Karn Evil 9 – 1st Impression, Part 2 ~ Emerson, Lake, & Palmer

Emerson, Lake & Palmer (ELP) were an English progressive rock supergroup.

On two occasions in 1969, The Nice (with Keith Emerson on keyboards) and King Crimson (with Greg Lake on bass and vocals) shared the same venue, first on August 10, 1969 at the 9th Jazz and Blues Pop Festival in Plumpton, England and on October 17, 1969 at Fairfield Halls in Croydon, England.

After playing at a few of the same concerts, Emerson and Lake tried working together and found their styles to be not only compatible, but complementary. They wanted to be a keyboard/bass/drum band, and so searched out a drummer.

Before settling on Carl Palmer, who at that time was a member of Atomic Rooster, they approached Mitch Mitchell of The Jimi Hendrix Experience; Mitchell was uninterested but passed the idea to Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix, tired of his band and wanting to try something different, expressed an interest in playing with the group. The British press, after hearing about this, speculated that such a supergroup would have been called HELP, or “Hendrix, Emerson, Lake & Palmer“. Due to scheduling conflicts, such plans were not immediately realised, but the initial three planned a jam session with Hendrix after their second concert at the Isle of Wight Festival (their debut being in Plymouth Guildhall six days earlier), with the possibility of him joining. Hendrix died shortly thereafter, so the three pressed on as Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

Karn Evil 9 – 1st Impression, Part 2

Karn Evil 9” is an extended work by progressive rock group Emerson, Lake & Palmer (ELP), appearing on the album, Brain Salad Surgery. A futuristic fusion of rock and classical themes, it is regarded by many fans to be among their best works. At nearly half an hour long, it is also their longest studio recording.

The story of “Karn Evil 9″ is told in 3 parts, with the second part being an instrumental interlude between the first and the third. First Impression tells the story of a world from which “all manner of evil and decadence had been banished.” The decadence of the old world is preserved through exhibits that are part of a futuristic carnival show, which exhibits depravities like “seven virgins and a mule,” along with things that are rare in the future, such as a “real blade of grass.”

The Second Impression is an instrumental and unlike the rest of Karn Evil, is just three instruments: piano, bass and drums. This Impression changes from an upbeat out-of-control tune to a creepy slow interval and then picks up the pace again with a structure similar to that of a sonata. This Impression is often overlooked and is less popular than the others, though it is a rather complex piece, showing the three musicians virtuosity.

Third Impression describes a war between humans and computers, which can be interpreted in two different ways. One interpretation allows the victory to the humans, who reimpose their domain over the computers. The other interpretation allows victory to the computers, claiming that the computers were successful in dominating the humans and let them live only for the sake of gloating. Peter Sinfield’s original interpretation was that “what [Man had] invented ironically takes him over.”

Welcome back, my friends
to the show that never ends.
We’re so glad you could attend!
Come inside! Come inside!

There behind a glass
stands a real blade of grass
be careful as you pass.
Move along! Move along!

Come inside, the show’s about to start
guaranteed to blow your head apart
Rest assured you’ll get your money’s worth
The greatest show in Heaven, Hell, or Earth

You’ve got to see the show, it’s a dynamo.
You’ve got to see the show, it’s rock and roll

Right before your eyes,
We’ll pull laughter from the skies
And he laughs until he cries,
then he dies, then he dies

You’ve got to see the show, it’s a dynamo.
You’ve got to see the show, it’s rock and roll

(Extended instrumental, mostly keyboard)

Soon the Gypsy Queen
in a glaze of Vaseline
Will perform on guillotine
What a scene! What a scene!
Next upon the stand
will you please extend a hand
to Alexander’s Ragtime Band
Dixieland, Dixieland

Roll up! Roll up! Roll up!
See the show!

Performing on a stool
we’ve a sight to make you drool
Seven virgins and a mule
Keep it cool. Keep it cool.
We would like it to be known
the exhibits that were shown
were exclusively our own,
All our own. All our own.

Come and see the show!
Come and see the show!
Come and see the show!
See the show!

See the shoooowwwwwww!

  • Audio from the 1973 album, Brain Salad Surgery:
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About DJ Allyn

DJ Allyn is a burned out radio guy who went on to become a burned out sound engineer for a few Seattle area grunge bands in the 1980s and 1990s. Left the madness of worldwide tours with bands, cleaned up my act and went into the relative sanity of sound engineering for television series. Currently working as the Director of Sound for a television series being filmed in North Vancouver, British Columbia. I am always on the lookout for interesting videos, old music, and fun.

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