Monday, 28 May 2018

"Brain Salad Surgery: 2CD Deluxe Edition" by EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER (September 2016 BMG/Manticore 2CD Reissue Using Newly Mastered 2014 Remasters and Remixes) - A Review by Mark Barry...







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Taking its title from a lyric in a Dr. John song on his 1973 LP "In The Right Place" (the tune is "Right Place, Wrong Time" to be exact) - ELP's fourth studio LP "Brain Salad Surgery" came forth in the UK in November 1973 (December 1973 in the USA) in a year when Progressive Rock was huge and I can remember at the time hating it (apart from the cool artwork courtesy of Swiss Shock-Rock Artist H.R. Giger and his Alien paintings).

I loved the first three studio albums that preceded BSS in 1970, 1971 and 1972 - but I thought most of Side 1 on the new platter was pretentious knob and the abomination of "Benny The Bouncer" has to be the worst crap I've ever heard a major band do. It was of course 1973 and Progressive Rock was at its most bombastic and flashy - much of it difficult to get into but brilliant nonetheless (I was and still am a convert). And if you want sheer diversity and a slice of Prog greatness in all its pomp and circumstance then the first two parts of "Karn Evil 9" spread across two sides of the original vinyl album takes some beating (the title came from Pete Sinfield who suggested the four parter sounded like a 'carnival' - a word Keith Emerson then twisted into 'Karn Evil'). But again – even as a fan and on a re-listen – this for me was the beginning of the end...

ELP's "Brain Salad Surgery" has had a ludicrously twisted history when it comes to digital reissues and this September 2016 'Deluxe Edition' is no different. It contains 2014 Remasters and Remixes – but what is worth noting and slightly different to those contentious sounds – is that this double has been ‘mastered’ in 2016 by two engineers I trust and love – ANDY PEARCE and MATT WORTHAM. And I think for ELP fans that worship at the feet of this densely recorded/mixed platter (the band rejected the first mix back in the day) - the 2016 mastering results on this 2CD Deluxe Edition are worth noting – audiowise anyway. Let's get to the Toccatas and the Impressions...

UK released 30 September 2016 (reissued 1 March 2017) - "Brain Salad Surgery: 2CD Deluxe Edition" by EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER on BMG/Manticore BMGCAT2CD6 (Barcode 4050538180275) offers a 2014 Remaster on Disc 1 of the original 1973 LP (newly mastered in 2016) and a 2014 Stereo Mix of an 'Alternate Album' on Disc 2 (also newly mastered in 2016). This 2016 2-Disc Reissue plays out as follows:

Disc 1 - "The Original 1973 Album (2014 Remaster, 2016 Mastering)" - 44:50 minutes
1. Jerusalem [Side 1]
2. Toccata
3. Still...You Turn Me On
4. Benny The Bouncer
5. Karn Evil 9 1st Impression (Part 1)
6. Karn Evil 9 1st Impression (Part 2) [Side 2]
7. Karn Evil 9 2nd Impression
8. Karn Evil 9 3rd Impression
Tracks 1 to 8 are their fourth studio album (fifth release overall) "Brain Salad Surgery" - released November 1973 in the UK on Manticore Records K 53501 and December 1973 in the USA on Manticore MC 66669. Produced by GREG LAKE - it peaked at No. 2 in the UK and No. 11 in the USA.

Disc 2 - "The Alternate Album (Jakko M Jakszyk 2014 Stereo Mixes)"  - 72:36 minutes:
1. Karn Evil 9 3rd Impression (Original Backing track)
2. Jerusalem (First Mix)
3. Still...You Turn Me On (First Mix)
4. Toccata (Alternate Version)
5. Karn Evil 9 1st Impression Part 1 (Alternate Version)
6. Karn Evil 9 1st Impression Part 2 (Alternate Version)
7. Karn Evil 9 2nd Impression (Alternate Version)
8. Karn Evil 9 3rd Impression (Alternate Version)
9. Excerpts From Brain Salad Surgery (NME Flexi Disc Version)
(i) Karn Evil 9 1st Impression Part 1
(ii) Karn Evil 9 2nd Impression
(iii) Still...You Turn Me On
(iv) Toccata
(v) Jerusalem
(vi) Karn Evil 9 3rd Impression
(vii) Benny The Bouncer
(viii) Karn Evil 9 1st Impression Part 2
(ix) Benny The Bouncer
10. When The Apple Blossoms Bloom In The Windmills Of Your Mind I'll Be Your Valentine (Non-Album B-side to "Jerusalem" - released November 1973 in the UK as a 7" single on Manticore K 13503)
11. Brain Salad Surgery (Non-Album B-side to "Fanfare For The Common Man" - released May 1977 in the UK as a 7" single on Manticore K 10946)
12. Brain Salad Surgery (Instrumental)
13. Karn Evil 9 3rd Impression (Different Version)

