Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Since the 1990s, the Emerson, Lake & Palmer catalog has been passed around and reissued by at least a half dozen labels. Various box sets, compilations and live sets have unearthed a handful of rarities, while packaging has ranged from simple to elaborate gatefolds and booklets. Soundwise, there have been noble attempts to release remastered and surround mixes with a sundry of results and reactions. Getting down to brass tacks, no one has really been able to properly put the complete catalog together with enough extras and goodies to entice fans to pick up yet another round of reissues. That is until Steven Wilson and Razor & Tie came along.
For a start, the first two Emerson, Lake & Palmer albums — the self-titled debut from 1970 and Tarkus — have been buffed out as triple-disc sets with new stereo and 5.1 surround mixes, and previously unheard outtakes and alternate versions. Producer, engineer and Porcupine Tree leader Steven Wilson, who dazzled the senses with remixes for Jethro Tull and King Crimson, has stepped up to put his signature sonic spin on both albums, netting startling results. In short, ELP fans are in for an aural feast, especially if they're set up for surround.
The first Emerson, Lake & Palmer album is a hybrid of aggression, introspection and unrivaled musicianship. "The Barbarian," a fierce Bartók-influenced instrumental, giving way to the piano and acoustic guitar of "Take A Pebble" is a perfect example. The second half of the album highlights the three individuals' extraordinary talent — Emerson's "The Three Fates," Palmer's "Tank" and Lake's "Lucky Man." Altogether, the album served as a template for what was to come.
Wilson injects the Greg Lake-produced disc with a brighter mix and infinitesimal detail. An alternate version of the album negates parts of "The Three Fates" and "Tank," but adds outtakes from "The Three Fates, " an in-studio jam called "Rave Up" and alternate takes of "Take A Pebble," "Knife Edge" and "Lucky Man." Best of all, if you have the set-up, is the surround mix, which after enduring other far inferior ELP surround mixes, finally nips this one in the bud.
Tarkus is equally special with an alternate version that defies all expectations. Not only are we hearing extra passages on the title suite (along with considerable sweetening applied to the additional tracks), there are also two previously unreleased ballads that didn't make the final cut in any form — "Oh My Father" and "Unknown Ballad," which features none other than Keith Emerson on piano and vocals. Wilson certainly outdoes himself on the remixes, bringing considerable depth to every nuance.
For purists, both releases are also available on limited edition 180 gram audiophile vinyl in their original packaging and track listings. If these are any indication of what's coming on subsequent reissues from Razor & Tie, especially Trilogy and Brain Salad Surgery, then fans won't have any problem welcoming back again the wonderment and whimsy of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. You can get them directly from ELP at the Official U.S. Store of ELP.
~ Shawn Perry