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Best Of The Batch: Keith Emerson
Honky, Off The Shelf, At The Movies (3 CD Set)
By MuzikMan
(more articles from this author)
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Artist: Keith Emerson
Titles: Honky, Off The Shelf, At The Movies (3 CD Set)
Genre: Rock-Soundtrack-Progressive Rock-Classical
Format: CDs
Label: Sanctuary

Three albums from Keith Emerson are now available, Honky, his first solo album, Off The Shelf, and At The Movies (three CD set). With the exception of Honky, all were very rare recordings that have become collectable over the years.

Emerson needs no introduction; his musical legacy is long and well documented. From his days with The Nice, ELP, and a continuingly productive solo career, I think it is safe to say the man has been nothing short of prolific.

Honky is an enjoyable solo retreat. Originally released in 1985, it is remastered for superior sound. Emerson had to keep putting off this solo album because the record companies would hear his material, comment how good it was, and then ask him to record it with Carl Palmer and Greg Lake. So instead of releasing it on a date in the ‘70s, which would seem to make more sense, when ELP was at their peak, it kept getting pushed out, finally all the way out to 1985. The question is, was it worth the wait.

The answer is yes, if you happen to be a big fan of Emerson no matter what he does, and that happens to be yours truly. This was a fun listen; he takes a little bit of all of his influences, kicks back, and lets it all fly to see what happens. The result is a mixed bag of genres, and of course much of what you would not expect from the keyboard genius. Gone are all the complex and bombastic compositions, in there place are rollicking tunes full of some basic rock with some honky-tonk, rhythm and blues, and flat out blues. This may come as a disappointment for some and a welcome change for others. Emerson has always been ultra talented and is the accomplished music chameleon. Never is that fact more apparent than on his maiden solo voyage.

Off The Shelf is exactly what Keith Emerson says it is in the forward to the liner notes, a veritable cornucopia of pot pourri within an audio montage. This is a collection of rare tracks that took years to see the light of day, much too long for such a creative and well-known artist such as Emerson. The people that show up on the recordings are as diverse as the genres covered-from Pat Travers and Cozy Powell to the London Symphony Orchestra.

You will hear jazz, jazz-fusion, rock, blues, you name it, and Emerson leaves nothing to chance, giving the listener a broad range of his tastes. The music he came to know and love, and which served him as the most influential in musical development, is what this recording is all about, along with seeing the artist in an entirely different musical space. Its no wonder he turned out to be one of the greatest keyboard players in the world, and not just in the realm of rock music. He stands far above the rest, landing with both feet firmly implanted in the elite club with people like Rick Wakeman.

I think most people familiar with his work will find this surprisingly good and refreshing because it is the unexpected, and what makes it so enjoyable is that you will hear quality music, not a bunch of throwaway tracks that Emerson never wanted to release. It is quite the contrary.

At The Movies is perhaps the most interesting of the three sets. They were all recorded specifically for movie soundtracks in three different countries. The approach and process for music like this is entirely different from any other that Emerson recorded in his career.

The 67 tracks are broken down in three disc and sections, U.S., Italian, and Japanese movies. Each disc is a reflection of the silver screen in each respective country. Surely, this had to be a daunting task to accomplish. Dealing with three completely different cultures and entertainment worlds had to be most challenging. It came as no surprise to me that Emerson was up for the challenge and relished the opportunity to create this music.

While all of it was good, and undeniably, the most different set of tracks I have ever heard from Emerson, they all had their own flair, style, and flavor, capturing the unique soundtrack element as needed within each entertainment culture. I have no idea how the music matched up with the corresponding films but I am sure it worked out well.

The Japanese set was the most energetic and Emerson like if you will, out of all the sets. The Japanese Godzilla themes and all the other famous B movie monsters are in need of typically eerie sci-fi like sounds and who could be have done a better job than Emerson, to provide the necessary atmospheres with his keyboard and synthesizer wizardry. The U.S. and Italian sets are less prog-like and focus on the more contemporary and classical sounds that Emerson so easily coaxes from his instruments.

Three sets of music from one of the most compelling keyboard players of our time is a lot to take in, but so very enjoyable. The thing about listening to all this music is how diverse and complex it is. Emerson is simply incredible and I am convinced there is not a style of music the man cannot make his own. The proof is right here in all three titles.

Off The Shelf

01. Abaddon's Bolero Orchestral (8:05)
02. Pictures at an Exhibit (5:04)
03. And Then January Emerson (5:48)
04. Rio Emerson (3:54)
05. Straight Between the Eyes (2:38)
06. Don't Be Cruel (4:19)
07. Au Privave (5:27)
08. Walter L (5:36)
09. Rhythm-A-Ning (5:58)
10. Asian Pear (6:44)
11. Motor Bikin' (2:43)
12. America (5:20)
13. Lumpy Gravy (2:11)
14. Up the Elephant & Round the Castle Emerson (2:28)
15. Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (3:31)

At The Movies

CD 1 US Movies

01. Nighthawks (Main Title Theme) (2:25)
02. Mean Stalkin' (2:21)
03. The Bust (2:08)
04. Nighthawking (6:18)
05. The Chase (6:03)
06. I'm a Man (4:20)
08. Tramway (3:26)
09. I'm Comin' In (3:04)
10. Face to Face (2:52)
11. Flight of the Hawk (3:09)
12. Best Revenge (15:28)
13. Playing for Keeps (4:21)
14. The Dreamer (Love Theme) (2:40)
15. Wha'dya Mean (5:04)
16. Outgoing Tide (1:49)
17. For Those Who Win (3:35)
18. The Runner Emerson (3:26)

CD 2 Italian Movies
19. Inferno (Main Title) (2:55)
20. Rose's Descent into the Cellar (4:56)
21. Taxi Ride (Rome) (2:13)
22. The Library (0:55)
23. Sarah in the Library Vaults (1:15)
24. Bookbinder's Delight (1:09)
25. Rose Leaves the Apartment (3:28)
26. Rose Gets It ( 2:07)
27. Elisa's Story (1:07)
28. A Cat Attic Attack (3:11)
29. Kazanian's Tarantella Emerson (3:31)
30. Mark's Discovery Emerson (1:21)
31. Mater Tenebrarum (2:36)
32. Inferno Finale (2:23)
33. Cigarettes, Ices, Etc. (2:49)
34. Inferno Extrasb (10:15)
35. La Chiesa (The Church) (Main Theme) (3:56)
36. The Possession (2:28)
37. Prelude 24 (2:21)
38. La Chiesa Revisited (4:23)
39. Murderock (2:46)
40. Not So Innocent (3:32)
41. Prelude to Candice (1:45)
42. Don't Go in the Shower (1:05)
43. Coffee Time (2:32)
44. Candice (3:38)
45. New York Dash (1:32)
46. Tonight Is Not Your Night Emerson (1:12)
47. The Spillone (1:50)

CD 3 Japanese Movies

48. Harmagedon (Theme of the Floi) (3:35)
49. Jo and Michiko (2:44)
50. Sonny's Skate State (4:14)
51. Zamedy Stomp (2:59)
52. Challenge of the Psionic Fighters (4:12)
53. Children of the Light (3:59)
54. Godzilla vs. Gotengo (1:51)
55. Godzilla Final Wars Titles (2:59)
56. Edf Headquarters Fight (1:37)
57. Edf Museum (1:18)
58. Infant Island (2:00)
59. Rodan Attacks NYC (4:14)
60. Earth Defense Forces Theme (2:45)
61. Motorcycle Battle (2:49)
62. Godzilla Awakens (1:51)
63. Love Theme (1:28) 64. Monster Zero Theme (2:14)
65. Cruising the Cirro Stratus Emerson (2:44)
66. Godzilla Theme I. Itukube Ifukube (1:20) 67. Godzilla Final Wars End Titles (4:41)

01. Hello Sailor Intro (1:59)
02. Bach Before the Mast (2:18)
03. Hello Sailor Finale (4:30)
04. Salt City (4:59)
05. Green Ice (6:18)
06. Intro-Juicing (:24)
07. Big Horn Breakdown (2:11)
08. Yancey Special (4:31)
09. Rum-A-Ting (5:03)
10. Chickcharnie (5:09)
11. Jesus Loves Me (6:20)

For more information about the author, click on the author’s name at the top of the page. Muzik Reviews Contest

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