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KEITH EMERSON

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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Keith Emerson biography
KEITH EMERSON is regarded by many as the most influential keyboard player on progressive rock, even acquiring the name 'Hendrix Of The Organ' for his organ stabbing routines on stage with both The Nice and ELP during the Sixties and Seventies. Outside of Jerry Lee Lewis, keyboard playing is normally for quiet characters who stare fixatedly at the keyboard usually not even acknowledging the existence of the audience.Not so for EMERSON, who would jump on top of the organ, ride it across the stage and then throw it away once he had his 'evil' way with it in a grand display of over the top showmanship.Audiences lapped it up, while critics complained about ''Keyboard masturbation'' and ''pretentiousness''.


This all somewhat hides the fact that EMERSON was a serious musician. Studying classical music from an early age, he was fascinated by the relationship between classical music (like Bach) and rock music. He fully understood the importance of counterpoint as shown when The Nice performed 'Brandenburger'. The Nice were also quite happy to play live with orchestra as demonstrated by the 1969 Fairfields concert of 'The Five Bridges Suite'.


In 1970 EMERSON was to focus his attentions towards the recently invented Moog Synthesiser. ELP were one of the most significant innovators of this instrument in prog. Tracks like 'Lucky Man','Toccata' and 'Tarkus' showed EMERSON's prowess on the Moog. He worked closely with the inventor himself to develop new keyboards and to refine its use. Robert Moog was a great fan of EMERSON and regarded him as the foremost player of the instrument.


EMERSON, however, was still keen to pick up his classical/orchestral ambitions, and in the mid Seventies composed his first (and to date only) Piano Concerto. This eventually (almost by accident) found its way onto ELP's 'Works Volume One' as the prog trio ventured further towards classical/jazz and symphonic music. However, the emergence of punk brought further cries of 'self indulgence' from music critics. ELP were to crash and burn, but EMERSON was still justifiably proud of his classical creation. Not only aired on classical radio, this fine piece of music has even been adopted by professional orchestras.


After ELP disbanded in 1980, and now free of group commitments, EMERSON was able to take up some of the numerous film soundtrack offers that came his way. His first excursion into this area was to be the Dario Argento horror film 'Inferno', closely followed by t...


This all somewhat hides the fact that EMERSON was a serious musician. Studying classical music from an early age, he was fascinated by the relationship between classical music (like Bach) and rock music. He fully understood the importance of counterpoint as shown when The Nice performed 'Brandenburger'. The Nice were also quite happy to play live with orchestra as demonstrated by the 1969 Fairfields concert of 'The Five Bridges Suite'.


In 1970 EMERSON was to focus his attentions towards the recently invented Moog Synthesiser. ELP were one of the most significant innovators of this instrument in prog. Tracks like 'Lucky Man','Toccata' and 'Tarkus' showed EMERSON's prowess on the Moog. He worked closely with the inventor himself to develop new keyboards and to refine its use. Robert Moog was a great fan of EMERSON and regarded him as the foremost player of the instrument.


EMERSON, however, was still keen to pick up his classical/orchestral ambitions, and in the mid Seventies composed his first (and to date only) Piano Concerto. This eventually (almost by accident) found its way onto ELP's 'Works Volume One' as the prog trio ventured further towards classical/jazz and symphonic music. However, the emergence of punk brought further cries of 'self indulgence' from music critics. ELP were to crash and burn, but EMERSON was still justifiably proud of his classical creation. Not only aired on classical radio, this fine piece of music has even been adopted by professional orchestras.


