Monday, July 9, 2007

Emperor - Emperor (1977)

Formed by Steve Watts and high school friends in the 60's, Emperor (then The Emperors) quickly became a Long Beach favorite, playing teen dances, concerts and other events throughout the area. They entered and won a number of Battle of the Bands competitions and made several appearances on Sam Riddle's "9th Street West" TV dance show. As Emperor's popularity grew, the band had opportunities to share concert billing with a number of acts including Peter & Gordon, Rolling Stones, The Righteous Brothers and later, Steely Dan. In the 70's, after several personnel changes, Emperor continued its rise in popularity. Building a strong Southern California fan base, the band performed regularly at the hottest beach area clubs. Known for tight ensemble playing, and an exciting stage show, Emperor was indeed "the band to see." A fan quoted in a 1977 "Affair Magazine" article stated, "I don't come here to dance, I come here to listen. I can't take my eyes off these guys. "

In addition to a growing repertoire of solid original material, Emperor was also putting its mark on many high-energy covers. Despite the rise of disco, Emperor was scoring big with fans with songs like The Who's "Tommy," Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" and The Beach Boys "Good Vibrations," among others. Songs very few bands would attempt. This combination of musical versatility and stage performance soon caught the eye and ears of the recording industry. After signing with RCA in 1974 and recording a number of singles, several produced by John Ryan (Styx), the band began to seek more artistic freedom and subsequently signed with New York based Private Stock Records. In 1977 Private Stock released the highly anticipated album Emperor, which was produced by Kenny Kerner and Richie Wise (Kiss, Gladys Knight) and engineered by Warren Dewey (Boston).

Though the album demonstrates musical prowess in parts, it is also a shizophrenic affair with the band straddling the line between bar band boogie rock and arena rock. This made for a very uneven album, though there are some highlights on both sides of the fence. Perhaps Emperor's greatest fault lies with their vocalist, whose thin and plaintive voice renders much of the material a bit one dimensional. Aside from this complaint, the music and harmonies are tight. There is a curious 60's vibe throughout which lends a bit of distinction to Emperor.

It is presumed that the band fizzled after the album failed to reach the mainstream, but in recent years a partially original lineup has reconvened and remains active on the club circuit in the Long Beach area. If you're nearby, check them out. You just might dig it :) A massive THANK YOU to Rob for the hookup on this sweet digital transfer.


gary_lankford said...

These guys were hot! What the hell happened? :(

izzypound said...

I've been after this for does save me the chore of going through all the junk in the attic to find my vinyl copy...:o)

Anonymous said...

Drummer Randy Budihas informs me that Emperor will be playing a gig at Stearns Park, Long Beach, California from 6pm to 8pm on Thursday August 9th. The band are still going strong after all these years. Refer their website: Get along and see what a pomp band from the 70's truly sounds like.

gdazegod (

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comments! Just brought in "Chip Walsh" (The Emperors, Circa: 1967-1970) Great keyboardist, vocalist to join the band. Other current members include Steve Watts, (Founding Member,1960's),Vocals and Drums and Keyboards, Randy Budihas (1968-1980), Vocals, Drums and Keyboards, Joe Marques,(70's/80's) Bass Guitar, Vocals, Keyboards, Dave Quintana, Lead Guitar, Vocals, Keyboards. Still playing our asses off and enjoying it more than ever. Check the website:
Photos, upcoming events, music.
Much appreciated,
Randy Budihas
Emperor/The Emperors

Anonymous said...

Bought this album for what seems a million years ago.
Have not heard it in at least 30,so thank you so much for giving me the chance to hear it again.Mike