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Rick Wakeman - After The Ball - The Collection CD (album) cover


Rick Wakeman


Symphonic Prog

5.00 | 1 ratings

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For me the colouring with vintage keyboards is an essential part of the Classic Prog era: Mike Pinder's Mellotron in The Moody Blues, the soaring Hammond organ in Procol Harum their sound, early King Crimson with legendary use of the Mellotron, Rick Wright and his Farfisa organ in the psychedelic Pink Floyd era, Keith Emerson with his sensational Moog modular synthesizer sound, Tony Banks and his ARP Pro Solist synthesizer flights in 73-77 Genesis. And, last but not least, Rick Wakeman , he epitomizes the ultimate vintage keyboard sound in the Seventies, from the Moog, Mellotron and Hammond to the Hohner clavinet, Steinway Grand piano and Fender Rhodes electric piano, it's on his awesome list! I am a huge fan of his work with Yes in the Seventies (except the boring TFTO) and his early solo work, layered with varied vintage keyboards and showcasing his jawdropping skills. I consider this this comprehensive compilation CD as an excellent start to discover the exciting world of Rick Wakeman solo in the Seventies.

It spans the era from his outstanding and highly acclaimed first studio-album The Six Wives Of Henry VIII (1973) until his seventh effort, the disappointing Rhapsodies (1979). On this CD compilation Rick Wakeman not only shines with his keyboard wizardy, but also as a composer: he writes very melodic and harmonic music with flowing shifting moods, embellished with his wide range of keyboards. The one moment dreamy atmospheres with tender Grand piano or soaring Mellotron (wonderful interlude with violins section in Catherine Howard). The other moment swinging rhythms with Hammond and clavinet or sumptuous eruptions with sensational work on the Minimoog (in Anna Boleyn). A strong element is the contrast between the sparkling Grand piano runs and the fat Minimoog synthesizer flights (in Catherine Of Aragon), emphasizing the happy marriage between classical and symphonic rock in his music.

We can also enjoy work from his legendary and commercially very succesful album Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, featuring two live tracks.

Medley: The Journey / Recollection : the atmospheres are between bombastic with a choir and dreamy with warm vocals, the spectacular Minimoog sound is omnipresent).

The Battle : this song delivers a swinging rhythm, a choir singing "crocodile teeth, lizard head", duo-vocals and the distinctive Hohner clavinet, a captivating blend of classic and symphonic rock. To be honest, I miss the rest of the album, it's an 'incomplete musical experience' to listen to only a part of that exciting concept album.

A 'trademark Rick Wakeman Seventies solo album composition' is Arthur: an orchestra with a strong brass sound, a propulsive and fluent rhythm-section and strong interplay between the orchestra, a choir and Wakeman (with spectacular work on the Minimoog).

In Merlin The Magician our Caped Crusader delivers his most fat sounding Minimoog flights I have ever heard, how exciting, in a swinging rhythm and duelling with the cheerful honky-tonk piano. The climate ranges from dreamy with a female choir to bombastic, this is top notch Rick Wakeman solo!

One of the few songs with vocals is the alternating Prisoner, wonderfully coloured with Mellotron flute and violins, electric harpsichord and a church organ, the slightly raw vocals match good with the varied music.

One of my favourite Rick Wakeman solo tracks is the swinging White Rock featuring dazzling Minimoog runs, I love the bombastic atmosphere and Wakeman his virtuosic and sensational Minimoog play.

Between all the bombastic and swinging tracks After The Ball is an oasis of silence, with its romantic climate: tender classical piano, soft Minimoog flights and soaring Mellotron violins, wonderful!

Remarkable in the three tracks from his masterpiece Criminal Record (1977) is the awesome rhythm-section, this is the duo Chris Squire and Alan White (in that time Wakeman had rejoined Yes and everybody was happy and enthusiastic about the triumphant return with GFTO). We can enjoy Emersonian Grand piano runs and great work on the Moog and Hammond in Statue Of Justice, a captivating tension between the tender Grand piano and bombastic Hammond and Moog in the varied Crimes Of Passion and sensational Minimoog flights in Chamber Of Horrors.

The final track on this compilation is a beauty, the dreamy The Palais featuring a solo piece on the Grand piano, from tender to sparkling, Rick Wakeman in his full splendor as a classically trained musician!

This is the best you can get if you like Old School keyboard driven prog, "no fillers, all killers!"

TenYearsAfter | 5/5 |


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