Emerson, Lake & Palmer

ARTICLE ABOUT Emerson, Lake and Palmer (ELP) FROM New Musical Express, February 20, 1971

Here`s part two of the very frank and interesting interview with Greg Lake. Enjoy.
Read on!

ELP: So afraid of being thought flash

Part 2 of the Greg Lake interview by Nick Logan

“We would have had hell’s own job getting that band off the ground,” asserted Greg Lake in Part 1 of our interview last week, after his revelations that at one point — before Carl Palmer had been brought in — there were embryonic plans for a musical aggregation comprising himself, Keith Emerson, Mitch Mitchell and Jimi Hendrix. The interview continues from there:
We had enough of a job with ELP, with the big names bit. Like Keith’s name was known; I was from a known successful group and Carl was from Atomic Rooster, who were in the up and coming vibe.
It’s so hard launching a group like that. You have to be super aware all the time. Nothing you do can be at all flash because any hole you leave anywhere, people will be jumping in to tear the heart out of you. When I think of all the good ideas that got thrown out… we were so afraid of being thought flash about it all.
The worst thing was the Festival Hall concert. I mean, it was a great concert man. It was good, we knew it was good and we really enjoyed it. But you read the reviews and wonder if it was really the same gig.

I was just coming round to ask you your opinion of the public and critical response to ELP.

Public response has been incredible. All through the last tour it was like a madhouse, the reception we got. It wasn’t just the applause at the end, they were clapping during numbers. Yet the Press, instead of being fair and saying “Okay now what do people feel about this group?”… the don’t report… they express their own opinion.
It was criticism of a very low level. Okay, there were a couple of good criticisms which were founded.

Can you say what they were?

First thing that comes to mind is “Pictures Of An Exhibition,” which was a classical interpretation, very similar to the kind of thing the Nice used to do. You look to anything Keith used to do and it was somebody else’s work he had interpreted.
That was one mistake. It was not wrong for the band in that I personally enjoyed doing it, but it was wrong because it gave the Press, the critics, a lever. It gave them a way to make comparisons.
“Pictures” is being dropped now because we are creating material ourselves and there’s no longer room for it. We are doing two hours now. Add this next album and we will be on for four hours. People like to hear the current album so what we’ll probably do is drop “Pictures,” do the first album in the first half and the next in the second.

What was the other fair criticism?

The second mistake was the Isle of Wight. We put on a bad performance and we were setting ourselves up for judgement. That would have been okay if we had played well but we couldn’t because the festival itself was so badly organised… the PA and everything… and we rely so much on the equipment being just right.
The criticism there was just, but it was still poor. If they had written in the papers that the band played a bad set because the conditions were not right… but they didn’t. After that we sort of got scrubbed out and nobody took any notice.
The good part about the band was just left unnoticed and it is a source of pride to us that the LP sold an incredible amount of records, and we didn’t push it or hype it in there. It was just bought by people who dug us on the tour.

It could have been a lot worse though, couldn’t it? Other groups…

Oh yeah, Blind Faith. They didn’t even get off the ground.

You must have expected a certain amount of criticism?

Sure I had expected criticism, but it is still a hard pill to swallow. It gets through to you. But I think we have now gone through the stage where people are judging us. And really, I don’t hold it against anybody who scratched us.

Can you talk about the theme of the album track you played. (We’d earlier listened to one side, an extended suite, off the next ELP album).

It’s about the futility of conflict, expressed in this context in terms of soldiers and war — but it’s broader than that. The words are about revolution, the revolution that’s gone, that has happened. Where has it got anybody? Nowhere.
It starts off with frustration, with the 5/4 piece, which in itself is a frustrating metre. The natural beat is four, so the extra beat every time is unnatural. Then it builds up towards the first song which asks the question: Why can’t you see how… stupid it is, conflict?
The next song is about the hypocrisy of it all and the last song is the aftermath, the conclusion of it. What have we gained? The very last bit, the march, is a joke.
It was written in six days and rehearsed in six. It all came very quickly from one idea.

Whose idea?

Keith started the instrumental piece, the 5/4, and I had my song at the very end. We had a beginning and an end. We figured it out on a piece of paper.

Through the whole piece there seems to be a greater balance between the three of you, whereas the first album seemed to break down into individual contributions. Here it is harder to tell where Keith stops and you take over. You must be very pleased with that.

Yeah, the first album was a balance, but it was a balance of individuals. There was Keith and I… but this time it is together. He has written for me and I have written for him. Breaking it down to basics I suppose you could say that the instrumental parts are Keith’s and the songs are mine.
The aim is to achieve a working balance where the output of each person is allowed freedom, yet the total gells as one music. In many bands it happens that one person is musically not satisfied. What we’ve achieved is very pleasing, very pleasing indeed. But we have no clue, none whatsoever, of the second side. We are due in the studio on Tuesday and we have nothing at all.

Will “Picture Of An Exhibition” be included?

Well, we have the tape made by the film people at the Lyceum concert, “Pictures” runs for 40 minutes, and it cost us nothing to make. You see, we don’t want to go back on it and re-record it because that’s a phase that has gone.
We played it last night, probably for the last time. But there are people who want it, so what we might do is put that in as a separate LP with the new album, and not make any extra charge for it.

How pleased were you with your contribution to the first ELP album?

I was very pleased actually. I had my song on the second side and on the group things I was a third of the music. I also produced the album, which was a lot of fun. I was pleased in so far as my personal output got laid down as I wanted it.
I am not pleased with the album now, in that I don’t think it is complete. As I explained earlier, it was down to individuals. But I shall be happy with the new one.
Tell me, why is it that bass players go largely unnoticed? I feel sorry for all bass players; there are some good ones around.

It was always hard to tell from the records what exactly your contribution to King Crimson was.

