Tartar, carcass, Tarkus & Rachel Flowers

The term “tartar”, coming from Latin, refers to the salts of tartaric acid such as bitartrate of potash (cream of tartar), which is a deposit left during fermentation, and also to that hardened dental plaque… However, there is a different ethymology of “tartar” apparently coming from the Mongols. They called themselves “Tata”. This term is the origin of  word Tartary, that is, “the land of Tartars”.

The term “carcass” comes from the old French “charcois” meaning “trunk of a body, chest, carcass, skeleton”.

Why did I mention these two words? Just to explain the meaning of another word: “Tarkus”. Those who are experienced musicians will associate this term with the album released in 1971 by Emerson, Lake & Palmer (ELP), the famous progressive rock band. Only a few people know the origin of this word. I didn’t even know about it until today when I decided to write on the topic.

If there is someone who knows the origin better than anybody else, this is William Neal, the painter who designed the cover of the famous album by ELP. You can read the story yourself on his web page

Tarkus design by William Neal

Tarkus design by William Neal

“The name Tarkus has been open to all manner of misrepresentations, it is, however, an amalgamation of two terms. The first is found in the Bible at the second letter of Peter chapter 2 verse 4. A condition of deep spiritual debasement is mentioned called “Tartarus” (from Latin origin). The other is the term “Carcass” hence the name was painted in bones. Thus Tarkus essentially stood for the futility of war, a man made mess with symbols of mutated destruction. Tarkus went on to become a true progressive rock statement, in fact, the armadillo is still remembered by folk who never even bought the album!” William Neal

This was back 1971. Now, 40 years later, there is another young person who knows most of ELP works by heart (well, not only ELP, but also The Nice and Keith Emerson). I am talking about the absolutely amazing Rachel Flowers, a 17-year-old girl with an extraordinary musical talent. Here you are her performance of Tarkus, her tribute to Emerson, Lake & Palmer:

Rachel Flowers:

Click on the image to follow Rachel on Facebook!

Click on the image to follow Rachel on Facebook!

Michael Thallium
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1 comment to Tartar, carcass, Tarkus & Rachel Flowers

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    Thanks for finally writing abokut >Tartar, carcass, Tarkus & Rachel Flowers | Michael Thallium <Liked it!

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