Keith Emerson

Honky

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This LP, recorded for the Italian label Bubble, is probably Keith Emerson's most eclectic, with a sense of humor thrown in as well. The opening medley of Emerson's "Hello Sailor" and George Malcolm's Baroque-flavored "Bach Before the Mast" provides quite a contrast, moving from a subdued sea shantey to furious solo piano, and finally segueing into a full-fledged rocking strut with a Caribbean twist. He ventures into jazz by playing honky tonk piano and synthesizer on Billy Taylor's "Barrelhouse Shakedown," as Frank Scully plays various percussion instruments, including assorted kitchenware. Boogie-woogie great Meade "Lux" Lewis' "Yancey Special" is likewise played on honky tonk piano, but with more of a West Indian flavor. And "Rum-a-Ting" is a foot-tapping strut that proves to be rather catchy. Emerson was clearly in a playful mood during these sessions, throwing in a pseudo-broadcast of snippets of old standards, interspersed with commentary and lighthearted vocals, at the start of side two, and filling the album jacket with various campy photographs of himself. This release may be too diverse for fans of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, but its laid-back, devil-may-care attitude is nonetheless rather appealing.

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