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Keith Noel Emerson (2 November 1944 – 11 March 2016) was an English keyboardist and composer. He began his career as a member of the Keith Emerson Trio, John Brown's Bodies, Gary Farr and the T-Bones, The V.I.P.'s and P. P. Arnold's backing band The Nice. Emerson found his first commercial success with The Nice in the late 1960s, before becoming a founding member of Emerson, Lake & Palmer (ELP), one of the early supergroups, in 1970. Emerson, Lake & Palmer were critically and commercially successful through much of the 1970s, becoming one of the best-known progressive rock groups of the era.

Following the break-up of ELP ,at the end of the decade, Emerson had modest success in his solo career and with ELP again in the 1980s, as well as with the short-lived progressive rock band 3, with the album To the Power of Three. ELP reunited during the early
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KEITH EMERSON albums / top albums

KEITH EMERSON Inferno (Original Soundtrack) album cover 3.25 | 2 ratings
Inferno (Original Soundtrack)
Jazz Related Soundtracks 1980
KEITH EMERSON Nighthawks (Original Soundtrack) album cover 2.75 | 2 ratings
Nighthawks (Original Soundtrack)
Jazz Related Soundtracks 1981
KEITH EMERSON Honky album cover 3.92 | 3 ratings
Jazz Related Rock 1981
KEITH EMERSON Best Revenge album cover 2.75 | 2 ratings
Best Revenge
Jazz Related Soundtracks 1982
KEITH EMERSON Murderock album cover 2.75 | 2 ratings
Jazz Related Soundtracks 1983
KEITH EMERSON Harmagedon Original Soundtrack (with Derek Austin) album cover 2.50 | 2 ratings
Harmagedon Original Soundtrack (with Derek Austin)
Jazz Related Soundtracks 1983
KEITH EMERSON Iron Man Vol 1 album cover 2.04 | 3 ratings
Iron Man Vol 1
Jazz Related Soundtracks 1994
KEITH EMERSON La Chiesa (The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Recording) (with Goblin) album cover 2.50 | 2 ratings
La Chiesa (The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Recording) (with Goblin)
Jazz Related Soundtracks 1999
KEITH EMERSON Keith Emerson Band Featuring Marc Bonilla album cover 2.83 | 3 ratings
Keith Emerson Band Featuring Marc Bonilla
Jazz Related Rock 2008
KEITH EMERSON Three Fates Project (with Marc Bonilla and Terje Mikkelsen) album cover 2.75 | 2 ratings
Three Fates Project (with Marc Bonilla and Terje Mikkelsen)
Third Stream 2012
KEITH EMERSON Keith Emerson Trio album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Keith Emerson Trio
Soul Jazz 2015


KEITH EMERSON live albums

KEITH EMERSON Boys Club : Live From California album cover 2.91 | 2 ratings
Boys Club : Live From California
Jazz Related Rock 2009
KEITH EMERSON Keith Emerson Band Featuring Marc Bonilla : Moscow album cover 2.83 | 3 ratings
Keith Emerson Band Featuring Marc Bonilla : Moscow
Jazz Related Rock 2011

KEITH EMERSON demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

KEITH EMERSON re-issues & compilations

KEITH EMERSON Emerson Plays Emerson album cover 2.83 | 3 ratings
Emerson Plays Emerson
Third Stream 2002

KEITH EMERSON singles (0)

KEITH EMERSON movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)



Album · 1994 · Jazz Related Soundtracks
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
- When Rustic Hinges need Lubrication (Iron Man reads Keith Emerson Comics) -

Although I could be wrong (it wouldn't be the first time) I think this CD is only available from the official Keith Emerson website as I have to date, never seen a copy in any retail stores.

