(All Album Reviews by Burgess Penguin)
I Waited 3 Years FOR THIS CRAP?????!!
The above title was my reaction after hearing Works I when it was originally released in 1977. Unfortunately, it hasn't improved over time for me at all.
This and Works II were a horrific example of egos out of control and the resultant schlock. The 3 individual members by this point weren't even speaking to each other and had their own separate managers and traveled separately as well. And it shows in the music to an alarming degree. It all smacked of a contractual obligation and death gasp at the same time.
A lot of things that made the earlier ELP efforts so cool here are largely absent. For example, there's nary a trace of Keith's distinct Hammond organ playing, and in its place some of the cheesiest, schlockiest synth sounds ever devised. Keith's amateurish attempt at a post-Brahms/Rachmininoff piano concerto would actually be somewhat entertaining if he wasn't taking himself so seriously. Greg Lake's predictably sappy ballads are no help and Carl Palmer's material is pretty much forgettable. Plus, the inclusion of the orchestra severely limited the band's ability to engage in improvisation, something that made ELP's live shows so exciting back in the day.
The two group cuts are just pure cheese-whiz, the reworking of Aaron Copland's "Fanfare For The Common Man" makes Mannheim Steamroller sound like Present by comparison, and "Pirates" just sinks under its own weight as Greg Lake barks up a storm.
This owl thinks they should've quit while they were ahead with Brain Salad Surgery, undoubtedly their finest moment, but alas, their egos (and the record company suits) did not permit them such an indulgence of common sense.
Makes a fine beer coaster or clay pigeon substitute.