On This Day (June 27)…Black Moon Rising

Emerson, Lake & Palmer released Black Moon on this day in 1992.

File:ELP - Black Moon.jpg
Album cover. Retrieved from here.

This was the first album that the band had released in fourteen years, the last album having been the reviled Love Beach. In the interim, Keith Emerson, Greg Lake and Carl Palmer had all worked together on projects. Greg Lake briefly guested in Asia in 1983, where Carl Palmer found his post-ELP home. Three years later, Lake reunited with Keith Emerson and recruited Cozy Powell for Emerson, Lake & Powell, which produced one album and one tour. About a year after that, Emerson and Palmer joined with Robert Berry to create 3, which also released a single album and undertook one tour. However, the three had not worked together up until this point.

The Album

The trio were brought together again by Victory Music executive Phil Carson, who suggested the trio work on a film score. While no film score came along, the trio quickly got to work creating a new album together. After reuniting for this album, group remained together for the remainder of the 1990s.

This album also featured the first external producer the group utilized in the form of Mark Mancina. Greg Lake later stated that Mancina provided a great deal of help while they were making the album, to the point that he almost considered him a fourth member of the band. Indeed, one of the songs they ended up including on the album, “Burning Bridges”, was written by Mancina!

Overall, despite the years since the last ELP albums, the group included several of their hallmarks: long stretches of instrumental work, Greg Lake Ballads (two in this case!), and even a cover of a classical number. This was “Dance of the Knights” from Sergei Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. “Romeo and Juliet” would be the last major classical piece they ever would adapt for an album, though the last song they ever wrote together would feature a snippet of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s work.

Greg Lake’s lyrics reflected issues of the time, including the Gulf War, human-caused ecological damage, and the rise of capitalism, making this set of lyrics some of ELP’s most reflective of the real world. In between all these themes, though, Lake still found time to indulge in some of the sweeter love lyrics he ever wrote; I discuss the specific lyric I particularly love here.

Response

The album reached 78 on the Billboard 200 chart; this would be the last ELP studio release to chart in the US. It was also the last studio release to chart in Germany, where it peaked at #45 and spent ten weeks charting in total. This was the longest period any ELP release spent on the German charts.

The album was not particularly critically appreciated, though the fan consensus appears that it’s at least decent. The group followed its release with a major world tour which saw them visit North America for the first time since 1978, Europe for the first time since 1974, Japan for the first time since 1972, and South America for the first time ever. It would be the last major tour they ever undertook; for the rest of the 90s, they performed shorter tours or served as a support act.

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  • Edit on 2021-01-23: Added German chart information. Added information on the band’s interim activities. Formatting update. Optimized for new site.

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