The trouble is I never got credit for what I did in Crimson. Most of the songs on that King Crimson album (the first) I had a large part in creating “Schizoid Man” – I wrote the riff and song: “Epitaph;” I wrote the melody line for “In The Court Of The Crimson King.”
The things I do are like parts that make up something but don’t necessarily form a large part of the end product. It comes back to the unnoticed bass player. Take him away and see how he’s noticed.
I feel frustrated that my output has to do with the total thing rather than one specific part. I am not really after that sort of superstar recognition. I don’t want to be a solo superstar. I know that sounds corny but the motive I have for being successful is that I want to move people emotionally and I would dig to have enough money to be secure. Yet it is annoying when you don’t get credit for what you do.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com

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ARTICLE ABOUT Emerson, Lake and Palmer (ELP) FROM New Musical Express, February 13, 1971

Here is a really interesting interview with Greg Lake. It is in two parts, and the second part will be posted around a week from now.
Read on!

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Emerson, Lake, Mitchell and Hendrix
The group that might have been

Greg Lake talks to Nick Logan

Greg Lake came to Emerson, Lake and Palmer by way of the original, tempestuous King Crimson, after five “lost” years with various groups on the road.
At his Chelsea mews home, sustained by a constant stream of tea prepared by Greg’s lady, he talked frankly and lucidly about his music and career, of ELP, the personality clashes that tore King Crimson apart and the group that might have been.
Discussing with publicist Mark Fenwick the programme details for ELP’s forthcoming British tour, Greg was at pains to express his disagreement with allotting space for an advertisement. “I just don’t like ads on programmes man. They’re a con.”
That over, we listened first to a tape of one whole side of the next ELP album before talking.

There was some nice guitar work on the tape.

Yes, well I always used to be a guitarist. I only started on bass when I joined Crimso, having dabbled on bass with The Gods. But for 11 years I played guitar.

How did you first meet Bob Fripp?

I’ve known Bob for years and years. He’s from Wimbourne, Dorset, and I’m from Poole, a few miles away. Mike Giles is from round there as well. We were all born in Dorset. Fripp and I went to the same guitar teacher. Bob was working then with Mike Giles.
He was a good guitar teacher but he used to teach Bert Weedon guitar. I stuck it for twelve months. He used to rap us on the knuckles. My parents had invested in a guitar for me, a £7 job, and sent me along to this cat. I remember that I wanted to play Shadows and he wouldn’t have any of it. So I left.
I was in a local group and at the time Fripp was the rated guitarist and I was sort of second known. He started hearing about me and came along to a gig just to check out that I wasn’t any competition for him.
I’d only heard his name. I didn’t know him. He came up and started asking questions about how I played and I didn’t think he knew anything about it and started explaining it to him in layman’s terms how to play that particular style. When I’d finished he took up the guitar and started playing and I found out who he was.
I have great respect for him. I’ve sat and heard him play in his room and he is a brilliant guitarist, possibly the best in the country. Yet he’s never heard on record. No one ever hears what he can do.
What he lays down on record is so limited compared to what is within his ability. There’s this piece by Paganini that’s too fast for anyone to play, yet Bob can play it.

Where were you playing after the school group?

I joined a professional band. I started being a draughtsman for a short time after I left school but they didn’t like me and I didn’t like them. I turned pro and travelled round the country.
They were really hard times. We used to eat these things… these loaves. They’re really great. You take an uncut loaf and cut off the top; then scoop out the inside and give it to the birds or something and then stuff it full of chips, really cram them in.

Giant chip butties?

Yeah… the biggest. You look back on it and tend to remember the funny things like that but it was most unfunny. One night in Carlisle, the next somewhere far south and the next doubling in London, a complete triangle of the country… I mean, that isn’t funny.
We were called The Shame; we had a single, “Don’t Go Away Little Girl” by a writer called Janis Ian. She’s very good.
What I do recall, I remember with a certain amusement, but really I do have a job remembering what happened. There seems to be about five years of my life that just went by like that. I seem to have lost those years somewhere.
The group changed names all the time, all those scenes… it was just hard work. But it was a very good grounding I suppose. It made me very resilient. In the business now you have to be ready for disappointment. If I had not had all these disappointments – like you make a single and really believe it is going to sell – I would not be able to stand disappointments now.
I remember when Crimso split it was a great disappointment but I was able to pull through. My musical career really started with Crimso. I would have been quite happy if my life had started with Crimso.

In between The Shame and King Crimson there was The Gods. What do you remember from that part of your life?

The Gods is similar to a training college, a very poor training college. A lot of musicians came out of The Gods and went on to something better but The Gods never did anything. They completely changed personnel a half a dozen times.

Were you there at the time of Mick Taylor?

He was before me. I was with them about a year. There isn’t a lot to say about that. It wasn’t hard enough to be good for you. It wasn’t a character building thing; just a general nothing. It had no musical point for me. It was just playing music and just managing to live hand to mouth. That sort of thing.
Crimso was the first chance I had, by degree, to express myself musically, and even then I was limited. It was the first time I had ever worked with professional people, with good musicians. And not only good musicians, but good people and it was successful too of course, which makes the whole thing worthwhile.

Had you maintained your friendship with Fripp and Giles over the interim period?

With Bob, but I never have been friendly with Mike Giles. I talk to him, he talks to me, we say hello and are pleasant to each other but I’ve never really known him. Not like I’ve known Bob.
With Bob and I, it’s like I have something he needs and he has something I need. He has will-power and staying power which I lack and I have a sort of spontaneous energy thing which he lacks.
I lived with Fripp when I was with Crimso and I don’t think anybody else in the world could live with Fripp, or me for that matter. It was only for three/four months, which may not seem long, but when you’re in a group and working together too, it’s like living in each other’s pockets all the time.

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Strange band

Crimso was a very strange band. There were four musicians who each had an energy of their own. As musicians we were totally unconnected but we managed to gell for a short period of time.

