP goes to the hit single, that ol' Fanfare. The beat is as catchy as hell, and Emerson plays an absolute blinder - even though the keyboard solo goes on for a loooongg ass time (no wonder they edited the single version) it's like other keyboard classics like "The Cinema Show" in that it doesn't outstay it's welcome at all. It's another ELP great - in fact, it's pretty much their last great. However, "Pirates" is a total let-down after the excellence of Fanfare. The playing is generally utterly uninspired, and the lyrics (pardon my ensuing french) are exactly what you would expect from a writing team that happened to include Greg Lake AND Peter Sinfield...utterly fucking stupid. There, enough said about that shitfest.

This album gets a low 5 - it's redeemed from a much lower rating by four songs - the Piano Concerto, C'est La Vie, The Enemy God, and Fanfare for the Common Man. All four are excellent cuts, and make up about half an hour of the album. Which of course, means that you're also getting about an hour of shit for your money. And of course, you may want to change that good-to-shit timescale if you're not into long classical workouts and huge keyboard solos. If that's the case,then you'll have about 5 minutes of good music, and you'll want to use this album as a coaster, or if you have the vinyl version, melt it down into an ashtray. So, at the end of a day, a 5 is accurate for me - there's too much good for a lower rating, but there's too much shit for a higher rating.

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