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Articles Home » 1977 Articles » Emperor - 1977 Emperor
Emperor - 1977 Emperor

ARTIST: Emperor
ALBUM: Emperor
LABEL: Private Stock
YEAR: 1977


LINEUP: Joe Alexander - vocals, guitars; Mike Lobbett - keyboards; Joseph Marques - bass, vocals; Steve Watts - drums; Randy Budihas - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Dreamer * 02 Time That It Takes * 03 I'm Alive * 04 Do You Feel Alright * 05 You Oughta Be Ashamed * 06 Woman * 07 Won't You Be My Lover * 08 Flicker * 09 Million Years Ago


Aah, there is something about the 70's decade that appeals to me. Innocence, the sheer creativity of musicians, and inspiring lyrical works. Something surely lacking in todays 21st century efforts - a few exceptions aside. Slapping on this album reminds me of why buying records was so much fun back in the day, and listening to Emperor - I only wish those days could be resurrected.. as we know only too well that they won't. Anyway, the band in question - Emperor. From Long Beach, Southern California, these guys are musically in the same house as fellow 70's pompsters Starcastle, Bluebeard and Morningstar.. But they have a feel-good factor to them as well. The music is bubbly bright, not weighed down by too many progressive overtones, and the musicianship is outstanding. The history of this band goes way back into the 60's, from the surf-era of The Beach Boys no less. The line-up changes were numerous. Working up a strong local reputation, the band initially signed with RCA back in 1974 and released a series of 7' singles produced by John Ryan (Styx, Climax Blues Band). These amounted to nothing, the band then signed with the Private Stock label, after having navigated themselves through the disco era relatively untouched. Their one-off debut, released in 1977 is an excellent album, which demands more attention than it has.. in my opinion. Interesting that the band featured two drummers, not unlike the Doobie Brothers.

The Songs
'Dreamer' is Emperor's opening account. A tight arrangement with a nod to Morningstar - but those vocal minuettes are a blast from the past! Keeping up the assault is 'Time That It Takes', with a heap of keyboard solos and guitar runs. The extravaganza 'I'm Alive' was the track described by the Encyclopedia Of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal as a seven minute blockbusting mini-epic which contains every pomp cliche under the sun'. Indeed, this one track has a whole lot of appeal to Starcastle fans - the Luttrell like vocal warbling, the sharp guitar lines and Tassler like drum-work, not forgetting the OTT keyboard work. A classic track indeed. Getting back to a basic rock n roll mode is 'Do You Feel Alright', though some of those guitar tones are straight out of Barry Goudreau's bag of tricks! The fun time 'You Oughta Be Ashamed' works real well - think of a cross between Memphis 70's favourites Creed and southern rockers Doc Holliday.. if you can, then it's a true 70's treat! Putting the foot on the brake is the tempered tale of 'Woman', full of atmospherics including oscillating keyboard layers, Firefall like acoustic melodies and multi-harmony vocals. 'Won't You Be My Lover' is another with keyboard layers galore, though the 'happy mode' is switched on when all the hand-claps appear out of nowhere. Segueing into 'Flicker' the Emperor style of pomp is maintained right through to the end of this very entertaining album.

In Summary
I'd love to know what the stats were on this album at the time of it's release, because it certainly didn't feature at all through the various publications I was reading back in the day (Creem, Circus, Sounds etc). However, if you were thinking these guys winked out with the 70's decade, you're wrong. Emperor are still going strong, but these days confine their schedule to a few limited gigs in their faithful Southern California locale. If you can find a copy of the album then good on you. It's well worth a listen. Pomp fans will need no second invitation.

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#1 | RandyB on June 28 2007 04:21:33
Hope to see some of the fans at one of the 'Emperor' shows in Southern California. Check out the website at for schedule. The band still rocks!
#2 | gdazegod on June 28 2007 07:00:20
Surely does Randy. What was the deal with the two drummers then? Did you and Steve ever compete with drum solos playing live?

#3 | RandyB on June 29 2007 01:37:20
We actually use only one drum set then and now but play our drum solos 'together' with Steve playing timbales and doubling up with me on the single set. Always a crowd pleaser even though drum solos in general get a little old sometime. We still do the double solo when covering Spencer Davis' 'I'm a Man'. The great thing having two drummers that sing allows us both to 'front' the band. Thanks for the question. Hope to meet you sometime in the future.
#4 | Jim Wyant on July 22 2007 17:24:48
They're a lot of fun to see as well. They put on a great show with tons of energy. One can't help but sing along and dance in your seat, if not dance on your feet.
#5 | super80boy on March 06 2013 23:53:16
Brilliant consistent album soaked in the late 70's AOR sounds with great sprinkles of pomp.
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