Keith Emerson

Changing States

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Changing States is a curious hodgepodge of ideas. There's standard late-'80s album-oriented rock, some instrumental piano noodling that can, in a pinch, pass as new age, a couple of classical pieces, and Emerson's patented prog bombast. The AOR songs (written with Toy Matinee's Kevin Gilbert) are by far the most forgettable ones here, with little to distinguish them from anything Loverboy or Foreigner ever did. The piano and classical pieces, including a re-recording of "Abbadon's Bolero" (which Emerson played in ELP) and "Ballade," are pleasant and listenable, if a bit lacking in personality. Interestingly, it's on the prog material that Emerson seems to shine the most. "Montagues & Capulets" (a reworked classical piece) is the album's definite standout, harking back to the ELP era but with an updated, modern feel. "Another Frontier" also works, though it lacks enough variety to justify its length. Unfortunately, the album never gels into a cohesive whole, which seems especially peculiar since even though the basic tracks were recorded in 1989, they were not released until 1995. Given such an interval, it's odd that the material wasn't restructured to make it flow and cohere. Apart from a couple of songs, this is really not the ideal introduction to Emerson's keyboard talents.

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