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PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2015 11:57 am 
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Since re-doing my two systems and rooms over the past year or so, I have been digging into a lot of music in my collection that I never really got.

One of those bands is Emerson Lake and Palmer.

I was just a small child when they were in their heyday and never even heard of them until a hippy room mate of mine played one of their LPs. I did not really get them at that time.

Then in the early 1990s, when I was building a system around my Linn table, my local dealer, Better Music often played the first ELP album and Trilogy. After listening to Lucky Man played on an LP12, I knew I had to have these albums and an LP12.

I subsequently went through quite a bit of equipment and some of these albums could sound a bit thin on those systems. Certainly not easy LPs to enjoy on unsympathetic equipment. Never really thought about them until I got my new speakers which really makes these albums sound like what I heard on that top end Linn system (Isobariks, 6-pack of amps etc).

This is incredibly complex and sophisticated music. Symphonic prog generously borrowing from obscure classical music pieces from Bartok to Janacek and more popular works from Mussorgsky and Bach.

Not like any other rock band that was popular other than maybe King Crimson. Classical prog bands like Sky and Renaissance were no where near as popular.

So my question is how did this difficult music and these complex recordings become so popular? I would like to hear from fans who heard them in their hey day.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2015 12:19 pm 
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I was always a big fan of ELP from a very early age, but then I tended to be drawn to rock that had a big sound with a heavy classical influence, e.g. King Crimson, Rick Wakeman, Pink Floyd, Yes, Moody Blues, and so on. I also loved Greg Lake's vocals. It's odd because I think it's from that early stuff that I was eventually drawn to classical music.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2015 12:25 pm 
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They had that added fantasy to their music that other British bands like
the Moody Blues before them had with Days of Future Passed. I recall
most of my friends that took to them immediately were also readers of
literature that paralleled the fantasy somewhat.
The Hammond organ was no small part for the draw of their sound either
and great vocal tones and strength .


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2015 12:26 pm 
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If you saw them live, which I did about 15 times, you would see what they were about. Spectacular shows that probably went a long way to selling the records. In the first half of the 1970's, they were playing some of the biggest stadiums and filling them.Great memories.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2015 12:28 pm 
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To be blunt; they were among the first technically proficient and Classically trained Rock musicians to successfully merge the 2 disparate musical styles. They managed to get teenagers at the time interested in the classical music genre (not just 1 song as with the Beatles) and classical music fans to accept that modern instruments could also be used to revive, what was at the time, a drop in interest among the younger crowd, in classical music.

They beat the odds and stumped music executives at the time who predicted that Classical music would be dead by the 80s. They coined the word "progressive" IMO and paved the way for a whole new generation of music fans.

Their self titled début album and Tarkus paved the way for establishing their musical brand and Trilogy sealed their fate. Brain Salad Surgery puzzled many but managed to maintain the momentum for Pictures at an Exhibition that many claim to be their crowning achievement. Everything they released afterwards was just icing on the cake.

The whole rebellious hippy movement (and possibly soft drugs) opened up the possibility that music could be something beyond the standard 3 minute pop songs that record companies had been trying to shove down people's throats for a few decades. Just sitting and listening became the defacto new way to appreciate music which also opened the door to other longer timed musical performances being of interest.

Granted, most youngsters at the time discovered them on mid-fi systems but being exposed to all the complexity in their music on higher end systems also led to the creation of, what we today call, the renaissance of the high end system that is so popular among the 50 to 60 year old crown that were just teens back then.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2015 12:32 pm 
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I guess I was genetically wired for progressive rock. I was first introduced to Yes and Genesis early in life and eventually my record collection was littered with bands such as Kansas, Rush, Asia, Saga, ELP, and later on Dream Theater. My wife jokes that I need more notes per minute than most people.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2015 12:39 pm 
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Keith Emerson's earlier band, The Nice, really was the eye opener for me in 1969. ELP took what The Nice were doing, added the Moog and that really expanded their spectrum. In many ways, ELP were a 'supergroup' as all 3 members were at the head of the class among their colleagues. Talent trumps.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2015 12:47 pm 
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Close to the Edge wrote:
If you saw them live, which I did about 15 times, you would see what they were about. Spectacular shows that probably went a long way to selling the records. In the first half of the 1970's, they were playing some of the biggest stadiums and filling them.Great memories.



