Emerson, Lake & Palmer: Trilogy a jpoc music review

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Eight out of ten.
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ELP fans will happily debate forever the point at which the band reached its creative peak but there is a firm consensus that their early years were their finest. Whether the absolute best was Tarkus, Trilogy or Brain Salad Surgery is secondary to the simple fact that Trilogy is one of the finest pieces of work that this band did.

The secret of their music is that they put together a set of talents the like of which had rarely been seen before let alone moulded into a single unit. The opening salvo, (The Endless Enigma Part One, Fugue and The Endless Enigma Part Two) illustrates this perfectly.

To deal with Carl Palmer first, in the early seventies he was finding ways of breaking up rhythms that had never been heard before. Nothing on Trilogy is quite as radical as his drumming on Tarkus but nonetheless, he was doing things here with sticks and skins that nobody else had tired.

In terms of rock music, Keith Emerson is an outstanding talent but that does not give full account of his real contribution. On the classical concert circuit, keyboard performance talent such as his is not unique but never before had this been combined with the kind of driven creative rock intensity of his contemporary guitar greats.

Greg Lake is often overlooked in comparison with the other two members of the band but that does not do him justice. As well as his distinctive voice, his bass guitar work is the perfect match for Emerson's keyboard playing. If you listen to the opening suite and try to imagine it with an ordinary, unimaginative bass line, you will appreciate that he adds his own dimension to the music.

Trilogy is a nice balance of the range of ELP's style. After "The Endless Enigma" comes "From the Beginning" a typical Greg Lake ballad. After that the band switches into exuberant fun mode for "The Sheriff" and an adaptation of Aaron Copeland's "Hoedown". The opening drums on the first of those two serves notice of what is to come.

Those tracks complete the opening side of the original vinyl release and, together with the title track which opened the second side, they form a powerful statement of the band's ability. The next track, "Living Sin" is the least convincing here and that is mainly because Greg Lake's voice does not really suit the style that he is trying to deliver. Finally, comes "Abaddon's Bolero" which is closely derived from Ravel's "Bolero" but which is curiously not credited as such on the sleeve notes. It's OK to listen to but, unlike most of ELP's covers, it does not really deliver much that was not in the original though Greg Lake's bass playing does stand out.

Trilogy is a good introduction to ELP though I think that Tarkus or their first album "Emerson, Lake and Palmer" server that purpose better. If you do like Trilogy, you will appreciate any of the albums that came before it and you might like to listen to music by Yes from the same time frame.