Yes, I went through an Emerson, Lake & Palmer phase. It was 1977, and I was a 14-year-old freshman in high school.
How bad was it? I went to Penny Candy and bought a shiny “ELP” best buckle. And then was pissed when more than one person said “Cool. I like ELO, too.”
“No,” I would say, anguished. “Not ELO, ELP! Emerson, Lake and Palmer!”
But here’s the weird thing: even though I bought all of their 1970s records, the only one I really liked from start-to-finish was Brain Salad Surgery. So I think that I liked the idea of Emerson, Lake and Palmer than the actual reality of Emerson, Lake and Palmer.
As it turned out (as it usually turns out with hyphenate-rock), I liked the rock parts of prog-rock and not so much the prog parts.
And, of course, I really liked the sound of Keith Emerson’s Hammond, which was nearly as primal as Jon Lord’s, but he had way more cool licks than Jon Lord, so the first part of “Karn Evil 9, 1st Impression” was chock full of primal organ riffs and cool little runs.
And of course, the whole chorus was an actual pop hook.
See the show!!
And so when they were forced by vinyl technology to split “Karn Evil 9, 1st Impression” into “Karn Evil 9, 1st Impression (Part 1)” and “Karn Evil 9, 1st Impression (Part 2)” everybody focused on “”Karn Evil 9, 1st Impression (Part 2)” because it started with Greg Lake declaiming:
Welcome back my friends
To the show that never ends
We’re so glad you could attend
Come inside, come inside!
But what I liked was the utterly terrific keyboard solo that Keith Emerson destroys with about halfway through the song. Say what you want about ELP and prog rock and wankery in general, but that keyboard solo just fucking burns!
Oh, and I’m not able to verify this, so let’s just say that I have a memory of my friend Craig owning the 8-track of Brain Salad Surgery and me being kinda pissed that the synth transition between Karn Evil 9, 1st Impression (Part 1)” and “Karn Evil 9, 1st Impression (Part 2)” faded out and then faded back in, just like the vinyl when it should have been a smooth transition between tracks.
Cos those were the things that bothered me back then.
Also: on August 5, 1977, the aforementioned Craig and I went to Selland Arena in Fresno to see Emerson, Lake and Palmer in concert. Weirdly enough, that gig doesn’t actually show up in any of their online concert chronologies, but somebody posted a freakin’ video of them playing “Tarkus” from that show on YouTube, and somebody else is selling an unused ticket from the show on Amazon, so stuff it, other online folks!
I only really remember two things about that concert: Keith Emerson had a portable keyboard that shot sparks, and the opening band was a jazz-rock offshoot from Santana called Journey, whose “brand new lead singer” I hated instantly and forever.
“Karn Evil 9, 1st Impression (Part 1)”
“Karn Evil 9, 1st Impression (Part 2)”
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