With the success of albums such as Tarkus and Trilogy only months prior, Keith Emerson, Greg Lake and Carl Palmer chose to push the envelope even further with their 1973 album, Brain Salad Surgery. Forming their own record label (Manticore Records), gave them the opportunity, and the musical freedom, to push the progressive framework to the utmost limits. With the arrival of one of the first Moog polyphonic synthesizers, Emerson used this new technology to push the band into worlds untraveled. The centerpiece of the album was the 30-minute opus Karn Evil 9, with three “impressions” that led the band into not only Caribbean music and piano improvisation but also provided them with a radio staple (the 2nd half of the 1st impression, which to many is the quintessential ELP song) that you can hear on classic rock radio to this day. However, this was not an album that came easily to the band. Greg has been quoted as stating that “…nothing came quickly. It really was laborious, most of it. It was very much like building a house one brick at a time. And sometimes you’d put up a wall and take the whole bloody thing down again. It was a laborious and complicated process…Apart from the ‘Karn Evil’ piece the only continuity about the album is that we made it at one period of time, and that’s what we wanted to do. It’s like a collection of emotions you might feel one day – several different emotions.” Keith goes even further with his thoughts, saying that the album “… was created at a time, when everyone in the band was at their most receptive level. It was the last real album the band has made. We felt we needed a bit of time to consider things and not let everything go to our heads. I think it was worth the wait, because a lot of people think that Brain Salad Surgery is just about the best thing we ever did…” BSS’s
impression on the progressive rock community cannot be undervalued. From Keith’s true mastery of the Moog technology to Carl’s work with the tympani on Alberto Ginastera’s Toccata to Greg’s classic “Still…You Turn Me On”, Brain Salad Surgery is seen by the band as their crowning achievement.
For more information on Emerson, Lake & Palmer, check out the following links:
The official Emerson, Lake & Palmer website
Emerson, Lake & Palmer on Wikipedia
Emerson, Lake & Palmer on ProgArchives