EMERSON, LAKE, POWELL: s.t TAPE 1986. Progressive kings. Cozy Powell on drums. Check videos
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A rather courageous offshoot/reunion effort, considering the period in which it was done. There more energy and purpose here than there was on any post-Works ELP album, and that makes it worthwhile for interested fans, though it wasn’t going to make any new converts, either. One oddity is that Emerson, Lake & Powell cover Mars, The Bringer of War from Holst The Planets, a piece that King Crimson first introduced as a rock adaptation when Lake was a member on tour back in 1969.
This incarnation of the group featured Greg Lake on bass and vocals, Keith Emerson on keyboards and Cozy Powell on drums.
Released: 02 Jun 1986
Genre: Prog Rock
A1 The Score 9:10
A2 Learning To Fly 3:52
A3 The Miracle 7:02
B1 Touch And Go 3:35
B2 Love Blind 3:08
B3 Step Aside 3:42
B4 Lay Down Your Guns 4:20
B5 Mars, The Bringer Of War 7:53
Adapted By – Emerson / Lake / Powell Composed By – Gustav Holst
Copyright (c) – PolyGram Records, Inc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – PolyGram Records, Inc.
Marketed By – Polydor Ltd.
Distributed By – Polydor Ltd.
Recorded At – Maison Rouge
Recorded At – Fleetwood Mobile
Bass, Guitar [Guitars], Lyrics By, Producer, Vocals – Greg Lake
Design – Debra Bishop, Koppel & Scher
Drums, Percussion – Cozy Powell
Keyboards, Music By – Keith Emerson
Management – Alex Grob
Mastered By – JA*
Producer, Engineer, Mixed By – Tony Taverner
Original sound recording made by PolyGram Records Inc. (New York).
Made in England
5.0 out of 5 stars ELp is far and away the best of the non-ELP albums,
This is the album that settles the question: If Keith Emerson is the key member of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, who is number two? Compare “”Emerson, Lake & Powell”” where drummer Cozy Powell replaces Carl Palmer with “”The Power of Three”” where the guitarist/vocalist is Robert Berry instead of Greg Lake and it is no contest. This is the better album (by two stars as I reckon such things), and I say this intending no disparagement to Palmer, but I must admit that Lake voice is the one I have always wanted to have. “”Touch and Go”” is the “”hit single”” from this album, but the three tracks that precede it are pretty good and I love Lake vocals on “”The Miracle.”” There is also a nice adaptation of “”Mars, The Bringer of War”” from Gustav Holst “”The Planets”” that I once used as the music for the credit sequence of a video production on nuclear war films. Even the most die-hard fans of ELP would have to agree that ELp is just a notch below the “”original”” group best work.
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Cozy Powell,
I have only recently had a chance to hear this album in full. My immediate thought was what an difference to ELP Cozy Powell has made. Don’t get me wrong – Carl Palmer was an excellent drummer, but the power and syncopation supplied by Powell has added a new dimension to their sound. He also keeps a tight ship rythmically. Brilliant.”
With modernist cover art that suggests the lads that brought us Trilogy in the 1970’s are thriving in the 1980’s, this somewhat revised version of ELP sounds as modern as yesterday’s tomorrow. Newly inducted drummer Cozy Powell propells the band through eight tracks with considerable authority. Greg Lake’s voice (which hadn’t yet taken on the slightly smokey character it would have in later releases) is as strong as ever and Keith Emerson plays piano and ’80’s era electronics with a fury that never quite boils over the top.
The word wrangling tends toward the crafty, avoiding clichés and the pretentiousness that sometimes dogged the original ELP when Pete Sinfield wrote with them. There is a definite change in tone here, and not just in the keyboards. The wackiness of the earlier ELP that made songs like “Benny the Bouncer” and “The Sheriff” rowdy and fun has been replaced by a cooler, more sophisticated attitude on tracks like “Touch and Go” and “Love Blind.”
Nothing on Emerson, Lake and Powell is groundbreaking, but it’s so well done that you won’t mind.
