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Best, January 1979

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Article Source:

Best (France)

January 1979


Hervé Picart

Translated by:

Catherine Gouy


Greg Lake

Article page in original French:

French page

ELP's attack

Emerson, Lake and Palmer are back, and true to themselves this time. With "Love Beach", no more pompous orchestras, no more individual exercises like in "Works 1", no more jumbles like in "Works 2". ELP find themselves back in the intimate circle of their three letters, with their attractive mix of classical music and electronics. Greg Lake, who was in Paris, gave us his comments about this new mutation of an aging band which is still searching its way.

Lake explains: "After the discipline it took us to play with an orchestra, it was like a new freedom to record only with the three of us, without responsibilities, without stress. I think the album expresses this joy of being together again: it's a happy record. After the solo works, the band's situation could only be confused. We have worked to get its clarity and its cohesion back, and I think we have succeeded. If we come back simply as a trio, it's not because we reject what we have done with the orchestra: I still wish to work with it. But we found ourselves against an economical problem due to the tours. When we started the American tour with the orchestra, we lost 3 million dollars. With this configuration, we couldn't play in front of audiences of less than 15,000 people: that's why we cancelled everything in Europe. All we could do is do all we could."

Like Yes and Genesis, ELP are back to shorter tracks. According to Lake, this similarity is accidental: "Our evolution is very personal. As soon as we feel we could repeat ourselves, we quickly do something else. We don't want to be the prisoners of a formula or a hit. I believe the album's simplicity comes more from the trio's formula than from the compositions."

Simplicity is really one of the main characteristics of "Love Beach", as if ELP had got tired of grand architectural exercises. "Maybe we were pretentious" G. Lake wonders, "but we never obeyed non-musical reasons. Music at that time was like that."

As a heritage from the solo exercises of "Works", "Love Beach" features one side for Lake and one side for Emerson. "It's a mere coincidence. We looked for the best possible order of songs and ended up with this result. I must add that ELP is the meeting of a pianist, Emerson, with a singer, myself, and this induces two cultures and two totally different ways of composing. I only write songs, Keith writes music, something more abstract. With "Works" we wanted to include these two different approaches without doing solo albums: a band must be able to accept the individual tendencies of each of its members. "Love Beach" is not of this kind because it's a group album. Each ELP record wants to be different and is motivated by years of reasons and emotions pushing us to always find something else. There is no commercial motivation in what we do. We expected "Works" to be a commercial failure but an artist can't stick to the wishes of the public, he must create the needs. If we stick to the present wishes of the audience, we will be behind because the audience also changes. Our only guide is our will, there can't be any other one."

But you must admit that "Works 2" was a way of making money with leftovers put together without great harmony? "All the tracks in "Works 2" were recorded together with the other ones and were always meant to be released in a second album. What can be criticized is the way of putting them together, in a not very attractive package, but the music has the same value, it's not something that was first put away and then re-used because nothing else was available, not at all!"

You will also learn that a tour is being studied, that Lake feels honoured by Johnny Hallyday's cover version of "C'est la vie", that he considers the success of this song more like a media success than his own, that he's happy of what he is, a singer and nothing more. Now you know all about ELP's new attack.

Review of "Love Beach" (by same journalist)

It's with pleasure that we see ELP come back at last to their true music. "Love Beach" marks the end of egocentric tendencies, of symphonic pretensions, of archaic demonstrations, and brings a genuine band back, happy to be together again it seems, if we believe the big grins shown by the trio on the album cover.

This being said, if ELP are again what they should never have stopped to be, the big thrill of innovation is not to be expected any longer. For a certain number of albums, ELP were in the lead among English progressive bands. Now, they have nothing left to prove and are satisfied to be what they are. The band knows it has its own style, its personality (or three of them) and is quite happy to live on its legacy.

Thus, "Love Beach" is not a monument, it's not at the forefront of innovation; it's just the unsurprising, pleasant, perfect record of a band which is very gifted, whatever people say. It also shows their good old shortcomings which come back naturally. The final march, "Honourable company", demonstrates that Emerson hasn't yet denied his taste for majestic music. And some bits of side A sound like these sloppy ballads Lake is fond of and which are not what he does best.

The album has two very distinct sides, as the first one is a selection of songs written at 80% by Lake (and Sinfield), with some good results like "All I want is you" and the really catchy "Gambler", but also with some inevitable mannerism and slackness, and the second one is pure Emerson, with a more floating, more classical, more virtuoso music which also brings successes and blunders, with an advantage to the successes.

As a conclusion, ELP don't give you the big thrill but invite you to a pleasant and distinguished reunion with the usual faults and the everlasting qualities of the band. And it's a very good thing that they have been able to find again the pleasure of playing together that had been missed.

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