There were musical as well as personal differences then?

Musical and personal yeah. With Giles, McDonald, Fripp and myself it was 50 per cent musical incompatibility and 75 per cent as people. I felt closer to Bob but respected their talent.
Crimso for me was probably a refining process because I was very raw. With them I began to appreciate the subtleties of music.

After those lost years, you felt out of your depth?

When I joined I was very much out of my depth. It was strange because they were at that time so much better than I was. I feel it evened out later.

The King Crimson split, when Ian McDonald and Mike Giles quit after the American tour, was that personal or musical?

One hundred per cent personal. I think the reasons given were musical directions etc… the real reason was completely a personality thing where Mike and Ian basically were of a different temperament to Bob and myself. That was at the root of it all.
They explained their reasons to Bob and myself in terms of music but really it wasn’t that. I think the tour in America freaked them; they are very quiet people. And in America, the whole thing is aggression.

According to Bob Fripp, Mike and Ian think he is mad….

I think he is too. Not mad insane, but if the criteria of judgement of madness is to be other than the majority he is certainly mad. But it is the kind of madness I prefer.
I don’t think that they are mad. I think that they are weak, and I don’t mean that nastily because weakness can be a quality. But I don’t think they could stomach being in a group, which became too hard to take. Before, working in the studio, we had no pressures.
They didn’t have the resilience of Bob and myself. He is more resilient than I am. He has stuck through the whole thing of Crimso since the split.

Did your decision to leave immediately follow Mike and Ian’s?

When Mike and Ian split, Bob said what should we do now. The thought was that we should get two more players. I had the feeling that we should have just started a new group and forgotten Crimso. That is what Bob should have done. But Bob wanted to work to a situation where he was in the driving seat over other musicians involved, which I can dig but is not for me.
So I left around Christmas after Mike and Ian. I had seen Keith before in America and he said “Had you thought of getting a band together?” Then all these difficulties arose.
Weighing everything up I saw a whole future with Keith and myself, whereas I saw a lot of trouble in the King Crimson thing.

If Mike and Ian hadn’t split do you think you would have stuck with Crimso?

If the band hadn’t split I would have still been with them… even if I didn’t get on with the blokes I would have stayed because that musical force was that important.

The subsequent troubles of Crimso seem to prove your misgivings founded?

Yeah… I foresaw all this. I still feel Bob would have done better to have said “Let’s knock it on the head and start a new band.” He wants to say “I will employ musicians” and any musician good enough for what Bob wants doesn’t want to be employed!
The only way it works is the way we work, Emerson, Lake and Palmer. We have a system where we all agree… I’ve never once had a cross word with Keith and Carl and it works.

When did you first become aware of Emerson’s work?

Oh from a long way back. I followed them from the first days of the Nice. I think his music was the most important factor.
There were two blokes I wanted to play with. One was Jimi Hendrix and the other was Keith, because they both make their instruments talk for them.

Play with Jimi

There was going to be a get together with Hendrix. Keith and I got together in San Francisco. We came back here and spoke to Mitch Mitchell and said this was the band we wanted… myself, Keith, Mitch and Jimi. Mitch got on to Jimi and Jimi was interested and we were going to have a blow.
Mitch was making the contact. We got him round to talk, at Keith’s house, and he had this cat with him… a bodyguard with a gun, man, and it put me off a bit… the whole scene of what he was into. He might have had good reasons for it, but we didn’t pursue it any further.
Jimi was into getting his own band and this thing with Mitchell too… whereas now I’m glad it didn’t happen. We would have had hell’s own job getting that band off the ground.
We had enough of a job with ELP, with the big names bit.

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The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!
1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.
If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

ARTICLE ABOUT Greg Lake (ELP) FROM SOUNDS, May 25, 1974

Here where I am we celebrate Christmas Day today. Nice food and packages for all. I live in an extremely nice country where most people don`t know anything about starving, about war or suffering. My generation won the lottery in regards to where we were born. Time to reflect on that when it is Christmas!
This article had a title that made it sort of natural to post on this day. I am not a Christian, but I respect that people need religion in their life, whether it is for comfort or other reasons that they may have to believe in a God. What is funny is this: What makes people think that their religion is the “right” one among hundreds of religions? Why is YOUR story the right one? Besides, if there is a God, I wouldn`t like to have anything to do with an almighty entity that allows suffering in the world on the scale that we see. Making babies die of AIDS? How can that be anyone`s will? I am sorry. I don`t understand that at all, but you believe in whatever you want to, and I hope that all of you will have the best Christmas ever.
Merry X-mas wherever you are and thank you for reading my blog!

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Star over Jerusalem

And did those feet in ancient time, walk upon England`s mountains green? Well maybe they did, but they`re more often seen firmly planted on stage up to the ankles in Persian rug these days. However, ELP recorded “Jerusalem” on their last album, so Tony Jasper and Greg Lake trod the green slopes outside Liverpool Cathedral to pursue the theme of God v. Rock and Roll.

The two kingdoms of Downtown and God recently met in Liverpool. The latter finds itself in two massive Cathedrals, one, the rather new and spacey Roman Catholic edifice and the second, a large dramatic, red-brick Anglican building. The Downtown kingdom is earthy to its core, well almost. For one thing it`s a travelling circus and this particular occasion represented in the massive musical and electronic armoury called Emerson, Lake and Palmer.
ELP`s 36 tons of equipment was busily searching for breathing space for Liverpool doesn`t really have a hall big enough to cope with what some say is the largest rock show on earth. Greg Lake, singer and lyricist, had escaped from the problems confronting sweating roadies, left the group`s 134-pound church bell, and found refuge on the vaguely green slopes tumbling down in-front of the Anglican Cathedral.
The religious optimist who hopes for a religious rash to break out amongst yer rock brigade might conceivably have the inkling that Mr. Greg Lake was on the verge of shaking hands with the other kingdom. After all perusal of ELP albums suggests Lake not only moves lyrically in a surrealistic vein but does attempt some spiritual songs.
So what are the chances of both kingdoms coming together in Greg Lake? “I can only remember going to Church once in my life, maybe twice. I recall receiving one of those cards on which they put stars to record attendance. Trouble was my first visit saw me beaten up by a mob, not the best of introductions!
“What I`ve done since is brush up every now and then with religion. We`re not buried into the religious thing too much, yet you know it`s something which has always upset me to a degree.

