Trilogy (Emerson, Lake & Palmer album)

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Trilogy (Emerson, Lake & Palmer album - cover art).jpg
Studio album by
Released6 July 1972
RecordedOctober 1971–January 1972
StudioAdvision Studios, London[1]
GenreProgressive rock
ProducerGreg Lake
Emerson, Lake & Palmer chronology
Pictures at an Exhibition
Brain Salad Surgery

Trilogy is the third studio album by English progressive rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer, released in July 1972 on Island Records. The cover, designed by Hipgnosis, depicts a combined bust of the three members, while the interior of the original gatefold sleeve features a photomontage of the three in Epping Forest.

Trilogy increased ELP's worldwide popularity, and included "Hoedown", an arrangement of the Aaron Copland composition, which was one of their most popular songs when performing live.

References to a quad version of this album appeared in 1974 Harrison or Schwann record and tape guides, listing Trilogy in the Quadraphonic 8-track tape cartridge format. Collectors report never seeing a Trilogy Q8 at retail, despite its having a catalogue number "Cotillion QT-9903."[citation needed]

Greg Lake said this was his favourite ELP record.[2]

Background and recording[edit]

In September 1971, the band took a break in their summer North American tour promoting Tarkus (1971) and Pictures at an Exhibition (1971) to record new material for their next studio album. In a May 1972 magazine report, the album had yet to have a title.[3] Emerson was pleased with the album after it was completed, noting its varied and difference in style to Tarkus.[3]

The artwork was designed by Hipgnosis.[4] Spanish artist Salvador Dali was approached to design it, but he requested $50,000 to do it and was subsequently turned down. The front cover depicts each of the band members' faces; Emerson said this was so as their previous albums had not featured them.[3]


"The Endless Enigma" is a suite in three parts; the first section begins with the sound of a beating heart, an effect sometimes claimed to have been created by the Ludwig Speed King bass drum pedal of Palmer's Ludwig Octaplus kit. However, in the sleeve notes to the 2015 CD/DVD reissue, remix engineer Jakko Jakszyk is quoted as saying "I've discovered [it is] actually Greg playing... muted strings on his bass guitar."

"From the Beginning" is a soft, acoustic guitar-based piece that peaked at #39 on the US charts.[5] More often appearing in ELP compilations than live concerts, the track lent its name to a 1997 retrospective of Greg Lake's work.[6] The song was also covered by Czech folk rock band Marsyas, albeit under a different name (Studená koupel – Cold Bath) and with Czech lyrics.[7]

In the opening drum solo on the track "The Sheriff", Carl Palmer accidentally hit the rim of his tom-tom with a drumstick. He responded with the word "shit" which can be heard when listening carefully. "The Sheriff" ends with a honky tonk-type piano solo with Palmer playing woodblocks.[citation needed]

"Hoedown" is a cover of "Hoe-Down" from the ballet Rodeo (1942) by Aaron Copland. It became the opening song for both the Trilogy and Brain Salad Surgery tours.

"Abaddon's Bolero" sounds like a bolero turned into a march (in 4/4 rhythm rather than the usual 3/4). The song was originally titled Bellona's Bolero after the goddess of war.[8]A single melody containing multiple modulations within itself is repeated over and over in ever more thickly layered arrangements, starting from a quiet Hammond organ making a flute-like sound over a snare drum, and building up to a wall of sound – Maurice Ravel's famous Boléro uses a similar effect. "Abaddon's Bolero" is replete with overdubs. Almost every time an instrument comes in, another overdub follows. "Abaddon's Bolero" was only played live a handful of times, with Greg Lake handling Mellotron and additional Moog synthesizer duties; the song turned out to be a disaster, and was cut from the set list.[9] There is also the quoting from the British traditional song "Girl I left Behind Me".


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[10]
Robert Christgau(C-)[11]

The album reached #5 on the Billboard 200[12] and peaked at #2 on the UK album charts.[13] It appeared in the Top 10 in Denmark for 4 non-consecutive weeks, peaking at #6.[14]

Billboard praised the album for Keith Emerson's "steady progression" on the Moog synthesizer.[15] Robert Christgau wrote, "The pomposities of Tarkus and the monstrosities of the Moussorgsky homage clinch it – these guys are as stupid as their most pretentious fans."[16]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks arranged by Emerson, Lake & Palmer. All lyrics by Greg Lake.[4]

Side one
1."The Endless Enigma (Part 1)"Keith Emerson, Greg Lake6:41
3."The Endless Enigma (Part 2)"Emerson, Lake2:03
4."From the Beginning"Lake4:16
5."The Sheriff"Emerson, Lake3:22
6."Hoedown"Aaron Copland, arr. Emerson, Lake, Carl Palmer3:47
Side two
1."Trilogy"Emerson, Lake8:54
2."Living Sin"Emerson, Lake, Palmer3:13
3."Abaddon's Bolero"Emerson8:08


Credits are adapted from the album's 1972 liner notes.[4]

Emerson, Lake & Palmer


  • Eddy Offord – production engineer
  • Greg Lake - production
  • Barry Diament – mastering
  • Hipgnosis – cover design and photography
  • Phil Crinnell – tinting



  1. ^ Circus September 1972: "Trilogy was recorded over a period of time at Advision Studios in London. Eddie "are you ready" Offord was sitting at the mixing board. Part of it was recorded during October of 1971 shortly before E.L.P. did their Madison Square Garden dates on Thanksgiving; the remainder was completed when they arrived home from the tour."
  2. ^ "Vintage Rock Interview with Greg Lake". Retrieved 12 March 2012. I do like Trilogy. It is my favorite ELP album. It couldn’t be anyone else. It truly is a definitive album. It is the very best of ELP in a way. It’s got flashes of all the best things of what we were.
  3. ^ a b c Boucher, Caroline (13 May 1972). "Emerson Lake and Palmer: Why Keith Wants to Become Immortal". Disc. Retrieved 11 December 2018 – via Rock's Backpages. (Subscription required (help)).
  4. ^ a b c Trilogy (Media notes). Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Island Records. 1972. ILPS 9186.
  5. ^ "AllMusic From the Beginning". Retrieved February 8, 2012.
  6. ^ "AllMusic From the Beginning: Retrospective". Retrieved February 8, 2012.
  7. ^ michaaela9 (18 August 2010). "Marsyas – Studená koupel". Retrieved 25 January 2018 – via YouTube.
  8. ^ The Manticore Vaults Volume 1 (song introduction)
  9. ^ "museum". Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  10. ^ Couture, François. "Trilogy – Emerson, Lake & Palmer | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 July 2011.
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Billboard". Retrieved February 10, 2012.
  13. ^ "UK chart info Trilogy". Archived from the original on 4 April 2012. Retrieved 4 August 2011.
  14. ^ "". Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  15. ^ "Billboard Album Reviews". Billboard. 84 (30): 82. 22 July 1972. Retrieved 2 December 2017.
  16. ^ Robert Christgau. "Robert Christgau: CG: Emerson, Lake and Palmer". Retrieved 26 July 2011.