Keith Emerson: ELP Re-Works – September 2002

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    Re-Works is probably one of the most radical re-workings of anybody’s work. Producer Mike Bennett has worked alongside Keith Emerson and others to create a new piece of work utilising the most modern equipment and thinking and whilst the original Works is now some twenty five years old these performances bring it right up to date. Mike Bennett describes the album thus:

    “Whilst maintaining it’s originality the album embraces Chill Out, Post Modernist Drum’N’ Bass and Jazz.” “The additional programming has been minimal in order to make the live performance of the band the major component”

    Mike Bennett has worked with artists as diverse as Wishbone As, The Fall, Bob Marley, The Specials and former Stone Roses vocalist Ian Brown. To date he has produced 192 albums generating sales of six million and ten gold discs.

    Keith Emerson has most famously been a member of The Nice and saw phenomenal worldwide success for almost thirty years as part of Emerson, Lake And Palmer. In addition to working alongside Mike Bennett on Re-Works. In early 2002 he released a solo album and has recently re-formed The Nice with his former colleagues Lee Jackson and Brian Davidson  The following interview took place just prior to the release of Re-Works in mid September 2002.

    Jon Kirkman: These re workings of original Emerson Lake and Palmer material sound pretty radical and I’m sure the long-time E.L.P fans will be interested to know how you came to be involved with the album?

    Keith Emerson: About two years ago I received a tape from a friend and associate, Bruce Pilato. It was a remix of my arrangement of “Fanfare For The Common Man” produced by a guy called Mike Bennett. I called upon my sons for their opinion, hoping that their youthfulness would throw some light on it.

    “It’s a ‘trance’ mix dad, it’s all the thing. You should get into it.”

    Well, to me it sounded like John Cage on acid (sulphuric acid!). I decided I’d better check on remixes by other artists. Some had been quite successful combining samples with hip-hop rap originality.

    JK: What was the thinking behind the particular pieces that you worked on and how did you put the track together and how much of the original track did you want to keep?

    KE: When I came back to England for Christmas 2001 I read of the Golden Jubilee being planned. As E.L.P.’s  “Fanfare” had been the unofficial number one single for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977, it made sense for a re-release to celebrate, with a remix. So, I called Pilato

    “ Who was the guy that sent a mix of “Fanfare” a year ago?”

    “Mike Bennett. He’s good! Got a lovely girlfriend-Tayce!!”

    “Got his number?”

    And so it came to be.

    A lot of hard work was done by Mike, Tayce and Graham Pilgrim. I’d usually get too bored, reading a magazine until I heard something that interested me that deserved my attention, and go for the hands on approach with whatever keyboard was available! A great gem for “Fanfare” was that I had an original recording of Aaron Copland being interviewed where he is very complimentary about my original arrangement of his composition and I used an edit of this throughout.

    JK: E.L.P. themselves of course re-worked a number of classical pieces including Fanfare For The Common Man. These songs or arrangements ultimately took on a life of their own. Do you hope that these particular re-workings will have a similar effect on the fans and also perhaps attract a new audience?

    KE: I would hope so, in the same way that musicologists and teachers; in order to maintain their pupil’s attention have often used my arrangements as a template to appreciate the original versions. This is a fact told to me by everyone, from Julliard to Berkley and back to England and the UK. That’s not bragging…That’s a fact.

    JK: Most fans of E.L.P may well be surprised that you got involved in this project as Drum and Bass is not perhaps a musical genre that most people would associate with you.

    KE: Well, they might as well get used to it like they did when I presented the new Moog Synthesiser for the first time back in 1968.

    JK: Have Greg or Carl heard the album and if so what do they think about it and were they given the opportunity to get involved?

    KE: I know Carl heard Mike’s original dance mixes; some two years ago using E.L.P. samples and he phoned me to tell me that he thought this was a good way to go.

    JK: E.L.P were originally concerned that Aaron Copland would block a release of Fanfare For The Common Man when it was recorded for Works and yet he loved your original arrangement.  What do you think he would have made of this recording?

    KE: Well, as his publishers told me in ’77, “Copland is a ten year old at heart”.

    JK: How do you think E.L.P fans will react to these Re-Works?

    KE: Probably the same way as the London Philharmonic, but without the bureaucracy and all the humour.

    JK: In terms of the release of Re-Works what are your expectations for this album?

    KE: Just go and have a good time.

    JK: This genre of music is not what would normally be considered the sort of music that works in a concert situation. Would you ever consider taking part in a performance featuring music and arrangements from Re-works or do you only see it as a studio project?

    KE: These remixing ideas are still in the generating process and the right environments for listening to the results are still being established. Philip Glass somehow found his way onto the concert platform I don’t see why Re-Works shouldn’t. Although I think it works for a good time club atmosphere.

    JK: What was your favourite moment working on this album and do you have a favourite track on the finished album?

    KE: Re-Works 7

    JK: Will this be a one off project or experiment, or will it develop into perhaps another album utilising E.L.P music or even some original material in the future?

    KE: I’d like to see how this goes and maybe incorporate some of the ideas into new material.

    JK: Finally do you foresee a time when you will work with Greg or Carl again either on a project like this or maybe even a traditional E.L.P album?

    KE: Although I don’t rule out ever working with Greg and Carl again, I have many other projects now…Including  “The Nice”

    © Jon Kirkman Rockahead Limited 2002

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