KamerTunesBlog

Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

Thirty Year Thursday – EMERSON, LAKE & POWELL “EMERSON, LAKE & POWELL”

[Welcome to Thirty Year Thursday, the weekly series on my favorite albums of 1986]

Artist: EMERSON, LAKE & POWELL
Album: EMERSON, LAKE & POWELL

Emerson, Lake & PowellI’ve already written about several albums from 1986 in earlier posts, which I was planning to feature toward the end of this series, but after Keith Emerson’s death this past week I decided to highlight this record now as a tribute to one of my favorite keyboard players. His career spanned decades and genres, from his early work with The Nice through Emerson, Lake & Palmer (the supergroup that cemented his reputation as a rock & roll legend) and on to his film scores and solo work. His 2008 Keith Emerson Band Featuring Marc Bonilla proved that he was still at the top of his game in his 60s. He was one of the most adventurous & influential musicians of the last half-century, who was equally adept at acoustic piano, electric keyboards & synthesizers. I only got to see him live once, when Emerson and Greg Lake teamed with drummer Cozy Powell on the second, short-lived incarnation of ELP. The show was incredible, leaving me with fond memories of Emerson’s instrumental prowess and showmanship.

Emerson, Lake & Powell (band photo)
Here’s what I wrote about Emerson, Lake & Powell in my One And Done series:

>>Emerson, Lake & Palmer is an essential part of any progressive rock fan’s collection, one of the earliest supergroups that featured Keith Emerson (of The Nice), Greg Lake (of King Crimson) and Carl Palmer (of Atomic Rooster). Two of their previous bands may no longer be household names (although they’re all excellent), but their collaboration was as celebrated as another much-lauded trio of that era, Crosby, Stills & Nash. ELP petered out by the end of the ‘70s, and by the time a reunion was suggested in the mid-‘80s Carl Palmer was otherwise occupied with his latest supergroup, Asia. So Emerson & Lake turned to another great British drummer, Cozy Powell, who was best known for pounding the skins with The Jeff Beck Group, Rainbow and Whitesnake. Whether or not he was chosen solely for his “P” surname is still up for debate, but he was an inspired choice for this record. He may not have had the swing and rat-a-tat chops of Palmer, but he was a technically great drummer who had a massive sound that was a perfect match for this material, which was more consistently bombastic than anything else in their catalog. They immediately drew me in with the symphonic fanfare that is 9-minute album opener “The Score.” There are moodier moments as well, such as “Lay Down Your Guns” & “Love Blind,” and the light, bouncy jazz of “Step Aside” is a personal favorite, but the Mainstream Rock hit single “Touch And Go” remains the ideal calling card for this album. Some people might be turned off by the “Final Countdown”-esque keyboards, but with musicianship this great and Lake still in fine vocal form, I had reason to be excited when this was released…and it still sounds wonderful all these years later. I also saw them on the tour in support of this album and they were unsurprisingly amazing.<<

R.I.P. Mr. Emerson.

Advertisements

36 comments on “Thirty Year Thursday – EMERSON, LAKE & POWELL “EMERSON, LAKE & POWELL”

  1. Jeff Kempin
    March 17, 2016

    I saw ELP (the original lineup) when they reunited in 1992. Fantastic show. It’s such a shame about Keith Emerson. What a great musician. I spun Brain Salad Surgery the other day and if his work on that album alone doesn’t make your jaw drop, I don’t know what will.
    The only song I know from Emerson Lake and Powell is the above mentioned “Touch and Go” which got some airplay back in ’86. If I catch the album in the record stores, I’ll have to pick it up and give it a listen.
    Good article, Rich!

    Like

    • Consider yourself fortunate to have seen the original lineup of ELP, Jeff. I’m not sure why I never got around to seeing them when they reunited but I don’t doubt that they were still great at that time. There is a lot to love on the “ELPowell” album beyond “Touch And Go” so I hope you can find a copy at a good price. It’s worth the price of admission solely for “The Score,” which is up there with anything in the ELP catalog.

      Thanks for the feedback.

      Like

  2. Phillip Helbig
    March 17, 2016

    I saw Emerson, Lake, and Palmer once, in a 1990s reincarnation. I was never a big fan (two bombastisc, although I do like some bombastic music, such as Nightwish, but I think that basing an album on the theory of evolution is much more prog than Benny the Bouncer), but it was a reasonably good show. However, on “Lucky Man” (known for its ending Moog solo), to me one of the all-time best pieces for drums, there were none of the “swing and rat-a-tat chops” Palmer was known for, but just boom-chick with WAY too much echo on the snare. 😦

    Like

    • I’m surprised you’re not a bigger ELP fan, Phillip. Sure, a lot of their music is bombastic, but they didn’t start off that way. There’s a lot of subtlety to their first few albums, and even the full-on prog of “Brain Salad Surgery” is amazing for the sheer audacity of the compositions and their amazing musicianship. “Lucky Man” is almost an anomaly in their discography. Oh how I love that Emerson synth solo.

      Like

  3. Phillip Helbig
    March 17, 2016

    What do you think about the cover of Love Beach?

    Like

    • Phillip Helbig
      March 17, 2016

      Maybe this is better:

      Like

      • Phillip Helbig
        March 17, 2016

        Note that in all the pictures, the order is E, L, P. OK, it’s alphabetical.

        Like

      • I wonder if they tried to pose for official band photos in the order of their name. Hadn’t considered that before but it’s a good way to let your fans know who’s who.

