“Tarkus”, the second album by Emerson, Lake & Palmere, was released on June 14, …

Written by on June 15, 2018


“Tarkus”, the second album by Emerson, Lake & Palmere, was released on June 14, 1971.The first side is the seven-part “Tarkus”, with a collection of shorter tracks on side two.

Tarkus went to number one in the UK Albums Chart and peaked at number 9 in the US.

The cover artwork was commissioned from the painter and graphic designer William Neal. He has said this about the cover: “The armadillo was simply a doodle created from a fusion of ideas while working on the Rare Bird album As Your Mind Flies By. I had produced a gun belt made up of piano keys, which somehow led to WW1 armoury; nobody liked the idea, but the little armadillo remained on the layout pad. Later on we were asked to submit ideas to E.L.P. for their second album. David Herbet and I put tank tracks on the little fellow … yet it was still basically a doodle. However, Keith Emerson spotted it and loved the idea, so we developed him further … After hearing the substance of Tarkus on the acetate I developed the ideas along with Keith and Greg, and painted all the other creatures too.”

Keith Emerson said, “To everyone, it represented what we were doing in that studio. The next day on my drive up from Sussex the imagery of the armadillo kept hitting me. It had to have a name. Something guttural. It had to begin with the letter ‘T’ and end with a flourish. “Tarka the Otter” may have come into it, but this armadillo needed a science fiction kind of name that represented Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution in reverse. Some mutilation of the species caused by radiation … ‘Tarkus’

Tarkus is one of only two ELP records to reach the Top 10 in the States, making it to No. 9 (Trilogy, the following year, got to No. 5), while in Britain it is their only number-one album. Additionally, Tarkus spent a total of 17 weeks in the UK Albums Chart.

Tarkus received generally unfavourable reviews from critics, such as David Lebin in Rolling Stone who wrote: “Tarkus records the failure of three performers to become creators. Regardless of how fast and how many styles they can play. Emerson, Lake and Palmer will continue turning out mediocrity like Tarkus until they discover what, if anything, it is that they must say on their own and for themselves.”

Keith Emerson admitted that Tarkus was one of his favourite albums, “not least because the title track has taken on a life of its own.”

Do you have a favorite track on the album?

Happy 47th UK Birthday to “Tarkus”!!




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