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Emerson, Lake & Palmer is the debut studio album by the English progressive rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer, released in November 1970 on Island Records. Recording took place at Advision Studios in July 1970 when the group had yet to perform live, and lasted for three months. The album was supported by the group's show at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival.

Emerson, Lake & Palmer went to number four on the UK Albums Chart and number 18 on the Billboard 200 in the US.[1][2] "Lucky Man" reached number 48 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in the US.


The cover art painting is by the British artist Nic Dartnell. Although it has been said to be originally intended for the American group Spirit, and that the bald-headed man on the left of the cover is Spirit's drummer, Ed Cassidy, the artist denied this in an interview with Mike Goldstein of RockPoP: "I'd like to take a moment and dispel a rumor that, according to Wikipedia, the image is somehow linked to the LA band Spirit. The fact is that, at the time I painted the ELP "Bird", I also painted a portrait of Spirit which I sent to them in LA. A very similar bird was featured in the corner of that painting. I got a message from Spirit to say that if they had received their painting in time they would have put it on the back of Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus. I became friendly with Randy California over the years and I took the photograph that is on his 1982 12" EP All Along the Watchtower. The bald image in "Bird" has no connection to Ed Cassidy of Spirit and doesn't look anything like him. Ed still has the Spirit portrait – so I'm told." [3]


"The Barbarian"[]

Although the composition of opening track was attributed to the three band members, it is an arrangement for rock band of Béla Bartók's 1911 piano piece Allegro Barbaro.[4][5]

"Take a Pebble"[]

"Take a Pebble" by Greg Lake is a full band arrangement, with the primary sections being a jazz arrangement by keyboardist Keith Emerson, and the middle section being a folk guitar work by Lake with water-like percussion effects by Carl Palmer, plus a bit of clapping and whistling. The end returns to the jazz arrangement by Emerson, starting with a modal based improvisation on top of the primary ostinato.


"Knife Edge" is based on the first movement of Leoš Janáček's Sinfonietta (1926)[5] with an instrumental middle section that includes an extended quotation from the Allemande of Johann Sebastian Bach's first French Suite in D minor, BWV 812, but played on an organ rather than clavichord or piano.

"The Three Fates"[]

"The Three Fates" is a three-part "pseudo suite",[4] written and performed by Emerson. It comprises three movements, one for each of the three sisters of Greek mythology known as the Three Fates or Moirai; Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos. Its overall length is a little under eight minutes. The Clotho movement was recorded at the Royal Festival Hall, London, with Emerson playing the venue's massive pipe organ. Lachesis is a piano solo of about 2 minutes 45 seconds. It features baroque and jazz influences ending in grand, sweeping arpeggios. In Atropos, after briefly revisiting the pipe organ from the first movement, Emerson moves to a piano vamp in 7/8 with accompaniment from the other band members. An improvisation is layered over the top which eventually transforms into a polymetrically played repeated sequence in 4/4 time. The resonance of the final chords is curtailed by sound of explosions.


Palmer's solo spot "Tank" was composed with Emerson. The first section features Emerson on clavinet and piano, Lake on bass and Palmer on drums. The middle section is a drum solo. The final section features Emerson on clavinet and Moog synthesizer.

"Lucky Man"[]

"Lucky Man" is a folk rock ballad by Lake, with a notable solo on the Moog synthesizer by Emerson at the end, liberally using portamento.[6] Lake wrote the song for acoustic guitar when he was 12. Although a quad mix of this album was never issued, "Lucky Man" was included on the DVD-Audio 5.1 surround version of Brain Salad Surgery (Rhino #R9 75980, 2000).


