Great Rock Albums of 1986: Emerson, Lake and Powell

220px-Emerson,_Lake_&_Powell_-_Emerson,_Lake_&_Powell_(1986)_Front_Cover

GTR was only one band who sought to bring back good old 1970s style progressive rock in 1986, the other band was Emerson, Lake and Powell or ELP  for short. The band was two-thirds a reformation of the previous decade’s prog rock legends Emerson, Lake and Palmer or called by some the original ELP. Keith Emerson and Greg Lake wanted to re-form the original band but drummer Carl Palmer was unavailable due to his commitments with Asia. So, after a short search, they approached rock drummer Cozy Powell who played with greats such as Rainbow, Whitesnake and Black Sabbath to name just a few. Thus Emerson, Lake and Powell was born.

From the very first notes of the opening track, “The Score,” it was plain for all to hear that ELP was determined to carry on from where the earlier incarnation had left off. I mean this track reminds me so much of the famous “Fanfare for the Common Man” it’s almost frightening. I say almost! Nevertheless, this and all the other tracks on the album were played so well, it’s mind blowing. Back in 1986, I was so fed up with keyboards that seemed to play short and choppy notes on most 80s synth pop that Emerson’s keyboards skills on the album were almost a God-send. He just lets himself go on every track on the album. But it’s not just Keith, Greg Lake contributes very well with the guitar, bass and vocals as Cozy Powell shows that he is more of a versatile drummer than what some top 40 enthusiasts thought at the time. These ignorant persons simply labelled him a heavy metal drummer but Powell was much more than that and it shows here.

At first listen, I found it hard to pick a favourite track as all of them were good enough for the honour, hidden gem at the very least. I remember the single, “Touch and Go” being played on radio and it stood head and shoulders above most of the crap commercial radio was giving us back then. Especially since very little metal was now being played on it. However, it’s the “The Miracle,” that gets my vote. Of all Keith’s keyboard wizardry on the album, this track is where it makes the biggest impression on me. Most of the remaining songs are in this vein except for “Step Aside.” This track is definitely different. It sounds like it was straight out of a jazz club from the 1930s. Very gutsy of ELP to do this in the 1980s but I really like it. Then there’s the closer, “Mars, Bringer of War.” This track is so way out there that it could have been recorded on Mars or maybe even Jupiter or Saturn but it’s a fantastic way to end the album.

Track Listing:

  1. The Score
  2. Learning to Fly
  3. The Miracle
  4. Touch and Go
  5. Love Blind
  6. Step Aside
  7. Lay Down Your Guns
  8. Mars, Bringer of War

220px-Emerson_Lake_and_Powell

Emerson. Lake and Powell

Keith Emerson- keyboards

Greg Lake- vocals, guitar, bass

Cozy Powell- drums, percussion

Unfortunately, like GTR, ELP were also one album wonders. While this metalhead was impressed with both of these bands, the trendy top 40 loving public in the 1980s wasn’t as keen. I say, “Screw them!” because I found this album really good. Back in the day, if I wanted an alternative to all the metal power chords I was headbanging away to, this was the album I would go for.

Next post: Survivor- When Seconds Count

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 Responses to “Great Rock Albums of 1986: Emerson, Lake and Powell”

  1. “From the very first notes of the opening track, “The Score,” it was plain for all to hear that ELP was determined to carry on from where the earlier incarnation had left off. I mean this track reminds me so much of the famous “Fanfare for the Common Man” it’s almost frightening. I say almost! ”
    Nice post, Mike. I wonder how often musicians worry about plagiarism. I know I’ve heard songs that when it starts out I just swear that it’s something else! You hear about it once in a while, some fight over a tune. But I bet it happens a lot more than what we hear about it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Always wanted to hear this album. Is Mars, Bringer of War the Gustav Holst piece?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Anything Powell drums on is going to sound huge! I remember hearing these guys on Rockline and they were pretty psyched for this tour.
    Nice Flashback.

    Liked by 1 person

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