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Rick Wakeman - Criminal Record CD (album) cover


Rick Wakeman


Symphonic Prog

3.75 | 232 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars While on the verge of officially reuniting his Yes partners for the second half of their 70s phase, the ever hard-working Rick Wakeman continued his solo venture. "Criminal Record" is one of his most typical albums, after the "White Rock" soundtrack and the cosmic rocker "No Earthl yConnnection". By typical I mean that you can notice from the very first second and all through the entire repertoire all the usual standards and mannerisms of Wakeman on grand piano, synthesizers and other keryboards. This is the time in which Wakeman was beginning to experiment with the massive textures of the Polymoog and the robust ambiences of the Birotron, and yo ucan tell that Wakeman is trigger happy with these new items: he enjoys the new found strength delievered by the new inhabitants in his keyboard arsenal. The album's first half finds this wizard exploring his most obviously bombastic facet, with 'Statue of Justice' and 'Chamber of Horrors' displaying a large amount of ornaments, splendid solos and demanding tempo shifts - the latter of these two is the one in which Wakeman's love for Baroque is more patent, leading to the impression of a major development of complexity, although one could reasonably argue that the former is more consistent as a piece of music. Anyway, both tracks are great examples of Wakeman's peculiar progressive vision. In the middle of the two, 'Crime of Passion' starts with a calmer mood on a featured piano, until the flashes of the synth solos arrives to fill the sonic landscape with a stylish-oriented scary atmosphere, in this way bringing a moderate contrast to the massive colorfulness of the previous and successive tracks. The album's second half finds Wakeman retreating to a more relaxed place. 'Birdman of Alcatraz' is a beautiful piano piece in which Wakeman prefers to explore his more reflective side: the motifs and chord progressions are performed with old-fashioned Waekmanesque elegance. 'The Breathalyser' is a funny number whose main merits lie on the combination of almost-Latin playfulness and bluesy farse: meant to serve as a funny interlude between the seriousness of tracks 4 and 6, the listener should just enjoy it in a simple disposition as Bill Oddie's sung narration at the end fades away. 'Judas Iscariot', perhaps the most famous criminal in The Bible, is the subject for the solemn 12-minute piece in which the pipe organ and the choir assume a main role. This track is quite majestic, although the listener has to be in the right mood in order to let themselves be captivated and not label it as an overlong piece of self-indulgent music. It is not such thing, since the main motifs are not abundant nor pyrotechnical: Wakeman really shows a very good taste at exploring the peculiarities of the pipe organ and develop musical themes from it in a most natural way. A great closer for a very good album - this "Criminal Record" stands as one of the most brilliant virtues in Wakeman's history.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |


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