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(45:46; Frontiers Music)
Some thirty years ago, Keith Emerson, Carl Palmer and Robert Berry formed the band 3, and released the album ‘To The Power of Three’. I always felt that it was a sadly maligned album, and far superior to what many ELP fans said about it, and there was certainly quite a lot of criticism. It was the only release by the band, with ELP reforming, and Robert moved onto other things. Fast forward to 2016, and a record label approached Keith as they wanted to release a live album of a performance recorded in 1988. Keith agreed and then forgot about it until one day the CD arrived in the mail, and one evening he listened to it while drinking a glass of wine. I asked Robert what happened, “He listened to the whole thing and immediately called me. His voice sounded so excited. He said “Robert, we were really a good band. No really a good band.” I couldn’t believe me ears. I had always thought that but never thought he’d give it another chance, and there it was. The open door to my 28 year dream. After we spoke about how much fun we had had and how the spark on stage with the jamming was just the best time ever I broke the question. I said that a record company had been bugging me for years to do a follow up album but I knew he wasn’t interested. I said “What about now Keith? Any chance you’d consider working with me to do one more really great album?” He gave it a mild “yes” and that was enough for me. I called the record company and asked if they were still interested, they were. I called Keith back, we discussed the ideal parameters for such an album and the record company agreed to every detail. Keith was amazed at their deal, the advance involved, and the interest being so high. He was ready to start so we did.” Only one song was used that was written during the original period, with the rest of the material being put together as Keith and Robert swapped ideas, and collaborated together while they were on the phone to each other. They also approached Carl to see if he wanted to be involved, but he was committed to his own band, so they decided that they would approach Simon Phillips once they had all the basic parts of the songs recorded properly. Sadly that wasn’t to be, as Keith passed away before it got that far. This left Robert with the songs, the ideas, structures and sounds, and he felt the only thing to do was to record everything himself. Those who have followed his career will know that Robert is a multi-instrumentalist, but I have always thought of him far more as a guitarist and singer, but his parents were not only performers but also owned a piano store, and he had many years of piano lessons so also really knows his way around a keyboard (and was also drumming from a young age as well!). The result is an album that is very much the sequel to the original, the album that is a follow-up to ‘The Power of Three’ in so many ways. It’s not quite as bombastic, but it is hard to realise that the keyboards are from Robert and not Keith, as he has captured his style in so many ways, and there are certain sounds employed that one immediately recognises as having played their part on the original. Just 8 songs, 46 minutes long, there is no way that his sounds like the solo effort of a musician in 2018, but as if this is a band recording from the late Eighties full of power, passion, melody and dynamics. I defy anyone to listen to the change in style 3:20 into “Our Bond” and say that Robert hasn’t captured what the original band and Keith was all about. As a tribute, this album is incredible. As a collection of music, this is simply superb. Absolutely essential, I can play this album all day and never tire of it. Wonderful.
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