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Shadow Music ECM Review by
E.C.McMullen Jr.
ELP: BSS
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EMERSON, LAKE, AND PALMER: BRAIN SALAD SURGERY - 1973
Re-Release - 2007
Shout Factory

Okay, there are some of you wondering just why I have Emerson, Lake, and Palmer up here at Shadow music.

Am I going to try and make a case for them being the fathers (or grandfathers) of Goth? Many have but I won't.

Am I going to try and make a case for their wild musical stylings being a forerunner of Heavy Metal? Some have but I won't.

And I would be quite the idiot to attempt a fabrication of them having ANYTHING to do with Rap.

So why are they here? Why indeed!

I've specifically included, and only on this page, the ELP albums that have H.R. Giger's fantastic works on them. The very first Giger I ever saw was the painting he did for ELP: BRAIN SALAD SURGERY and the music within did not cheapen the artwork without.

You don't need to play Heavy Metal to be bombastic, and bombastic describes ELP music better than any other word I know, although pretentious is good.

ELP music is also frequently loud, obnoxious, and gregarious. By gregarious I mean that the music can and will stagger from a very tight sound to caterwauling all over the place and then, with sometimes noticable effort (especially in the early albums) cohesively come together in a tight sound just long enough to end the piece. For those of you who have never experienced ELP, understand that I am Not talking as a live show or album, I'm talking about this all taking place on just one song!

Does this mean they are bad? No, but they are not good.

ELP is amazing.

Sitting and listening to their music can often be a chore yet you can't shut them off simply by being amazed, sometimes stunned at their virtuosity.

Frank Zappa often tried to find the sound that elevated his music beyond the critique of good and bad to incredible, but he couldn't allow himself to loosen the reins on the rest of his band. He was known as a tyrant.

Miles Davis, on the other hand, only brought together people he knew he could trust, or that came with good commendation from people he trusted. When it came time to jam, Miles let the band run to wherever their energy took them. Listening to BITCHES BREW, AGHARTA, and PANGAEA is nothing short of stunning.

ELP works in their own environment, and at the time of BRAIN SALAD SURGERY, that was one of constant arguing, fighting, and the establishment of pecking order.

Where some bands have been known to fight over the direction of an album, Emerson, Lake, and Palmer were known to fight over the movement of each and every song (!): such are the birthing pains of creative genius.

Yet Emerson, Lake, and Palmer have left behind a musical legacy that stands alone among the many copycat sounds and trend followers.

Just as there has never been another Miles Davis or Frank Zappa so too, there has never been another band that could capture the raw, frenetic, intense, yet structured power of ELP. Now that it is nearly 30 years after the release of BRAIN SALAD SURGERY, it is highly unlikely that anyone ever will.

The music is chaos yes, but chaos from only 3 sources.

I'm glad to have a copy of the original album for ELP: BRAIN SALAD SURGERY, as it had a collection of gatefold Giger art, more than you get with today's modern CD. ELP: BRAIN SALAD SURGERY made me an ELP fan when I was a very young child. The cover of Giger's art, combined with my weird Uncle Pat and his getting me hooked on H. P. Lovecraft at the age of 7 (No joke! Imagine being read The STATEMENT Of RANDOLPH CARTER as a bedtime story!), are the direct cause of my love for Horror today.

ELP: BRAIN SALAD SURGERY is a classic that deserves the full 5 Perplex Skull treatment.

Perplex SkullPerplex SkullPerplex SkullPerplex SkullPerplex Skull

This review copyright 1999 by E.C.McMullen Jr.

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