Emerson, Lake, and remembering

We didn’t do a post for Greg Lake when he died.

Emerson, Lake and Palmer were kind of the watchword for people who didn’t like Prog, when they talked about Prog. And while they did some interesting things, it

was hard to argue against the sheer indulgence – like the king in Amadeus, I feel like there’s just too many notes.

That does not at all apply to Lake’s abilities and activities as a singer, and in particular the work he did with King Crimson.kc69aa

King Crimson jealously guard their material so finding stuff by them on Youtube is rare, but Greg Lake in his later career wasn’t shy about mining the material for his own shows (and the above video, which includes 21st Century Schizoid Man, demonstrates some of the great things about King Crimson, like how their improvs never become riddim n blooze like this band does.)

He was maybe the only really great singer who ever worked with Crimson – his successors had competencies, but they were never real rock stars. Maybe by design – as Robert Christgau pointed out in one of his reviews, lead singers have a tendency to take over bands, and King Crimson belongs to Robert Fripp.

Greg Lake’s vocal tone was just right for late 60s prog rock – it has an earnestness, which he could belie on tracks like Benny the Bouncer. Prog rock was damned earnest stuff, so sure it was moving things forward (progressing, as it was.)

We have so many voices we hear everyday – before recorded media, you could only ever hear someone in your presence. It’s an odd thought, that we might know someone and appreciate them entirely based on a sound they make. There’s probably something distancing and emotionally problematic about that.

But I’ll worry about that another day. I liked Greg’s voice on some songs I enjoyed. That’s enough.

Greg Lake, 1947-2016.


About Kent Conrad

To contact Kent Conrad, email kentc@explodedgoat.com