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Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Black Moon

Review by Gary Hill

Emerson Lake and Palmer broke up in 1979. They got back together in the 1990s, though, and this disc was the first music they released after that reunion. There is a dichotomy with a lot of more modern sound paired with classic elements. I think the disc holds up pretty well, and there are some tunes that really feel like they fit with the older era of the group.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 5. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
Black Moon
Effects are heard at the start. Then synthesizers creates some ambient elements. Fast-paced piano joins before we're taken into a killer rocking groove from there. The synth paints lines of sound over the top. The vocals rock in after a time. This has s cool hard rock sound, yet it also shows off some proggy angles. The instrumental break is trademark ELP. It's a powerhouse jam.
Paper Blood
Organ brings this into being. The turn it out into another powerhouse rocker with a real bluesy edge. The cut even includes some harmonica. This is a killer rune, if a bit less proggy. I really love the keyboard work on this thing, though.
Affairs of the Heart
Acoustic guitar chords start things here. The vocals come in over the top of that as a ballad. This number was co-written by Geoff Downes and Greg Lake. It has more of an AOR progressive rock ballad approach. I like this one, but it doesn't feel real ELP-like.
Romeo and Juliet
This adaptation of a classical piece is dramatic, rocking and very cool. It is a cool instrumental track.
Farewell to Arms
There is a symphonic prog introduction to this. The cut drops to a ballad approach from there. As the number continues it really has a classic ELP sound to it. This makes me think of something that would have fit on one of the Works albums. It really gets powerful as it builds upward.
Changing States
Keyboards kick things off on this number, at first fairly gently, and then turning bombastic. As the rest of the band join, this is driving hard-edged prog that is trademark ELP. I really love some of the bass work on this, but the whole arrangement is so classy. This is another that feels like it would fit very well into the 1970s era of the band.  This instrumental works through a number of twists and turns, and is quite a powerhouse piece.
Burning Bridges
Here is another that feels like something that would have fit pretty well in an older age of ELP to me. It has a good balance between mellower and more rocking. It's a bit more on the AOR side, but it has some cool symphonic prog elements at play.
Close to Home
This piano solo is potent with a lot of classical vibes.
Better Days
A bluesy, proggy groove, this has more of a modern sound to it than some of the others do. That said, there are still plenty of leanings toward the classic era of the band. It's a driving tune that works well.
Footprints in the Snow
Keyboards start this in mellow ways, but acoustic guitar comes in to continue. This works forward as an evocative and potent ballad with guitar, keys and vocals delivering their ELP magic. This doesn't rise far beyond its origins, but it works well as is.
 
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