Prog Rock Sunday – “Tarkus”, by ELP (plus bonus video)

Again, while the other sluggards are taking the day off from the A to Z Challenge, I am in the office providing you with another quality post!  Prog Rock Sundays is just too powerful of an institution here in Bloglandia.  I could never miss a day of work!

Okay, I’ve been gentle with you in previous weeks, but this one is dense.  For those of you who are not fully chartered in the school of Prog Rock, this one is about as “Proggy” as it gets.  It is a complex, over-the-top composition that is typical of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer.

If the only ELP you know are the acoustic ballads that get played on the radio frequently (Lucky Man, Still You Turn Me On, From the Beginning), then this may be a shock.  If you are familiar with the radio edit of “Karn Evil #9”, then you may stand a better chance.  If you are a fan of ELP through and through, then you already love this song, and need no introduction.

ELP is about as excessive in egotistical, self-indulgent Rock-n-Roll as it gets.  The keyboardist, Keith Emerson, is a virtuoso powerhouse that dominates every aspect of the band.  He controls much of the writing, and certainly leads most of the instrumental sections, which can be lengthy and tedious.  He’ll give Carl Palmer a drum solo once in a while, and Greg Lake has his lovely solo acoustic ballads, but I think those only serve as a break for Emerson’s fingers.

But you know what?  I LOVE it!  I love these complex Prog Rock ditties, and will often play them on long drives (when else would I have time for 20+ minute compositions?).

I know that I am not painting a pretty picture here, but trust me, you will see why I felt that I had to prepare the casual listener for the aural onslaught that will ensue.

“Tarkus” is complex, multi-themed, and often hard to follow, but I think that it is a brilliant composition, and a masterpiece.

And so, I present to you, “Tarkus”, by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer.

Happy Sunday!

Oh, and as a bonus, I cannot help but share this amazing video of Rachel Flowers, a keyboard prodigy (who also happens to be only 18-years old and blind!!) playing an instrumental version of Tarkus on Keith Emerson’s own instruments.  She is quite amazing.  Even if you cannot stomach ELP’s version, you really should check her out, and then watch her other videos!


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