Keith Emerson Band Featuring Marc Bonilla
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Though you miss the voice of You-Know-Who, new collaborator Marc Bonilla helps our old friend deliver the "retro prog" album we have been waiting for without the creative cross-purposes and confused efforts to be "commercial" or whatever was tearing things asunder in the "Love Beach" (and later, the even-sadder "In the Hot Seat" ) days.
That said, don't get your hopes up for a masterpiece or something that compares to the best ELP Work(s). Though the bulk of it is packaged as a conceptual suite based on the ghost story/legend "The House of Ocean Born Mary," the choppy transitions suggest a lot of it is just random bits cobbled together. Even the better stuff is nothing you haven't heard before, but that type of recycling is true of new albums from the Stones or just about any classic-rock survivors still making albums.
Bonilla has a decent enough John Wetton-style voice, albeit on the flat side, and interesting lyrics. And assuming he's the guy who took the lead and helped our ol' pal get one across the finish line, he's more respectful of what an Emerson album should sound like than the guy who kind of dominated a similar partnership with that "3" album in the '80s.
There's some modern synth programming here and there and a power-chord remake of "The Barbarian" as a "bonus" track at the end, but for the most part I think they went out of their way to make it as old-school Hammond-and-piano sounding as they could and to make up for lost time. They copy the old ELP formula so far as to include a honky-tonk joke song ("Gametime") and the requisite Ginastera instrumental blow-out, "Malambo" (the essential track for those buying a la carte).
Considering Emerson's proven genius talent from ELP's prime years, anybody familiar with it had to be stupefied wondering why that unparalleled flame of innovation went out for the most part of 3 decades. (OK, the EL & POWELL record was a decent effort, but heck... that was 23 years ago itself. And I personally never cared for Black Moon & Hot Seat). You had be saying to yourself... "C'mon Keith... I KNOW you still have it IN you!"
Well, this is without doubt the best work by Keith Emerson since the premiere era of ELP's first 5 albums. I couldn't stop smiling my first time through it, and I still do. Thanks Keith... for now letting me relive a great time in my life, when we anxiously anticipated your every new creation.
I'll leave the album details to the other reviewers, but just add a couple thoughts:
Even during ELP's heyday, I had often hoped if their success had endured, that they might add a DEDICATED electric guitar (not just Lake switching back-and-forth). Actually I would often joke with friends that if they added Steve Howe to the band, they could be called H E L P. Ha!
But that configuration has finally come to be on this album. It's a spicy embellishment when Marc Bonilla's guitar joins the audio panorama. Keith still goes off on his own with intros & segues here and there, and that remains a good thing. I just like it when that refreshing smart guitar marrys the great keyboard sound(s).
And the rythmn section is hot! As someone else mentioned, you're gonna flip when you hear Malambo and the guitar-laced remake of The Barbarian.
Personally I find Bonilla's voice quite appealing and a good fit.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love this album. It takes me back to classic ELP without the over-the-top stuff. Marc Bonilla's vocals are fantastic and fit perfectly in. A cross between Lake and Wetton. Read morePublished 2 months ago by papermoon
If you like ELP you will love this. Great progressive sound with excellent guitar work from Marc Bonilla.Published 13 months ago by T. B. Moulton
This is a great record. Keith Emerson sounds like his old self, inspired , creative and talented. The addition of guitarist Marc Bonilla is an inspiration and adds greatly to the... Read morePublished 22 months ago by mitchell a.
Check my older review, same title - I gave away my other version to a friend... I like this one even better for the inclusion of "The Barbarian".Published 22 months ago by John D. Mcglynn
My fiance loves this guys music, so when I saw this on his wish list, knew I had to get it. It arrived in perfect condition and very quickly :)Published on April 21, 2014 by Dawn Bellavance
Was looking for more Mark Bonilla and not Ketih Emerson - sounds too much like the old Emerson versus new stuff.Published on August 13, 2013 by Will Jansen
Some homage to ELP and some original direction too. I like it. Not like I liked Brain Salad Surgery, but it's growing on me.Published on June 6, 2013 by A. C. Buswell
Ever since the original ELP broke up in 1978, leaving us with the flat, uninspired "Love Beach", Keith Emerson's loyal fans have been too often disappointed. Read morePublished on May 11, 2013 by Eugene W. Muller