This LP, recorded for the Italian label Bubble, is probably Keith Emerson's most eclectic, with a sense of humor thrown in as well. The opening medley of Emerson's "Hello Sailor" and George Malcolm's Baroque-flavored "Bach Before the Mast" provides quite a contrast, moving from a subdued sea shantey to furious solo piano, and finally segueing into a full-fledged rocking strut with a Caribbean twist. He ventures into jazz by playing honky tonk piano and synthesizer on Billy Taylor's "Barrelhouse Shakedown," as Frank Scully plays various percussion instruments, including assorted kitchenware. Emerson was clearly in a playful mood during these sessions, throwing in a pseudo-broadcast of snippets of old standards, interspersed with commentary and lighthearted vocals, at the start of side two, and filling the album jacket with various campy photographs of himself.
In the world of the singer songwriter, few command respect more than Allan Taylor. Through a recording career that began in the early seventies to the present day, he has constantly remained an innovative and evocative performer both on stage and on disc. "Colour to the Moon" is possibly Taylor's most personal statement to date; cut across twelve songs - like short movies - the listener is invited to step into his memories and experiences as if they were your own.
"Kerouac's Dream" opens the CD, finding Taylor as a young man with all the hopes and idealism born of youth. Whilst "Creole Girl" finds him in a Paris bar looking back to a life gone by, tinged with sadness as he tries to recapture a memory of the song's namesake. These two tracks form a boundary in his life within which the stories of a generation of encounters and adventures are told. One reason this collection works so well is that it's never maudlin or overtly saccharine; his real craft is the sense of mystery he leaves for the listener. Like a good artist he never overworks the canvas. Two songs "Back Again" and "Crazy Amsterdam" will be familiar to aficionados of his work and they both appear on this CD in a radically different form, in keeping with the album's reflective nature.
"Colour to the Moon" represents the work of an artist at the height of his powers, looking back as well as forward, few people can convey with such eloquence their life experiences. I'd like to think that he'll be ensconced in a bar with some exotic location, making observations for some years to come. ~ Keith Whitham
James Taylor had scored eight Top 40 hits by the fall of 1976 when Warner Brothers marked the end of his contract with this compilation. One of those hits, the Top Ten gold single “Mockingbird,” a duet with his wife Carly Simon, was on Elektra Records, part of the Warner family of labels and presumably available, but it was left off.