The Friday Morning Listen: Emerson Lake and Palmer – Tarkus (1971)

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So I’m sitting in our old dining room, flipping through stacks of albums…and I come upon Tarkus. “No, that’s a keeper” I say and the LP goes into the crate. I was in the middle of the GreatVinylDownsizingProject™. Having recently moved to a place that is a much saner proximity to TheWife™’s place of business, it has become very necessary to shed a great amount of our possessions. We started with books (Rule: does the library have it? Out it goes) and then switched to records.

First, I had to ask myself this question: “Do you really want to haul those 16 or so crates down a flight of stairs, and then back up?” I’m great at rationalizing nearly anything, but in that particular case, my more rational self did have a point. This question didn’t really help me with the decision-making process though, until it struck me: I hardly ever listen to loud rock albums at home. Thanks to CDs and services such as Spotify, I blast those babies in the car and also at work, but at home I usually put on folk, blues, jazz, and all of those records that have no category. So why keep a half a metric buttload of vinyl?

So here was the plan: cull the records that just could not be parted with, give the stepkidz a chance at the rest, and then send the bulk of it to a vinyl-loving friend in Vancouver. During the final sorting session, stepsons #1 and #2 were trying their best to not come to fisticuffs over who got Back In Black, Led Zeppelin IV, and Toys In The Attic. When I came upon Tarkus, the decision was an easy one.

Here’s a little something I wrote about that album back in 2003:

Ok, back to that high school girlfriend who tortured me with extended listening sessions of Shaun Cassidy, Lief Garrett, and the Grease soundtrack. There was this big credenza down in the basement that served as stereo rack and album storage unit. Behind some sliding doors were all of Laurie and her older brother Rob’s records. The great thing about her brother (aside from keeping his mouth shut about what went on in the basement) was that he had better taste in music. One day I took a tour of the entire collection and pulled out the most bizarre-looking record. The cover illustration had this…thing on it that looked like a cross between a tank and an armadillo. Hmmm….now I’m interested. So I put the thing on the record player, totally bumming out my girlfriend…but what the heck, I liked it. Still do. Sure, it’s overblown. So what? A few years later punk came along to blow away the puffery of art-rock…but at that moment I was more than content to revel in it.

Great memories attached to that one, plus I still dig the music. Also, how can you not love an armadillo tank?

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to, and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at
Mark Saleski
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  • Perplexio

    Great post… I daresay that while there are many ELP fans who would share your opinion of “Tarkus” (or have a similar opinion of “Brain Salad Surgery”) I doubt there are that many that have that much sentimentality for ELP’s “Love Beach” album.

  • Mark Saleski

    i have never listened to Love Beach. maybe i’ll take one for the team and write a review.

  • mort weiss

    Love beach, Is that next to Jones beach?–just down the coast from Sunnaovfa?

    • Bob Freska

      I always thought “Love Beach” would have done better if the cover showed more chest hair.