Tarkus (Deluxe Edition)

Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Razor & Tie Records, 2012

http://www.emersonlakepalmer.com

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/14/2013

When it comes to reissues, few labels do it as well as Razor & Tie. Not only do they take on a variety of genres and decades, but they always unearth great unreleased music and put it together into one eye catching and informative package. Take Emerson, Lake & Palmer's 1971 classic Tarkus, a masterpiece that is often considered the band's best album. This 2012 box set contains three discs, two of which are previously unreleased, and new liner notes. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The band's sophomore album made the idea of prog-rock a legitimate genre of rock music, influencing legions of similar bands even to this day. Disc one is the original vinyl album remastered, complete with the lead off 21 minute title track. This defining track alone solidified ELP as legends. It is an epic tune with organs, gongs, and atypical time signatures surrounded by instrumentation that was so iconoclastic for the time. Further on in the first disc, the band get more into straight forward rock 'n' roll with “Are You Ready Eddy?,” but not before playing with the honky tonk, comical “Jeremy Bender” or the piano heavy and dramatic “Bitches Crystal” and “The Only Way (Hymn).”

Disc two includes all new alternate versions of the original album. Additionally, three unheard songs are tacked on at the end. “Oh, My Father,” a Greg Lake song about the passing of his father, is a gentle, endearing tune that is so well written it's hard to imagine why it didn't make the cut for the record the first time around. “Unknown Ballad” is also included, much to the dismay of some longtime fans. Though the jury is still out on whether or not this is an actual ELP recording, the piano ballad and quaint melody certainly fits well in this collection. The disc closes out with a mix of “Mass” sans vocals, and it is a must hear for diehard fans.

The final disc is an audio DVD of all the original album tracks in 5.1 surround sound with the alternate versions in high-resolution stereo. When Steven Wilson (of Porcupine Tree) started this task of reworking this early album, he was clearly interested in doing a very thorough job, which we're all better off for. Razor & Tie also reissued ELP's first, self-titled album in 2012 in a similar fashion with the three-disc box set, which is equally as imperative as this. Rumor has it they are going to give similar treatment to the remainder of ELP's catalog in 2013.

Rating: A

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