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svg[7]
Robert ChristgauC[8]
Rolling Stone(favorable)[9]

Track listing[]

Side one
1."The Barbarian"InstrumentalBéla Bartók (arr. Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, Carl Palmer)4:27
2."Take a Pebble"LakeLake12:32
3."Knife-Edge"Lake, Richard FraserLeoš Janáček, J. S. Bach (arr. Emerson)5:04
Side two
1."The Three Fates"
  • a. "Clotho" – 1:48
  • b. "Lachesis" – 2:43
  • c. "Atropos" – 3:15"
2."Tank"InstrumentalEmerson, Palmer6:49
3."Lucky Man"LakeLake4:36

2012 reissue[]

In May 2012, Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree remixed the album for a 3 Disc reissue containing the original mix, the Wilson remix, and a DVD-Audio with Wilson's 5.1 surround sound version and a higher-bitrate version of his stereo mix.

CD 2 - The Alternate ELP New 2012 Stereo Mixes
1."The Barbarian" (Bartók, arr. Emerson, Lake & Palmer)4:32
2."Take a Pebble" (Lake; arr. Emerson, Lake & Palmer, but not always credited)12:36
3."Knife-Edge (with extended outro)" (Janáček & Bach, arr. Emerson, lyrics by Lake and Fraser)5:38
4."Promenade" (Modest Mussorgsky, arr. Lake and Emerson, lyrics by Lake)1:29
5."The Three Fates: Atropos" (Emerson)3:11
6."Rave Up" (Emerson, Lake & Palmer)5:02
7."Drum Solo" (Palmer)3:02
8."Lucky Man" (Lake)4:39

The remixed versions have different track listings from the original album, omitting the first two sections of "The Three Fates" ("Clotho" and "Lachesis") and "Tank" because the multitrack tapes for those pieces were unavailable, and adding unreleased material. "Knife Edge" has an extended ending; due to the difficulty of reproducing the song's original tape slowdown ending digitally, Wilson chose instead to include the end of the original album session at its original speed. The 5.1 remix replaces "Tank" with an unreleased instrumental called "Rave Up", which bears some similarity to the instrumental section of "Mass" on Tarkus.

The remixed stereo versions include all of the above while adding more unreleased material. A vocal version of "Promenade" (the first live version of which appears on Pictures at an Exhibition) replaces the missing sections of "The Three Fates"; a new otherwise untitled "Drum Solo" by Carl Palmer (similar but not identical to a section of "Tank") is added between "Rave Up" and "Lucky Man"; "Lucky Man" is followed by an unfinished alternate take of "Take a Pebble", complete with some studio banter; then an unreleased take of "Knife Edge", lacking vocals and final section; and finally two versions of "Lucky Man", the first being Greg Lake's original demo, the second an unreleased complete band version.


Emerson, Lake & Palmer
  • Greg Lake – producer
  • Eddy Offord – engineer
  • Emerson, Lake & Palmer – arrangement, direction
  • Nic Dartnell – cover painting
  • Barry Diament – mastering


  1. "UK chart info Emerson, Lake & Palmer". Archived from the original on 17 April 2012. Retrieved 3 August 2011. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)
  2. "The Billboard 200". Retrieved 8 February 2012.
  3. "UnCovered Interview - artist Nic Dartnell on his album cover for ELP's debut LP". Retrieved 26 January 2014.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Millward, Steve (2014). Different Tracks: Music and Politics in 1970. Troubador. p. 166. ISBN 9781783064762.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Macan, Edward (1996). Rocking the Classics: English Progressive Rock and the Counterculture: English Progressive Rock and the Counterculture. Oxford UP. pp. 253 n.35. ISBN 9780195356816.
  6. Romano, Will (2010). Mountains Come Out of the Sky: The Illustrated History of Prog Rock. Backbeat Books. pp. 97–98. ISBN 9781617133756.
  7. Eder, Bruce (2011). "Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Emerson, Lake & Palmer | Allmusic". Allmusic. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
  8. Christgau, Robert (2011). "Robert Christgau: CG: Emerson, Lake & Palmer". Retrieved 25 July 2011.
  9. Grossmas, Loyd (15 April 1971). "Emerson, Lake & Palmer: Emerson, Lake & Palmer : Music Reviews : Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 11 December 2007. Retrieved 3 September 2012. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)