After ELP disbanded in 1980, and now free of group commitments, EMERSON was able to take up some of the numerous film soundtrack offers that came his way. His first excursion into this area was to be the Dario Argento horror film 'Inferno', closely followed by the Hollywood/Sylvester Stallone vehicle 'Nighthawks'. EMERSON has also worked on Japanese animated films like 'Harmageddon' and, more recently, 'Godzilla Wars', a style of film that arguably suits him best. He has also released non-soundtrack solo albums such as 'Honky' and 'Changing States', and even a Christmas album (well if Greg Lake can go there, why not Emerson?). 'Changing States' features the late, great Kevin Gilbert, as well as some excellent American jazz rock musicians, although perhaps it is most appealing for the use of Hammond organ, the instrument that he originally built his reputation on.With ELP disbanding again in the late Nineties, EMERSON reformed The Nice for some live shows, and more recently formed The Keith Emerson Band. I was a 'lucky man' to see KEITH EMERSON n last year, and now, even into his sixties, the man still rocks!

Richard Haydon (richardh) - February 2007



Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
KEITH EMERSON is one of the most influential musicians in prog for its innovative approach to keyboard playing.



Discography:
Inferno (1980 - studio album)
Nighthawks (1981 - studio album)
Murderock (1986 - studio album)
Honky (1985 - studio album)
The Best Revenge (1986 - studio album)
La Chiesa (The Church) (1988 - studio album)
The Christmas Album (1988 - studio album)
Harmageddon (1987 - studio album)
Cream Of Emerson Soup (also known as 'Changing States') (1995 - studio album)
Emerson Plays Emerson (2002 - studio album)
Hammer It Out - The Anthology (2005 - compilation)
At The Movies (2005 - compilation)
Off The Shelf (2006 - compilation)

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Keith Emerson official website

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Buy KEITH EMERSON Music


Keith Emerson Band featuring Marc BonillaKeith Emerson Band featuring Marc Bonilla
VARESE FONTANA 2009
Audio CD$8.80
$7.92 (used)
Boys Club: Live From CaliforniaBoys Club: Live From California
Varese Records 2013
Audio CD$10.74
$12.99 (used)
Christmas AlbumChristmas Album
Gunslinger Records 2000
Audio CD$28.00
$19.95 (used)
Changing States: Remastered EditionChanging States: Remastered Edition
Import
Imports 2014
Audio CD$11.17
$16.72 (used)
Christmas AlbumChristmas Album
Import
Ais 2012
Audio CD$14.37
$20.20 (used)
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KEITH EMERSON shows & tickets


  • Moogfest 2014 on 23 Apr 2014

KEITH EMERSON discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

KEITH EMERSON top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.11 | 27 ratings
Inferno
1980
2.85 | 34 ratings
Honky
1981
3.30 | 27 ratings
Nighthawks
1981
2.50 | 6 ratings
Murderock- Uccide A Passo Di Danza
1984
2.96 | 19 ratings
The Christmas Album
1988
3.19 | 11 ratings
Changing States/Cream of Emerson Soup
1995
2.58 | 14 ratings
Iron Man Vol 1
2001
3.76 | 20 ratings
Emerson Plays Emerson
2002
3.53 | 54 ratings
Keith Emerson Band featuring Marc Bonilla
2008
3.25 | 21 ratings
Three Fates Project (with Marc Bonilla & Terje Mikkelsen)
2012

KEITH EMERSON Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.75 | 9 ratings
Keith Emerson - Glenn Hughes - Marc Bonilla. Boys Club - Live From California
2009
4.08 | 12 ratings
Keith Emerson Band Featuring Marc Bonilla - Moscow
2011

KEITH EMERSON Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.83 | 17 ratings
Keith Emerson Band Featuring Marc Bonilla - Moscow
2010

KEITH EMERSON Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.50 | 9 ratings
Chord Sampler
1984
3.18 | 13 ratings
Hammer It Out - The Anthology
2005
3.96 | 11 ratings
At The Movies
2005
2.98 | 12 ratings
Off The Shelf
2006

KEITH EMERSON Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

KEITH EMERSON Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Honky by EMERSON, KEITH album cover Studio Album, 1981
2.85 | 34 ratings

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Honky
Keith Emerson Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

2 stars Anyone who knows the output of Emerson, Lake & Palmer is aware of how playful musician Keith Emerson can be. On this solo album he had the chance to play like a child in a toy shop, accompanied by Bahamian musicians. As the recent Esoteric Recordings re-release informs us, he had a happy time in and out of the studio, sun-bathing, water-skiing, fishing etc. and therefore this album is for him a dear bringer of joyful memories. It can't be denied that the joyful spirit can be felt by the listener too.

