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Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Love Beach

Review by Gary Hill

Years ago I remember owning this on vinyl. I bought it in a cut-out bin. For those too young to know what that means, when an album was not selling well the labels would either cut a notch or poke a hole into the cover and put the stock out there severely discounted to clear out their excess inventory. This landed their pretty quickly as I recall because people really did not like it. I remember not liking it in the day. The thing is, listening to it today, I'm not sure why it got that kind of response. It's actually a good album with some proggy stuff. It might not be ELP's finest moment, but there are some strong tunes here. It's arguably more consistent than at least one or two of their other releases. If you haven't listened to this in a while, you might want to give it a try. Perhaps you'll be as surprised as I was.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
All I Want Is You
There is almost a trademark Greg Lake sound to this. Sure, it's tempered by the rest of the guys, but it just has his writing trademarks all over it. It reminds me a lot of the kind of stuff that would later be both a part of his solo career and Emerson Lake and Powell. It's a dynamic rocker and, while a bit AOR, one of the more potent cuts here.
Love Beach
While this has more of a mainstream rock vibe, I still think it has some definite trademark ELP sounds in some ways. This is a better tune that a lot of people give it credit for being.
Taste of My Love
A keyboard blast starts this cut. The track begins to build out from there. It eventually works to a fast paced jam that is quite tasty. This is another that isn't far removed from some of the most classic ELP stuff. In fact, this is one of my favorite tunes on this album. It's also one of the most decidedly prog rock based cuts here. It has some interesting twists and turns.
The Gambler
Bouncy, fun-loving and rather classy, this tune is solid. It's not one of the standouts here, though. It's more of an also ran, but it does have some classic ELP elements to it. There are some cool keyboard elements at play, and this is decidedly proggy.
For You
Rather jazzy, I love the cool introduction on this piece. In fact, I really like the cut in general. I'd consider it a highlight of the set, really.
Canario
This is an instrumental. It isn't bad, but it's a bit too much like any number of other ELP tunes. There is definitely an air of "heard this before." Still, Emerson gets plenty of chance to shine.
Memoirs of an Officer and a Gentleman
A multipart suite, this is over twenty-minutes long and takes up the entire second side of the original vinyl. Piano brings this into being. The vocals come in after a bit with just that as the backing element. It works through from there in that fashion. We're almost two-minutes in before a full band treatment takes control. There is a pretty classic ELP vibe as it does. This gets pretty rocking and soaring as it continues. There are a number of shifts and changes that ensue as it continues. Around the five-and-a-half-minute mark it drops to just piano. That holds the tune in a classic Emerson style for a time. Then the vocals return over the top of that arrangement. It gets quite powerful and inspired, while still based primarily on this two elements. Emerson's piano really paints some wonderful pictures as this continues. Around the eleven-and-a-half-minute mark the cut shifts to more rocking, but still quite trademark ELP zones to continue. Emerson's keyboards really drive this instrumental movement. They eventually shift out to more of a typical ELP rocking zone from there. That holds it, working through several changes and modes, until about the 16-and-a-half-minute mark. Then a new jam emerges after a near ending bit. This has a classic ELP vibe to it with a bit of a martial edge. The synthesizer really dominates the track as it keeps building onward.
 
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