MC 66669 Brain Salad Surgery
Produced by Greg Lake
Released on November 19, 1973
UK CHART POSITION #2 . . . US CHART POSITION #11
. . . GOLD RECORD
Find it at GEMM
MC 66669 cover  

S omewhere in a corner of cyberspace a debate rages on concerning ELP’s best album: Trilogy, Tarkus, Brain Salad Surgery? I tend to side with Trilogy, though at the same time concede that “Karn Evil 9” is the band’s greatest achievement. It may be that Brain lacks the control of a Trilogy, the innocence of a Tarkus, instead surrendering to decadent arrangements that embrace chaos as a friend in the ultimate end. There’s the sense throughout Brain that ELP was trying their best to be confrontational, from the sloppy presentation of “Benny The Bouncer” to the subversive synthesizers used on “Toccata.” Even the electric guitars on “Still… You Turn Me On” are more jarring than they should be. As good as those songs are (and “Jerusalem” is even better), they fall by the wayside when “Karn Evil 9” winds its way into view. Emboldened with the power of Peter Sinfield’s lyrics, ELP seeks to usurp the crown from a distracted King Crimson with this intense, epic spectacle. The circus sideshow imagery played perfectly to the band’s instrumental freak quotient: Lake’s guitars arched high in heroic calls, Palmer’s drums spilling improbably from both speakers, Emerson sounding like an inspired church organist one moment and coaxing a bold new world from his synthesizers the next. Strange happenings and busy goings-on from every corner. While it failed to coalesce like Trilogy, Brain’s ability to layer levels of flash is itself a grand accomplishment; by the end of “Karn Evil 9” we’re teetering at the tip of a huge mountain of excess, dangerously high above the earth and due to topple at any moment. When the inevitable fall comes, it’s no less than the fall of mankind. It’s easy to understand why some champion this Brain, as it’s easily ELP’s most superlative album. The band thrived by excess, and died by it years later, so it’s tempting to make this exhibit A in the show. But Tarkus bespoke the band’s promise better, Trilogy fused the different parts into a sublime whole, while Brain marked the beautiful (and equally tragic) point of no return. It’s an absolutely fascinating train wreck to watch, however, and a true gemini of what’s right and wrong with prog rock.

MC 66669 back cover MC 66669 inner cover MC 66669 lyric sleeve
MC 66669 back cover MC 66669 inner cover MC 66669 lyric sleeve

TRACK LISTING

  1. JERUSALEM    (Music: Parry, Lyrics: Blake, arr. by Emerson, Lake & Palmer)    2:41
  2. TOCCATA (An adaptation of Ginastera's 1st Piano Concerto, 4th movement)    (arr. by keith Emerson, percussion movement by Carl Palmer)    7:16
  3. STILL . . . YOU TURN ME ON    (Greg Lake)    2:50
  4. BENNY THE BOUNCER    (Keith Emerson/Greg Lake/Peter Sinfield)    2:15
  5. KARN EVIL 9, 1ST IMPRESSION - PART 1    (Keith Emerson/Greg Lake/Peter Sinfield)    8:39
  6. KARN EVIL 9, 1ST IMRPESSION - PART 2    (Keith Emerson/Greg Lake)    4:43
  7. KARN EVIL 9, 2ND IMPRESSION    (Keith Emerson)    7:05
  8. KARN EVIL 9, 3RD IMPRESSION    (Keith Emerson/Greg Lake/Peter Sinfield)    9:05

    CD reissue bonus tracks
  9. BRAIN SALAD SURGERY
  10. WHEN THE APPLE BLOSSOMS BLOOM IN THE WINDMILLS OF YOUR MIND, I'LL BE YOUR VALENTINE
  11. EXCERPTS FROM BRAIN...

CREDITS

KEITH EMERSON -- organs, piano, harpsichord, accordion, custom built moog synthesizers & moog polyphonic ensemble, vocals
GREG LAKE -- vocals, bass, Zemaitis electric 6 string and 12 string guitars
CARL PALMER -- percussion and percussion synthesizers
Geoff Young -- engineer
Chris Kimsey -- engineer (5)
H.R. Giger -- original cover painting
Fabio Nicoli Associates -- design and art direction
Rosemary Adams -- photos of Keith, Greg and Carl

return to EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK November 19, 1973 Manticore LP K53501 diecut cover, lyric sleeve
US November 19, 1973 Manticore LP MC 66669 diecut cover, lyric sleeve
GER/NET 1973 Ariola/Manticore LP 87302IT diecut cover, lyric sleeve
US   Atlantic LP/CD/CS SD/CS 19124 reissue
UK 1996 Essential CD ESMCD 344  
US May 21, 1996 Rhino CDX 72459 incl. "The Making of Brain Salad Surgery"
EUR   Sanctuary CD CMRCD 201 w. bonus tracks
JPN 2002 Victor CD VICP-62118 K2 20-bit digital remaster

 

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