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ISBN-10 0-8126-9596-8
ISBN-13 978-08126-9596-0


863 pages


Endless Enigma

A Musical Biography of Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Ed Macan

Winner of the 2007 ARSC Award for Excellence, Best Reseach in Recorded Rock Music, Best History

Throughout the 1970s, no style of popular music was more controversial than progressive rock, and no progressive rock band was more controversial than Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Initially attracting attention for their unusual keyboards-bass-drums configuration, ELP became hugely popular on both sides of the Atlantic. Fans saw ELP as fulfilling the promise of post-Beatles rock, imaginatively fusing rock, jazz, and classical elements with cutting-edge technology, breathtaking virtuosity, and a monumental stage show. Critics saw ELP as a bombastic assault on rock’s working-class and oppositional roots.

In this, the most comprehensive study of the work of any rock band ever written, Edward Macan unravels the enigma that is Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

"Macan leaves nothing unsaid in this relentlessly candid yet deeply sympathetic account of rock’s premier progressive ensemble. All the breathtaking thrills and spills are here, from the edgy genius of the band’s first six albums to the flawed maneuvering of later incarnations. ‘The show that never ends’ may finally be over, but Endless Enigma will keep ELP fans in catnip for years to come."

—Scott Burnham, author of Beethoven Hero

"The gargantuan Endless Enigma emerges as the first and last word on ELP while echoing the entire genre as a contextual backdrop; no progressive music aficionado of any stripe should be without it."

—Mark S. Tucker, Music Critic,

"Endless Enigma is exceptional in every way. The biographical account is grounded on new facts, the discussion is supported by actual musical analysis, and the information provided in discographies, tour listings, and the like is unrivaled. The critical assessment is uncompromising, and unfolded in plain words for the general reader."

—Akitsugo Kawamoto, author of Forms of Intertextuality: Keith Emerson's Development as a 'Crossover' Musician

"This is the best analysis of recorded music ever presented in connection with a rock band. Even if you've listened to ELP's recordings countless times, you will hear new things in them if you listen to them again after-or while-reading Macan's exceptionally perceptive, precise, and detailed account."

—David Detmer, author of Challenging Postmodernism: Philosophy and the Politics of Truth

"Macan's Rocking the Classics challenged my rock'n'roll purism and opened my ears to a wider range of rock music. He's done it again with Endless Enigma, an impressive investigation of the music and musicians of ELP. More importantly, Endless Enigma explores what music is and can be."

—Theodore Gracyk, author of Rhythm and Noise: An Aesthetics of Rock

Edward Macan is Professor of Music at College of the Redwoods, Eureka, California, and author of Rocking the Classics: English Progressive Rock and the Counterculture (1997). He is mallet percussionist, keyboard player, and principal composer for Hermetic Science, whose three albums, Hermetic Science (1997), Prophesies (1999), and En Route (2001) have been hailed as a major contribution to contemporary progressive music.

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