Keith Emerson opens up on Emerson Lake and Palmer’s ‘Love Beach’: ‘Let’s tell you the truth’

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Emerson Lake and Palmer’s 1978 album Love Beach has been universally derided for its period-piece yacht-rock cover. Keith Emerson is ready to come to its defense.

Not for the album art, mind you. No, the concept of ELP standing on a windswept dune, with tufts of chest hair poking out of their fun shirts, still seems impossibly wrong-headed for a group known for its lengthy excursions into the musical netherworlds between rock and classical music.

Instead, Emerson wants to focus on the music, which he says has been unfairly lumped in with this awful image. “Let’s tell you the truth: It’s not a bad album,” Emerson says. “It’s just the album cover. The album cover kind of ruins it.” Try as he might though, the image just won’t go away: “I think it was unfortunate,” Emerson concedes, “to have the picture of us on the front cover looking like the Bee Gees.”

Emerson Lake and Palmer chose the title in honor of the setting for the sessions that would produce their seventh studio effort, Nassau’s Compass Point in the Bahamas. The record label, Emerson says, pressured ELP for a cover shot to match — all of which was designed to mimic the crossover success that Yes and Genesis were having at the turn of the 1980s. “So, the idea was that: OK, The Beatles had done Abbey Road, which was the name of the studio they were recorded it, at Abbey Road, with the famous picture of them walking across the crossing lane and we said: ‘Alright, we will call it Love Beach.’ I wasn’t favorable about that. I really wasn’t favorable about that. But the record company said: ‘It was about time to show your own faces on the album cover looking happy and smiling.'”

Whether the fault of this shocking image or not, ELP wouldn’t issue another studio album until 1992, though Emerson found he liked the Caribbean setting for Love Beach. He also recorded the 1982 solo effort Honky there.

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  • I own a copy of LOVE BEACH. It may be only one of 3 copies sold outside the band’s circle of friends and,to show you how bad my taste is, I actually like it. haven’t played it in years though.

  • David

    I like the comparison to the Bee Gees on this album cover. It is by far the worst ELP album ever produced and pressed on vinyl.

  • Gary

    Record companies wanted the band to be more radio MOR listenable. They tried being paid alot of money to do it at Compass Point studios. SAGA tried to do the same thing.

  • ringmod76

    Sorry Keith, the music on the album is mostly terrible.

    • Dave Milner

      Well, I wouldn’t say that the music was terrible … just that it was terribly produced. The whole album sounds tinny.

      • ringmod76

        Canario was pretty good, but other than that it’s musically very weak. They’ve said themselves over the years that they were basically worn out and short on ideas, and it shows in the music, which is not good. It’s telling that the strongest track is a re-work of an 18th century baroque piece.

  • Rob Leder

    Portions of “All I Want is You” & the title track could have been salvaged and made into better pop songs. The chorus, and particularly it’s lyrics, are what really ruins the latter (“on love beach, I’m gonna make love to ya…”?…c’mon Greg, the band that made Brain Salad Surgery deserves better than such banality). But that’s a mere warm up to “A Taste of My Love”, a song that surely most fans will agree is the absolute low point of the ELP catalog). “The Gambler” isn’t much better. “For You” is mostly decent, if forgettable. The ebullient classical piece “Canario” is probably the best piece of music on the album. “Memoirs of an Officer and a Gentleman” comes across like the soundtrack to an awful musical about WWII, though I’ve always had a soft spot for the opening section (“Prologue / The Education of a Gentleman”).

    Bottom line, the ELP fanatic will find enough here to make it worthwhile, but I can’t really recommend it to anyone else.

  • Danny Bigelow

    Is the album “yacht (rock) or not”?