Fanfare for yesterday's men
From page 73 of Classic Rock Magazine October 2007
Six-CD anthology shows why ELP had to soar and had to fall.
EMERSON LAKE & PALMER
From The Beginning
The history of rock'n'roll is littered Ci
with truisms, myths and downright lies. But as the years speed by, as rock revisionists continually rewrite the past, it becomes increasingly difficuk to separate fact from fiction.
It's a well-documented fact that punk killed off progressive rock. The mid-70s battle between the spiky-hairs and the loonpanted brigade was swift and bloodless. The big-keyboarded behemoths were cast asunder, and consigned to live in teepees parked on ley lines for the rest of time.
But.., hang on a second. Flick open any rock reference book and it'll tell you different. If you take 1976 as the year of the punk revolution, then look how it affected a band like Pink Floyd. In '75 the Floyd released Wish You Were Here. It got to No.1 on both sides of the Atlantic. In '77 they put out Animals: No.2 in the UK and No.3 in the US. There's the true effect of punk on prog for ya: three goddamn chart places!
Emerson Lake & Palmer didn't
suffer too badly, either. Works Vol. 1, surely the most preposterous double album ever, made the UK Top 10 and US Top 20. This was in '77. Punk set ELP's powers a-waning, for sure, but Greg Lake wasn't exactly being forced to trade down to polyester rugs from CarpetLand.
In truth, ELP's decline was down to a number of factors. Using poet Pete Sinfield as a lyricist was stupid, as anyone who's sat through the buffoonery of Pirates will attest. Calling a track When The Apple Blossoms Bloom In The Windmills Of Your Mind, Be Your Valentine was sick-making. And ELP's hopeless '78 album Love Beach finally put the mockers on proceedings. And yet... and yet... like a moth to a flame, the six-disc From The Beginning holds a fatal attraction. One listen to the DUNGADUNGA - DUN GA! of Fanfare For The Common Man and you realise there was indeed a time when ELF were your favourite band. But you also recognise that their time is long gone, never to return.