Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Fanfare for the Common Man

Song Review by

The 20th century American composer Aaron Copland believed orchestral music should talk to the common man, extend an arm to him. In his "Fanfare for the Common Man" he developed a simple theme, elegantly orchestrated. For their rock arrangement, Emerson, Lake & Palmer respected this vow of simplicity. The opening trumpet has been replaced by a synthesizer, but otherwise the theme gets a full, accurate statement in the first seconds. After a timpani break, the trio establishes a fast-paced swinging vamp that will last, unaltered, for as long as necessary. Keith Emerson restates the theme before soloing in, around, and outside it. The piece has a contagious drive and is immediately recognizable.

Recorded for the "group side" of the two-LP set Works, Vol. 1, "Fanfare for the Common Man" first appeared as a nine-minute track. This version is definitely too long for such a repetitive piece. A shorter edit enjoyed radio play, triggering a series of inclusions on the group's "best of" collections and appearances as radio and TV show themes. But the piece worked better live, especially when played as part of a medley that allowed Emerson to show his flashy keyboard chops. During the 1990s, it was often performed together with "Rondo 69" and "America," two old Nice favorites.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Works, Vol. 1 1977 UK
The Best of Emerson, Lake & Palmer [Atlantic] 1980 Atlantic 2:56
Popdreams & Rocktracks: The Earthquake Album 1990
Various Artists
Armenian Music Center 2:57
The Atlantic Years 1992 Atlantic 5:40
Affairs of the Heart [Limited Edition] 1992 London
The Return of the Manticore 1993 Rhino 9:40
The Best of Emerson, Lake & Palmer [Rhino] 1994 Rhino 2:57
Classic Rock 1995 Rebound Records 9:43
King Biscuit Flower Hour: Greatest Hits Live 1997 King Biscuit Entertainment 8:21
Superhits of Rock: 1965 - 1979 1999
Various Artists
L & D 3:00
Rock Festival 1999
Various Artists
Insight (3)
Extended Versions 2000 BMG Special Products 8:12
The Very Best of Emerson, Lake & Palmer 2000 Rhino 9:41
Classic Rock: We Will Rock You 2000
Various Artists
Time/Life Music
The Original Bootleg Series From Manticore Vaults, Vol. 2 2001 Castle/Windsong 14:37
The Show That Never Ends 2001 Recall (UK) 22:10
Sounds of the Seventies [Castle] 2002
Various Artists
Castle Music Ltd. 2:58
The Original Bootleg Series from the Manticore Vaults, Vol. 3 2002 Castle Music Ltd. 17:34
Born to Be Wild [Music Club] 2002
Various Artists
MCI / Music Club Records 2:58
Flashback: The Seventies 2002
Various Artists
BMG International 3:00
Fanfare: The Best of Live 2003 Demon 2:46
Lucky Man and Other Hits 2003 Flashback Records 9:41
Greatest Hits Live 2003 King Biscuit Entertainment 8:20
Rock Live 2003
Various Artists
Disky
Live [Disky] 2004 Disky
From the Front Row... Live! 2004 Silverline Records 8:20
Ultimate Collection 2004 Sanctuary 9:44
Classic Rock Anthems 2005
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 2:58
Beyond the Beginning 2005 Sanctuary
Original Bootleg Series from the Manticore Vaults, Vol. 4 [Box Set] 2006 Castle Music / Castle Music Ltd. 13:27
No Image 2006 Sony BMG / Zounds Music 9:41
The Essential Emerson, Lake & Palmer 2007 Columbia / Sony Music Distribution 9:43
Come and See the Show: The Best of Emerson, Lake & Palmer 2008 Unknown 9:45
Wondrous Stories: A Complete Introduction to Progressive Rock 2010
Various Artists
Universal Music TV 9:41
High Voltage 2010 Castle Music / Sanctuary Records 9:43
We Will Rock You [Crimson]
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 2:59
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