If the sleeve notes are to be believed, this project was forged at a meeting in 1994 between Marvel Comics illustrator supremo Stan Lee and probably the worst knife and flame throwing musician in history, Keith Emerson. At its conclusion both parties agreed that the music traditionally used for children's comic book animations was banal in the extreme and what better opportunity was there to give the kids a subliminal musical appreciation primer than get Mr E to levitate the soundtrack to film score extravaganza proportions ? What finer candidate could there be than the man who lit the bomb in 'bombastic?'

A marriage made in heaven it would seem, but as King Henry VIII whispered quietly to one of Anne Boleyn's linen handmaidens:

- No, don't bother with two pillows, we won't need that many tomorrow trust me -

'Iron Man Main Title Theme' - Keith gets us off to a lively start with a swaggering and nagging march tune stated on heroic signature synth brass underpinned by a punning groove exploiting some resonating metallic percussion. I can even see the screen credits scrolling in front of my minds eye. The old biker's sabbatical in the film industry during the 80's is reaping rich dividends here.

'And the Sea Shall Give Up It's Dead' - Starts with a very eerie high pitched dissonant cluster chord (Yep this must be the leitmotif of the 'baddie' - Wagner goes digital). However the momentum of this intriguing opening is soon lost as the piece lapses into a rather half-hearted but knowingly twee 'cheese lounge' tangent before Emerson, for reasons best known to himself, quotes 'Street War' fleetingly from 'In the Hot Seat'. Things do perk up thereafter with some sporadic and delightful orchestral writing and several disguised and modulated allusions to the opening track's sublime theme. There is also a hint of both 'Glorietta' and 'Romeo & Juliet' in places here and the whole construction although certainly ever changing and atmospheric does betray a rather haphazard arrangement. Keith also completely overdoes the punning metallic clanging percussion arsenal to wearying effect. This type of short episodic writing is certainly appropriate for animation work but I fear it would take until 'Godzilla Wars' in 2004 before Emerson would perfect this particular discipline fully. (Which reminds me, I need to add that album to his discography)

'I Am Ultimo, Thy Deliverer' - Some brooding and restive string synth writing opens this track and at least half this section has a more satisfying development and structure than the one before. The percussion is much more restrained and carries more weight as a result. The rapidity and insistence of the staccato passages are cleverly balanced against the legato pad and string sounds with the overall effect being that of a fully realised dynamic orchestral score. At 6 min 50ish however, we deviate into a straight rock groove but like all the many ideas that proliferate on this record, nothing sticks around for long or even prefaces its arrival. Circa 9 mins in we meet some martial snare and a jazzy interlude but again this is never sustained into a lasting theme. At 11 minutes we bump into a flustered Bela Bartok, bamboozled by his pungent Hungarian modes being employed for a fantasy cartoon. Yep, things really do DRAG from here on in and I cannot help but get the impression that this has degenerated into technician Will Alexander with stopwatch in hand, dialling up a new preset and challenging the maestro to:

- Play something that fits that sound then smarty leather pants! -

Just prior to the quarter hour elapsing we get a very clumsy lurch into Chick Corea jazz rock territory, and as brilliant as the solo and groove are, they just do not stem naturally from what came before. The fact that the drum sounds employed are via sequenced samples or a hardware unit does not help the creation of a credible percussion performance throughout the album alas.

'Data In Chaos Out' - Quotes cheekily from Holst at least twice on the intro I think? and seemingly emboldened by his subterfuge going undetected risks a snatch of both 'God Save the Queen' and 'Mars the Bringer of War' further in. You are a very naughty man Mr Emerson. Segues into an unusual, for Keith at any rate, pastoral and folky medieval plainsong a la Gryphon before appearing to quote his own left hand ostinato on 'Piano Concerto 3rd Movement'. (We'll let the last one pass certainly) Significantly there is a synth patch Keith uses liberally which mimics moving 'around the dial' on an old fashioned wireless and this may give some rationale as to the truncated brevity of the writing employed here to imitate the effect of stumbling upon short excerpts of random broadcasts? Keith however is plainly guilty on 'Data In Chaos Out' of that cardinal sin of many keyboard players who have distorted guitar sounds under their fingers via a sampler/synth i.e. if you don't think and play like a guitarist you're gonna sound like the Venus de Milo holding a Strat (pretty unconvincing)

