Emerson, Lake & Powell is Underrated

by Flying Omelette

Critics don't seem to care too much for this one and neither do fans of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. It only had one hit (Touch and Go) come off of it. But man... I think it's an excellent album.

It's good musically as well as lyrically and there's a great diversity of songs. Nothing else I can think of sounds like "Step Aside" or "The Miracle", the latter of which is a grand epic rock song. "Touch and Go" is a pretty powerful track (I've noticed YouTube commentors saying they remembered that synthesizer riff years later, but had a hard time figuring out what song it was from). "Learning to Fly" is another great track, and the love balled "Lay Down Your Guns" may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I like how it ends. Their cover of "Mars, The Bringer of War" is astounding. When I first heard it years ago (which was the first time I'd ever heard that composition at all), I never would have guessed it was not originally written for synthesizers, as it just worked so phenomenally well.

I guess one thing fans didn't like about this album is that Greg Lake's voice changed somewhat, and he certainly doesn't have the most melodic voice in the world (he shouts a lot, and often talks a line), but that's a uniqueness I think benefits the material.

I honestly like this album more than their debut "Emerson, Lake & Palmer", which has some good moments, but a lot of it sounds like the band just making noise. "The Score", which is the opening number of ELPowell, is like that in parts, too, but mostly carries itself pretty well musically. (One thing that's kind of interesting is that there is no lead guitarist in this band. Greg Lake plays a bass guitar, and the rest is all synthesizers done by Keith Emerson, and the late Cozy Powell's fantastic drumming.)

"Vacant Possession" is a bonus track that wasn't on the original album, and it's quickly become one of my favorites. It seems rather polished for a bonus track.

If I had to nitpick one thing it's that their instrumental cover of "The Locomotion" (which is also a bonus track only on the CD version) is out of place. It's not really good to follow a thunderous number like "Mars" with this dinky "doo-de-doo-de-doo-doo" song, so I'll probably skip that one whenever I listen to the whole album.

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