Emerson, Lake and Palmer – Trilogy

More Emerson, Lake and Palmer

More Prog Rock

  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this vintage UK Island pressing
  • ANALOG at its Tubey Magical finest – you’ll never play a CD (or any other digital sourced material) that sounds as good as this record as long as you live
  • An excellent recording that really shines on a good pressing like this, courtesy the engineering brilliance of Eddie Offord
  • 4 stars: “Every track on this album has been carefully thought, arranged, and performed to perfection…”

It’s not easy to find great copies of this album. This kind of prog rock demands big, bold sound, and not all copies have the size or low end weight to pull it off. Keith Emerson’s organ needs to extend all the way down, or it just doesn’t work. Both sides here have a great bottom end, and some real texture and space up top.

“From The Beginning” has the kind of analog magic that made it a staple in practically every stereo store I walked into back in the ’70s.

This vintage UK Island pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

The organ captured here by Eddie Offord (of Yes engineering fame, we’re his biggest fans) and then transferred so well onto our Hot Stamper pressings, will rattle the foundation of your house if you’re not careful. This music really needs that kind of megawatt reproduction to make sense. It’s big Bombastic Prog that wants desperately to rock your world. At moderate levels it just sounds overblown and silly. At loud levels it actually CAN rock your world.

What The Best Sides Of Trilogy Have To Offer Is Not Hard To Hear

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1972
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

Folks, This Is Why We Love Analog

This is ANALOG at its Tubey Magical finest. You ain’t never gonna play a CD that sounds like this as long as you live. I don’t mean to rain on your parade, but digital media are evidently incapable of reproducing this kind of sound. There are nice sounding CDs in the world but there aren’t any that sound like this, not in my experience anyway. If you are thinking that someday a better digital system is going to come along in order to save you the trouble and expense of having to find and acquire these expensive original pressings, think again. Not gonna happen.

This is the kind of record that shows you what’s wrong with your BEST sounding CDs. (Let’s not even talk about the average one in your collection, or mine; the less said the better.) This is the kind of record that somebody hears in a stereo store and realizes the digital road they’ve been going down for so many years is a sonic dead end. This is that kind of record.

Top Honors Go To The Brits For A Change

The best Brit copies take top honors for sound in our Trilogy shootout, with the kind of sweetness, openness, tubey magic, correct tonality, presence without aggressiveness, well-defined note-like bass, extended airy highs and all the rest that are the hallmarks of the Hottest of the Hot.

Unlike the Brit pressings of the first album [note: we no longer agree with this statement as of about 2020], the Brits here really ROCK, with greater dynamic contrasts and seriously prodigious bass, some of the best ever committed to vinyl. This music needs real WHOMP down below and lots of jump factor to work its magic. These Brits are super-low distortion, with an open, sweet sound, especially up top, but they still manage to convey the awesome power of the music, no mean feat.

This is a true Demo Disc LP, one of the mosdynamic and powerful rock recordings ever made. The organ on this album is wall to wall and floor to ceiling.

What We’re Listening For On Trilogy

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt — Eddie Offord in this case — would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

Size and Space

One of the qualities that we don’t talk about on the site nearly enough is the SIZE of the record’s presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small — they don’t extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don’t seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, with a lack of presence and immediacy in the center.

Other copies — my notes for these copies often read “BIG and BOLD” — create a huge soundfield, with the music positively jumping out of the speakers. They’re not brighter, they’re not more aggressive, they’re not hyped-up in any way, they’re just bigger and clearer.

We often have to go back and downgrade the copies that we were initially impressed with in light of such a standout pressing. Who knew the recording could be that huge, spacious and three dimensional? We sure didn’t, not until we played the copy that had those qualities, and that copy might have been number 8 or 9 in the rotation.

Think about it: if you had only seven copies, you might not have ever gotten to hear a copy that sounded that open and clear. And how many even dedicated audiophiles would have more than one of two clean British original copies with which to do a shootout? These records are expensive and hard to come by in good shape. Believe us, we know whereof we speak when it comes to getting hold of original British pressings of Classic Rock albums.

One further point needs to be made: most of the time these very special pressings just plain rock harder. When you hear a copy do what this copy can, it’s an entirely different — and dare I say unforgettable — listening experience.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

The Endless Enigma, Pt. 1
Fugue
The Endless Enigma, Pt. 2
From the Beginning

This is PROGGY POP at its best, right up there with Yes’s and King Crimson’s biggest and boldest musical statements. When it’s good, it’s REALLY GOOD. (Conversely, of course, when it’s bad, it’s pretty bad. Played Relayer lately?)

The Sheriff

Side Two

Hoedown
Trilogy
Living Sin
Abaddon’s Bolero

AMG 4 Star Review

After the heavily distorted bass and doomsday church organ of Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s debut album, the exhilarating prog rock of epic proportions on Tarkus, and the violent removal of the sacred aura of classical tunes on Pictures at an Exhibition, Trilogy, ELP’s fourth album, features the trio settling down in more crowd-pleasing pastures. Actually, the group was gaining in maturity what they lost in raw energy. Every track on this album has been carefully thought, arranged, and performed to perfection, a process that also included some form of sterilization. Greg Lake’s acoustic ballad “From the Beginning” put the group on the charts for a second time. The adaptation of Aaron Copland’s “Hoedown” also yielded a crowd-pleaser. Prog rock fans had to satisfy themselves with the three-part “The Endless Enigma” and “Trilogy,” both very strong but paced compositions. By 1972, Eddie Offord’s recording and producing techniques had reached a peak. He provided a lush, comfy finish to the album that made it particularly suited for living-room listening and the FM airwaves. Yet the material lacks a bit of excitement. Trilogy still belongs to ELP’s classic period and should not be overlooked. For newcomers to prog rock it can even make a less-menacing point of entry.