Anyone who knows the output of Emerson, Lake & Palmer also pretty surely can guess in advance whether (s)he will enjoy this album or will it push the irritation button. Well, at least the Bach pastiche composed by George Malcolm is nice. The production values are principally fine: the keyboards are in tune and the co-musicians are gifted.

On my behalf there's absolutely nothing else to say.

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 Three Fates Project (with Marc Bonilla & Terje Mikkelsen) by EMERSON, KEITH album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.25 | 21 ratings

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Three Fates Project (with Marc Bonilla & Terje Mikkelsen)
Keith Emerson Crossover Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 stars ELP - Concertante

In 2008 Keith Emerson released the first album under the name of The Keith Emerson Band (featuring Marc Bonilla), and it was a good one, easily the best album Emerson had put out (under any name) since the 1992 reunion with Lake and Palmer (resulting in Black Moon), and also one of the better albums he has put out since ELP's qualitative decline in the mid 70's. This strong, self-titled Keith Emerson Band studio album was then followed by an excellent live album (and video) in 2010 featuring a storming concert performance recorded in Moscow with songs from the new album as well as many rocking renditions of classic ELP songs. Staying true to the originals, yet at the same time going beyond them in adding an extra element in Bonilla's electric guitar playing, this was a recipe for success and Emerson had not sounded more in his element for a long, long time.

In the light of the above, this second Keith Emerson Band studio disc is a definite disappointment. Both Keith and Marc Bonilla are reduced to supporting roles here, leaving the main spotlight to the Munchner Rundfunkorchester conducted by Terje Mikkelsen. This is what I would like to call "Orchestral Rock", which is not Symphonic Progressive Rock--huge difference! Keith plays piano and some synths, Bonilla adds some electric guitar, the drums are handled by Troy Lucketta (and Toss Panos on one track), and Travis Davis plays bass.

The material consists of some orchestral re-workings of old ELP classics like Tarkus, Endless Enigma, and Abbadon's Bolero, as well as adaptations of Classical music (previously performed by ELP) like Fanfare For The Common Man. Malambo is another Classical piece that also was included on both The Keith Emerson Band studio album and the Moscow live album. Interestingly, The Three Fates are not here.

I am not fond of such orchestral Rock in general, and even though this album is actually a reasonably good example of that and a moderately pleasant listen, it is far from essential. In every case I would say that there are better versions than these orchestral re-workings. I hope The Keith Emerson Band returns with a proper new studio album featuring all new material in the style of their first. This one is for fans only.

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 Changing States/Cream of Emerson Soup by EMERSON, KEITH album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.19 | 11 ratings

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Changing States/Cream of Emerson Soup
Keith Emerson Crossover Prog

Review by richardh
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Yo, Keef!