“We recently recorded `Jerusalem` and put it on as the first track of `Brain Salad Surgery`. I mean it`s a beautiful song and it`s one everyone knows and some people might have got some wrong ideas from our recording it. I mean to us it was simple, it hadn`t been recorded by anyone for a long time and we like it and it did give a rounded quality to the album.
“It was in keeping with the kind of majestic atmosphere of the album. As a single it was released before we realised it was out. We didn`t really watch it and it was only a few weeks after that it hit me for it seemed to be getting a lot of airplay. Its release had nothing to do with the fact of other religious type songs having made the hit-parade in the last year or so. As I said to us it was a beautiful song and that`s it.
Lake says it doesn`t matter to him anymore, the organised religious scene, yet paradoxically in our conversation he kept returning to what he considers its world to be about and often linking it with his own writing, for there have been those songs like “Take A Pebble”, “Black Mass” and “From The Beginning”, let alone the references made in the three “Impression Suites” on “Brain Salad Surgery”.
The “fear,” those continually came to the fore for later he almost harps back to his early unfortunate experience of Church, “When you`re small you`re indoctrinated with the thought if you don`t believe in the Almighty you believe there is a terrible penalty to pay. At the age when I could think things for myself I found the Church lacking, what I found myself believing is expressed in my song, `Black Mass`. As to individuals within the Church, their sincerity and honesty, I can`t really comment. I can`t really say every man is a hypocrite, it`s just the organisation.
“It may be changing and adapting to the times, present needs but I think it`s still saying the same thing, if you don`t believe, then you know what.

“I don`t believe it, I don`t subscribe to it. I wish there was something. I think if I did have blind faith then it would make me much happier giving me this security and feeling that whatever happened to me it would be alright.
“There is the line I use on “Brain Salad Surgery” about people pulling Jesus out of the hat and then another one about three bishops` heads in jars!
“When I started serious writing, which I suppose was in the days of King Crimson, my lyrics were very brutal. We were busily observing all the things wrong in the world and the Church was one. I think in a way I have grown out of it. I`ve become more introvert and instead of looking around at the world I tend to look in at myself and see what`s wrong with me.”
Such indeed may be the general feeling of Greg Lake yet there still exists the paradox of his writing lyrics in “Brain Salad Surgery” making overt reference to current bad things in our world, the difference lies in his tendency, as compared to the extreme of Crimson days, to observe and describe suffering rather than build up lines like, `Cat`s foot, iron claw, neuro-surgeons scream for more at paranoia`s poison door` which express a more personal identification with what`s happening.
Lake however does not agree with this analysis, “You may express the feeling of my separation from what I`m describing but I`m not sure if I see it that way. I think the viewpoint is different. I`m not waiting to express myself, the viewpoint can be twofold, it can be me observing everything and me feeling. I am getting more into the latter.
“Sometimes I think what you write is said to somebody and other times it`s just said. Some things are just simple statements and others are meant to communicate.

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“I`m not asking for any long-lasting belief from our people, though some fans do read way beyond what we intend. I mean you take this Jerusalem song. People read way ahead of what I write.
“They come up with most incredible interpretations, there was one going the rounds saying it had to do with the Arab-Jewish situation! I can`t think of anything further from our minds.
“People on the rock scene are these days coming out with songs loaded with often involved lyrics. You have a song like `Give Ireland Back To The Irish` and you wouldn`t have had that kind of thing in the mid-late Fifties. Some of these present-day lyrics can be very good but there are many I`m not too sure about.
“We find, particularly, in America, a lot of fans coming backstage and they know our songs, they are familiar with every word of all that I write and they have their ideas as to what those lyrics mean. What they may think may be far from my intent. I don`t think I can sit around and pencil down all the possible permutations a certain line may or may not have in meaning before I decide to write or issue the respective lyrics.
“Years back, songs said very little, other than giving expression to the familiar boy-girl kind of song. Fifties pop was pretty bare, the songs were not very good and I don`t think we want to return to that era, it would be a retrograde step. I`m slightly amused by the sudden implanting of sacredness upon much of the early stuff.”
So, if you like, for some ELP fans there is a kind of holy lore, the unauthorised scriptures compiled by Greg Lake, printed and given free of charge with several of the million selling ELP albums.
And if you ask whether ELP like other major groups have a kind of cult following, albeit modern day music disciples of the downtown kingdom, then Lake will only say it`s obvious the trio have enormous following, that they find no difficulty in filling their show.
And if you suggest ELP could be a travelling show with lots of gear, lights, sound effects and big star treatment but not much else you are liable to receive a baleful stare from Greg Lake. Well, he will admit the show aspect, “Remember what I said earlier about the Church having its show. Whatever else I might say its show is a good one, otherwise it wouldn`t have lasted so long! I mean it`s got a good bag of tricks. I think our format has some similarities, plenty of colour and content, that last word is important.

