Brain Salad Surgery - See The Show

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Emerson, Lake & Palmer "Brain Salad Surgery" (Manticore K53501) reviewed by Pete Erskine in Sounds, Dec 08, 1973:
"NOW I knew a lot of people who don't really like ELP, but like this album. The same goes for me. I don't know whether it's as a result of seeing that BBC film, or by way of contrast to the intrinsic complexities of the Yes album, but I can honestly say that I really like all of this. I'm not sure of this, but it seems to be their most uncluttered and melodic album to date and certainly their rockiest. I would be very interested to know whether there's been any kind of musical exchnage - both ways - between ELP and their new signing, the excellent Stray Dog. Having heard one or two cuts that didn't make this album I would say that there has been, which is all for the good. 'Jerusalem' is rendered basically as per school hymn book with fine instrumental embroidery via Keith Emerson. 'Still You Turn Me On', written and sung by Greg Lake, is a fine semi acoustic song with neatly turned lyrics. I wonder whether the last verse in particular is a reference to the group situation - 'you see I really have to tell you that it all get so intense. From my experience / It just doesn't seem to make sense...'. 'Benny The Bouncer' is a straight forward beer and skittles foray...'Benny was a bouncer at the Palais de Danse / He'd slash your granny's face up given half a chance / He'd sell you back the pieces, all for less than half a quid / He thought he was the meanest / until he met with Savage Sid.' Emerson hammers away at the piano in frantic style reminiscent of Humphrey Lyttleton's 'Bad Penny Blues' if you know it. Subsequently Savage Sid slops beer onto Benny's boots, resulting in Benny's final parting from his limbs. 'Toccata' is Emerson's interpretation of Alberto Ginastera's 1st Piano Concert, 4th Movement. Side two, and the remainder of side one is given over to the massive 'Karn Evil 9', a kind of future glimpse to a time when there's a eventual confrontation between man and the machines he has created which are now imbued with their own independent existence. Apart from a couple of splendid moog drum solos from Palmer, Mr. Emerson is to be heard trilling mightily like the old Nice days. There are some excellent lines too - 'Come inside Come inside / There behind the glass is a real blade of grass / be careful when you pass / Move along Move along...' and 'And not content with that, with our hands behind our backs / we pull Jesus from a hat / Get into that / Get into that'. I won't spoil it by telling you the last verse. I don't know whether conciously ELP have tried to bring about a chance in their music, or whether it's me. Thatever - it has worked.

Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Brain Salad Surgery, Manticore MC66669 (Atlantic) reviewed by Billboard Magazine, Dec 1973
The trio has gone ahead and created a complex, exciting sonic experience which touches on several bases-heady rock, flowing jazz and some zesty pop material. The soltness of previous works has been replaced by a hard-driving, etheral in places kind of project. "Still...You Turn Me On" incorporates Keith Emerson's happy time barrelhouse piano and Carl Palmer's crisp brush works on snares. Greg Lake's vocals throughout blend vitally. "2nd Impression" is very jazz flavored with a small trio sound built around fast 4/4 drumming and some fine piano playing. A Moog provides an eerie yet compelling sound on the other cuts.

Emerson, Lake & Palmer "Jerusalem" (Manticore) unknown review 1973:
"I don't quite know what ELP have against aged and venerable composers and poets. Having callously savaged Mussorgsky they now turn on the unfortunate William Blake. The pomposity of the arrangement and of Lake's singing is sufficient cause for more than a mere chuckle. A very funny record this, quite takes me back to school halls full of surly kids singing hyms unto the Lord. 'Bring me my bow of burning gold' indeed. Bring me my hammer of burnished steel. More like it."

The criticism of ELP's fourth studio album was split. While the fans celebrated it and praised as one the best prog rock albums, the reaction of the press and music-editors has been more reserved. During the band promote the album in the US, they handled them in a common way, although there were the quite first attacks. They were leaded by the famous Proto-Punk Journalist Lester Bangs. In an article called 'ELP unmasked...', reprinted in New Musical Express in February 1974, he achieved that not only technology taken over the act but that the band themselves were not more than robots.

The whole thing changed abruptly when then band played their Wembley gigs in April 1974. Without exception most of the English music press massacred their performance and were making wounding personal attacks on the band members. The media around the Wembley shows was so negative that Manticore Records blacklisted some of the most known publications, refusing to place advertising or giving any interviews. Naturally the band was very much disappointed, mostly Keith Emerson took the criticism to his heart. However, already during the summer the situation calmed down again and it became quieter around the group.

Here a random choice of the most important comments of the band members:

Keith Emerson:
"...I'm just going to get drunk and forget the whole thing..."

Greg Lake:
"We never get good press, I don't read reviews much any more."

Greg Lake:
"My response to that criticism is that they should have more thought before they write the things they did, not only about us, they did about a lot of bands. I think they made most of the good bands in this country very shy to talk to the press..."

Carl Palmer:
"...the only reason I can think of it it's the 'in thing' to say something against ELP, I don't take much notice of what people say about us now..."

Greg Lake:
"...basically I suppose it was a bit of a downer when it was released because we had worked such a long time on it, put so much into it and putting touches to it, spent 18 month writing it and we were pissed off that it was dimissed by a few people, as if we had taken three weeks to make it..."

Keith Emerson:
"I do feel criticism is good for music and should remain, but some of the things said against us are really personal. Somebody said that we only made 'Brain Salad Surgery' to pay off the mortgage on my house or so I could race cars..."

And this said the press in addition:

Matthew Gocher (Sounds): "...the album is boring, hideous, insipid, vapid..."

Melody Maker: "...a stale salad... , ...Peter Sinfield's lyrics are banal and pretentious..."

Music Scene: "...Jerusalem is a bloody sacrilege..."

Bob Edmands (NME): ...ELP: Art, rot, or entertainment?...

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