ELO/ELP

Because of their alphabetic closeness I’ve a couple of mp3 collections of albums by ELO and ELP. Two British groups that represent different aspects of prog rock. ELO (Electric Light Orchestra) sprung from The Move and have a clearly more radio friendly pop sound that at one time was playing with classical themes i.e. combining Beethoven’s Fifth with Roll Over Beethoven – their first few lps had them searching for what became a very commercial sound.

ELO were fond of themed lps: ElDorado with Wizard of Oz. There are too many great tracks to name check all over these recordings but the more commercially accruable they became the less interest they held for me. I have II/ ElDorado/Out of the Blue /New World Record.

By ELP (Emerson Lake & Palmer) I have, as stand alone’s: 1, Tarkus; mp3: Trilogy, Pictures at an Exhibition, Brain Salad Surgery, Welcome Back My Friends, Works. Though by the time they got to Works I was bored with them & only kept certain tracks from Works. But up to then they could do real wrong.

Emerson’s keyboard work was always amazing, at least to me on LSD. Like so many of the prog bands of the time the lyrics became portentous & muddled. But the sonics were engaging, elevating and sometimes daring. Emerson did slip into this honky-tonk musical-hall style at time which I found distracting but he wanted to show range. His work with Bowie is excellent.

They successfully incorporated classical into rock in a way no other band did without sounding bloated or forced. The live Pictures at an Exhibition is great fun & a great introduction to Mussorgsky. I like having Brain Salad as a single piece – as opposed to the lp where one had to turn it over half-way through.

Mixed in are: Arthur Brown: Strange – the title is right – experimental & quite unlike his Crazy World lp. Another of the prime prog rock groups King Crimson: Starless & Bible Black – wow – they are more austere in their sound than ELP, epic & challenging. (More about them when I get to K) Finally Tomita’s Firebird – prog without the rock – an electronic pioneer whose work sometimes fell on the cheesy side but well worth having & hearing. 

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Mike didn’t want to be seen but knew if he pulled back too far between the two houses he wouldn’t be able to hear.

The woman who approached Robert was tall and thin. The red and green African print shift she wore was shapeless but as the breeze played it pulled it around her frame – the loose collar undulated as she strode beside Robert.

‘You cannot do this.’ Her rapid short words flicked at Robert. Her eyes narrowed as she slashed at him in a mix of French and Spanish so rapid that Mike couldn’t follow even if he could understand it.

Robert stopped and put his right hand on her shoulder.

‘Sister Coppah do not go on like this.’ Robert made a small gesture with his left hand over her face. Her eyes widened and she stepped back.

‘You cannot do this to your people. Remember. You have been warned.’

Robert walked away from her and went up the steps to the hotel.

The woman glared across the street. Mike pulled deeper into the shadow between the houses . She couldn’t have seen him but he felt the heat of her look play on his forehead. Drops of sweat quivered on his eyebrows, the tip of his nose. No she couldn’t have seen him. Even if she did who was he to her. No one.

The woman stood several minutes. She glanced at the hotel door as if her looks could draw Robert out to the street.

Mike’s neck ached. He had to move, get out into the open air. The sun was brighter where he was cowering. He stretched fully upright took a deep breath and walked out into the street. He brushed the back of his pants in case there was dirt from the house he had leaned against.

She didn’t turn away from the door as he crossed.

He went up the steps of the hotel. As he opened the door he glanced back. She was gone.

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