I remember waking up in the chair in the foyer where, extremely,[i] altered [/I, ]I attempted to take off my Frye boots and passed out
only to wake up to my Dad standing in front of me on his way out to work that morning shaking his head as he said,
"now that fits" ......
I was wearing the T shirt I bought at the concert t, Brain Salad Surgery , :oops: :mrgreen:


Last edited by Jimmi on Sat Sep 12, 2015 12:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2015 12:48 pm 
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They certainly have me pulling out classical music that they reference. Got Janacek's Sinfonietta on the table right now which is the basis for Knife Edge from the first album.

I am also a huge prog and classical fan. It's just that I cannot imagine a band like this even existing today.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2015 12:56 pm 
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I was amazed by the way Keith Emerson could play the B3. Very dynamic. He really could pull those complicated chords and solos on the B3. But my best friend was a drummer and his model was Carl Palmer. We were listening to ELP almost every day at that time, with our old TT and speakers which I dont even remember the brand in our band's little practice room. If I close my eyes, I still can see my friend Claude trying to imitate Emerson or Palmer. That was more than 40 years ago.
I have to say that today, the only ELP album I can stand is the 1st one. The Barbarian, Take a Pebble and Lucky Man get play time once in a while. I've became allergic to people who play more than 60 notes per minute!!

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2015 1:23 pm 
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Ah, the 1970 to 80s prog rock. As others have indicated they moved rock from its blues roots to include classical. Many of these musicians were quite skilled classical players. The Dutch group Focus comes to mind. Several of the band members released classical albums.

What happened with Prog Rock, is the show had to get "Bigger". ELP toured with a fleet of transport trucks to move all their stuff. As seems to happen with all popular groups...they buy into their own hype. The shows become more elaborate and the playing more self- indulgent. At least that is my view.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2015 1:58 pm 
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Vinyl Guy wrote:
Ah, the 1970 to 80s prog rock. As others have indicated they moved rock from its blues roots to include classical. Many of these musicians were quite skilled classical players. The Dutch group Focus comes to mind. Several of the band members released classical albums.

What happened with Prog Rock, is the show had to get "Bigger". ELP toured with a fleet of transport trucks to move all their stuff. As seems to happen with all popular groups...they buy into their own hype. The shows become more elaborate and the playing more self- indulgent. At least that is my view.

There's some truth to your self-indulgent point, but while this is often regressive there are times when it gives some artists the freedom to really experiment with unusual and sometimes really interesting things (Paul McCartney comes immediately to mind here, as does Robert Fripp).

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2015 2:04 pm 
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Vinyl Guy wrote:
Ah, the 1970 to 80s prog rock. As others have indicated they moved rock from its blues roots to include classical. Many of these musicians were quite skilled classical players. The Dutch group Focus comes to mind. Several of the band members released classical albums.

What happened with Prog Rock, is the show had to get "Bigger". ELP toured with a fleet of transport trucks to move all their stuff. As seems to happen with all popular groups...they buy into their own hype. The shows become more elaborate and the playing more self- indulgent. At least that is my view.



Glad that is only your opinion.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2015 2:06 pm 
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Man, that band really started in the early days of prog. Incredible that bands like that could get so popular. Although I'm not sure how many actually did. Lots of incredible lessor known prog bands from the early 70's existed that never became very well known to a lot of folk.

Loved ELP up to Trilogy. Couldn't get into much after that except for maybe Keith's Piano Concerto #1 on the first "Works" record...

Unfortunately I only managed to see them once and I think it was the first time they played in Toronto. It was an outdoor park, maybe Stanley Park, if there is such a park in Toronto. Not sure though about the venue name, after all it was 1970!

One of the things that I have trouble with listening to them now is some of those synth sounds seem very dated to me. Having said that however, the Tarkus suite has some really cool synth sounds. The Hammond was always the high point of Keith's playing for me though. Big fan of Lake's voice too since I have been a Crimson fan since that amazing debut record....

ELP was a very talented trio without question....


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2015 2:09 pm 
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The concert in 1971 was at Stanley park. The city pulled the lights and electricity after 11:00. You could hear them still trying to motor on. Brain Salad Surgery tour was my favourite. It went on for about 15 months. I think I saw 5 shows of that tour.


Last edited by Close to the Edge on Wed Sep 16, 2015 4:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

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