'Silence My Companion, Death My Destination' - Play the first 20 seconds of this to your annoying and stubbornly white urban bro' next door and watch his acne encrusted features fall when you exclaim with indecent and crowing glee:

- 'Gotcha.... it's old prog fart numero uno!!' -

Piano appears for the first time here and despite the wonderful and tantalizing glimpses of Emerson's playing we again never get a chance for the underlying ideas to present themselves properly due to the disjointed nature of the arrangement which resembles a cut-up narrative that would have made even William Burroughs proud. Once again the main theme provides some sort of respite and it certainly has a strength and resilience that so much of this messy album does not. Emerson dallies with dance techniques at various junctures with mostly unconvincing results i.e. he layers house beats under urban sax motifs and bleepy analogue percussion and just manages to lose whatever skin tone he may have possessed before he started. Yep, unfortunately after about 15 minutes, as if on cue, Keith has run out of ideas and merely goes round his favourite synth presets again giving us a wretched home demo appropriation of 'Tank' for our pains of forbearance. Uncannily, 'Street Wars' makes yet another appearance and like a wasp in the middle of winter, proves to be a particularly unwelcome guest.

'Iron Man, Theme Alternate' - Very strong musical ideas relegated to just 1 minute in duration. So much of the quality on this recording is in inverse proportion to its running time.

So there you have it, a very disappointing pot pourri of soundtrack related sketches and preset digital synth cul de sacs I'm afraid. Perhaps if I had seen the visuals that are to accompany this music I may feel differently but if you are going to release a stand alone CD of music, it really should measure up of its own accord. Those proggers who are HEAVILY into synth sounds for their own sake might be in hog heaven with this album but as for the remainder, only the terminally obsessed (like moi) should indulge.

KEITH EMERSON Boys Club : Live From California

Live album · 2009 · Jazz Related Rock
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
- Californian Double-Garage Band -

Perhaps 'Emerson, Hughes & Bonilla' was never gonna set consumer pulses racing but 'Boy's Club?' The latter sounds like a failed teen group that even those credulous denizens of the mall dismiss as 'booey wack' The cover art captures the lads in 'sunglasses after dark mode' with Emerson in particular looking about as threatening as a disgruntled monastery auditor.

Mr Hughes vocal stylings certainly polarise the Lemming household, as Mrs L coos girlishly about how cute he is and swoons over what she hears as 'soulful macho swagger' whereas I deem his tonsilry as technically flawless but hopelessly mannered and affected.(As someone who cannot sing a note and resembles the produce of a live fish bait store, my jealously will be pitifully transparent) Just to compound my own prejudices I note that vocalists whose singing I loathe such as LaBrie and Hughes have American accents while Paul Rodgers, Chris Farlowe and Ian Gillan whose rawk affectations I like have discernible British accents. I'll let you do the FLAMING maths.

Afterburner - Verbatim 'Baba O'Riley' synth intro albeit via Bonilla's palm muted picking which leads into an unpromising pub chugalong over which is stated a theme which might feel more at home in a fusion context. The central section smacks of arbitrary chords played in unison as if the difficulty of the undertaking was an end in itself.(Counting is not a spectator sport) That Bonilla is a very accomplished guitarist is a complete no-brainer but here he dives headlong into the murky waters of Widdley Creek oblivious to the paddle lying abandoned on the bank. This type of plank spanking communicates precisely zero, it's speed typing of memos that the recipients are clearly too lazy to read. Three Hundred notes a second? awesome dude! Two words a minute: This sucks.

Long Journey Home - A very spacey and atmospheric instrumental with Emerson's pensive and droning synth pads lending sympathetic support to Bonilla's eastern inflected bowed guitar put through the 'Ravi Shankar Yodelling in the Grand Canyon' reverb fx preset on his digital rack. As an intro to 'Hoedown' it does work but as a composition in it's own right? Nah.

