Up Close With ELP - 6/3/1992
AT&T presents "Up Close".
(Ladies and Gentlemen - Emerson Lake and Palmer - intro to Peter Gunn plays in background)
Announcer: Emerson Lake and Palmer have just released their 12th album, the first since they disbanded in 1979. The Album is called "Black Moon". Here's the band's bassist, guitarist and vocalist - Greg Lake:
GL: It originally started with an approach by a friend of ours called Phil Carson who's just formed a new record label called Victory. He approached us on the basis of doing a film score - which we agreed to do.
Announcer: But here's keyboard whiz Keith Emerson:
KE: I'd been working with a lot of material in California with a guy called Kevin Gilbert. And when we got together for this film project, he had the music to it and liked it so it was a starting point.
Announcer: Drummer Carl Palmer:
CP: There was no preconceived ideas of what we should play. It was something that happened quite naturally. Once we were in the room after a two or three week period and we started thinking about whether or not it should be individual tracks. I mean it was that conversation, but apart from that, the whole thing kind of went along in a kind of natural moment really.
(Background music - Black Moon)
Announcer: I'm Dan Near - Over the next two hours we'll be visiting with these three musicians who helped define the term progressive music in the '70s. Welcome to Media America presentation of Emerson Lake and Palmer - Up Close. That's the title track from ELP's latest compact disc "Black Moon". Since their last studio recording, 1979's "Love Beach", recording technology has moved ahead by leaps and bounds. Carl Palmer:
CP: When technology is advancing - there are ways of using it to benefit the sound in a big way.
Announcer: Greg Lake:
("Romeo and Juliet" in background)
GL: One of the interesting advantages of the technology this time was the capture of the performances early in the day. I mean a lot of this album was initially recorded during rehearsals and because of the fact that we were putting it down onto software, it was we were able to capture early performances rather than having to rehearse the thing into oblivion. So that you could take it in the studio and get it all down, you know, in no time. Like the first time, and it brought about, you know, like a feeling of spontaneity to the record. To capture the early sharp performances and then to address the little issues - the small things - at a later stage.
("Footprints in the Snow")
Announcer: "Footprints in the Snow" from "Black Moon" - Here's Greg Lake.
GL: A song like "Paper Blood" for instance - I was driving my car one day. I pulled up at some lights and on the right hand - it's little things that you just see that flash into your mind - a car pulled up - it was a chauffeur and there was a dog in the front seat. He was driving this dog. And on the left of me was a man picking out some food out of the dustbin. And it was the most ridiculous sight I've ever seen. And it was on the one side, a chauffeur driven dog and on the other side a guy with no food. And I thought to myself, "That's money. That's terrible, that's money. It's like blood - paper blood. And from the title - from that came the song.
("Paper Blood" is played)
Announcer: "Paper Blood" from "Black Moon". We'll draw more blood with the "Knife Edge" when Emerson Lake and Palmer Up Close returns. Up Close is being brought to you by AT&T - proud sponsor of the 1992 US Olympic Team, and by Budweiser - the King of Beers for that clear cold taste - nothing beats a Bud.
("The Barbarian" is played)
Announcer: Emerson Lake and Palmer had already achieved a great deal of success in bands prior to the foundation of ELP. Here's Greg Lake.
GL: ELP started when I was in a band call King Crimson and we had an album called "In the Court of the Crimson King.". And Keith was in a band called the Nice and we - were both bands were playing at Bill Graham's Fillmore West in San Francisco. And coincidentally, both bands were reaching the end of their careers for one reason or another.
Announcer: Keith Emerson.
KE: There was an opportunity for me to check him out and him to check me out - have a chat
GL: We met back after the show. And started talking, you know, about the possibility of working together. We said , you know, wouldn't it be fantastic if we could really find the right drummer, you know, in the situation to form a three-piece band and see if we could break through some new music.
KE: We continued that chat when we got back to England and looked for drummers.
Announcer: That drummer was Carl Palmer who had made his bones with the Crazy World of Arthur Brown and Atomic Rooster. This was the result of the union.
Announcer: "Knife Edge" from Emerson Lake & Palmer. The pre-eminent status of the threesome in the rock community brought them very quickly into the center ring - Greg Lake.
GL: The very first show I remember, was in a place called Plymouth in the west of England. And a very nervous occasion that was. And the very next day we played the Isle of Wight Festival.. And that was really where the band hit the world stage. Um, you know, it was an unusual group. I suppose. All of us were to an extent known and Whack! You know the press picked up on it and we were blasted about the world in a short space of time. Then it all seems like a blur, you know. It was non-stop work without any respite, really.
Announcer: In the midst of this non-stop touring their first album was recorded. Keith Emerson:
KE: I had this uncanny feeling that something weird was expected from us. So I wasn't about to do something pretty normal like writing pop tunes. I just carried on the way I had been doing really with the Nice, but with Greg's input and Carl's input it took on another direction really.
("Take a Pebble")
Announcer: "Take a Pebble" from Emerson Lake and Palmer's first album.
GL: This is Greg Lake here of Emerson Lake and Palmer. Up Close will be right back.
Announcer: You're listening to Emerson Lake and Palmer Up Close. This is Greg Lake.
