Up the Downstair

Being a weeklie podcaste from Madison, Wisconsin featuring several remarkable curiosities therein occurring being a compendium of live music from divers artistes

Show #72: ELP

June 5th, 2006

As I mentioned earlier, the Carl Palmer Band will be playing at Shank Hall in Milwaukee on Sunday. To mark the occasion, I’m featuring Emerson, Lake and Palmer today.

ELP were certainly the first power trio led by keyboards instead of guitar to gain immense popularity. The band started in 1970 when keyboardist Keith Emerson found himself without a band when The Nice broke-up. Emerson gained notoriety with The Nice by stabbing Hammand organs with a knife to cull from it odd, spacey howls only to go on to destroy the instrument. Bassist/guitarist Greg Lake had left King Crimson after their second album and drummer Carl Palmer was looking for a gig after exiting Atomic Rooster. They made their debut on 29 August 1970 at the Isle of Wight Festival Their chaotic, bombastic sound was showcased on their rock version of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.

elp6 Show #72: ELP
Their debut eponymous album, however, was much more restrained and varied. It contains the song “Lucky Man” with a gentle acoustic rhythm and its famous Moog synthesizer solo. The album also contains “Take a Pebble” featuring some fantastic piano work, great understated brushwork from Palmer, and more acoustic guitar. Just as Led Zeppelin became infamous for taking blues licks & lyrics and integrating them into their own songs, ELP were well-known for doing the same thing with classical pieces. Emerson, Lake, and Palmer had “The Barbarian” which was an adaptation of Bartok’s “Allegro Barbaro” while “Knife Edge” is Janacek’s “Sinfonietta”. In my opinion, their debut is a great album and, unfortunately, the band took their music in a direction away from the wonderful mix of acoustic and electric music. There’s some great electric guitar coloring here that would never return to their sound. There’s just a certain raw eclecticism here that disappears on the subsequent albums. Tarkus followed in 1971 and at least it still showcased the raw early ELP sound. Side 1 was “Tarkus”, a 20+ minute suite.

The performance at hand was recorded at The Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, CA on 19 July 1971. Although and audience recording, it’s quite good and capture the complex chaos of an early ELP show.


The Barbarian
Take A Pebble
Knife Edge

Download show

Emerson, Lake and Palmer

emerson Show #72: ELP

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