‘I’m so pleased with where we went’: Emerson Lake and Palmer’s Brain Salad Surgery cover still intrigues

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When artist H.R. Giger was commissioned to provide cover art for Emerson Lake and Palmer’s 1973 studio effort Brain Salad Surgery, he was a few years away from winning an Oscar for visual effects work on the film Alien.

In fact, the surrealist from Sweden was largely unknown outside of some art circles.

Keith Emerson had heard of Giger through Peter Zumsteg, manager of Manticore, ELP’s then-newly launched boutique record label. A visit to Giger’s studio in Zurich convinced Emerson that he’d be the right person to provide artwork for such an ambitious project.

See for yourself as Brain Salad Surgery, perhaps best known today as the home to “Karn Evil 9,” sees a three-disc 40th anniversary deluxe reissue via Razor and Tie on April 7, 2014 — complete with the remastered original project, a second disc of previously unreleased songs and a 5.1 mix on DVD.

The album (whose title was nicked from a line in Dr. John’s contemporary hit “Right Place, Wrong Time”) stands now as ELP’s fourth — and final — UK Top 5 hit. It spawned a truly massive tour, and hurtled Giger toward world-wide fame.

He went on to direct a number of films, and also contributed designs to a trio of Alien sequels, Poltergeist II: The Other Side and Species. Giger’s work with the now-dearly-departed ELP was followed by album covers for Deborah Harry (Koo Koo), Carcass (Heartwork), Danzig (Danzig III) and the Dead Kennedys (Frankenchrist), among others.

“The artwork represented the music we were working on as fully as I could have imagined,” Emerson tells Music Radar. “The next day, I told [fellow ELP members] Greg [Lake] and Carl [Palmer]: ‘You’ve got to some with me to see what this guy is doing.’ I think they were kind of reluctant at the beginning, but once they saw his stuff, they were incredibly intrigued. I’m so pleased with where we went for the cover. I think it’s one of the best pieces of album art I’ve ever seen, to be honest.”

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