But I’ll take this recording over Black Moon and Hot Seat!
Sadly we’ll never know if this trio could have equaled or surpassed this very good recording.
Released in June of 1986, Emerson Lake and Powell represented a brawny, 1980s-era update of the old ELP sound — courtesy in part of a different drummer whose name also happened to begin with P.
Seems Carl Palmer, co-founder with Greg Lake and Keith Emerson of Emerson Lake and Palmer, became unavailable due to contractual obligations with his other band Asia — even as Emerson and Lake felt the creative itch. E and L chose not to wait for the first P. There followed a quick series of auditions before the late, well-respected sideman Cozy Powell (a longtime friend of Emerson’s who worked with Jeff Beck, Black Sabbath and Brian May, among others) was brought on board.
To that point, ELP had been dormant since 1978’s lightly regarded Love Beach. Couple that with the way Emerson Lake and Powell neatly mimicked the new-wave pop-prog sound of contemporaries like Yes and Genesis, and the resulting album soared to No. 23 on the Billboard charts — the highest Lake and Emerson had risen since 1977’s Works Volume 1, and higher than any subsequent Emerson Lake and Palmer project. “From the Beginning,” the original ELP’s 1972 hit, was the only song to chart higher than Emerson Lake and Powell’s “Touch and Go” — which remains a part of Greg Lake’s solo setlists.
And yet, some reservations remain about this particular side road. “Cozy was great. When he joined the band, it was very, very nice,” Greg Lake says in an exclusive Something Else! Sitdown. “He’s a great player, and a lovely guy. But the strange thing was, it wasn’t ELP anymore. The chemistry was different. Not necessarily bad, but just different. There’s something that Carl brought to the band which made ELP.”
Carl Palmer, perhaps unsurprisingly, has also taken a dim view of the Other ELP, saying: “The way I looked at it was that they were promoting my back catalog. I let them use the logo and didn’t stop them doing anything, but I thought it was a little petty that they couldn’t wait.”
The Emerson Lake and Powell amalgam only lasted for one album, though the music template largely remained in place when the original members of ELP convened for the 1992 reunion project Black Moon. For Greg Lake, the sense of homecoming was palpable.
“You know when you mix chemicals together in a chemistry class,” Lake tells us, “you put two or three together and nothing happens. Put the next one in, and the whole thing froths. That’s a bit like ELP. Carl Palmer is very effervescent. It wasn’t so much that there was a good drummer and a bad drummer. It was that Carl’s personality was so energetic, and ELP missed that ingredient. It had been based around that chemistry. When that chemistry changed, you had another band actually. It was a good band. But it was a different band from that which the public had made popular. And that made for a fracturing of continuity.”
Carl Palmer later formed the group 3 with Keith Emerson and Robert Berry, while Cozy Powell tragically died following a car crash in 1998.
After limping to a halt with 1978’s Love Beach, Emerson, Lake & Palmer went on a much-needed hiatus — but by the mid-’80s, Keith Emerson and Greg Lake were ready to reunite, even if it meant going on without Carl Palmer.
Palmer, at the time, was still contractually obligated to Asia, the prog-rock supergroup he’d co-founded with King Crimson vet John Wetton and ex-Yes guitarist Steve Howe after ELP folded. But neither Emerson nor Lake had found much in the way of solo success outside the group, so when Emerson’s label suggested a reunion, it proved a difficult idea to resist even without a third of the trio on board.
“I did a whole bunch of demos for Geffen Records at the time. They gave me a $10,000 advance to come up with 10 demos. I thought ‘Okay, that’s great. I’ll do it.’ So, I came up with the demos,” Emerson laughed to Innerviews. “And Geffen heard it and said, ‘You know what, Keith? This would be great if you played it with Greg and Carl.’”
Half-jokingly telling the Los Angeles Times that he and Emerson got back together “to make money,” Lake admitted his own solo woes. “My solo records were in the wrong direction. I had played with keyboards all those years. But I’m a guitar player. I wanted an opportunity to play with other guitar players. But that direction wasn’t the best thing for my career. It was a real mistake.”
