Emerson, Lake and Palmer: 10 Essential Songs

The greatest from the audacious, virtuosic progressive rock icons

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"Tarkus" (1971)

No one ever accused ELP of being modest, and nowhere is that more evident than on "Tarkus." Side A of the group's sophomore album is broken down into seven movements – totaling more than 20 minutes of music –that fold fusion and classical elements into a mythic prog sprawl revolving around a fantastic creature. Emerson himself had the spark of inspiration. "With Tarkus I went through all sorts of Greek mythology books to think of a name for this animal," he said in a 1972 interview with Disc, "and I didn't come up with anything. Then suddenly we were driving home from a gig one night, and I said 'Tarkus.' And the others said, 'Tarkus?' And that was it." The entire lifecycle of the being – depicted on the album cover's iconic artwork by William Neal – is detailed in the song, which features some of Emerson's most lush and dexterous keyboard work. J.H.

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