Keith Emerson - A Few Notes
I came across this image a few months ago, and I felt an urge to highlight it at some point. It's dated April 2008 (Hi-res available, click for bigger). Pictured to the left is Keith Emerson(then 63), to the right is pianist Jeffrey Biegel and in the middle is Keith Emerson's girlfriend Mari Kamaguchi [sic]. I took the liberty of Googling "Mari Kamaguchi" at the time. I found nothing, but Google did suggest "Mari Yamaguchi", which was interesting because this individual is a game music composer apparently. Upon further research I found out they wrote the music for Mega Man 5. That's interesting also because that game came out around 1992. Looking at the woman in the picture I questioned if she even existed in 1992!
Just this evening, while this post turned up that her that her name is in fact, "Mari Kawaguchi". She has a facebook and a myspace. I didn't mean to write this much about her but thats the way it goes.
A few days ago I came across this recent video of Keith Emerson performing live on Japanese television. I could barely watch it actually. His right hand is almost completely lame :( He hits so many bum notes and slurs the phrases. Just watch it, you'll see what I mean. It's a real pity that his hand has degraded so much since the mid 90's (see him on form in the early 70's). That said, it's still sounds like Keith Emerson, and thats the main thing. He's performing here with Marc Bonilla on guitar.
That leads me nicely into the fact that Emerson released a new album late last year with Marc Bonilla. I've been listening to to an pirated copy of it for a few days now (cut me some slack, I do own all of ELP's studio albums on CD you know!). All I can say is that I wish this was an ELP release! While it's got some issues (plastic sounding symphonic rock crap in places) it's the most authentic thing I've heard in ages. It took me one or two listens but now it's sitting comfortably in my ears. It has the prog, modern sounding but still ELP. Emerson's hand might be nearly falling off but he show's here that he can still play.
Obviously, something classical has to be copied for it to be a real Emerson album and Holst's "Jupiter" theme goes to good use on track 9, "Marche Train" where amazingly it actually sounds quite lovely and not corny. There are some wonderful ballads too; track 13, "A Place To Hide" is most excellent and you'll be singing along with it in no time. One of the main highlights though is their version of Alberto Ginastera 's "Malambo". This 6/8 piece really sounds great from the word go. if you liked Canario from "Love Beach" you're guaranteed to love this. Then when it's all swinging along nicely just past the middle, Emerson introduces an altered version of Ginastera's Creole Dance on piano. The song is then elevated to pure sex.
Second last on the album is "Gametime", a song patently borrowed from "Tiger In A Spotlight". Normally, such a blatant copy of earlier better times would annoy you but here you just get the feeling of "if it's not broken don't fix it".
The best thing I can say about this album is that the songs aren't boring. Love them or hate them you are bound to remember what they sounded like at the very least, which is a lot more that can be said for some of ELP's later releases. The very last word on this, if all else fails to meet with your liking, and you think Emerson should just hang up the modular synth, you will nonetheless have to agree with me, that Emerson still sounds like Emerson, for better or worse.
[See the rest of my posts about Keith Emerson]
[Main image taken from Sequenza21.com]
[Video via Random Synaptic Bursts]
Posted at 15:45