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Emerson, Keith: Emerson Plays Emerson
With Keith Emerson sadly leaving us last year, it's easy to fondly conjure images of him stabbing Hammond organs as he ruthlessly swayed them back and forth, or indeed to remember the sounds of him duelling and jousting against the guitar of Greg Lake and drums of Carl Palmer. Initially released in 2002 Emerson Plays Emerson revealed a completely different and much more personal side to the man's undoubted talent. Almost exclusively finding him sitting behind his grand piano, this reissue, which comes fulling endorsed by the Emerson family, shelves the pomp and ceremony of ELP for a much less bombastic, if still proud and expansive approach.
The likes of "Creole Blues", "Close To Home" and "Honky Tonk Train Blues" were all previously interpreted by ELP or on Emerson solo releases. Here the former two are refashioned into stand alone pieces; "Close To Home" a live take that adds atmospheric synth backdrops, whereas "Honky Tonk..." finds Emerson on the Oscar Peterson BBC television show as the duo square off with a sparky duel that proves a disc highlight. As does the closing "Medley", this wonderfully scratchy recording revealing the talents of the 14 year old Emerson as he quite seamlessly blended "Nicola", "Silver Shoes" and "I'll See You In My Dreams".
Elsewhere much of the rest of the album can be described more in terms of mood than song, the short piano pieces doing a wonderful job of conveying emotions. "Vagrant" is an ode to the unusual places the man and his piano found themselves over the years, while "Solitudinous" is a word Emerson made up to describe his mind-set as he composed the piece. It also describes the emotion it conveys perfectly. "Blade Of Grass" is the capturing of a moment of contemplation after a minor disaster struck, while "Interlude" is, well, exactly that. We also get the trad blues of "Roll' n Jelly", the jazz of "B&W Blues" where drums and bass interpret Emerson's original composition and "Ballad For A Common Man" because, well, 'we've all heard the fanfares!'
Repackaged with it's original multi-lingual booklet where every track is described by Emerson, this is an engaging album that, in truth, will never be a constant companion. This is mood music, crafted and performed with real skill and passion. It won't suit every occasion, but it will be the perfect catalyst when you want to reset your day and contemplate. That in itself is a rarity to be cherished.
2. CREOLE DANCE
4. BROKEN BOUGH
5. A CAJUN ALLEY
6. PRELUDE TO CANDICE
7. A BLADE OF GRASS
8. OUTGOING TIDE
11. ROLL'N JELLY
12. B&W BLUES
13. FOR KEVIN
14. THE DREAMER
15. HAMMER IT OUT
16. BALLAD FOR A COMMON MAN
17. BARRELHOUSE SHAKEDOWN
18. NILU'S DREAM
20. CLOSER TO HOME
21. HONKY TONK TRAIN BLUES
22. MEDLEY: NICOLA/SILVER SHOES/I'LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS
Added: November 19th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Emerson Plays Emerson at Cherry Red
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