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Emerson Lake & Palmer - Love Beach CD (album) cover


Emerson Lake & Palmer


Symphonic Prog

2.06 | 624 ratings

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
2 stars "Have a taste of my love, around from the maze of pleasure to the gates of pain..." - Oh, ELP - BEHAVE!

If you decide to take the plunge and purchase this most notorious of (cough) `progressive rock' albums, you'll be in for some luck - you'll likely pick it up dirt cheap! I've come across this album in so many bargain bins, and one look at the cover will all but guarantee you'll know why it's so unloved! I bought the remastered CD for $2.99 Australian. Great price, but then comes the other dilemma - finding something else to buy WITH it so you don't look quite so sad. I managed to get Tangerine Dream's `Phaedra' and `The Nice: BBC Sessions' to hide `Love Beach' between when I handed it to the pretty sales girl. OK, so dignity sort of intact - let's move on!

I've mentioned before in other reviews that I'm always fascinated to see progressive artists try to balance their artistic/technical complexities with commercial pop appeal. It's produced some interesting (and to my ears, fairly successful) results like Genesis with `Abacab/Duke', Magenta's `Chameleon', or, to some extent, perhaps even the prog-pop works of the Alan Parsons Project. But with `Love Beach', the majority of the album is far too much on the side of pop, with few rewarding and challenging moments. However, despite so many negative elements to this album, there is a number of positive aspects.

First of all, the production is nice and clean, and all the instruments sound fantastic. So the main players may not be giving themselves a complex or overly-technical musical workout in the material they're actually playing, but it's nice to hear the occasional strong melodies and effective restrained playing. Carl Palmer's drumming is mixed full and loud, and is the member of the trio who leaves the best impression on the album. He constantly throws in lots of snappy quick fills and busy playing. Greg Lake's vocals are very confident, even if many of the lyrics he's actually singing are dross. His bass is mixed very low and is oddly unnoticeable on this, instead favouring his acoustic and electric guitar playing. Emerson's piano and keyboards are prominent and varied - and I secretly love his quick synthy stabs during `Taste Of My Love'!

Of course, much of the material is very lightweight and undemanding. `All I Want Is You' is extremely basic and straightforward. The title track is mundane and repetitive with dreadful rhyming lyrics. `Taste Of My Love' is jammed full of head slapping double and possibly even triple entendre lyrics, and there's an oddly creepy and vaguely sexually threatening tone to this one. `The Gambler' is a cheesy character piece along the lines of `The Sheriff', but it's bouncy and pleasant with a brief synth solo from Emerson that's kind of fun. `For You' is a little more serious and dramatic, with some strong drum-work and effective vocal hooks. Despite a schmaltzy keyboard intro, `Canario' is a boppy and cheeky classical/bolero tinged instrumental, it's the track on this album that probably shows off the band's abilities best. Lots of rapid-fire time changes and fiery instrumental playing - far and away the best piece on the album. The side long `Memoirs' is equally sumptuous and repulsive, pompous and romantic. Lake's singing is alternatively powerful and reflective, the lyrics thankfully more more sophisticated. We finally hear his bass playing for the first time too! Emerson shines most on this, with a huge variety of lovely piano and keyboard selections. Some grand and commanding drumming from Palmer adds greatly, too. There's a very lazy and unimaginative fade-out at the end, though, with not much in the way of a big finale or climax.

The remastered CD version also features a kind of bashy, crashing and slightly messy noisy instrumental rehearsal of `Taste Of My Love' that's much better with all those awful lyrics removed. Not bad at all!

Strangely, I sort of defend this album in many ways. I don't think it's the total dog that it's made out to be, as tracks like `Canario' and much of the side long piece offer great ideas, inventive playing with tasteful arrangements. But the album is also sappy, overwrought and frequently overly simplistic, especially the first few tracks. The album is pretty much saved by the quality playing in even it's worst moments. So perhaps lower your expectations (or standards!), and you may find some of `Love Beach' to your liking.

Two and a half stars!

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 2/5 |


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