Classic Rock Bottom

Who? Keith Emerson Band

Featuring whom? Marc Bonilla 

When? 2008

Album title? Keith Emerson Band

Featuring whom? Marc Bonilla review? Yes.

The Keith Emerson Band is Emerson's first self-assured musical statement since the legendary trio of Emerson, Lake & Palmer last disbanded in the mid-'90s. It marks a fresh start for one of the world's most admired keyboard wizards, in which he regains the musical focus his fans had missed. A few years into the new millennium, Emerson met Marc Bonilla, and the two hit it off so well that his motivation to write new compositions returned; the pair agreed to dive into the sounds that distinguished ELP in their prime. That objective was realized with the 35-minute opus "The House of Ocean Born Mary" opening the album. The once-familiar array of sounds, including the Hammond organ, the Moog synthesizer, the grand piano, and the pipe organ appear almost as a showcase during the opening part of this first track, and remain present in their interplay throughout the album. Based on a ghost story familiar to both Bonilla and Emerson, the song is short on solid narrative, and the lyrics leave much to the listener's imagination. Emerson instead lets the music itself do the talking, as he takes listeners through a landscape of sounds and ideas, leading them into the more evened-out plateaus of songs written and sung by Bonilla, the latter of whom excellently guides Emerson back to form here with a voice as fine and elegant as two other great vocalists of the genre: John Wetton and even Greg Lake, to some extent. Bonilla's contributions gently take the main piece down to the simpler quality of music that many a progressive star of the '70s succumbed to in the '80s (Wetton's band Asia being a typically embarrassing example) without going too far down. Still, things work out very well here, not least thanks to the grand instrumental "Finale" of "The House of Ocean Born Mary." The rest of the album even includes more echoes from the days of ELP: an adoption of a piece by composer Alberto Ginastera, "Malambo," which, far from the sinister and edgy "Tocatta," is more of a sprightly piece featuring Emerson's piano acrobatics. There’s also a familiar stopover in the honky tonk "Gametime," with some impressive rhyming by Bonilla. That and the Bonilla/Emerson-penned song "The Art of Falling Down" show that Bonilla can be a better lyricist than seemed probable from the evidence in the opening piece, and the flexible jazz-tinged dynamics of this song go even further in suggesting that there is quite a bit more potential in this partnership.

Keith Emerson Band

1. Ignition
2. 1st Presence
3. Last Horizon
4. Miles Away, Pt. 1 (White Widow)
5. Miles Away, Pt. 2 (Black Flame)
6. Sonata
7. Fugue
8. 2nd Presence
9. Marche Train
10. Blue Inferno
11. 3rd Presence
12. Prelude to Hope
13. Place to Hide
14. Miles Away, Pt. 3 (Spirit Rising)
15. Finale
16. Art of Falling Down
17. Malambo
18. Gametime
19. The Parting

Availability: Around $7 new or used.

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I have this CD.

Bought it, around the same time Emerson passed away, probably because I felt like I should have it in my collection, even though I remember being less than impressed with the few songs I heard before that. After listening to the CD I wish I never bought it. This is too disjointed and without a focus, no matter what the reviewer says above. It plays like a bunch of ideas put down to be assembled into a comprehensible tune when the inspiration comes. Unfortunately, that inspiration didn't came and the multitude of ingredients did not knead into a dough I could consume.

Great musicians though, that I much rather listen to on other releases.

Dear self...

Man those first 8 tracks flew by!  Though I can say (to myself of course) that everything so far has been really solid.  'Marche Train', the first fully formed tune we sat through, gets RED TRACK attention right away ('WE' meaning Me, Myself and I).

And then?  And then it got mellow... Though 'A Place To Hide' is quite melodic.  I wonder (again to myself) if this is RED TRACK material, but no, its not better than 'Marche Train'.

The acoustic and electric guitar work on 'Miles Away Pt. 3' was a nice break in the flow of the album.  And then?  it stopped...  Dang it!!!

NO AND THEN!!!  But there was more guitar in 'Malambo' that I liked!  Oh well, still not RED worthy.  I liked the two remaining tracks as well, which makes this a good listen.  Maybe I'll put this in my private wish list that no one can see because nobody cares anyway.  And for the RED Track?  Well if you read this you know what I think that is, if not, like the rest of you, who cares!!  Here's some tags for me, myself and I, that I can reference later (for myself of course...)

#ScottLikey #MaybeWishListThis #JonIsMean #ListenAgain


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