“One thing though, we draw totally different audiences! When we do a show it`s almost entirely a two-way communication. It may sound strange but this may be found more in playing in-front of the large festival audience. They seem more together, part of a sharing event.”
Lake however doesn`t take too kindly continual ELP features which concentrate on the surface pomp and splendour. It seems one reason why the group members give only rare interviews. He has a basic mis-trust for much of the musical press and feels considerable sympathy for someone like Jethro Tull, a group which received a considerable pasting a few years back.
So ELP have been to Liverpool these past few weeks. They didn`t play the Cathedral but remembering the Dean was a few years back a Soft Machine addict and possessing a considerable knowledge of the current rock machine could we see the two kingdoms shaking hands by an away visit from ELP in a Cathedral concert?
“We have played one church, at least I think so! I don`t think they are the places for us to play. I think they`re the wrong environment for us. I mean acoustically, they`re great for organs and church choirs but not electronic equipment. Much of the sound would go straight up, it wouldn`t travel.”
Not too bright a prospect – a conceivable coming together, though the Cathedral could certainly house the 36 tons of equipment! And I suppose those Lake lyrics have little sympathy for the things of God, to sing them within Cathedral confines might awake the same kind of criticism which greeted the once possible appearance of dear Tony Blackburn on Songs of Praise. After all “Black Mass” has some harsh things to say about organised religion but then it`s doubtful if ELP is whiter than white.

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Goldie Zelkowitz, Curtis Knight, Simon Alexander, Steely Dan, Chris Stainton, Ronnie Lane, Elliott Murphy, Loudon Wainwright, Tim Buckley, Steve Miller, Beach Boys, Tommy Vance, Jim Simpson, Stefan Grossman, Lynsey de Paul, Mott the Hoople, Kevin Ayers, Dave Cousins.

ARTICLE ABOUT Carl Palmer (ELP) FROM SOUNDS, January 26, 1974

This very influential drummer has played for The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Atomic Rooster, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Asia, and has really made his mark as one of the most influential drummers in the world. Reading this article you can understand why when you take into account his serious approach to his profession. This is not someone in it just for the fame, fortune and easy access to girls. A good read.

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Carl: Doing it first

Exclusive by Pete Erskine

Cracking the Manticore complex is something like breaking and entering Fort Knox with a butter knife and a pair of plastic specs. Manticore is E.L.P.`s record company. It performs the usual record company functions but with an air of dense but organised chaos and a careful screening process – on all levels – maintains a frustratingly efficient protective role.
It is, of course, only another extension of the band`s “positive” philosophy – of permitting only the good, constructive things to actually break through and reach them. It is also a part of their policy of total co-ordination and, apparently, total control – a theme that passes through almost everything they seem to be involved with from press relations to promotion to marketing to management and so on right through to the music and all the facets of touring and stage production. They are undeniably slick and undeniably it works and that`s probably what puts people off; it intimidates them, it makes them suspicious, it makes them jealous.
People I know are resentful that an operation of these proportions always wins through in terms of constant sales and popularity above lesser known, looser, but maybe just as talented outfits. The music may not be to everyone`s taste but the band`s attitude and commitment to the same is surely worthy of respect. You can write it off as ego and a lust for supremacy but there is a genuine desire to experiment and, individually, for the musicians to further their personal musical boundaries.
All of which sounds like preaching and the usual press cant, but talking to Carl Palmer earlier in the week one begins to realise the validity of the band`s approach to their work and their heavy investment in the musical ideal; being bigger and better than the competition may be good for one`s self, but it also means that the public is getting a better deal too.

“I think we got a little more showy on the American tour,” says Palmer, inspecting a tube of ointment. He has a growth on the palm of his right hand. “But it added rather than detracted from what we were doing. I mean I think visuals are really effective if they relate to what you`re doing… and not just there for their own sake, like with some of the things Alice Cooper uses.”
Contemporary ELP visuals, aside from overall group lighting and individual footlights, comprise a white baby grand, upon which Emerson rises and revolves whilst playing Chopin`s “Revolutionary”, a computer, programmed to repeat a section of “Karn Evil 9” with increasing rapidity until it dissolves with a thundercrack and belch of smoke, a revolving drum rostrum and… in a way, Carl`s custom-built stainless steel drum set. The piano is merely a humorous device, to provide contrast and to poke fun at the whole concept of gimmickry, the computer, according to Emerson, is a counter to those accusations of ELP as a “mechanical band”, in that it becomes obvious that Emerson`s rendition of the particular phrase and the computer`s are separated totally by the factor of human touch and feeling and human expression. It also is relevant to the theme, both directly lyrical, and indirectly musical, of “Karn Evil 9”. The revolving rostrum is almost purely visual, but has its practical side too – in that Carl is elevated to eye level with the other two, and, in circular stadiums, where part of the audience might be looking down on the band from the back, they, too, get a chance to see what`s going on.
“The drums were made in London,” explains Palmer, “and no drum companies were involved – mostly because they`d look at it from a commercial mass-production point of view, whereas I`m looking at it from a purely personal view, almost eliminating most of the practical aspects.
“A metalworking firm made the stainless steel shell, which is about quarter of an inch thick and this means that the total weight approaches something like two and a half tons. The thing is that it`s such a true sound, unlike a wooden shell.

“I`ve been experimenting for quite a while and I`ve found that most wooden drums were okay a few years ago but they just didn`t give that constant sound. With stainless steel, for me personally, the drums project a lot more. They have more top frequencies. I have them tuned quite tightly, unlike the heavy rock and roll drummers who go for the fat flabby sound.
“The idea for the engravings came from a hunting rifle I saw one day with a couple of foxes jumping over a fence and I thought it would make it more personalised. I left most of the actual drawings to an engraver. He drew them first and we went over them together. It adds a touch of quality. It`s very bizarre and it`s very extravagant but it is something that I`ve always wanted.
“I`ve been playing 13 years this coming March and I`ve always wanted to build my own kit. I know exactly what I want and I have the money now to afford it, so I figure why not have the Rolls-Royce drum kit?
“The biggest innovation with this kit, though is that it`s part-electric. I`ve been working on that for such a long time and was sort of let down so many times – well, not so much let down, more that the people helping me didn`t have time to take it any further. Bob Moog was very busy at the time. He gave me a prototype drum. On the floor it had five buttons which you pushed to change the sound. That was okay, but say you wanted to play all those sounds really quickly in succession you`d have to be a tap dancer.
“What I did was to transfer all the sounds I wanted to each individual drum. I`ve therefore managed to get five electronic drum sounds that are pure electronic rhythmic impulses… another drum plays a sequence, a series of 14 notes that repeat on the 14th and I managed to produce two counters. One counter plays a long bass note when you strike it while the other plays a pattern that`s a little more complicated. The whole thing operates through a simple on-off button.

