Tuesday, February 27, 2007

224. Emerson, Lake And Palmer - Tarkus (1971)

Track Listing

1. Tarkus
2. Jeremy Bender
3. Bitches Crystal
4. Only Way (Hymn)
5. Infinite Space (Conclusion)
6. Time And A Place
7. Are You Ready Eddy


Here's another one of those bands I have always loved, really. Since I was a kid I listened to Triology by ELP, being one of my father's favourite albums and the beggining of The Endless Enigma in Triology was what he always put on to show off the new amazing sound system he happened to have bought that year. Later, with stereo TV it was the beggining of Terminator 2... but I digress.

Tarkus is a good album, maybe not the best to come out of ELP but as it is one of the only two albums by them to make the list it will have to do. Actually, its a crime that Tarkus and Pictures At An Exhibition are here but Brain Salad Surgery is absent. Brain Salad Surgery is definitely ELP's best album and Karn Evil 9 is their best long suite, it also has one of the most recognisable covers in rock music.

Still, Tarkus is much more acessible than Brain Salad Surgery, even if technically less amazing, it is still much above average in technical terms. The use of synths here is reaching maturity even if it does sound like a boy who has a new toy. If we compare it to other Prog bands of the time like Yes, there is a lot more to be said about ELP. ELP also presume to be intellectual while putting forward incredibly stupid and pretentious lyrics, but if you compare the Bach piece here to the one of Brahms in Yes' Fragile you realise that this is a less ridiculous band.

It is still prog so there is a constant level of ridicule and ELP are never as fun as Yes, there is no Roundabout here and when they try to be lighter in Jeremy Bender and Are You Ready Eddy it is no less than disastrous. Still the rest of the album is pure Progyness at its almost best, and Tarkus is near perfect Prog suite-bliss, if Karn Evil 9 wasn't better. Get it at Amazon UK or US.

Track Highlights

1. Tarkus
2. Bitches Crystal
3. Only Way (Hymn)
4. Infinite Space (Conclusion)

Final Grade



From Wikipedia

Track 1: Tarkus is subdivided in the following way:

"Tarkus" – 20:35

* "Eruption" (Emerson) – 2:43
* "Stones of Years" (Emerson, Lake) – 3:44
* "Iconoclast" (Emerson) – 1:15
* "Mass" (Emerson, Lake) – 3:11
* "Manticore" (Emerson) – 1:52
* "Battlefield" (Lake) – 3:51
* "Aquatarkus" (Emerson) – 3:59

"Tarkus" seems to be the hybrid machine-animal depicted on the cover. The inner gatefold sleeve featured a sequence of pictures depicting battles between this armadillo-tank hybrid and other half-mechanical creatures, until its eventual defeat by a manticore. "Tarkus" then returns as "Aquatarkus", an aquatic version of the land-bound original. The band later chose the name Manticore Records for their self-owned record label.

Since the album got its name from its famous side-long suite on side one, many fans think of it as a concept album, but technically only the first half is, as the songs on the second side are not connected to the suite on the first side. Indeed, the lyrics to the "Tarkus" suite also seem to have little to do with the story as delineated in the gatefold pictures: "Mass" is musings on organised religion (as is "The Only Way" on the album's second side), while "Battlefield" is a more general song about war. Keith Emerson later said in his autobiography that he presented most of the piece fully formed to the rest of the band and as such Greg Lake was initially not pleased about the band's new direction.

The track "Battlefield" features one of the rare electric guitar solos from Greg Lake. The live version featured an excerpt from a King Crimson-song called "Epitaph" as originally sung by Lake on Crimson's first album.

Here you go, I just bought some plane tickets to Tokyo today so I thought I'd put ELP in Tokyo with the beggining of Tarkus, Eruption:

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