Needing a new drummer for the project, Emerson thought of Cozy Powell, whom he’d known for years. “I thought ‘Hmm … okay. I know Cozy is kind of a heavy metal drummer. Can he handle the sort of stuff we’ve been doing?’ So, I called up Cozy and he was a lovely guy,” Emerson told Innerviews. “We had exactly the same interests. We both loved motorcycles.”
Even though both Emerson and Lake later insisted that it hadn’t necessarily been their intention to revive the ELP brand, the shape the material took — coupled with the completely coincidental involvement of another drummer with a last name starting with P — cemented the deal, and Emerson, Lake & Powell were born. With Lake and veteran engineer Tony Taverner co-producing, the trio tracked their self-titled set at a pair of U.K. studios throughout 1985 and 1986.
To their credit, Emerson, Lake & Powell resisted any temptation to follow the radio-friendly trail blazed by Asia and Yes earlier in the decade. Rather than streamline the ELP sound into easily digestible chunks, they laid out on the new material: The record’s opening song, “The Score,” was a nine-minute piece that included a callback to their Brain Salad Surgery track “Karn Evil 9: First Impression,” and a pair of other songs on the eight-track LP topped the seven-minute mark. Carrying on their tradition of recording rock with classical ambitions, they even closed out the album with an adaptation of the Holst piece “Mars, the Bringer of War.”
But no amount of prog cred could make up for the bad timing that plagued Emerson, Lake & Powell. As evidenced by Yes and Asia’s turn toward the mainstream earlier in the decade, there was no longer a huge market for this type of music — and prog rock had lost further commercial traction due to a seemingly endless series of lineup changes that made it easy to dismiss the constantly reshuffling bands as an assortment of interchangeable parts.
As Emerson, Lake & Powell worked on their album, the prog-rock carousel spun yet again as Asia splintered, with Howe drifting off into yet another prog supergroup, GTR, with former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett. Lake, ironically, had borne witness to Asia’s volatility when he subbed in for a briefly fired John Wetton just a few years before — and even contemplated fronting the group full-time.
Concerned as Lake was with avoiding corporate rock, Emerson, Lake & Powell still left room for a few radio-ready cuts, chief among them a derivation of the traditional folk song “Lovely Joan” that they topped with a sleek synth riff and titled “Touch and Go.” A natural first single for the album, it came within a stone’s throw of the U.S. Top 40 — a rarity for Emerson, Lake & Palmer even at their peak — while hitting No. 2 at rock radio. Released in May 1986, the album broke the Top 40 on both sides of the Atlantic, suggesting a bright future for the reconstituted ELP.
Sadly for fans of the new trio, they were destined to remain a one-off affair. Following a tour, Powell and Lake split, leaving Emerson to reunite with Palmer and enlist multi-instrumentalist/singer Robert Berry for another short-lived trio, 3, later in the decade.
“Cozy was great. When he joined the band, it was very, very nice,” Lake told Something Else!. “He’s a great player, and a lovely guy. But the strange thing was, it wasn’t ELP anymore. The chemistry was different. Not necessarily bad, but just different. There’s something that Carl brought to the band which made ELP.”
Emerson, for his part, offered a different take on the demise of his and Lake’s creative partnership with Powell. As he saw it, the band fell apart on tour thanks to fighting between the other two. “It was the usual stuff,” he told Innerviews. “I remember waking up in my hotel room one morning and all I could hear was all this yelling going on. I thought ‘What the hell is that?’ So, I stuck my head around the door and there’s Cozy. I hear ‘Where the f— is he? I’m going to kill him!’ And I thought ‘Uh oh.’”
Whatever the reasons for their split, Emerson, Lake & Powell’s dissolution ultimately paved the way for a full-fledged ELP reunion — although it wouldn’t happen until after 3 ran their course and Palmer finished another brief tour of duty with Asia. Emerson, Lake & Palmer finally reunited in 1991, beginning a second act that started in earnest with their first album in 14 years, 1992’s Black Moon.