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“It has to be done doesn`t it? I mean, people have left drums alone for so long. My main thing has always been to be a musical drummer; I`ve always preferred a musical approach to the basic heavy rock rhythmic playing. I can`t slate those kind of players because they`re good for what they do but I`ve always thought maybe I should use gongs and tubular bells and timps onstage… and I thought to myself that if I was going to take that approach I should have a very futuristic approach as well as developing the instrument I play.
“It just seems like a logical progression. My reason for doing it also lies with the fact that I wanted to be the first to record something on an electric drum set – which I did on `Brain Salad Surgery`.
“I don`t believe in it totally because I believe more in symphonic drumming – tuned percussion. I just have this thing in me that I like to do things first whether I believe in them 100 per cent or not. I believe in the product, but as far as drumming becoming electronic in the future, well I don`t believe that will happen; I believe it`ll be used only as an effect.
“The main thing about English drummers – they`re changing now, and I hope it`s through something I might`ve done – up to about two years ago the fact was that they`d be using, perhaps, two bass drums and a couple of small tomtoms or maybe one bass drum and a tomtom in front and one on the floor and I always thought this had to be wrong in today`s music; there can`t be enough colour there. When you think of how many notes the piano`s got and how many notes you can reproduce on the guitar yet the drummer`s got next to nothing, it doesn`t add up.
“That`s when I decided to introduce these concert tomtoms which range from a drum that`s six inches in diameter to a drum that`s 18 inches. It goes 6, 8, 10, 12 inches, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18 inches. They provide an awful lot of scope which is something that was missed over here.

“The idea originated after hearing Elvis, who I really dig. He`s got an amazing rock and roll band – true rock and roll musicians you know, with that guitarist James…”
“Burton?”
“Yes, James Burton, and an amazing drummer and I heard these, these concert tomtoms, being played on a record of his and it just freaked me out… and `Hawaii Five-O`, that series, that`s got them too. Lots of people are using them now and it`s a good thing because as a drummer I`m into being an instrument rather than a rhythmic device… hence you have to develop your instrument further and have more of it around you; my attitude to playing in this band is as a percussionist in an orchestra; that`s how I think of myself. I try and do the job of four percussionists. I`m not just into the funky stuff and I`m not just into the technical thing that I`ve always been labelled with – I`m really into the whole spectrum.
“So many drummers are into the funky thing and the technical thing but they don`t quite make the musical approach which is warranted these days…”
In fact, having seen Palmer in action at Madison Square Garden one of the first things that seemed obvious was his seeming ability to tackle an enormous range of styles and feels with equal ease. There were sections, apart from the previously recorded material – In “Tarkus” and “Take A Pebble” where the band hit into piano-orientated sections touching on old George Shearing material and Carl would tap out that fast swing… and there`s the barrelhousing “Benny The Bouncer” where he`d employ fast brushwork… and there were even odd little blues/jazz sections reminiscent of the Nice where he`d strike up a harder more funky approach. His timing and edge are both immaculate, and effortless.

“That technical thing kills me, though,” he continues, “okay it`s partly true you know. If people want to say am I a fast drummer, have I got a great technique, then, yes, it is true, right, and I don`t mind saying it, but some people have said that I`m not funky and that`s unbelievably wrong. What I`ve done, and what people haven`t seen, is to try and open up more than just being a funky drummer or just being a technical drummer. I`ve tried to push it forward and especially on this album – percussion as more of an intricate instrument rather than the knocking nails in routine.
“Like Jimi Hendrix – the reason why he made the guitar so famous was that he wasn`t simply putting it through a straight stack, he was putting it through a fuzz box and wah-wah and he`d got certain things specially made up and so on. He was trying to better the instrument and so am I – technically and in terms of playing.
“Tuition,” he adds, “has been incredibly beneficial”. I had wondered whether on the contrary, it could lead a person into thinking only along set lines, rather than broadening his experience. Palmer has two a week one at the Guild Hall and one privately round at his tutor`s house.
“It`s given me more scope musically and furthered my musical ability,” he adds. “It hasn`t inhibited me at all in anything I`ve done. Personally I think it`s a very valid thing for people not just to have classical tuition, because there are so many things you can learn that you couldn`t possibly pick up yourself, and I`ve reached the point now where I can switch on and play something musical… or anything really. I never close myself off; I try to get the most out of the things I learn and apply them at the right time. It depends on what I`m playing, but the way I`m playing at any given moment is the way I`m thinking. The minute you close yourself off to anything, you`re burning your bridges.
“The nature of my instrument tells me that to be a percussionist I need to be able to play all forms of music – to know I can back anybody at a minute`s notice… unlike people who play pianos and other kinds of instrument who probably tend to lean more on one particular line.
“Quite honestly, too, I want to be greedy about it. I want to be the best jazz drummer, the best technician, the best rock drummer and the best musical drummer.”