I'm something of a Keith Emerson fan so its very difficult for me to be totally objective. Keith Emerson is one of those forces of nature that emerged from the late sixties showing that a Hammond organ could be a lead instrument in the right hands. This was the instrument that he forged his reputation on until he was sidetracked by the seductive charms of the Moog synth. However throughout his ELP career there are still those great organ lead tracks such as Hoedown and Tarkus before it was pretty much dumped for the Yamaha GX1 , the much vaunted keyboard of choice for the likes of Stevie Wonder and John Paul Jones (Led Zep). I do feel something was lost and that sense of loss continued through to the very disappointing ELPowell album where Emerson seemed reluctant,So where is that full blown Hammond Organ album to get one excited? By 1989 Emerson had had his fill of doing film soundtracks and so was looking to get back to a more traditional sounding album. This is it. Very much a stripped down sound and the organ up front. The band is absolutely top notch with some very powerful versions of tracks that were too be later reproduced by ELP on Black Moon- Another Frontier and Romeo and Juliet. For my money these are so much more powerful than the ELP versions and its the drums that are the major difference. The drummer here (Mark Barsimanto) is more dynamic than Carl Palmer who by 1992 was suffering some problems with his hands (Carpal Tunnel syndrome I think). It also helps that the producer is the legendary Kevin Gilbert who also co writes 3 of the tracks and plays Tuba on the orchestral version of Abaddon's Bolero ( yes really!!) as well as drums on the 3 of the three tracks. Actually this highlights one issue with this album that the tracks are taken from two different sessions but the common denominators are Emerson and Gilbert. This could almost be viewed as a collaboration between two of the greatest talents of the prog scene and when you also consider that Marc Bonilla is present on 3 of the tracks then there are some real heavyweights involved.

Kevin Gilbert's sleeve notes are a worth partly reproducing: The music on this CD was conceived in the traditional fashion.Lots of grunting and groaning.Sweat,Much too quickly.Mr Emerson braved the stirrups whilst Mr Gilbert reached in and pulled.Marc Bonilla midfwifed and Big Nila provided lots of hot water and towels.

..it does go on much more and 'Kev' shows himself to be a talented writer.

This album is being reissued this year so if you want a dose of contemporary organ lead prog by one of the masters then this is for you.

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 Changing States/Cream of Emerson Soup by EMERSON, KEITH album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.19 | 11 ratings

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Changing States/Cream of Emerson Soup
Keith Emerson Crossover Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 stars The Black Moon demos

In my opinion, Emerson Lake & Palmer's 1992 come-back album Black Moon is (contrary to common opinion) a very solid album and easily the best the band had produced since they peaked with Brain Salad Surgery in 1973. Indeed, I think that Black Moon ranks as one of ELP's best studio albums ever, surpassed only by Brain Salad Surgery, Trilogy, and the self-titled debut. I also think it is better than the other things that Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, and Carl Palmer did in the interim period, including the album Keith and Greg did with Cozy Powell in 1986 (under the name Emerson Lake & Powell), the album Keith and Carl did with Robert Berry in 1988 (under the name 3), the albums Carl did with Asia, as well as Greg's and Keith's respective solo albums.

The present album was recorded in 1989 but not released until 1995. It includes early versions of several songs that ended up on the Black Moon album. Somewhat confusingly, the title of this album, Changing States, is also the title of a song from Black Moon that here goes under the alternative name of Another Frontier. The track that was called Romeo And Juliet on Black Moon is an adaptation of Prokiev's Montagues And Capulets and appears here under the latter title. Finally, Black Moon's Close To Home is here called Ballade. Both versions of all three of these tracks are great. Ballade is notable for having some acoustic guitar by Kevin Gilbert.

Another track on Changing States that is already going to be familiar to ELP fans is Abaddons Bolero which appears here in an orchestral version featuring the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Personally I prefer the original adaptation from 1972's Trilogy album. While all of the above mentioned tracks are available elsewhere, the rest of this album is a mixed bag. The best of the lot is Church, a heavy progressive rocker drenched in organ in trademark Emerson style. Shelter From The Rain and The Band Keeps Playing are passable Hard Rock numbers with little or nothing indicating that this is a Keith Emerson album. They could indeed have come from Whitesnake. The real low point of the album, however, is definitely the jazzy version of Summertime. A complete embarrassment and waste of space.

There are some very good moments here, but as I've said they are mostly available elsewhere in better versions. If you already have Black Moon, you don't need this. And if you don't have Black Moon, get it first. Only fans and collectors need both albums.

