Emerson, Lake & Palmer released Trilogy on this day in 1972.
This was the group’s third studio album, as well as their fourth overall (preceded by their debut album, Tarkus, and Pictures at an Exhibition). By this time, they had successfully made a name for themselves as one of the major prog rock groups on the scene, alongside such names as Yes and Genesis. A good deal of this had to do with their one-two punch of albums released the previous year. This characterized the group both as a classically-minded power trio and as an outfit unafraid to push boundaries. Thus, Trilogy had a great deal to live up to. By Greg Lake’s telling, however, the band approached this challenge with confidence rather than fear.
Around the time this album began to be recorded, recording machines switched from sixteen-tracks to twenty-four tracks, allowing for greater freedom in the studio. For Trilogy, this meant the album was dominated by overdubs, making for an album with an expansive sound and complicated parts. Unfortunately, this innovation also made the album quite difficult to replicate live. I give a run-down of the album’s live history here.
The album did fairly well on the charts, reaching #5 on the Billboard Chart in the US and #2 on the UK charts. It charted for six weeks in Germany, where it peaked at #6. One song, “From the Beginning”, reached #39 on the American Hot 100 song chart, the best they would ever perform on this chart. As usual, Robert Christgau had nothing but scorn both for ELP’s effort and fans who would dare enjoy such a thing. His biggest issue with the work seems to be the division of “The Endless Enigma” based on how his short review focused on that aspect rather than any of the music within the album. Billboard Magazine, however, had a significantly more positive opinion of the work.
This album was supported by an extensive tour. It became the first tour on which ELP hit three continents when the group visited Japan for the first time in late July of 1972. They caused so much excitement on this short Japanese leg of the tour that the crowd actually rioted!
Incidentally, this album was said to be Greg Lake’s favorite. He claimed that this album was the best combination of Keith Emerson’s intensity and his more laid-back preferences. I am inclined to agree.
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- Lake, Greg. Lucky Man.
- https://www.offiziellecharts.de/ (obtained via search)
- Edit on 2021-01-23: Added German chart information. Optimized for new site.