Taking One For The Team: I Listen to ELP’s “LOVE BEACH”

love beach

I submit that with a different album jacket, say, just their initials “ELP” and a battered Union Jack over a Veterans cemetery (near Dunkirk?), along with excluding the first three songs…ESPECIALLY the feculent, fetid, and foul (other f words come to mind for other reviewers no doubt) Taste My Love (track 3), and this album is passable. Of course than it would be more of an EP unless replacement music was inserted. I certainly endorse side B (on the old vinyl) with the 20 minute story-song epic Memoirs Of An Officer And A Gentleman.

Music buyers who don’t have any qualms with cherry-picking their music (i.e. 99.99% of the buying public) would do well do download Memoirs as it is filled with a weighty “Britishness” as Greg Lake sings a multipart story of a young Englishman who matriculates through Sandhurst, visits the USA in the late 1930s, is commissioned, married, deployed, widowed, and endures in characteristic British indomitableness. The song has hints of ELP’s iconic Jerusalem and both Emerson’s piano and Lake’s voice are in fine form. The song is a worthwhile prog epic.

Track 6, Canario, is an instrumental “cover” of a Joaquin Rodrigo composition and as interpreted by Keith Emerson is a pleasant and melodic meeting of Wendy Carlos and Hot Butter. I think track 5, For You, is fairly catchy and would have made a decent James Bond movie theme. And finally, on the “plus” side, track 4 The Gambler has some nice funky drums and groovin’ synth work. This too might have worked well at the cinema—only maybe in a Burt Reynolds’ Smokey flick.

BUT…

The opening three songs are just dreadful. The keys and synths are cheesy and all treble and alto-centric (I have no idea what that means but wanted to say it). Carl Palmer’s drums are okay, and yes, Lake’s voice is still good, but the lyrics are embarrassing and the third song is downright frighteningly bad: “get on my stallion and we’ll ride,” “climb on my rocket and we’ll fly,” and “I want to dynamite your mind with love tonight.” Gene Simmons looks like Puccini when compared to Taste My Love.

The album isn’t as bad as I had been lead to believe by both the execrable cover photo of the boys looking like refugees from a loser’s disco, and the savage press the recording has received by just about everyone. But, for side two, I would purchase this disc as a cut-out…$3.99 maybe, but no higher. Just because this is no Tarkus or Trilogy, but probably a bit of a “throw-away” by the band itself to satisfy a recording contract, there is no reason to throw the baby out with the bath water.

Thank goodness for YouTube.

 

Mellotron set to 11

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