SD 19121 Tarkus
Produced by Greg Lake
Released on June 14, 1971
UK CHART POSITION #1 . . . US CHART POSITION #9
Find it at GEMM
SD 19121 cover  

E LP heads into uncharted territory on Tarkus, pushing the limits of music that a trio might aspire to (as opposed to achieve, where Cream still reigned supreme). What it all means is anyone’s guess, and it may be nothing more than a mosaic of highfalutin’ instrumental workouts and pretentious pronouncements. Remarkably, none of that’s really important. What is important is the faith that the music inspires in its musicians and, by extension, its audience. You get the sense that ELP approached Tarkus as their magnum opus (until the next magnum opus, anyway), and it’s this spirit of elevated creativity that fuels Tarkus. The side-long “Tarkus” starts with a clear beginning, in the spirit of creation with a single sound that soon explodes into life, and from there the band fuses Emerson’s instrumental passages (often held together by improvisation) with Lake’s songs (not far removed from his work with King Crimson). The arrangements themselves are at best bone and sinew, Emerson’s piano providing the color against Palmer’s superlative, dry drumming and Lake’s incidental bass lines. When the band does reach sublime heights, it’s often on the strength of Lake’s stalwart voice, resolute in a maelstrom of sound. Note that the inner gatefold features what purports to be a visual interpretation of the Tarkus story; if you can make heads or tails out of it, let me know. The second side seeks to defuse the pomposity of the previous saga with the irreverent “Jeremy Bender,” to be savored as a cherished oddity. “Bitches Crystal” returns to the haunting grounds of side one, and remains a favorite among fans. What follows next is a miniature epic: “The Only Way” (which questions God) and the instrumental “Infinite Space,” which follows a more structured and restrained path than the explosive moments around it (they would revisit this style on songs like “Jerusalem,” perhaps the remnant of some fiery country parson still in their blood). The wonderful “A Time And A Place” (file under epic) and “Are You Ready Eddy?” (which immortalizes engineer Eddy Offord) close the album, every ounce of energy drained. By turns funny, profound and profane, Tarkus marks the arrival of greatness in the annals of ELP. That it’s a self-proclaimed greatness seized by the sheer will of youth, and not the hoary crown passed down by the unclean fingers of doddering critics, no doubt hastened the band’s downfall to its current, unenviable state of disrepute. But Tarkus is a reminder that ELP walked tall at a time when censorious hands had yet to stick a knife in their back.

SD 19121 inner gatefold SD 19121 back cover
SD 19121 inner gatefold SD 19121 back cover

TRACK LISTING

  1. TARKUS
       I. Eruption    (Keith Emerson)    2:43
       II. Stones of Years    (Keith Emerson/Greg Lake)    3:43
       III. Iconoclast    (Keith Emerson)    1:16
       IV. Mass    (Keith Emerson/Greg Lake)    3:09
       V. Manticore    (Keith Emerson)    1:49
       VI. Battlefield    (Greg Lake)    3:57
       VII. Aquatarkus    (eith Emerson)    3:54
  2. JEREMY BENDER    (Keith Emerson/Greg Lake)    1:41
  3. BITCHES CRYSTAL    (Keith Emerson/Greg Lake)    3:54
  4. THE ONLY WAY (HYMN)    (Keith Emerson/Greg Lake, themes used in intro and bridge only from J.S. Bach's Toccata in F and Prelude VI)    3:50
  5. INFINITE SPACE (CONCLUSION)    (Keith Emerson/Carl Palmer)    3:18
  6. A TIME AND A PLACE    (Keith Emerson/Greg Lake/Carl Palmer)    3:00
  7. ARE YOU READY EDDY?    (Keith Emerson/Greg Lake/Carl Palmer)    2:09

    Arranged & directed by ELP

CREDITS

KEITH EMERSON -- Hammond organ, St. Marks church organ, piano, celeste, moog synthesiser
GREG LAKE -- vocals, bass, electric & acoustic guitar
CARL PALMER -- drums, assorted percussion
Eddy "Are You Ready" Offord -- engineer
William Neal -- paintings

return to EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK June 14, 1971 Island LP ILPS 9155 gatefold cover
US/CAN June 14, 1971 Cotillion LP SD 9900 gatefold cover
GER 1971 Island LP 85527  
UK/GER 1974 Manticore LP K43504 gatefold cover
GER 1974? Manticore LP 87225XOT  
US   Atlantic LP/CS SD/CS 19121 gatefold cover
MEX   Atlantic LP GWEA 5026  
THAI   First LP FL 2078  
US   Atlantic CD SD 19121  
US Nov/Dec 1993 Victory CD/CS 80016 digital remaster
US 1994 Mobile Fidelity CD UDCD-598 24-kt original master recording
UK 1996 Essential CD ESMCD 341 digital remaster
US May 21, 1996 Rhino CD 72224  
UK 2001 Castle CD CMRCD 166 digital remaster
JPN November 25, 2002 JVC Victor CD VICP-62115 20-bit K2 digital remaster

 

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