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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Tarkus

Review by Gary Hill

This is another classic ELP album that we’ve not previously reviewed. I did review the epic title track on a compilation album before. For the sake of consistency that track review has been modified for use here. There is really a lot of great music on this set. It has a pretty wide range and yet is all recognizable as ELP.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Tarkus

The title track is a 20 plus minute epic with all kinds of varied, but yet somehow inter-related movements. There are some nearly symphonic sections of Crimson-like drama. In addition, it has lots of classical reference points combined with jazz and rock. Now you’ve got a good idea of what the instrumental portions of this track, a classic ELP standard, are about. Greg Lake’s vocals on the later sections are particularly potent, and there is some great guitar soloing, too. In fact, parts of this are really an arena blues rock song. Certainly comparisons to early King Crimson are evident here – based mostly on Lake’s vocals. This is really one of the best tracks the band ever produced. I love the keyboard solo later in this one, too. This piece made up the entire first side of the vinyl of this.

Jeremy Bender
The music that opens this short piece has a real saloon texture to it. The cut, though, is set in the usual ELP sound base of jazzy rock. It’s a fun little number that’s a bit psychedelic.
Bitches Crystal
Here is another that is a real ELP classic. It’s got a hard rocking sound that’s very jazzy. It’s also very hard edged and classy. It’s a bit busy, but not in a bad way at all. This is soulful and a real rocker. This is actually one of my favorites from the band.
The Only Way (Hymn)
A classical keyboard solo holds the first minute or so of the piece. Then, vocals come in over the top of this backdrop, lending a completely different element. Around the two and a half minute mark, it shifts to a jazzy, rocking jam to continue.
Infinite Space (Conclusion)
Coming out of the previous piece, this is a killer instrumental jam that has some great piano soloing.
A Time and a Place
Although this is fairly short at just three minutes, it’s a screaming hot piece. It has plenty of prog shifts and turns built into that span, too. This is just so fiery that it’s scary. It’s definitely a highlight of the set.
Are You Ready Eddy?
This is a bouncy, old school rock and roller. It’s a little odd compared to the rest of the set, but it’s fun. 
 
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