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Bob Dylan, Status Quo, Ralph McTell, Incredible String Band, Kiki Dee, Marc Bolan, Jethro Tull, Pointer Sisters.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Keith Emerson (ELP) FROM SOUNDS, December 29, 1973

Certain parts of the rock community and classical music have always had a close relation, and this article proves it when it comes to the the music of ELP who were being led by the musical genius that was Keith Emerson. There was speculation that he took his own life because he worried that he wouldn`t be able to play as good as the fans deserved because of an illness that troubled him late in life. You could call that “high ambition” but you could also call it “depression” and “Mental illness”. I believe the latter is true. Still, at 71, he outlived the composer, Ginastera, who is mentioned in the article. Alberto Evaristo Ginastera was an Argentine composer of classical music. He is considered one of the most important 20th-century classical composers of the Americas. Born in Buenos Aires in 1916 to a Spanish father and an Italian mother, he often used traditional Argentine musical elements in his compositions. He left behind a huge production when he died in Geneva at the age of 67.

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Silent nights in America

Pete Erskine talks to Keith Emerson

Having spent the best part of a week hustling upwards of a dozen people for an interview with either Keith Emerson or Greg Lake, and having secured an audience with the former, shock and horror, but what should happen but your reporter`s tape machine blows out. Hence this interview was conducted, as a repeat, in adverse conditions, on the plane home.

Who is Alberto Ginastera?

About four years ago I was in Los Angeles doing one of these spectacular Hollywood Television productions which was being organised by Jack Good – it was about the time that mixed media was all the rage and everyone was getting into the thing that rock groups and classical orchestras were all the thing, let`s do a television spectacular on it.
Whilst I was over there I met Zeuben Maiter, Daniel Barenbaum and Jaqueline Duprez and lots of other people. This particular piece was being played by the pianist who did the world premier Ginastera`s first piano concerto and I happened to just grab the last part of it and afterwards I spoke with the pianist and it was very interesting to look at the part.
When I got back to England I managed to get hold of the piano music and I just worked on it in my own leisure time, not really intending to do it – it was just sort of something to play. Carl had always wanted to do a percussion piece which was well arranged and it wasn`t until we were getting this new album together that I realised that this was the ideal number because it`s percussive anyway – in the original there`s lots of pounding piano – it`s a very hairy piece of music so I rang him up and played it to him on the telephone and he liked it quite a lot and at rehearsals I played it on the organ and everyone was well into it. So I talked about arranging it, making strict observations on how Ginastera himself had written it and the rules that he had laid down for this particular piece of music were very strict.

So it had to meet with his approval before you could actually play it or record it?

Well, the thing that came across to me was that it can only be performed with the tympany set up here and the pianos were set up here and everything was laid out on this chart. The actual movement which I was arranging was well laid out to the number of bars and the whole thing was in `Rondo` form so in arranging this I had to adhere strictly to the rules. I didn`t want to adulterate his music in any way.

Is the version you`ve arranged very different to his own version?

There are reasons why all of it has not been used. There are various repeats which I`ve missed out and in some cases I`ve done repeats where he hasn`t. This was done because for the stage version I would be playing it on the organ and for various things to be audible I had to do this. There was a hassle there because he`s written it for piano and the piano has a far greater octave range than the organ so things had to be altered that way round.
Eventually we got the whole thing together as I`d done with Aaron Copland`s “Hoe-Down” I sent a tape to Copland (I`d not met him personally because I was out of the country) this time I wrote a letter to Ginastera and sent it care of Boosey and Hawkes the Publishers. They read the letter and said that they understood that I wanted it doing very quickly and they thought it would be much quicker for me to go and see him.
The next day I was off the plane with Stewart Young, armed with a tape recording and met Ginastera and I was quite nervous about meeting the guy face to face and playing his music to him. I had dinner with him and he was quite familiar with this electronic equipment because he`d worked in Argentina on these things and after dinner we got him to play the music. He couldn`t quite believe his ears at the start of it and then listening to it the second time through he said that it was fantastic, you captured the essence of my music.
I flew back to England and I was over the moon and I told the rest of the guys what had happened and they were knocked out. In the early days of the band we were sometimes referred to as a classical rock band and my reasons playing classical music are that when I write a piece of music (and it can take six months to do it) it`s a refreshing change to play a different piece of music. I have a liking for classical music as much as I have a liking for jazz but it is refreshing to play something that somebody else has written and in my experience people have usually related that to earlier recordings.
As far as my own writing is concerned I think I can modestly say that it`s completely my own without any direct link or even a snatch from anything else which is classical. One example which made me slightly up tight was that when we were in America I heard one of our Baleros played over the radio at the end of which the D.J. said that it was Ravel`s Balero assuming that because I happened to call this piece of music a Balero he assumed that it was Ravel`s Balero. But on reference, if you compere the two there`s a different harmonic structure with mine and different time, signature, everything is totally different.

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Is the band wholly satisfying for you?

Yes, they are. My musical education has been such I started off playing by ear, long before I had piano lessons. My first recollection I have is of an old upright piano being shipped into the house and my father played it and I used to imitate him and pick out my own tunes. When my father saw me trying to busk he asked me if I wanted to be taught and the next thing I knew (I was about eight at the time) this old dear of about 80 came round and started giving me lessons. It was a bit of a drag but I went along with it because it went along with my schooling.
I took it up to the age of about 14 – I played a bit of guitar and then I realised that because I could only play a few basic chords I couldn`t really entertain people. I realised that I could do a lot more at the piano because to me it was really more of a solo instrument so I went back to it but I really still wasn`t turned on to classical music. My first liking for the piano was hearing the jazz pianists and mixing with other local jazz musicians and developing my taste accordingly. Nothing at that stage on the pop scene interested me at all.

Does anything on the pop scene interest you today?

Nothing at all. My record collection at home doesn`t really consist of anything that interests me or turns me on except something like Steeleye Span which I think are really original, plus a bit of Frank Zappa. I`ve heard Weather Report, Joe Zawinul is great, I`ve got recordings of him when he played with Cannonball Adderley – I dug him then, he`s capable of a lot more and on this Weather Report album I`ve got he doesn`t do a lot.

