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Richard Wright - Broken China CD (album) cover

BROKEN CHINA

Richard Wright

 

Crossover Prog

3.99 | 150 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars Rick gets it absolutely Wright

If we ignore Wight's venture with Dave Harris under the name Zee, which by all accounts was not a resounding success, "Broken China" was his rather belated follow up to 1978's "Wet dream". Even allowing for his post Roger Waters contributions to the output of Pink Floyd, especially "The Division Bell", he can hardly be accused of being prolific. Perhaps needless to say, none of the other Pink Floyd members were involved in the project, but Rick (or Richard as he seems to prefer now) does call upon a small team of talented musicians to support him including Pink Floyd friend Tim Renwick.

"Broken China" is an excellent piece of work, demonstrating that when he wants to, Wright can still "hack it". It is also pleasing to report that this album has a very progressive feel to it throughout. In the best traditions of his former band, "Broken china" is a concept album focusing on depression (suffered by Wright's wife Millie), with Wright providing the music for lyrics by Anthony Moore and Gerry Gordon. The tracks are grouped into four sections, each dealing with a phase of life. The third phase for example deals with the actual depression, while the final phase focuses on the subsequent "Breakthrough".

We open with one of a number of instrumental tracks which for obvious reasons are built around keyboard sounds. "Breaking water" sounds reassuringly Floydian with slow, soothing motifs and sundry effects. Rick says himself that he does not rate his vocals highly, preferring to let David Gilmour do the singing. Here though he takes on most of the vocals himself, having reversed his original plan to make an instrumental album. The first vocal track, "Night of a thousand furry toys" shows that he has more singing talent than he gives himself credit for, the Gilmour like guitar once again reminding us of Wright's past.

After an even more effective vocal on "Hidden fears", Rick presents four consecutive instrumental tracks, which segue to form a wonderfully symphonic and melodic phase. Some tracks, such as "Satellite", incorporate quasi-dance rhythms, the overall effect being a sort of "Dark side of the moon" for the 21st century.

Despite the aforementioned dance rhythm, there is nothing overtly upbeat here, no out and out rockers. This give the album a continuity and atmosphere throughout, the emphasis being on strong melodies and considered performances.

The Depression section contains the two longest tracks, both of which run to just over 6 minutes. The track lengths are though largely academic, the album flowing as a complete piece from start to finish. The second of these two tracks, "Reaching for the rail" sees Sinead O'Connor contributing the first of her two vocal performances on the album. The duet between Wright and O'Connor works remarkably well, the song is an undoubted highlight of the album.

As we come out of the darkness, "Blue room in Venice" remains melancholy, while offering hope, the oboe of Kate St. John portraying positive reflection rather than sadness. Dominic Miller's guitar work on the final instrumental "Sweet July" is very Gilmouresque, sounding particularly like that on the post-Waters Pink Floyd albums. This track owes more than a little to Mark Knopfler's superb "Local hero" soundtrack. And suddenly, the haze is lifted and we are walking "Along the shoreline" without a care in the world. Here we have another highlight of the album, the positive lyrics melody offering an excellent counterpoint to what has gone before. Sinead O'Connor returns to provide vocals on the closing song "Breakthrough", a piece which ties things together perfectly.

I find it difficult to avoid endless streams of gushing superlatives when reviewing an album such as this. "Broken glass" simply oozes quality; it is an album by someone who has been right to the very top, yet still has plenty left in the tank. Quite why this album has not been placed alongside the best of the Pink Floyd albums is something of a mystery, it is quite simply a truly great album.

Tragically, Rick passed away just as I was completing this review.

Easy Livin | 5/5 |

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