The hidden gem that I’ve been passionate about since I first listened to it is Witness by Emerald Transmission. For more than a decade I thought I was the only person on the planet to have an appreciation for this song. That illusion was thankfully shattered when I came across this posting on The Color Awesome about Witness.
Emerald Transmission was a Berkeley group that consisted of producer Derek Gee and singer Dora Nicopoulos. They put out two albums although only the second one has Nicopoulos (who sang Witness). Their CDs are pretty rare, it took years of used music store and ebay scouring to get both albums.
I first heard Witness as a track on Live 105’s second Noisy Neighbors Compilation of local bands (this was 1995, circa pre-Clear Channel Live 105 and they were a lot more locally oriented). I instantly loved it. I was 15 at the time and it just seemed so epic and perfectly tuned to my sentimental state of mind. I had a nightly ritual before sleep where I would listen to albums on my Discman (remember those?) as I lied in bed & read comics and the song was often placed on infinite loop.
I put the song on every high school mixtape I made and carried the Noisy Neighbors CD with me anytime I went out with my Discman. It wasn’t until my first year of college that I actually found a used copy of Emerald Transmission’s 1994 album Neptune (used at the now vanished Warehouse on Van Ness). I really liked the whole album but Witness was still my favorite. When Mariela and I first started dating I bought another copy of Neptune and gave it to her as a gift. Even though it wasn’t her musical taste she always humored me whenever I wanted to put it on. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I scored their first album on ebay. I was disappointed with the production and the fact that it featured another singer that wasn’t as good.
I’m in disbelief that this song is over 15 years old. Was 1994 really that long ago? Fuuuuuuuck! I still love Witness with every bone in my body to this very day. If I could ever attribute its influence on another song I would definitely say Swimming Pool by Freezepop. I have no idea where Emerald Transmission, Derek Gee, and Dora Nicopoulos or what they are up to these days but they’ll always have a kid in the Mission District keeping the flame alive.
Here is the song, courtesy of The Color Awesome.