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The Loop

Published: 2010/08/12
by Randy Ray

Despicable Three (aka Those Guilty Pleasures)

Ahhh…yes, we all have our guilty pleasures. One of the joys of being a music writer is the free goodies. Then again, it is also a downside because a bunch of uninspiring nada comes in the mail, too. But that isn’t always the case. As I was sifting through possible CD review possibilities, I agreed to a pitch from a publicist, and had her send me the work in question. Later, upon further ruminations over the list from the label she represented, I found the pure gold. But, could it be? No? In 2010? That lost classic of pure symphonic noise/keyboard explosion mayhem /prog rock cheese? Here? Now?!

As I gazed upon the list from Shout! Factory, I noticed a gem from my past. One of the lost treasures of antiquity was released on July 20, a 4-CD live box set from Emerson Lake & Palmer, A Time and a Place. Back in the foggy day, ELP was frowned upon by critics as pompous asses who dared to infuse the sacred tones of rock music with classical motifs. Nothing new here, the Beatles began the trend, and it was followed up by a legion of often lame art rock imitators and occasionally solid prog prodigies. Suffice to say, ELP’s dense layers of keyboard-frenzied assaults on rock music not only offended the critics, but helped create a whole sublayer of rock called punk. Of course, I am trimming a few historical corners here, but the punks did too, so fuck ‘em. In the end, ELP’s staggering indifference to good rock ‘taste’, and their need to pursue the outer edge of what was unacceptable in not only classical windbag circles, but the haggard remains of old school rawk, breathing its last breath before disco and punk buried its corpse, bred a whole legion of spectacular setpieces from the electronic Apocalypse of “Karn Evil 9” to the post-robot-riddled-Isaac Asimov world of “Tarkus” to the intoxicating butchering of Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition,” as keyboardist molester/maestro Keith Emerson, guitarist/vocalist/balladeer Greg Lake, and drummer/percussionist Carl Palmer created a dynamic catalogue that extends all the way, to, well, I’ll be…to 20freakin’10.

And I am sure you have a guilty pleasure, or maybe even three, right?

Assuming you do have a guilty pleasure (or three), please send a few paragraphs our way so we can share them in The Loop…

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