Friday 28 January 2011

Hey Keith, Aaaaagh!

John Lydon and Keith Emerson 2006

Depending on which side of the prog fence you reside, the chances are you have an opinion on the merits, or otherwise, of Emerson Lake and Palmer. You'll either be scratching your head in wonderment that, once again, they missed out in the Queen's New Year Honours list, or you'll have filed them away in the furthest recesses of your brain under T for tossers. And reading Keith Emerson's candid biography Pictures of an Exhibitionist would only reinforce one or other of those schools of thought. Yes, of course they were overblown. Yes, of course they were one of the reasons why punk had to happen. But in their defence they did record Brain Salad Surgery. OK, we'll pretend that whole Jim Davidson thing never happened, shall we?

However, and thank you to Sid Smith for lighting the blue touch paper, even if you despised ELP and all the pomp and circumstance they crammed into their audacious career, you can't help but tip your hat to Emerson for his elegant one night stand in 1976 with jazz legend Oscar Peterson. That Peterson saw fit to have him on his highly prestigious show in the first place speaks volumes; that and the fact that Peterson was often heard bigging Emerson up to his friend Count Basie. And praise doesn't come much higher than that in my book.

Look out for a 'heavily disguised' Carl Palmer behind the drum kit.



  1. If you're struggling with today's strapline, here's the back story: back in the day, The Damned's producer, Keith somebody or other, was always on at them to stop screaming. They obviously fired him. But not before they targeted this at him: a tub thumping cover of The Stooges' I Feel Alright.

  2. The Damned crack that ref in twice -on the the first album and also on Machine Gun Etiquette (pre Anti Pope I think).

    Phew worra a piece of playing that is. Love the progger hammering away with a pub piano sound. And ol' Oscar smooth as ...

    On a similar riff, went to see Chas Hodges at a local pub last night - just like this and boogie-woogied the roof right off The Railway

  3. Keith Emerson and Carl palmer are simply GOD's Gift to our musical planet.
    This video really shows what talent and hard work can do



  4. Mondo - Hitch yer Caravan to this.

    LK - If you read Emerson's tome he certainly believes he's a God. In fact, I woudn't be surprised if he came up with the tag line on the dust jacket: From The Nice to Emerson Lake and Palmer - The man who changed the sound of rock.

  5. Enjoyed that. Quite genre bending!

  6. I never despised ELP, besides such 'posturing' was allowed in when they started out!

  7. Bloody hell - he's on fire...always been a fan of Oscar ever since I heard C Jam Blues..

    On the subject of keyboard gymnastics, give this a squint

  8. Could Nat have been the 6th Beatle?

  9. I love prog but have always had a hate for ELP. HOWEVER, I just read that six of their albums are being reissued and I quite fancy a crack at the debut, Tarkus and BSS. Pass my pills...
    I think I may start with the new compilation to ease me in. This is all thanks to Danny Baker, you know.

  10. To be honest I'm on the fence about ELP - I know that is odd. I bought one or to LPs back in the day, some I liked some I didn't. It was overblown - probably too much. I love Yes more than ELP but then I love Rush much more and Marillion even more so... so I'm more the shorter songy version of prog than the ELP concerto end I suppose.

    However as musicians, they can't be touched Keith in particular is a stunning keyboard player. The clip you have here bears that out... and Oscar is up there as one of my greats of all time in any field of music - so it he rates someone whatever you think you have to acknowledge that

  11. BA - Brain Salad Surgery and Trilogy are your ideal jumping off points. In fact, truth be known, they're probably all you need. Don't bother with the comps as, a bit like Floyd, you need to hear it in context.

    F-Ron - Come down, you'll get splinters up there. Looking at some of the stuff you listen to I'd have thought they'd be right up your street.

  12. Actually, I thought Oscar's drummer was better. There was more rhythm.

  13. Saturday 12 March 2016: I noticed in my Read Me side bar that this post was getting a lot of hits after Keith Emerson's passing which was announced yesterday evening. I'm guessing the footge of him playing with Oscar Peterson will be all over the news today.