Hoedown - Another very spirited romp through the ol' ELP staple and although the unison playing from Emo and Bonilla is undoubtedly skilful it doesn't lend anything new to what is becoming a rather dottery and absent minded standard. The 'hand on belt buckle' bluegrass breakdown in the middle is good fun and Bonilla displays a wit and humour to his playing that was conspicuous by its absence up to now. The wah wah transition back to the main theme could have been exploited more methinks, but all things considered, this ain't too shabby at all.(and Hughes hasn't even cleared his throat yet. Was he stuck in a cab en route to the gig?)

A Whiter Shade of Pale - No alas, but to be fair Glen does display uncharacteristic restraint on this Procul Harum classic by his reading of the tune faithfully to the spirit of the original. Perhaps my worst fears are groundless? Interestingly, the band adopt a fresh approach here, and resist the temptation to revisit the liturgical feel of the original via the organ. Instead, the Bach quote is carried by Bonilla's plangent guitar and Emerson restricts himself to subdued and understated synth pads and some sparing piano flourishes as the song builds.There are scores of wretched covers of this song but this is one of the best (listen to wee Annie Lennox version for an instance of rigor mortis 'prior' to death)

White Noise - Possibly one of the only instances of a tune that actually manages to advance the boogie genre into uncharted territory. Bonillas's imaginative composition displays everything in abundance that his playing on 'Afterburner' lacked i.e. subtlety, wit, irony and innovation. Emerson actually decided to hook up with Marc after hearing the latter perform this number in a Californian watering hole. Keith's knuckle busting piano solo is a veritable eargasm for this listener (but then I'm a shameless Emo fanboy)

Cover Me - Utterly pedestrian US rawk grunt which with hideous irony, serves as a vehicle for Hughes to rev up his 'Mustang Sally' soul holler thang y'all. His overuse of melisma is grievously irritating when he stretches a single word or phrase so that it practically encompasses a whole scale. This device can be very effective if used to enhance or improvise on a given melody,(soul singers do this effortlessly) but like Bonilla on 'Afterburner', this is a lack of original ideas cloaked by technique. Imagine a pale Wilson Pickett auditioning for Dream Theater (sic) and try to get a good night's sleep thereafter.

Nutrocker - Quotes delightfully from 'Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies' on the intro but the pungent harmonies chosen by Emo and Bonilla lend this quaint piece an unexpected mordant edge. Thereafter we are treated to a damn nifty classical knees up round the ol' joanna and the whole band radiate fun, fun, fun in spades. Keith's solo is again a belter and the entire arrangement displays a healthy irreverence for both the original source and the player's own egos. As your correspondent is too short sighted/drunk to read the sleeve notes properly, I suspect the second guitar solo is that of Mike Wallace and the electric piano/clavinet excursion belongs to Ed Roth? It's 'Nutrocker' Jim, but not as we know it.

Tarkus - Emerson is on record as stating this the definitive version of his famous composition. As much as I like this rendition, I don't share completely his unqualified endorsement, but who am I to argue with the original composer's intentions? Although a vastly evolved creature from ELP's feisty puppy from 1971, it shares a similar feel and scope to that of the version on the live 'Vivacitas' album. Hughes however, completely undermines the song sections with an unwitting comedic effect not dissimilar to an 'Emerson, Gaye & Palmer' parody. Can white men sing the blues? Who cares?, Can white men who sing like black men sing prog? (Nah) Shame really as the arrangement and playing is excellent and Bonilla's sinuous aggressive lead gives the piece an even more sinister feel than before. A quick word in praise of Joe Travers drumming, which is 'in the pocket' no fancy dan malarkey when the material dictates such and interactively supportive when far greater complexity is called for. He is clearly an extremely versatile and musical drummer with a sense of humour (i.e. he hits his cowbell occasionally)

Dreams - This can't be an original?, I mean it's just too damn loose limbed and languid for these chop meisters but wait, hold up... must be an Allman Brothers cover? Regardless, it features a rip snorting Emerson solo on organ and some electric piano tinkling from Roth (I think?) After 6 minutes of this delightful devilment we degenerate soon thereafter into a very long and numbing 'Dirge for Stuck Rock Band and Fish Salesman with Elephantiasis of the Larynx'. Even if Glen Hughes sang through a drinking straw he would suck all the air out of the room. Truly a soul singer for the soulless.

