Sometimes I despair for the online company I keep. “Ho ho ho” – went the people over on the much despised in Headon Towers I Love Music.” Isn’t Tarkus funny. Its a tank, its an aardvark”, its bloody crap album is the only think I can confirm. Leaving aside the imagery on its front cover as the typical type of excess of the prog era we are left with an album which makes no sense. Be it side ones movement “Tarkus” (and Mike Skinner – this is what is meant by a movement, as in bowel movement), or the jollier song based excretions of side two including Jeremy Bender and deep questions relating to God and the holocaust.

So to side one which is about twenty five minutes long and purports to tell the tale of one Tarkus. Giant aardvark/pig/tank creature born in a volcano. He then trundles the land fighting antatsical beast such as the Manticore and a Pterodactyl with machine guns until metamorphosing into Aquatarkus (or Tarkus when wet) and sailing into the distance. Why this sub-five year old fantasy needs to be told at all is irrelevant, how it is told is equally shaky. Erruption f’rinstance (birth of Tarkus) consists of erruption type noises and a bit of guitar wankery. The fight with the manticore is equally fight-like. And Aquatarkus is someone playing with the blob-blob-blob button on a Fairlight – it sounds a lot less like an amphibeous tank and more like Tarkus The Otter. In truth the only way we could work out what this track is about is to look at the inside cover comic strip.

At least side one has little in the way of lyrical content. It soon becomes clear than when ELP are allowed to sing – well the correct respon is ‘Elp. Jeremy Bender is a sort of neanderthal, not really very clever at allusions copy of The Kink’s “Lola”. It is, thankfully, very short but still manages to slip in this line: “talk with the Sister, spoke in a whisper, threatened to fist her if she didn’t come clean” – though they oddly sing it in a way to suggest they don’t really know what fisting is. Equally clueless are the lyrics to Hymn – The Only Way: “Can you believe, God makes you breathe, Why did he lose six million Jews.” – which is G’n’T spurting out ridiculous. Tarkus is an album whic fits into the Progressive Canon perfectly, it marks the progress from being five years old to six perfectly – songs about tanks and big imponderables.