Picks and Pans Review: ...to the Power of Three

updated 05/02/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/02/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

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In the past the numeral three has been lucky for Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer. They racked up a few gold discs with Greg Lake during the 70s as the art-rock triumvirate of Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Emerson and Palmer are reunited here after 10 years of independent projects, but there is scant cause for celebration. The pair's new partner is Robert Berry, a songwriter-guitarist from San Jose, Calif., recruited by Palmer because—according to the band's publicity material—Berry had a "West Coast sort of voice," whatever that is. What Emerson and Palmer ultimately got was a guy who sounds at best like Rick Springfield or Corey Hart and has about as much range on the musical scales as Manute Bol does on the basketball court. Palmer's quick, tight drumrolls and Emerson's freewheeling keyboard playing style are fun as nostalgic reminders of those grand ELP days. But they don't sound comfortable working in the four-to five-minute song format that prevails on this album. Berry's contributions are also minimal as a songwriter, though another thing Palmer is said to have liked about Berry is his ability to write shorter pop songs. They do a version of the Byrds' hit Eight Miles High at a pseudo-funk tempo that is first enticing but trails off into a pedestrian cover song. Palmer gets a chance to strut his stuff on Desde La Vida with some fancy fills, and Emerson rounds out the seven-minute number with some engaging piano work. The rest is fairly unimaginative stuff. Sorry, guys, but this time out, we're getting into negative numbers. (Geffen)

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