Middle of a Dream - A studio track featuring some unadorned poignant piano from Emerson that carries a whiff of Satie's 'Gymnopedies' before retreating to reveal a groove redolent of 'The Way It Is' by Bruce Hornsby. Nothing there to run to the nuclear bunker for just yet and even Hughes behaves himself on a catchy rock/pop tune that at the very least displays this unlikely ensemble of musicians may have carved themselves a lucrative niche in such a market had the collaboration endured.

I was dreading reviewing this to be honest as it pains me to have to bash anything that contains the work of my idol Emerson but I am glad to report it's way, way better than I envisaged.This is a very entertaining live album that is worth some of your time regardless of what particular flavour of rock tickles your palette. Therein however lies the dilemma that 'Boys Club' would face had their association lasted: Lovers of prog metal and guitar shredding in general will adore and hate some of this in equal measure. Similarly, symphonic/classical rock enthusiasts and jazzers will alternatively drool then spit at the contents. Yep, they are forever trapped between two stools (is that what 'lounge metal' means?)


Album · 1981 · Jazz Related Rock
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
- Play that funky music white boy -

During a time which Emerson later described as that of 'zero pressure' in the aftermath of ELP's burial on 'Love Beach', our keyboard hero stayed on in the Bahamas to top up his tan, hide from Lester Bangs and 'soak up' some of the local hospitality. Inside those precious few little windows he had in his already busy itinerary, Keith also found time to dash off a solo album at a local recording studio to which he had unlimited access in return for helping the owners modernise the facility.

The mood here is understandably relaxed, as there was no hot breath on the back of the Emerson neck from inquisitive and anxious record companies to cramp his style and the result is a collection of 'hobbyist' tunes which pay homage to his earliest inspiration i.e boogie-woogie, jazz, classical and blues.

Hello Sailor Intro - The limitations of the recording studio are evident here immediately and the sound quality is only on a par with a semi-pro establishment. Despite that, the album has a very pleasing lo-fi grunt about it which seems to suit the aged choice of materials covered. Considering the sterility of so many 80's recordings, the grainy earthiness of 'Honky' is a pleasure avalanche in comparison. The plaintive and stately guitar on this short mood setter is provided by the session engineer Mott who segues us into the next track with a very effective pattern of guitar harmonics a la Rush's Lifeson.

Bach Before the Mast - If Jacques Loussier was ever in the habit of going to fancy dress parties dressed as a pirate, getting hammered on rum and being asked to "give us a tune on the old joanna matey" then this is just what might have resulted. There are some sadistic contrapuntal demands in this George Malcolm piano fugue that beggars belief but Emerson rises to the challenge and puts in a magnificent performance by choosing (wisely) to postpone the introduction of any jazz or blues licks until the resultant finale.

Hello Sailor Finale - This one will certainly be picked up on any auditing proghead's radar and is perhaps the most overtly progressive track on the album. The aforementioned Mott contributes some tasteful and economic lead guitar on a jazz fusion treatment of the earlier Malcolm baroque material. This is a very busy and skilled arrangement which never sits idle for long but the rhythm section of Kendall Stubbs bass and Frank Scully's drums never allow the infectious groove to get lost for a second. Have sea shanties ever sounded this cool? In less astute hands this could have degenerated into the 'Pirates of Penzance' as envisaged by Chick Corea.