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 Keith Emerson Band Featuring Marc Bonilla - Moscow by EMERSON, KEITH album cover Live, 2011
4.08 | 12 ratings

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Keith Emerson Band Featuring Marc Bonilla - Moscow
Keith Emerson Crossover Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

4 stars Finale

Here we have the great Keith Emerson performing live with "The Keith Emerson Band featuring Marc Bonilla" in Moscow some years ago. Hearing it now it is incredible that Emerson has lost none of his energy over the years. Indeed, this live concert rocks more than Emerson Lake & Palmer ever did! As I noted in my review of Greg Lake's similarly excellent 2006 live concert DVD (simply called Greg Lake Live), the addition of electric guitar to classic ELP songs is a real winner. ELP was a great band in their own right, but I have always felt that the trio format was somewhat limiting. It is an interesting fact that both Emerson and Lake decided to add more guitar to the ELP songs in their respective solo bands' repertoires - in both cases to great effect, I would say! (And, of course, Palmer plays with Steve Howe in Asia.) Here it is Marc Bonilla who sings lead vocals and plays electric guitar while leaving bass guitar duties to Travis Davis. The drummer is Tony Pia. Together they make up a really tight unit and the performances are very good.

The set list consists mainly of material that Emerson performed previously with Greg Lake and Carl Palmer, including a piece of Karn Evil 9, Bitches Crystal, The Barbarian, and a 35 minute version of Tarkus. From the Emerson Lake & Powell album comes Touch And Go, (a song also performed by Lake's solo band). There are here also several tracks from the 2008 studio album credited to The Keith Emerson Band featuring Marc Bonilla. That was a good album, and these new songs hold up rather well among the classics.

Bonilla's voice is very similar to that of Greg Lake and he sings the songs originally sung by Lake very well indeed. Lucky Man, though, is so much Greg's own personal song that I feel it was unwise to include it here. Still, they manage to pull off a strong rendition of that classic song. Overall, this is an excellent live record that I would warmly recommend. It is a very nice companion to the aforementioned Greg Lake Live DVD.

Any fan of ELP or of keyboard-driven Symphonic Prog in general is not going to be disappointed by Moscow!

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 Keith Emerson Band Featuring Marc Bonilla - Moscow by EMERSON, KEITH album cover DVD/Video, 2010
4.83 | 17 ratings

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Keith Emerson Band Featuring Marc Bonilla - Moscow
Keith Emerson Crossover Prog

Review by rdtprog
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

5 stars Give to the 60 years old Keith Emerson, some young arms, let him play his keyboards like he can and you will have a great evening of ELP music with new songs from his Kieth Emerson Band, which are quiet good and fits very well with the ELP's material. The role play by Marc Bonilla on guitar and vocals give a heavier sound to the usual ELP's sound. The songs of ELP have been re-arranged and that is quiet refreshing, the songs have more speed and more power with Bonilla's guitar work.

The set list doesn't have any dull moments, even "Lucky Man" is rocking!. And what a way to finish the concert with a 30 minutes of "Tarkus", that contains some improvisations. The sound is clear and powerful in 5.1 surround, a lot better than the ELP 40th anniversary DVD.

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 Three Fates Project (with Marc Bonilla & Terje Mikkelsen) by EMERSON, KEITH album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.25 | 21 ratings

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Three Fates Project (with Marc Bonilla & Terje Mikkelsen)
Keith Emerson Crossover Prog

Review by j-zeke

5 stars This is where Keith Emerson should be at this point in his career. Yes , he is still capable of playing, but not with the pace and complexity that most of the music he has written requires. Better to expand on what he has written , allowing others to front on certain aspects, while he takes the arranger and orchestrator role. His skills are still there enough to be a contributing player , but it doesn't have to be all about his playing. That's a given. What would be more interesting are more efforts like this album, reworking some of his past compostions , and integrating them with new visions, and the combined efforts with others as is done here.

