With their album Black Moon Emerson, Lake & Palmer returned to the spotlight in 1992, after a well deserved break. It saw the return of drummer Carl Palmer in the line-up. What a lot of people didn't know at the time, and I guess still a lot didn't know until today, was that a lot of the music for this album had been already written and recorded two years earlier, for Keith Emerson's solo album Changing States. An album that was released three years later, after Black Moon was released. Confused? Yeah you should be!
Well, let me explain! When ELP were having a break, Keith Emerson was offered to work with a very young musician and engineer. His name was Kevin Gilbert. He was a boy-wonder who tragically died in 1996, at the age of 29. They built up a very strong working relationship during the three weeks of recording in 1990. It was put on the back burner at the time, because ELP regrouped for their comeback album Black Moon. Emerson's band mates heard some of the music for Keith's solo album and wanted to include it in the newly written album. However, Keith must have felt his original versions were as good as the versions on Black Moon, and decided to keep them for his solo album. By the time it was released, Black Moon was already out of the spotlights. It was released as Changing States/ Cream Of Emerson Soup in 1995! Strangely enough, as a fan of ELP, I never got the opportunity to hear this album, so the versions on Black Moon are the only ones I know. However, thanks to the re-release of the album in 2014, I finally got the chance to compare. This time they had it remastered, and included many pictures of and liner notes, by Keith Emerson and others involved, in the booklet.
The album starts with Shelter From The Rain. It's just an excellent hard rock song with some fine playing on the Hammond organ and synthesizers by Emerson himself. The vocals are perfectly done by Gary Cirimelli, who sounds a lot like Glen Hughes. The guitars were played by Marc Bonilla, who became a close friend to Keith later on. Next, is Another Frontier. A piece of music that sounded rather familiar to me. Not so strange when you know ELP used it for the Black Moon album, but named it Changing States there. It's an excellent, fast moving instrumental fugue, with more than a nod in the direction of Bach. Ballade is another track that already appeared on Black Moon, but was titled on the album as Close To Home. Besides all that, you can hear Emerson on the acoustic piano, and this fine ballad featured Kevin Gilbert on acoustic guitar. The following track, The Band Keeps Playing, is another hard rock track, which moves very much towards the music made by a band like Whitesnake. It has the same guest musicians as on the aforementioned hard rock piece. It's followed by Summertime. A more jazzy version of this famous song, written by George Gershwin, can be heard. The following track, The Church, was originally composed for a horror movie directed by Dario Argenti. It's a an excellent solo work that easily could have been a piece composed by ELP. The Hammond organ is present in it's full glory and makes your heart beat faster. Interlude makes sure that a breathing space is next, after the serious organ fight. A tasteful short piano recital can be enjoyed, before you continue with another classical music related song called Montagues And Capulets. It was a kind of adaptation of Prokofievs piece, that also appeared on the ELP's Black Moon album, although they renamed it Romeo And Juliet. Another track on Changing States that will be familiar to ELP fans, is Abaddons Bolero, that's adapted into an orchestral version here, featuring the London Philharmonic Orchestra. This version is certainly as strong as the one on the Trilogy album released in 1972. The album ends with The Band Keeps Playing; another heavy track with some funky influences this time. The same guest musicians can be enjoyed as on the two formerly mentioned hard rock tracks.
Besides that, they remastered the music and a different cover design was used as well. This time you can't look at Keith's face, but a bit of a hazy painting instead.
Keith Emerson certainly made a rather good album with Changing States. For the die-hard Emerson fans there is enough to enjoy, even if they already knew most tracks from ELP's Black Moon album. Most credits go to the late Kevin Gilbert, who contributed on bass, drums, tuba, guitar and produced, engineered and mixed the album! He was responsible for the subtitle of this album; Cream Of Emerson Soup. It was another example of his humour. And he did it all for the price of a cup of coffee!
*** Henri Strik (edited by Esther Ladiges)
Where to buy?