ELP were difficult to fathom. There always seemed to be a tension between Keith’s love of classical music and Greg Lake’s folky art rock. Was Carl Palmer in the middle mediating?
The skills of the band were undoubted. Keith a brilliant concert musician, Greg Lake a great guitarist, & bassist, and Carl Palmer a genius drummer.
It didn’t often work but when it did: Trilogy was an example of the balance between them working. When Keith Emerson did an understated solo on Lucky man or In the Beginning, Greg Lake seemed to have won. Keith shut up, stopped fiddling and complimented the song in a way nobody else could have done.
The body of work was not as consistent as Yes, Genesis, or Jethro Tull. There didn’t seem to be a consistent message. The sprawl of interest in the band was too broad? Perhaps the history and pretensions of classical music could not be reined in. There expense of their tours was unrivalled even at the time. Each had an articulated truck for the equipment and didn’t travel together.
Still when all three were in balance as on Karn Evil 9, & Tarkus they were unbeatable. They seemed to swerve between cockney humour and operatic pomposity. They were self deprecating and self important at the same time. And they paid for it. They never lived down their contribution to the end of prog rock and the beginning of punk.
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This article is designed to provoke argument and critique