Salt Cay - I think this was the theme music written by Keith for an Italian TV show. The Korg beasties that he was using at around this time are well to the fore together with some greasy organ that lends the piece a bluesy Jimmy Smith feel. The ending theme stated on chirpy synth over an irresistible start/stop groove will stick resolutely inside your head for months to come. We meet here the local Junkanoo percussion indigenous to the Bahamas which permeates the mix subtly and unobtrusively, giving Emerson's music a hitherto unprecedented funky edge.

Green Ice - This was part of the rejected score that Emerson submitted for the movie of the same name, and considering that Bill Wyman's offering won the day, this track made the decision by the film producers an even easier one. It just sounds plain contrived from start to finish, with a cramped groove that never gets airborne and wheezes under a flimsy and disjointed structure. Did Keith receive the wrong script in the mail and write the cheesy chanted jungle vocals befitting a production starring Carmen Miranda in the role of a cross-dressing Tarzan?. Shame really, as his piano soloing is excellent on the jazz fusion sections while his collaborators continue to lend robust support despite the weakness of the underlying ideas.

Intro-juicing - Some people only sing when they're drunk, and others drink because we've heard them.

Big Horn Breakdown - Not sure who wrote the original but it might possibly have been Billy Taylor? The renowned Dick Morrisey (If, Alexis Corner etc) contributes a playful and jesting sax solo here and it is obvious that the whole ensemble are having loads of fun in the process. Once again the Junkanoo percussion arsenal lends this familiar style an interesting and innovative texture. Very few of the prog keyboard giants apart from Keith have ever tackled boogie-woogie convincingly and it should be evident by now that the required feel and phrasing are subtly elusive and take considerable dedication to master. Many other celebrated technicians make it sound like 'Status Quo for piano'.

Yancey Special - An instalment of Keith's acknowledged debt to the early masters of 'primitive piano' is repaid here on a joyous romp through a Meade Lux Lewis construction sourced from one of Jimmy Yancey's left hand boogie patterns. Yep, Emo could probably play this sort of thing in his sleep but nevertheless, his consummate feel and the infectious energy that radiates from all the players on this number is exactly what you hear from your speakers.

Rum a Ting - The Junkanoo percussion is featured prominently on a rhythm section intro before we head off into some more delightful jazz fusion territory boasting a memorable main theme and some eloquent dialogue between Emerson's percussive electric piano and the sinewy hired muscle that is Stubbs and Scully. The 'whooping' synth exclamation marks towards the end are a real goose bump raiser.

Chickcharnie - The bottom of the barrel would have represented the ceiling for Emerson on this 'disco' piano abomination utilising a melodic seed from the 'Nighthawks' soundtrack. Like having your ears syringed ('with' wax).

Jesus Loves Me - Oh lordy...has Emerson gone and done a Dylan on us? Relax, this is just a misguided but sincere attempt at transferring the joyous abandon of a Caribbean gospel church service to the recording studio. Aided and abetted by what sounds like the Bahamas Ladies (Male) Voice Choir, Keith makes a decent stab at it ('scuse the pun) but as spirited and energetic as all this is, his self consciousness at being in such unfamiliar territory is betrayed by an uncharacteristically aimless and ragged solo that drags on too long. A failed experiment but one I am glad he attempted as it shows an adventurous spirit still burns even on such a relatively conservative album as this one.

As 'JMA' have gone to the trouble of placing Keith's solo output quite appropriately in the 'Jazz Related Rock' category, I am always puzzled at the dismissive tenor of so many of the reviews of these albums. I do admit that his career outside ELP has been very patchy but we seem to be falling into the trap of appraising this music by what is 'does not' contain instead of what it does. Yes, there are no twenty minute bombastic, technical and conceptual pieces on this record. Would any of us throw the same barb at Peter Gabriel, Supertramp, Talk Talk, Procul Harum, the Moody Blues or (gulp) Radiohead ?

Thought not.

My Dad likes this album, and he hates everything (Nuff said)

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