1973's Brain Salad Surgery was the fourth studio album from legendary prog kingpins Emerson Lake & Palmer, and as history shows, their most enduring and beloved of all their classic early releases. BMG has lavishly reissued this adventurous fusion of rock & classical music, with the original album featuring a stunning remaster (by Andy Pearce & Matt Wortham) from 2014, and the bonus disk an equally impressive stereo mix from that same year courtesy of Jakko Jakszyk. It all comes housed in a glorious dual digipack littered with the original H.R. Giger artwork, plenty of vintage photos, and a new essay from rock journalist Chris Welch.
The album itself probably needs no introduction or detailed explanation, but let's go there anyway. The majestic take on "Jerusalem" kicks things off, Greg Lake's vocals soaring over Keith Emerson's breathtaking Hammond organ, which leads into the dynamic "Toccata", another prime vehicle for Emerson's acrobatic organ & Moog hi-jinx and Carl Palmer's busy drum gymnastics. "Still...You Turn Me On" is just splendid here on this remaster, Lake's gorgeous vocals drifting over acoustic guitars, wah-wah, Moog, and organ, each instrument with enough separation and clarity to astound the listener...frankly, this classic song has never sounded better. The near half hour "Karn Evil 9" is broken down into four parts, and of course is one of progressive rock's long standing epic triumphs, a perfect example of how to create a successful extended piece of music. Emerson's Hammond & Moog are all over the place, bobbing and weaving around each other while Lake's vocals command and Palmer's unrelenting drum blasts never cease to amaze. Lake also gets to throw in some electric guitar solos as well, something he didn't do often enough in the band but when he did he made it count. Though "Karn Evil 9 1st Impression Part 2" is the segment of this epic song that got the most airplay on FM radio over the years, this entire suite really needs to be taken as a whole and enjoyed in its entirety from start to finish. Here, it's just glorious, both the remaster and the stereo mix alike.
On the bonus disk, in addition to the stereo mix of the album, you get a few other assorted oddities, such as a "Excepts From Brain Salad Surgery" track which edits together passages from all the tracks, the wild instrumental "When the Apple Blossoms Bloom in the Windmills of Your Mind I'll Be Your Valentine" (featuring some killer Moog from Emerson), the B-Side "Brain Salad Surgery" (and its instrumental counterpart), plus alternate versions of "Karn Evil 9 3rd Impression".
As I mentioned above, this new reissue sounds absolutely fantastic in both options on display, and it comes in a can't miss package that is easy eye candy for the loyal ELP fan. Brain Salad Surgery couldn't be any more essential than it is now.
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1. Jerusalem (2014 Remastered Version)
2. Toccata (2014 Remastered Version)
3. Still...You Turn Me On (2014 Remastered Version)
4. Benny the Bouncer (2014 Remastered Version)
5. Karn Evil 9 1st Impression, Pt. 1 (2014 Remastered Version)
6. Karn Evil 9 1st Impression, Pt. 2 (2014 Remastered Version)
7. Karn Evil 9 2nd Impression (2014 Remastered Version)
8. Karn Evil 9 3rd Impression (2014 Remastered Version)
1. Karn Evil 9 3rd Impression (Original Backing Track)
2. Jerusalem (First Mix)
3. Still... You Turn Me On (First Mix)
4. Toccata (Alternate Version)
5. Karn Evil 9 1st Impression, Pt. I (Alternate Version)
6. Karn Evil 9 1st Impression, Pt. 2 (Alternate Version)
7. Karn Evil 9 2nd Impression (Alternate Version)
8. Karn Evil 9 3rd Impression (Alternate Version)
9. Excerpts From Brain Salad Surgery (NME Flexi Disc)
10. When the Apple Blossoms Bloom in the Windmills of Your Mind I'll Be Your Valentine
11. Brain Salad Surgery
12. Brain Salad Surgery (Instrumental)
13. Karn Evil 9 3rd Impression