Whilst searching and compiling articles for the TPA News last year, I stumbled across an interesting item pertaining to the discovery of a very early recording from Keith Emerson, who, along with Godfrey Sheppard on upright bass and drummer David Keene, recorded a number of tracks in Keith’s parent’s living room back in December 1963.
The story, which appeared in Record Collector Magazine’s April 2015 edition, revealed that only four acetates were ever produced from the original reel-to-reel recordings, three of which were given to each of the band members and the spare copy was used to try for gigs. Miraculously the ‘spare copy’ turned up at a car boot sale, circa 2014 and was bought by one of Record Collector readers, who subsequently got in touch with RC’s Ian Shirley. The album was “re-released” in 2015 as a limited edition (750 copies) and in keeping with the original, on 10″ vinyl.
In November 2015 the seven songs would turn up on the Cherry Red Records label for the first time on CD.
The recordings and subsequent re-masters are surprisingly good, given their home-recording origins. Look, this is never going to benefit from a 5.1 surround sound version, nor be enhanced or rewarded by a magical SW overhaul. They are, what they are – a glimpse of the nineteen year old Emerson, demonstrating what an accomplished player he was destined to become.
As might be expected the majority of the tracks are covers, in a jazzy/blues styling, with only two titles attributed to Keith. More boogie-woogie than the other jazzier tracks, with Winkle Picker Stamp being loosely based around Earl Guest’s Winkle Picker Stomp and continues through 56 Blues, which takes part of its title from the number of his parent’s house in Worthing where the recordings took place. Although well played the two Emerson tracks lack the compositional skills of the covers – but I’m nitpicking here folks! The remaining tunes are inspired by John Coltrane, George Shearing and Floyd Cramer and are indicative of Emerson’s later solo piano pieces, which would surface throughout his career.
It’s Coltrane’s version of You Say You Care, taken from the Soultrain album that is the inspiration behind the lead track, Emerson immediately takes the limelight, however it’s Godfrey Sheppard’s bowed and plucked bass lines that neatly coalesce the top line and the rhythm section. Something the trio repeat to good effect in the follow-up tune, There Will Never Be Another You. Elsewhere the trio swing-out during Oliver Nelson’s Teenies Blues and dance together in Soul Station, the assured performances belying the complexity of the pieces
An interesting curio and certainly one for the completists, but it’s much better than perhaps a “one for the completists” title might imply and offers an insight into the formative years of one of prog’s legends.
01. You Say You Care (4:51)
02. There Will Never Be Another You (3:51)
03. Teenies Blues (3:21)
04. Winkle Picker Stamp (2:31)
05. 56 Blues (3:06)
06. You Came a Long Way from Saint Louis (2:06)
07. Soul Station (4:54)
Total Time – 24:42
Keith Emerson – Piano
Godfrey Sheppard – Bass
David Keene – Drums
Record Label: Cherry Red Records
Year Of Release: 2015
Original Release: 1963