Keyboard Wiz Keith Emerson plays Organ, Piano, Harpsichord, Synthesisers and Accordion – Guitarist Greg Lake plays Electric 6 and 12-String Guitars, Bass and sings Lead Vocals whilst Carl Palmer plays Drums, Percussion and Synthesised Percussion.

Each of these BMG/Manticore Deluxe Editions come in a three-way fold-out card digipak - this 2016 variant boasting a 16-page upgraded booklet with new band photos and interviews with CHRIS WELCH on the making of the album, its inspirations, Giger's extraordinary artwork, Keith’s new Polyphonic Moog Synth, buying the ABC Fulham Cinema to write and rehearse it as a 'live' show and then finally to Olympic Studios with legendary Engineer Chris Kimsey (famed for his work with The Rolling Stones) to record it. There are photos of the famous NME 'Excerpts' Flexi that preceded the album's release in November 1973 as well as repros of three foreign picture sleeves for the album's only single "Jerusalem" with the non-album song "When The Apple Blossoms Bloom In The Windmills Of Your Mind I'll Be Your Valentine" on the flipside (Track 10 on Disc 2). There's an British Tour 1974 Program but a rather stupid omission is the lyrics that came with the foldout inlay from the original LP. But at least the new liner notes acknowledge Keith Emerson's sad passing in March 2016.

But the big news over the 2014 Sony/Leadclass Ltd. Reissue and Remaster is only subtly alluded too. Although these are the 2014 versions which some didn't like (no changes in track lists) - this 2016 upgrade has been 'newly' mastered by ANDY PEARCE and MATT WORTHAM whose Remaster catalogue is huge - Rory Gallagher, Budgie, Free, Black Sabbath, ELP, Spooky Tooth, Wishbone Ash, Uriah Heep, Status Quo, John Renbourn, Pentangle, Thin Lizzy and even Lee Perry. I think they've managed to wangle more - a better depth and naturality. To the music...

The bells and crashing Tympany drums of "Jerusalem" roar and that Greg Lake wah-wah guitar break in "Still...You Turn Me On" punches out of the acoustic guitars with intent. That fantastic synth break Emerson goes into towards the end of Part 1 of "Karn Evil 9 1st Impression" chugs along with a zip I haven't heard before and of course they've joined the synth fade out of Part 1 to Part to make it into one seamless piece of music. Alberto Ginastera's "Toccata" has all that wild percussion stuff coming at you (he approved apparently) while Lake's guitars pan across the speakers in Part 2 of "Karn Evil 9" in tandem with Emerson's synth soloing - like both are gone on a virtuoso bender.

I can't really tell if there's that much of a difference between the 'First Mix' versions of "Jerusalem" or "Still...You Turn Me On" - while the Bass and soaring Synths on the Alternate Version of Part 1 variant of "Karn Evil 9 1st Impression" sound amazing to my ears - probably the most King Crimson ELP ever got. I'd forgotten how cool the NME Flexi was - a very cleverly mixed 'excerpts' that feature eight snippets that runs to only 2:52 minutes. The long-winded/silly-billy titles notwithstanding - I've always thought 'both' the instrumental "When The Apple Blossoms Bloom In The Windmills Of Your Mind I'll Be Your Valentine" and "Brain Salad Surgery" tracks should have replaced "Toccata" and the horrid "Benny The Bouncer" on the album. I've always thought both are brilliant with "Brain Salad Surgery" substituting "Bouncer" for the album's moment of wit. 


--> They would release the indulgent live triple album "Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends" in 1974 (lyrics taken from "Karn Evil 9") practically ushering in the need for Punk Rock. But if you want to know why they caused such a Proggy Jangle - then this 2016 Reissue of "Brain Salad Surgery" is the one for you...

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