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Rick Wakeman - Retro CD (album) cover


Rick Wakeman


Symphonic Prog

3.08 | 58 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

3 stars I guess it seemed like a good idea at the time. Make an album using only vintage keyboards - "just real playing, exciting to play just as exciting to listen to" according to the album's liner notes. However it's one thing to come up with good ideas it is another to execute on the concept. I feel that with this album it was a great idea but it falls down in the execution. Wakeman has always been guilty of just churning out the music and unfortunately this album does showcase this to a large extent, having said that he is genuinely creative and of course a superb musician and master arranger.

So where does that leave us with Retro? I believe he put in a lot of effort on how to present these keyboards but he really didn't think it through properly. He has no problem in creating jaunty or comedic melodies or creating quirky sounds and in this regard he succeeds admirably but there is far too much of it. I would have preferred some of the tracks to be a bit meatier instead of being light-hearted. Only two tracks, Just Another Day and Men in Suites get anywhere close to having an epic feel and these songs are pretty satisfying (could still have been better though). The best of the rest are Can You Smell Burning? with some truly great Hammond organ work and Mr Lonely with a first ever vocal by Wakeman - albeit being processed through a vocoder. Homage to the Doctor, a track dedicated to Robert Moog, is also good but his Moog solo goes on far too long (3 minutes) and doesn't sustain interest. The worst songs for me are Leave the Blindfold and The Stalker, both of which are pretty abysmal.

To top off the negatives he really should have used a better backing band, I guess these guys are old Wakeman cohorts and he uses them to keep the cost down but some of the tracks deserved better. Ashley Holt's vocals are excellent and Lee Pomeroy shines on bass occasionally, but the drums and guitar don't offer any real substance. There just isn't enough drive especially in the drum department.

As has been said in other reviews, expectation was high for this album, but for me it largely falls short of what I had hoped. To sum up a solid effort but lacks real imagination.

jimpetrie2000 | 3/5 |


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