Emerson, Lake & Palmer | Trilogy (Deluxe Edition) – CD Review


Trilogy, the appropriately titled third studio album from Emerson, Lake & Palmer, was released in 1972 and welcomed with open arms. Tarkus, its predecessor, was conceptually brilliant, but Trilogy refined the band’s sound and mixed up the repertoire with both long-form epic pieces and shorter, more accessible songs. Striking this kind of balance is perhaps why Greg Lake has repeatedly said that Trilogy is his favorite ELP album. He is certainly not alone in that assessment.

Just as the band’s self-titled debut, Tarkus and Brain Salad Surgery received the deluxe treatment with multi-disc sets comprising new stereo and 5.1 surround mixes, plus other extras, Trilogy has finally been rebooted with new mixes and a previously unreleased version of “From The Beginning.” The first disc has the original nine tracks, the second disc has a new stereo mix of the album and the alternate version of “From The Beginning” (distinguished by Keith Emerson’s exploratory solo), and the third disc is a DVD that features a stereo 24-bit 96KHz mix and the 5.1 surround mix done by King Crimson’s Jakko Jakszyk.

The new stereo mix is especially enlightening to fans who love the original album. Carl Palmer’s drums are brighter and bouncier on “The Sheriff.” Much livelier is “Living Sin,” with Lake’s reverb-drenched vocals far more diabolical. Emerson’s solo at the break veers slightly off into another direction, thus making this version much more of an “alternate” than the unreleased “From The Beginning.” In the final stretch of “Trilogy,” the chips fall together, the drama intensifies and a brewing chemistry between all three players coalesces into a bombastic cacophony of musical marksmanship. Unless you have a high-end system, the surround mix doesn’t pack the same punch and vibrancy of the new stereo mix.

When it was released, Trilogy reached #2 on the UK charts and #5 on the US Billboard chart, a peak for an ELP album in the States. By most accounts, it serves as a blueprint for pretty much everything ELP was about — spins on inspired classical pieces like Aaron Copland’s “Hoedown” and “Abaddon’s Bolero”; epics of their own like “The Endless Enigma” and “Trilogy”; a radio-friendly acoustic number ala “From The Beginning” (ELP’s one and only Top 40 hit); and tongue-in-cheek send-ups like “The Sheriff.” Produced by Greg Lake, Trilogy’s cover and gatefold were designed by the legendary Hipgnosis. When you add the music, it’s easy to recognize the album as a high-water mark in the often loopy career of Emerson, Lake & Palmer.

~ Shawn Perry

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