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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