A Prog Classic: "The Armadillo in the Room" (1971) by Tarkus
The second studio album of English prog-rock power trio ELP, "Tarkus", was released today, on 14 June 1971. Upon its release, the album was confronted with many unfavorable reviews from critics, however, it still managed to reach the Top 10 in the States.
Even though the album has lots of songs in it, the most important contribution of it to progressive rock is, of course, the epic called “Tarkus”. This 20-minute long prog legend is one of the most prominent pieces of music ELP has ever released. It influenced tons of new artists. Dream Theater's Jordan Rudess even said that "this album changed my life." The song that gave the album its title, Tarkus, needs to be appreciated enough in this album. It is one of the earliest multipart progressive-rock suites with its 7 part structure which consists of only instruments in odds and vocals in evens. With the complex rhythm section from Carl Palmer, the powerful distorted sound of Emerson's keyboard, and Lake's compelling delivery of his lyrics, this explosive energy captivates the listener and creates a trademark sound for the band. It was big, overblown, and most importantly fun to listen to and play (if you can). While side one gains the most of the attention in this album side two has some bangers too such as "Bitches Crystal" and "A Time and a Place."
Even though, in the recording process, the album almost caused Lake to left the band because of the disagreement in the sound, the end result is an undeniable success. Tarkus turned into one of prog rock's must-listens.