‘It looks like the Bee Gees’: Carl Palmer tears into Emerson Lake and Palmer’s Love Beach

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Emerson Lake and Palmer’s pop-styled 1978 album Love Beach has become, over the years, as divisive a moment as anything the band ever did. From its compact songs to its in-the-moment yacht-rock cover image, there wasn’t much about this project that seemed to fit with the band long-established prog aesthetic.

More recently, Keith Emerson has tried to rehabilitate the album’s image — calling it a “brave attempt to make a crossover.” But former bandmate Carl Palmer is having none of it. Love Beach arrived, he says, at a low ebb, both in the sense that this instantly successful supergroup had begun to drift apart but also that their style of music had begun to fall out of favor. The result was an album that should have never been made.

“You’re getting to the nitty gritty, where you’ve got to fight,” Palmer tells ELP archivist Tony Ortiz. “And you’re getting to a situation where music is changing — and radio. Punk is coming in. It’s coming to the end of our period. We’re not getting played on the radio. The situation has changed. Now, you either stay by your guns, and keep on doing what you do, or you can buckle — and we buckled, I think.”

Everyone in Emerson Lake and Palmer says Love Beach wouldn’t have happened in the first place, but for label pressure. They were told, in essence, to produce one more group album before any solo careers could be launched. The sessions were recorded in the Bahamas, near the actual Love Beach, since Emerson and Greg Lake both had homes there. It was all supposed to be so simple.

Then the album arrived, and with it a lasting backlash. Love Beach would become the lowest-charting release of ELP’s otherwise celebrated 1970s-era period. Palmer understands. “I mean, it looks like the Bee Gees, doesn’t it, that cover? You look at, and you think: ‘Jesus!'” he says. “It was the wrong thing to do and, I think if everyone was absolutely honest, they would say that.”

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