Tarkus is the second album by British progressive rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer, released in 1971.
The band's March 1971 live recording, Pictures at an Exhibition, an interpretation of Modest Mussorgsky's work of the same name, was to be released as the band's second album. Due to management conflicts, the recording was not released until after Tarkus. The record company was reluctant to release a classical suite as an album, and insisted it be released on their classical music label instead. Fearing that this would lead to poor sales, ELP instead decided to shelve the work. After the success of Tarkus, however, the label agreed to release Pictures as a budget live album.
"Tarkus" is the title track of Emerson, Lake & Palmer's second album. The progressive-rock epic lasts 20:35. It was the longest studio song by the band until the three impressions of " Karn Evil 9". The name "Tarkus" refers to the armadillo- tank from the William Neal paintings on the album cover. The artist has explained that the name is an amalgamation between 'Tartarus' (a place of punishment mentioned in 2 Peter 2:4) and 'carcass' (hence the name being written in bones on the album cover). Consequently, the name refers to the "futility of war, a man made mess with symbols of mutated destruction." The song "Tarkus" itself supposedly follows the adventures of Tarkus from his birth, through a fight with a manticore, which he loses and concludes with an aquatic version of Tarkus named "Aquatarkus". Keith Emerson, when asked what work he is proudest of, named his Piano Concerto (from the Works release) and Tarkus.