Elephant9 - Greatest Show On Earth album review

Scorching set evokes prog’s keyboard legends

Elephant9 - Greatest Show On Earth album artwork

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Never judge a book by its cover, nor an album by its opening track. With its slippery bass, stilted beats and what sounds like an inebriated Mellotron slurring through a sing-song after a grand night out, the almost comedic Way Of Return provides no clue as to what lies ahead. While their last two releases were augmented by Swedish guitarist and sometime Motorpsycho and Dungen collaborator Reine Fiske, here keyboardist Ståle Storløkken, bassist Nikolai Hængsle and drummer Torstein Lofthus go back to power trio basics. Exploding into a thunderous, urgent groove and sprayed with fiery organ, the fifth studio album by this virtuosic Norwegian outfit is bursting with a riotous intensity. Summoned through a sequence of gloriously Hammond-heavy invocations, the spirits of Egg-era Dave Stewart, Keith Emerson and Lifetime’s Larry Young are made manifest amid a hurtling, energetic sequence of original compositions. Soulful, smart and packed with thrilling keyboard excursions, this is a love letter to the finest keyboard-orientated outfits in progressive music. Forget thoughts of pastiche or nostalgic knock-off – this is their most powerful release to date.

Sid Smith

Sid's feature articles and reviews have appeared in numerous publications including Prog, Classic Rock, Record Collector, Q, Mojo and Uncut. A full-time freelance writer with hundreds of sleevenotes and essays for both indie and major record labels to his credit, his book, In The Court Of King Crimson, an acclaimed biography of King Crimson, was substantially revised and expanded in 2019 to coincide with the band’s 50th Anniversary. Alongside appearances on radio and TV, he has lectured on jazz and progressive music in the UK and Europe.  

A resident of Whitley Bay in north-east England, he spends far too much time posting photographs of LPs he's listening to on Twitter and Facebook.