Brain Salad Surgery
Atlantic Records, 1973
REVIEW BY: Tom Lancing
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/01/1998
When Christopher Thelen asked me to do a review of Brain Salad Surgery by Emerson Lake & Palmer, I leaped head first, ready to go. My first problem was finding the CD I had purchased years ago. Stumbling over storage boxes and searching through mountains of audio tapes, I located the disc and had to blow the dust off of it. (No joke.) I asked myself why I had not included it in the large stable of artists currently residing in my music collection. After listening to the album for the first time in years, the answer came forth with great clarity.
Brain Salad Surgery is a twisted mess of strange and bizarre music that requires the listener to endure, not enjoy. Jumping from classical roots to simple ballads to just plain weird stuff, this album has more twists and curves than the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
The album starts out innocently enough with a track titled "Jerusalem." It's a simple keyboard and vocal song, but that is where the simplicity ends. After that the listener is subjected to a fierce beating of noise and high-paced keyboards.
"Toccata" is an adaption of Ginastera's 1st Piano Concerto, 4th Movement. Or at least that is what the disc says it is. The noise created by this one would be better suited for an Ed Wood film than an album. I had to stop myself several times from calling Chris and telling him I was unable to do the review because the album was too painful to listen to.
The only songs worth anything on the album are "Karn Evil 9, 1st Impression, Part 1" and "Part 2." "Part 2" gets limited air play on AOR radio stations around the country. In fact, when I was working in radio, I would start my show each night with it: "Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends / We're so glad you could attend, come inside, come inside."
Stupid songs like "Benny The Bouncer" are used as filler for the album and are a total waste of time, and with tracks as long as nine minutes on "Karn Evil 9, 3rd Impression," listening to the whole album in one sitting is tough.
I would suggest at anyone interested in this album should look at used CD stores, but I doubt you'll find any there. Why? Because apparently I am the only person insane enough to purchase this album on CD. The album cover should have biohazard and health warnings on the front.
Keith Emerson does provide incredible keyboard work on this disc, but that is where the praise ends. Period! Treat this album like Ebola...... stay away!