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Rick Wakeman - Live At The BBC CD (album) cover


Rick Wakeman


Symphonic Prog

3.89 | 10 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars A real treasure for nostalgia buffs - and of course lovers of good old 70's prog - like me for one! A double CD featuring Rick and the English Rock Ensemble in concert as transmitted by the BBC, at the time of his tour to promote "No Earthly Connection," considered his last truly great album by many fans (well, at least I think so, and I suspect many of his fans share my view!). There are two concerts featured; the first from the Hammersmith Odeon, on either 17th June or 22 April 1976 depending on which part of the accompanying blurb you believe (the former I suspect is the correct date), the second, an OGWT (that's Old Grey Whistle Test to you young 'uns) recording from 27th April that year.

It's both a fascinating archive and a record of Rick and the ERE at their peak. It's maybe easy to snipe at Rick for some of the silly stuff and excesses he did but listening to this recording you realise just what a fabulous keyboard player he really is. Both concerts feature works from the four albums he had produced by then - Six Wives, Journey, King Arthur, and the aforementioned No Earthly Connection, a greatly under- rated album in my opinion. Of the two concerts, both with similar playlists, the Hammersmith Odeon is the better, and longer, featuring a great "improv" section on "Catherine Howard" by his guitarist, John Dunsterville. The playing on the first concert does seem sharper, more precise, and the sleeve notes - and excellent write up by John "BoBo" Bollenborg, a big Wakey fan, testify to the difficult conditions under which the OGWT concert was made. Bollenborg's often humorous notes show he is a true fan - the tale of how he tries to record the concert from the radio using a mike and a towel show the lengths to which true fans would go at the time to get a recording of their fave groups, with the limited technology then on offer.

Highlights: the aforementioned "Catherine Howard", with Ricks' fingers sizzling over the keys; "The Black Knight" with a great Moog solo in the middle; and the NEC stuff, all faithfully reproduced here. Only the "Journey" material on the OGWT isn't quite so good, but then the concerts lack the full orchestra used on the original.

The production on these recording is of a high standard - as perhaps one should expect from Auntie.

The ERE play well, but what gives them real class live is the brass section. They add a real touch of distinction to the proceedings, and not just on the NEC works for which they were a part of the original album. However, at the end of the day, you are aware that RW stands head and shoulders above the rest of the group, and of course later the same year he re-joined Yes for the great "Going for the One".

Sometimes a journey down memory lane can be deeply disappointing, but not this one. Even though I consider myself somewhat of a hard critic, this album easily merits 4 stars and if like me you're a big Wakeman fan, this is truly indispensable stuff.

Phil | 4/5 |


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