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Keith Emerson - Honky CD (album) cover

HONKY

Keith Emerson

 

Crossover Prog

2.84 | 36 ratings

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js (Easy Money)
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars When Keith Emerson is good he can be amazing, but when he is bad ... Unfortunately this album is not one of Keith's better efforts, but it does have its moments. The album opens with Hello Sailor, which is an extensive workout based on Sailor's Hornpipe. The main tune gets treated to Bach style counterpoint, then sluggish funk rhythms and finally typical ELP pomp-rock. The whole arrangement is cute, unfortunately it is just a little too cute. The following tune, Salt Cay, alternates Herb Alpert style 70s Latin-pop with Hammond driven hard rock sections. It is a weird mix to be sure. Green Ice is another odd tune. I'm not sure where Keith got the odd double time stop-start rhythm that dominates this song, it sounds somewhat related to Latin jazz, but it totally lacks any kind of groove or flow.

Side two opens with one of those Shakey's Pizza Parlor honky-tonk piano numbers that could probably incite domestic violence if turned up loud enough. This is followed by Yancey Special which is more honky- tonk piano, this time set to a reggae beat. Need I say more?

The third song on side two, Rum-A-Ting is the one gem on this otherwise overly silly album. It opens with a 70s jazz fusion meets world beat style melody that used to be common on albums by people like Stanley Clarke or George Duke. This melody is followed by a great funky groove topped by some nice aggressive soloing on Keith's new digital Hammond. There is one part towards the end of the solo that is particularly interesting, for a few bars Keith repeats an electronic texture against the funky beat and seems to predict a style of music that will come in the next two decades when it will be introduced by people like Bill Laswell and various trip-hop DJs.

The album closes with Emerson's attempt at a Bahamian style pentecostal song of praise. I guess it is supposed to be kind of funny in a colonial kind of way ... whatever. It sounds a bit like Zappa, which only makes it seem all the more tacky and distasteful. When he is at his best Emerson can combine his many influences and come up with some really creative rock music, but when he is at his worst he is similar to vituoso easy-listening pianists like Roger Williams who pastiche unlikely styles together in an attempt to dazzle people and impress them with their technique.

js (Easy Money) | 2/5 |

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