Emerson, Lake & Palmer

An Introduction To...

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As the liner notes point out right away, this single-disc Emerson, Lake & Palmer anthology "isn't merely a course through the band's best-known tunes from the years," but "intended more as a primer." That it's not a best-of comp is obvious enough from the absence of "Lucky Man" and "C'Est la Vie" from the track listing. Exactly what purpose it fulfills, though, is pretty mysterious. ELP were such an album-oriented prog rock outfit that it seems as though almost any listener only wanting to dip his or her toes into the water would prefer one of the previous, more standard best-of comps, such as Rhino's The Best of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. In contrast, An Introduction To... is something like a rather eccentric mixtape an ELP fan might make to emphasize his or her particular idiosyncratic favorites, taking care to span most of their career. Certainly a few of the band's better-known tracks are here, like "Hoedown" and "Jerusalem." But it's doubtful that many would consider "Benny the Bouncer" or their Works Live version of "Peter Gunn," for instance, to be either a career highlight or a touchstone of what makes ELP sound like ELP. Sure it's nice to hear a song like "The Sage" that qualifies as one of their better works, yet usually escapes the best-of comps. But if you really are interested in getting a primer to ELP, a more predictable best-of really does do the job better, and if you want to go further, it's more advisable to start picking up individual albums than a peculiar collection like this.

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