Not too many artists can reach out to our human conditions and souls like Greg Lake did while performing the single C’est La Vie. Mostly renowned as a member of the progressive rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer, he is also famous for the more straightforward down to earth rock ballads that helped sweeten the ELP show on the world stage. It is touching and somewhat sad, as the song goes along so in tune with the premature disparition of mr. Lake at the age of 69 on December 7, 2016. And all this after another tragedy that was to mark the history of ELP, also an early departure of Keith Emerson, in March of 2016, that has left this world driven by anxiety and depression.
The Lucky Man, a song that Lake wrote when he was 12, has brought heavy notes onto the world of music, by participating in the forming of the two most renowned progressive rock names King Crimson and Emerson, Lake and Palmer.
Striking a friendship with songwriter Peter Sinfield, from the times of In the Court of the Crimson King, the two ended up composing and releasing a successful single I Believe in Father Christmas, which topped number 2 in the UK charts, only to be beaten by Queen with their timeless hit Bohemian Rapsody. It is interesting of how songs are perceived by the public and can depart from the original intent of the composer. Lake mentioned that the song was a protest against commercialization of Christmas, whereas Sinfield wrote the lyrics as a poem to the loss of childhood belief; the public definitely received it with open arms as a pure Christmas gift and a mark for posterity for its celebratory message.
But Greg Lake was most famous for his years and albums alongside Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer. There is a lot of substance in the creativity of this group to help define progressive rock at its best. Although not for everyone’s taste, and heavy at times into being too progressive, EL&P defined a moment of revolution, musicianship of quality and inspiration, by three individuals loaded with talent. Though each different, they blended into a golden combination in the 1970’s and brought up on stage very unique sounds and interpretations.
Their debut album entitled Emerson, Lake & Palmer is perhaps their best. It is a drumming regale, filled with explosive keyboards and classical fusions, and ballad like rhythms that all help prove the quality of the 3 artists right from the get go. There is something grand and mysterious about Take a Pebble – it is disturbing the waters of our lives. Greg Lake comes along stepping onto the Knife-Edge, through powerful bass notes and distant-acoustic vocals. Tanks seals it off for a powerful and skillful drum solo, that is to remain Carl Palmer’s signature for years on. For music composed in 1970 it is impressive.
Just take a pebble and cast it to the sea,
Then watch the ripples that unfold into me,
My face spill so gently into your eyes,
Disturbing the waters of our lives.
The album Tarkus inspire sparks of high school memories, when experimenting and absorbing music defined through originality was the norm, rhythms out of sync or out of tune sounded well to the ear, and the individual skill of a musician impressed a youngster. The opening piece Tarkus a seven piece grandiose creation is over 20 minutes long, with a marvellous collaboration between the three musicians. This is where the band was at its best, as these artists were extremely talented but different on style and compositions. Challenging as it was, they gave in and came together to produce something spectacular.
1972 brings Trilogy along with a stellar composition by Greg Lake From the Beginning, another acoustic ballad signature that filled the airwaves around the world. This album is said to have been carefully thought over, by now the band had the experience, and the consensus is that it came out after a refined process.
It is through their individual talents that ELP has succeeded through, even so the band was at its best when they succeeded to blend in their skills and bring out compositions that are complex, story-telling and require revisits to fully grasp their amazing sounds. They definitely capture the sounds of the psychedelic ‘70’s and line along to fill welcome the show with the likes of Yes, Allan Parsons Project, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, etc.
Brain Salad Surgery is considered they’re biggest and most complex creation. But it is heavy material, made for the connoisseur prog rock fans, and for the ears that are ready to ingest more daring sounds. It has been said that this album ranks alongside Close to the Edge by Yes, In the Court of the Crimson King by King Crimson, and Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd as a high point of creativity of that period.
The three-part “Karn Evil 9”, a phenomenal composition termed sometimes as sci-fi rock, approached the audience with energy erupting wildly out of Emerson’s keyboards and stretching the progressive rock tolerance to new limits. Greg Lake shows up again to balance the show and produce another exquisite ballad Still… You Turn Me On, great acoustics and tonalities.
Works, Vol. 1 seals their creativity and careers as a band, released in 1977 as a mix of individual compositions, signed and sealed forever more with two well known songs that were highly listed on the success charts – C’est La Vie and their version of Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man.
Greg Lake and Emerson, Lake & Palmer will hang out to our memories whenever one hears the verses as to what their show was, is and will ever be…
Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends
We’re so glad you could attend
Come inside! Come inside!
There behind a glass is a real blade of grass
be careful as you pass.
Move along! Move along!
Come inside, the show’s about to start
guaranteed to blow your head apart
Rest assured you’ll get your money’s worth
The greatest show in Heaven, Hell or Earth.
You’ve got to see the show, it’s a dynamo.
You’ve got to see the show, it’s rock and roll ….
“The greatest music is made for love, not for money.”
Greg Lake (10 November 1947 – 7 December 2016)