        Like

      • I’m not sure who this photo would appeal to, but it’s certainly not me.

        Like

    • I never had a problem with that album cover. I just wish the music contained within was better. There are moments but they’ve made it clear that it was truly a contractual obligation album. I seem to remember seeing this album in the budget bins within a year of its release.

      Like

  4. deKE
    March 17, 2016

    Nicely written Rich! I love Powell’s drumming as his work with Micheal Schenker proves. I recall they were on Rockline(radio) plugging this album but I was so emersed with VH And Roths album to notice anything else going on around musically …haha

    Like

    • Thanks, Derek. Cozy was a drumming monster. I loved his work with Jeff Beck, Rainbow and the two heaviest songs on Robert Plant’s debut solo album, and I’ve since enjoyed his playing with Whitesnake & Schenker. I hadn’t realized how sad it is that 2/3 of Emerson, Lake & Powell are now gone, both under tragic circumstances.

      Like

  5. Vinyl Connection
    March 17, 2016

    I remember being surprised that, after initial disappointment at the 80s studio sheen and lack of any discernible progressive tendencies, I nevertheless developed a soft spot for E, L and Powell. Certainly I’d play it before ‘Black Moon’.

    All that is missing the point, though. And that is the sadness attending the suicide of such a creative and talented musician. If you are troubled, get help kids. Don’t suffer alone.

    Like

    • I’m pleased to hear that you warmed to the sounds of ELPowell, Bruce. I agree that it’s a much better album than Black Moon. And of course your comments about Emerson’s suicide are very well stated. It’s a shame that he couldn’t get the help he needed. Hopefully it was a wake-up call to others in similar situations.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. galley99
    March 17, 2016

    I love this album! I have a West German pressing CD.

    Like

    • Is there something different about the West German pressing of this CD? I remember that German & Japanese pressings at the time tended to have better sound quality, but with subsequent US remasters I wonder if that’s still the case. I’m happy to know you also love the ELPowell album.

      Like

  7. boppinsblog
    March 17, 2016

    Nice. I am not as much of a fan of this album as you. With the super powers involved I would have expected more. Perhaps it was a victim of the times.

    When hearing of Keith’s demise, I had almost chose this album to listen to, but still chose Brain Salad Surgery for it’s sheer awesomeness.

    Greg Lake was quoted as not being shocked by hearing of Keith Emerson’s suicide. Apparently Emerson had been depressed since the 70’s, and that was a big part in the breakup of ELP.

    The interview came off as kind of cold, but in others I have read he urges people with depression to get help.

    Like

    • I agree that BSS (and most of the ELP ’70s catalog) is superior to this album, but hearing Lake’s vocals & Emerson’s keyboards together again in the mid-’80s was such a joy and I think they delivered a strong collection of songs.

      I also read that Lake quote about Emerson’s depression. I didn’t get the sense that he was being cold, but more matter-of-fact. It’s a huge shame that someone with so much talent couldn’t find a way to carry on. Wherever he is, he must know the kind of impact his music has had on so many people. In the end, I guess that’s all that matters.

      Liked by 1 person

      • boppinsblog
        March 17, 2016

        I have dropped everything more than once for friends that were on the brink of depression, so I know first hand what it is like to do whatever it takes to help someone else. When I read an article that states how someone states they are not surprised about a suicide, I take it personally. I would never have lived it down if I had not done everything for a friend, let alone state how I was not surprised.

        Like

      • I’ve had exposure to people suffering from depression, and the best I could do was be there for them to talk to. It sounds like you have the same approach. I’ve been fortunate that none of those people threatened or attempted suicide, so it’s hard for me to know what it’s like to spot the warning signs. It seems like Greg Lake, and likely others, noticed Emerson’s depression but perhaps it never seemed serious to them. And perhaps it didn’t become serious until recently.

        Like

      • boppinsblog
        March 17, 2016

        Both of my friends I mentioned are super talented in different fields. I think the uber talented are possibly more susceptible to depression because they are so far off the charts talent wise that most people don’t “get them”

        Like

      • That’s a good point about super-talented people, but my guess is that depression can strike anyone at anytime. That’s why it’s important to have a good support system.

        Like

  8. Hi Rich, was looking forward to listening to those tracks but unfortunately neither seem to be working.

    Like

  9. 80smetalman
    March 18, 2016

    I enjoyed ELP whether it was Palmer or Powell on the drums, They were phenomenal. Emerson was a true keyboards wizard. I hope he and Cozy are jamming away together in a better place.

    Like

    • Did you get to see either or both of the ELP lineups? The jam session in heaven gets more impressive with each depressing loss we have down here on earth.

      Like

      • 80smetalman
        March 19, 2016

        Unfortunately I didn’t get to see either lineups. Back in 1986, ELP didn’t come locally until after I went to England.

        Like

      • Sorry you weren’t able to catch either version of ELP. I guess their tours from the ’80s & ’90s didn’t cover as many territories as they did in the ’70s.

        Like

      • 80smetalman
        March 19, 2016

        ps, there must really be a rock and roll heaven with all the greats who left us recently.

        Like

      • Very true. Maybe the recently departed George Martin can record some of their celestial jam sessions and transmit the results back to us.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. 80smetalman
    March 21, 2016

    That would be most awesome

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to subscribe to KamerTunesBlog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 243 other followers

Archives

%d bloggers like this: