Exposé Online banner

Keith Emerson — Emerson Plays Emerson
((Not on label) KE002, 2002/2017, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2018-01-29

Emerson Plays Emerson Cover art

The late Keith Emerson needs no introduction to readers of Exposé; his tenure with The Nice, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Emerson Lake & Powell, 3, and well over a dozen solo releases and soundtracks have earned him a place in rock history as one of the finest keyboard players who ever lived. The release at hand is somewhat of a curiosity, but one well deserving of attention, as it presents Emerson on piano, playing mostly his own compositions, plus a few adaptations (Ginasera, Gershwin, and others) that he had made his own over the years. Jazz and classical are in abundance here, as well as ragtime, show tunes, blues, and more, most performed solo, although a couple tunes along the way feature double-bass and drum accompaniment, “Honky Tonk Train Blues” features the Oscar Peterson Big Band live (with Oscar Peterson on piano), and the closing solo medley of three cover tunes was recorded when Emerson was only fourteen years old! The 22 tracks run well over an hour and present a cross-sectional calling card of his compositional genius and amazing chops. This release has a curious history as well: EMI originally released it in 2002 and let it go out of print almost immediately, after which it was promptly bootlegged by a Russian label. This 2017 reissue by the Emerson estate is the first time it’s been available in almost a decade and a half, with a 20 page booklet and exhaustive liner notes repeated in English, German, and Italian. Being familiar with all his rock stuff (ELP, The Nice, etc.) and exposed to a few of his soundtracks, I wasn’t sure how much this would appeal to me, but it’s been a nice surprise and I have to recommend this to all who don’t know this side of Emerson’s endeavors.


Filed under: Reissues, 2017 releases, 2002 recordings

Related artist(s): Keith Emerson

Latest news

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the age of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more

2020-07-12
Judy Dyble RIP – Singer-songwriter Judy Dyble, who was a founding member of Fairport Convention and one of the distinctive voices of the 60s folk revival in Britain, has died at the age of 71. Her passing came at the end of a long illness, though which she continued to work. » Read more

2020-07-06
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more

2020-06-14
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more

2020-05-15
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Alonso Arreloa / LabA - Música Horizontal – One of the big surprises of Baja 2008, Alonso Arreola and his band/project LabA tore up the opening slot at the theater on the first night with his funky 8-string bass maneuverings and avant-garde...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues