I’ve been listening to a lot of Emerson Lake & Palmer (ELP) recently, which is always fun. ELP was a one of the mainstays of progressive rock in the early 70s, defined by Keith Emerson’s keyboard work. As defined on Wikipedia, ELP “were one of the most commercially successful progressive rock bands, and from the outset were focused on combining classical pieces with rock music. “….
What’s interesting is that ELP’s best known songs are Greg Lake ballads, with little or no keyboards. Think “From The Beginning”, their only Top 40 hit (#39 in 1972). Or “Lucky Man” (probably their best known song, but only made it to #48 in 1971). Or “Still You Turn Me On”, which didn’t make the charts at all, but was a standard of FM radio in 1973 . All of these are a FM-radio friendy under 5 minutes.
Quite different from compositions like “Take A Pebble” at 12:32, "Tarkus" at 20:35, or Karn Evil 9, at a whopping 29:41.
Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy it all. But it is an interesting dichotomy…. In fact, I might not have discovered ELP as soon if not for those radio friendly songs. Way back when, I bought the 1974 live release "Welcome Back My Friends... " because it had those ballads mentioned above. And my ears were opened to "stuff" that was new (to me).....