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Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Works Volume 2

Review by Gary Hill

This album is definitely a mixed bag. Of course, part of that comes from the fact that it is literally a collection of odds and ends. A lot of this feels like old-time jazz. There are some rock songs, too, though. Whatever you call this, though, there are some strong pieces. It's a viable entry in the ELP collection and something that's well worth having for fans of the band. It was also a worthwhile retro review for this issue of Music Street Journal. It should be noted that I previously reviewed a couple of the songs here on another CD. For the sake of consistency those track reviews were used here.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Tiger in a Spotlight
Bouncy and tasty keyboard textures bring this into being. It has a killer kind of groove that is classic ELP. They throw some cool jamming into the mix, and the whole piece is just a fun, but still very proggy, romp. There is a drop down to almost a false ending, but they jump back into the song proper from there.
When the Apple Blossoms Bloom in the Windmills of Your Mind I'll Be Your Valentine
Drums lead this out. The band work in from there and we're taken into a cool jam that really grooves. This works through as a keyboard dominated movement until those keys take complete control at the end.
Bullfrog
Bouncy and playful, keyboards and what sounds like tuned percussion makes up the early section here. It shifts to some smoking hot jazz from there, though, with a saxophone seriously wailing over the top. After the halfway mark, this shifts into very trippy weirdness. The bass gets a short solo, and some serious jazz jamming rises upward. We're eventually taken back into the opening section of the tune.
Brain Salad Surgery
Here we get the title track that wasn't. That's because the album of the same title didn't actually have a title track. This does feel like it would have fit quite well on the album. The synthesizer creates a lot of the musical texture here. There is a rocking groove to the piece, too. While a lot of this set is instrumental, this one has some seriously rocking vocals.
Barrelhouse Shake-Down
Boogie woogie piano starts this. The band drive forward feeling like an old-time outfit. Horns bring a lot of jazz to the table and this instrumental really grooves. At times it feels like a real old-school swing band is in the house. There's some killer piano work on this bouncing little number.
So Far to Fall
Drums bring this thing into being. The band work in from there, creating a cool fusion kind of jam. It fires out into some fast paced jazz leaning stuff for a quick burst. The vocals scream out over this section, and the track really has a powerhouse prog rock arrangement. It's left-of-center and quite jazzy in a lot of ways.
Maple Leaf Rag
This old-time based cut feels like something from an old movie. It's bouncy and a lot of fun.
I Believe in Father Christmas
A powerful balladic number, this makes for a great holiday track. I’m just not sure how well it works other times of the year. Still, I really like this song.
Close but Not Touching

Drums bring this into being. The cut has a real fife and drum vibe early. It shifts to rocking kind of jam from there that's classic ELP and jazzy at the same time. Horns reinforce that jazz thing, but the cut fires out to some smoking hot psychedelically tinged prog, too.

Honky Tonk Train Blues
A jazzy little romp, the piano really drives this piece. There’s a cool section late in the piece where you basically have three guys serving as a big band.
Show Me the Way to Go Home
A bluesy piano starts this piece. The cut drives onward as a piano solo. Lake's vocal comes over the top, lending a real soulful kind of groove. A short piano solo after the vocal part ends gives way to a full band treatment in a very jazz format. The vocals returns over the top of the more powered up textures for a short bit at the end. The closing musical motif feels more rock like.
 
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