This album is one of the best recordings he has ever been involved in. Even though we have heard some of it before, many, many times, It comes across in many ways as fresh, new and exciting. For those with really good playback systems, the HQCD version is absolutely fantastic.

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 Three Fates Project (with Marc Bonilla & Terje Mikkelsen) by EMERSON, KEITH album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.25 | 21 ratings

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Three Fates Project (with Marc Bonilla & Terje Mikkelsen)
Keith Emerson Crossover Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams

3 stars This album exceeded my expectations in one way, and disappointed in another.

I am not much of a fan of most orchestral renditions of classic prog rock. Earlier albums, many with some of the original band members adding tracks, rendered classics by Yes, Genesis, Jethro Tull, to name a few, into syrupy muzak.

Well. This album is different. A number of orchestrators, including Keith Emerson himself, managed to capture the spirit of the original ELP pieces, while infusing some surprises, and even some whimsey into the scores. The power of the orchestra is supreme in this recording, and it seems Mr. Emerson approves.

The disappointment comes from Emerson himself. While he's there on most tracks, adding piano, organ and synthesizers, there is very little of the fire in his fingers that made the classic ELP so much fun. I know he still has the magic. I've seen him with his recent band, and he can still light up the keyboards (literally and figuratively).

The Endless Enigma is split into two parts. The first has the orchestra showing just how beautiful this Emerson piece is. On the second part, Emerson and Marc Bonilla join in, but the orchestra still powers the piece. Another high point is Bonilla's American Matador, where the orchestra also raises the recording above the original.

There are a few new pieces on the album. Two pieces by Bonilla show that he is no slouch in orchestral composition, while Emerson's one new track, After All Of This, is much too sedate for my tastes.

The best piece is Tarkus. The orchestration here is superb, and even Emerson gets a bit excited when playing. This track is a masterpiece.

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 Emerson Plays Emerson by EMERSON, KEITH album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.76 | 20 ratings

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Emerson Plays Emerson
Keith Emerson Crossover Prog

Review by Progfan1958

4 stars After spinning a few ELP disks I needed to hear more of Keith today. He's perhaps my all time favourite musician, and his compositional and playing skills just reach a place inside of me that few artists do. This album is simply piano, and in this basic context the complexity and beauty of his art can be plainly experienced. It's amazing how versitile an instrument the grand piano is. Stripped of the usual electronic envelope he's famous for, the music is elemental, and perhaps truer and more immediate. If only he would create and release more like this. Play on sir. ****

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 Honky by EMERSON, KEITH album cover Studio Album, 1981
2.85 | 34 ratings

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Honky
Keith Emerson Crossover Prog

Review by HURBRET

3 stars Sure, this album doesn't take itself seriously, but some of the greatest films ever made were comedies. While I'm not saying that this is a comedy, some of it certainly is a lot of fun, and about seventeen seconds are downright silly (Intro-Juicing). But that aside, it has some fun tunes. Not exactly prog, but anyone with eclectic tastes will recognize a very Caribbean flavor to the whole deal. Hints of reggae, especially in Rum-a-ting. Hello sailor is fun, not incredibly special, but pretty pleasant at least. Tunes like Big Horn Breakdown and Yancey Special are somewhat silly, but still very fun. Salt Cay and Green Ice are both catchy and memorable without being simplistic. Rum-a-Ting is very reggae, but in a surprisingly Emerson way, considering the flavor of the album, and turns out to be pretty good. Chickcharnie is a fast-paced tune, turning out to be one of the most infectious tunes I've heard. Jesus Loves Me is Emerson recording a gospel song being sung during a church service in the Bahamas, where the whole thing was made. All in all, the album is a whole bunch of fun--if albums like CLOSE TO THE EDGE are CASABLANCA, this is IRON MAN. I enjoy it, people with a more conservative mindset might not. Regardless, don't pick this album up if you want Emerson. It is not the Keith Emerson we all know and/or love.

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