Do you think that this is part of the trend today away from heavy instrumental dexterity back to a simplicity of feel?

Yes, you can`t rule out the fact that this is an overall sound effect. I think that when you listen to something of Miles Davis, you`ve got to listen to the overall effect not just analyse this bit or that bit. Possibly what Miles Davis is asking for is a new look, an overall look at everything, be patient and wait for something to happen – maybe I`ll give it to you and maybe I won`t. Which is possibly the way music should be. It`s usually a very spontaneous thing and as Eric Dolphy once said, music once it`s played, it`s gone, it`s gone through the air and you can never capture it again. I think that it`s a very valid point – it`s there for the moment, it`s not a lasting thing.
I mixed with a lot of jazz musicians and my earliest influences came from them. I started playing with local bands, and trios in some of the sleazy places. At least we could play the music that we wanted to play. Very gradually, pop music began to take on to me what you might pretentiously call, a culture. Studying people like Muddy Waters, Memphis Slim, it was getting more interesting as blues was being brought into pop music and suddenly I took an interest and I started getting into it. But my early days were such that I wasn`t really playing what I wanted to play and I don`t think any bands those days could play what they wanted to play.

Are you really playing now what you want to play?

Well, I`ll get round to that. It was in those early days that I`d go off and play the piano and there`d always be people there who were listening and they`d say why don`t you play that on stage? And my excuse would be, you`ve got to be kidding… but then when I formed the Nice I thought well, why can`t I play that on stage? I`m cheating myself, I`ve really got to do this and Pete Jackson was with me and we both had the same idea. So the Nice was formed with that policy and it`s stuck with me ever since.
We did our first gigs and they were really hell, we played the Soul Clubs where the D.J. would do his bit and the band would come on and then the D.J. would come back again. But having made that policy I`ve stuck to it rigidly and anything that I`ve liked I`ve played and I think possibly the audience have broadened their tastes. This broadening of audience acceptance started to be brought about by people like the Beatles, George Harrison`s association with interesting Indian Music.

Do you think that the things done with rock bands and classical music ever worked?

John Lord`s concerto and the “Five Bridges” thing were both done round about the same period and I really admired John Lord`s writing on that concerto. I thought that he scored that orchestra beautifully and I told him… and he slung a bouquet of flowers back at me and said he liked the “Five Bridges” thing… I did it on lots of occasions… I did it in Los Angeles with Zeuben Maiter, as I`ve already said I did it twice in England, once we recorded it live and then once I did it with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall but on both occasions there were so many hassles mainly because we were dealing with the musicians union which is tough. They`re unco-operative about getting rehearsals together. Even when we were called back for an encore some of the guys were looking at their watches and leaving the stage. The second time we did it the orchestra refused to come back on to do an encore and we had to come back on just on our own and improvise something to keep people happy.
All this just put me off from working with them again – I may well do but it`s got to be under a different situation. At the time I wasn`t really that concerned about whether it worked or not. I looked on it as the establishment against the anti-establishment. Here was a loud rock band battling hell out of these old conservatives in their penguin suits. There was a slight balancing problem with the orchestra – I`m quite happy with how the recorded version turned out. What really made it so enjoyable, you could get these guys to do almost anything – we were doing a piece from “2001” and I got them to all stand up on their seats throw their music up in the air and play each others instruments and they completely freaked out for just one minute.

I get the impression that this current tour has been incredibly carefully worked out in every respect…

It has to be. The lighting has to be pretty well together mainly `cos they can`t improvise. There were just a few minor changes that had to be made at the beginning of the tour. Like originally the piece with the moog at the end finished with it panning the theme from the third movement of “Karn Evil” and we left the stage, but people didn`t understand it. We needed some sort of finality to the set, to make the point. Another thing was that one of the numbers had to be transposed down a tone or so because Greg got laryngitis or broke his vocal chords trying to sing the number. I still like the improvisation parts… they differ from night to night.

Having just played a string of concerts, though, is the attraction still there?

Oh yes. It`s going to take me some time to relax. I could play another concert tonight. I don`t feel as if I`ve just worked six weeks…

Has this stage act got across better than the last one?

We`ve experimented an awful lot you know and tried various things, some of which have worked and some haven`t, but, as I was saying this morning, like a lot of bands around at the moment I would consider “safe” bands, but we`ve done an awful lot and risked a lot of things, like on the European tour with that praesenium and lugging around 70 roadies.

Do you risk things musically as well?

Sometimes. At Madison Square we went on and we did those things with the choir and a whole bunch of other sections without rehearsing them.

We were saying about “Karn Evil 9”. Do you think it`s come across as you intended it to?

Well, as we said, there`s only been a slight change in that to provide the people who`ll only have seen it once all year with a strong impression. The stage ending doesn`t take away from the meaning of the piece but it was very necessary to do this for the live performance; on the actual recording it was left as an unanswered question, because obviously with the subject we`re handling there is no answer…

How does it feel when the audience reacts to the effects in the show sometimes to a greater degree than some of the finer more subtle instrumental solos?

It`s important for me to put the point across of the difference between a machine playing the theme in relation to what we play and trying to drive the point across to the audience that it`s computors and things which are making them redundant. And I purposely programmed the synthesiser to play the theme that we just played to make the effect more pronounced. We also wanted to counter, in a way, accusations in the past that ELP are “Mechanical” in their music. I can base what I`m talking about on fact as, like when I left school I worked on IBM equipment and I was going to learn to become a programmer for these things, but, man, it was so boring. I purposely used to put faults in the machine to brighten up a dull day.

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Some very interesting bands in small locations on the menu…

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Leo Sayer, Tim Bogert, Gallagher&Lyle, The Who, Deep Purple, Magma.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.