GL: When we were recording the first record, we got to the end of the record and we were one track short of the requirement, you know. And we sort of looked at each other in the recording studio and asked "Has anybody got any ideas. No, No, Nor have I " And I said, well look - if it's - well if push comes to shove, I've got this song that I wrote when I was very young. I played it and there was these looks of disbelief flying about the studio. And so, we said, well, we'll give it a try anyway. Carl and I went at it. And it was just acoustic guitar and drums, and then Keith listened to it and said "You know that could be quite good!"
Announce: Keith Emerson.
KE: At the end I just happened to stick a Moog solo on the end of it. It was really off the top of my head and Greg said, that's fantastic. I said what's fantastic - I was only doodling around. He said no, I like that. I said no, I want to do it again. You know if you want to put a Moog solo at the end at least let's put something decent on the end of it. And he said that is absolutely terrific. I like what that is. I said fine, and to this day, I can't believe it, but every one loves that solo.
("Lucky Man" plays)
Announcer: "Lucky Man" from the top 20 album "Emerson Lake & Palmer". The follow up "Tarkus" climbed into the top 10. Greg and Carl on about to tell us about a song from the album called "Jeremy Bender".
GL: For some reason, Keith always came up with these sort of funny pieces of music
CP: It's when - he can't write any more basically - He
GL: Yeah, when he runs out of ideas he starts
CP: He gets on a happy note
GL: He starts freaking, you know, and sometimes we do them, you know.
CP: "Jeremy Bender" you know, "Tiger in the Spotlight" type of thing, you know.
GL: Type of I think also it's a bit of light relief to - some of the stuff which is a bit intense - and so it throws up some light relief.
("Jeremy Bender" is played)
CP: Hi, this is Carl Palmer of Emerson Lake & Palmer - Up Close - where we will be back in a moment..
Announcer: Emerson Lake & Palmer called it quits in 1979 and each went off in their own paths. Both Carl Palmer and Greg Lake achieved great success in Asia. Greg worked on his solo projects as well. Keith Emerson released two solo albums and found himself much in demand as a composer of film sound tracks. Their time apart did them all some good in terms of their own growth as musicians and in helping them appreciate each other when they did get back together as ELP. Here's Greg Lake, speaking with the perception that time has brought him.
GL: Now I tend to think that if one has the opportunity of a world stage, for me it's a shame to waste it on nothing. There are so many things in this life worth writing about that, um, and so many issues that matter that I think that if you care, it's worth trying to write something worth listening to. A song about war, incidentally to which I am opposed, is "Farewell to Arms" which, um, you know, is really, was again inspired during the Russian revolution when they were jumping on the tanks and they were taking over. And it just seemed like a song of hope to me that they were, it is possible to stop this nonsense again. It's something that concerns - life - death - love - war - the planet - these are all things to me which are worth writing about.
("Farewell to Arms" is played.)
Announcer. "Farewell to Arms" from Emerson Lake & Palmer's latest recording "Black Moon." Rock stars are just people after all, and like the rest of us, it's the little unforeseen problems which crop up that are often most frustrating. Take, for example, this story from Keith Emerson, which took place when he was set to record "Close to Home" for the new album.
KE: Though, so I chose a Steinway here in England, and we rented out the Abbey Road Studio for a day - beautiful hall - had the keyboard all tuned up. And I had a quick run through - and (unintelligible) said to me "which way was to the toilet" And to the loo - and my digital diary fell out of my jacket pocket, went down into the toilet, and I lost every address, telephone number, and I was completely distraught - and I went back into the control room, and I - AAAH - and they said "What's a matter?" I've lost everything - my whole life just went down the toilet.
Announcer: Technical problems continued to plague the recording of "Close to Home". Finally, a couple of months and 6,000 miles away from those initial Abbey Road recordings, Keith knocked off the tune to his satisfaction, and I'll bet, to yours.
("Close to Home" is played.)
Announcer: "Close to Home" from "Black Moon". Here's some good news for Emerson Lake and Palmer fans - even as we speak ELP are touring the United States for the first time in more than a decade - Greg Lake.
GL: What really counts is the music. We're really gonna be intently focused on the sound and power of the music. Now we will do things that are production related, but only in the sense that they'll be a direct result of the music and it will be an atypical rock show. It will perhaps be more related to something like a ballet or an opera or something like that where the drama will be not, be there very much, not very often. When it happens, it will be vivid , you know, But we have no preconception about 100,000 people coming to see us a night or anything, you know, we just hope that the people who come will enjoy it and we'll make sure that we deliver our end, you know.
Anouncer: We'd like to thank Sandra Jelly and Phil Carsons of Victory Music, Sky Daniels of Polygram Music, Lynn Contis of Part Rock Management, and Nick Sizer of Emerson Lake and Palmer, and Ahmet Ertegun of Atlantic Records.
Emerson Lake and Palmer Up Close was produced by Dan Near, copyright 1992. No portion may be used without permission of the producers.
Emerson Lake and Palmer disbanded in 1979, leaving a hole in the record business that has never been filled - until now. ELP is back with a new record "Black Moon", picking up where they left off. Here's Greg Lake.
GL: The music was an art-led business in the '70s and now it's a market-led business. And we really, I suppose still feel, our roots are in an art-led music.
Announcer: I'm Dan Near. Tune in next week for Music Media's presentation of Emerson Lake & Palmer - Up Close.
[Many thanks to Donna for transcribing this interview!]