Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Brain Salad Surgery (AM8)
Artist: Emerson, Lake and Palmer
Producer: Greg Lake
Length: 45:04
Released: November 19, 1973
Tracks: 1) Jerusalem (2:44) 2) Toccata (7:20) 3) Still You Turn Me On (2:52); 4) Bennie the Bouncer (2:15) 5) Karn Evil 9, 1st Impression (8:39) 6) 
Karn Evil 9, 1st Impression, Part II (4:43) 7) Karn Evil 9, 2nd Impre4ssion (7:07); 8) Karn Evil 9, 3rd Impression (9:07)
  • Personnel: Keyboards (Hammond Organ C3, Steinway Piano, Moog Synthesizer IIIC, Mini Moog, Poly Moog, Moog Taurus) –Keith Emerson; Vocals, Bass, Acoustic, Electric and 12 String Guitars  – Greg Lake; Drums, Percussion, Tympani, Tubular Bells  – Carl Palmer

When Emerson, Lake & Palmer released their fourth studio album, Brain Salad Surgery, on November 19, 1973, the band's extravagantly audacious blend of outer-limits progressive rock, fantastical re-imaginings of classics and lush, pastoral pop balladry reached a creative and commercial peak. ELP's previous efforts accessed sizable but disparate audiences – art-rockers flocked to Tarkus and Trilogy while curious classical adventure seekers embraced Pictures At An Exhibition – but with Brain Salad Surgery, the trio put the mainstream directly in their crosshairs without sacrificing their prodigious instrumental chops.
"We were still ascending when we made Brain Salad Surgery," Keith Emerson says. "We were enjoying a sensational amount of success, and I suppose we felt as if we could do anything – and we certainly tried. Musically, lyrically and visually, we really went for it."
The album would be the inaugural release by the band's newly formed Manticore label and would differ from the extensively overdubbed Trilogy in that the group plotted out the music as a largely live creation. At the start of 1973, Emerson, Greg Lake and Carl Palmer purchased an abandoned cinema in Fulham, London, and converted it into a rehearsal and production facility, using an upstairs foyer to assemble and run through new compositions.
“That was the general idea, to play the album live," Emerson recalls. "I pretty much had the whole concept in mind. We had taken a bit of a break to be with our families, so that gave me a fair enough time to put down enough hand-written ideas for the "Karn Evil 9." I then approached Greg and Carl with a sheaf of manuscript papers, and we set about rehearsing, going over the material and being sort of repetitive about it."

Once the epic "Karn Evil 9" was worked out – the 30-minute sci-fi tale of man vs machine would spill over from side one and encompass the whole of side two – ELP loosened up with the deliciously lighthearted honky-tonk saloon spoof "Benny The Bouncer." "We liked to get the serious stuff out of the way and then do something fun," Emerson says. "We had done "Are You Ready Eddy?" and "The Sheriff" before. It was always a nice little breather to soften the mood, both in the studio and on record."
To complete the lyrics to both "Karn Evil 9" and "Benny The Bouncer," Lake recruited his old pal and former King Crimson bandmate Peter Sinfield. "Greg had always been a prolific songwriter and lyricist," Emerson notes, "but at this particular time, he needed the influence of somebody he had confidence in. Pete brought a lot of fantastic ideas and lines to the songs."
Recording took place between June and September of 1973 at London's Advision and Olympic Studios, with Lake, as he had done on the group's previous albums, serving as producer. "It was a pretty straightforward time in the studio," Emerson says, "even with some of the new pieces of equipment we were using, like the Moog Apollo. Because we were so rehearsed, there wasn't a lot of mucking about. We didn't have Pro Tools and all the things that exist now. If a person made a mistake, you didn't say, 'Oh, we'll fix that later.' We really had to get it right as we played together."
Trilogy and Brain Salad Surgery stand up as two of the great albums in one of rock's most incredibly prolific years. Released simultaneously were Fragile and Close to the Edge, Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane, Thick as a Brick, Genesis' Fox Trot and Selling England by the Pound, PFM's Per Un Amico, Three Friends and Octopus, Roxy Music, Seventh Sojourn, ELO II and On the Third Day, Can't Buy a Thrill, Obscured By Clouds, Machine Head, Neil Young's Harvest, Transformer...