Various Artists: Encores, Legends, & Paradox, A Tribute to the Music of ELP
If there was some form of progressive CD release recognition like Prog-Grammy or the “Gilded ELP Award” gala event, this tribute album would surely have easily earned “Best of . . .”, “Best Tribute”, “Most Artist . . .”, and “People’s Choice . . .”, etc., etc. It is warming to this old progger heart to hear so many talented artists paying homage to one of the foundational giants of the progressive rock genre. For those who have never heard of ELP, yes they exist, Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, and Carl Palmer pulled off some of the most imaginative, inspiring, maddening, and daring rock ever recorded. Nothing else like it had been heard before. Perhaps snippets, maybe a phrase or a bar had been dabbled with by others earlier but ELP solidly infused art into art-rock and thankfully had the wisdom to keep it rocking. Wild keyboard solos, polyphonic Moog synth covers of classical music, mean bass runs, golden guitar, strong vocals, and drumming beyond description, giant gong and all, ELP fused it together into interesting compositions, moving ballads. Fugues, overtures, movements, and live shows full of spectacle kept ELP fans thirsting for more.
And now the review . . . selections from Tarkus, Trilogy, the ELP debut Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, and the extravagantly ambitious Brain Salad Surgery are each crafted expertly afresh by such artists as these; Peter Banks, Martin Barre , Robert Berry, Marc Bonilla, Geoff Downes, Trent and Wayne Gardner, Jerry Goodman, Matt Guillory, Glenn Hughes, Igor Khoroshev, James LaBrie, Pat Mastelotto, Erik Norlander, John Novello, Doane Perry, Simon Phillips, Mike Portnoy, Mark Robertson, Jordan Rudess, Derek Sherinian, John Wetton, and Mark Wood. “Whew!” Ah, but the diversity of talents and styles mesh nicely on each track.
Best tracks overall, earning 10 out of 10, (a hard choice), were the 10:16 “The Endless Enigma”, simply an monolithically incredible piece of work, “Hoedown”, “Tarkus”, and “The Barbarian”. All the other tracks were each at least 8 or 9's out of 10 in excellence except for “Knife Edge” where Glenn Hughes’ vox strained and strayed way too far into bluesy-rock, nite-club crooning angst and left progressive rock boundaries we expected on such a tribute release. My subjective call, of course here.
So, grab this, and if you haven’t sampled the real deal of ELP before now, this CD will definitely attract the attention due to the immortal music of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. This is a must-have release for all keyboardists and fans of the 88-stepped, ivory staircase to blissdom.