EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER
ON THE BEACH
While listening to the "test pressing" of the latest Emerson Lake and Palmer, I felt some kind of a shock for the change! I slowly swallow this shock when someone brings me the cover of the new album. A new shock, the Beach Boys would not have denied that kind of album cover. We can see clearly Greg, Emerson and Carl smiling and hilarious, on a tropical beach background. It's not surprising that the album's title is "Love Beach." This beach really exists; it is situated not far away from Nassau in the Bahamas, and also not far away from Mister Lake and Mister Emerson's houses. They have emigrated there and they established themselves with their families to avoid the monstrous British income tax department (which deducts and takes as much as 85% in the higher income brackets).
Greg speaking: "Yes, you know that in England, there is a big income tax problem. Therefore, we have searched for a place to establish ourselves. In Nassau, there is a very good studio. Therefore, we choose to have our residence here. When I say we, it is just Keith and me; Palmer lives elsewhere."
In this marvellous and enchanted environment of the Caribbean Sea, our three superstars went to work. "The record conception and realisation took us six months," says Greg Lake. "This is all a brand new design. During six albums, we had a very electronic orientation. Afterwards, we had played with a symphonic orchestra. Musically, I think that was a success, but financially the load is too heavy; we can only do the big cities in the USA. That is why we did not go to Europe - it was financially impossible. With Love Beach, we have started again on a new track. We tried to make group music; we sought cohesion."
In fact, the change is clear. There is Lake's part, and Emerson's part. On Lake's part, there are six (6) pieces. What is striking at the first hearing, it's the rigour; outside the wild and extravagant things and the furious solo, all is well and in its place, and very well produced. The songs and pieces are short (six were required). In short, the music gains in relaxation what it lost in fury. Greg says: "This album will certainly touch a greater audience."
It is certain that Lake is not mistaken, because the fans who have been a little bit disconcerted by the group's symphonic adventure will come back in droves, and many new listeners will be touched by the new formula of ELP's album.
This album should have success because it squares exactly to the kind of music played by the radio stations in the USA. In fact, we always complain about our radio stations (with reasons), but in USA it's not a rose garden either.
In California, for example, there is only one radio station that still plays jazz and jazz-rock. The other radio stations play only disco music (this music is beginning to kill the other kinds of music in the USA) or "Rumours" (from Fleetwood Mac) kind of music styles. This new, more cool, ELP album should strike easy the US radio station DJ's.
Greg Lake defends himself of all premeditation regarding this album.
Greg speaking: "It's almost impossible to predict in advance what the people's feelings will be. If you enter the studio and say, 'I will do a very commercial album,' you are sure to be wrong. We must only give our best, all that we have inside us. It's with this authenticity that we can touch people."
The journalist speaking: "Despite this, the French fans are really special and their reaction very unpredictable."
Greg speaking: "It's true, France is special. This country is certainly one of the most important cultural centres in the world. What people here think of my music was always important for me. We always had great success here."
The journalist speaking: "Perhaps, but Europe (also France) had not have the chance to see the fantastic live ELP concert with the symphonic orchestra."
Greg speaking: "It was impossible to come to Europe. There is no place here big enough to make a tour with a symphonic orchestra profitable."
The journalist speaking: "But then, on the next tour?"
Greg speaking: "For now, we don't have a specific project. We just got out of the studio and all that concerns me is whether or not people will like our music. But it is certain that we will go on tour again. A group who just makes a record but performs no concerts is being dishonest with its fans. The record is only a promise. Something is lacking if there is no concert to relay the record. The people cannot identify with a group that they never see live."
The journalist: "So there will be a new tour, but this time, will we be able to see it?"
Greg speaking: "At first, we should come to Europe because it will be probably be a tour with just us three. Therefore, like you probably heard, there is no problem playing this album's music as a trio, even though there is no orchestra. So on a financial level, the load will not be too heavy. Therefore, we will certainly come to Europe."
The journalist: "During future shows, will Keith play the synthesizer?"
Greg speaking: "I think that Keith was a synthesizer pioneer. Obviously, now it has become a fashion style, almost a gimmick. In fact, when we explored all the possibilities of the synthesizer, it became an instrument like any other one. We must use it like a tool, that's all."
While I am listening to him, I turn and turn again the album to discover that there is no piece written by Carl Palmer. I am worried.
Greg speaking: "Carl is a drummer and the drummer's possibilities for composition are very limited; that is why he did not write any piece (the journalist wrote this: I think Christian Vander and Bill Brudford [sic] will not share this opinion)."
Greg smiles. He is in great shape and he has a great suntan, and the health of somebody who comes back from vacation. The conversation is very relaxed, and a young woman from the record company brings him a cigar "bar stool" style. We can feel in Greg a great will to persuade. The group is at a turning point and he wants everything to be all right and clear.
Greg speaking: "What a beautiful day."
I ask him why, because the sky is some kind of grey today.
Greg speaking: "Because, today it is my birthday!"
By Jean Philippe Aurigny
(Translation by Sylvie Turgeon)