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Rick Wakeman - Retro CD (album) cover

RETRO

Rick Wakeman

 

Symphonic Prog

3.03 | 39 ratings

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Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars When I read reviews of some post New Age Wakeman albums and people compare this albums with the ones of the early 70's, I can't do anything but laugh, of course the Wakeman of the 00's is not like the Wakeman of the 70's...Please, the music, musicians, audience, styles, moods of the 70's are not the ones of the 21st Century, not even the world is the same,so a musician must change and re-invent himself in order to survive.

Of course I consider the period between "Six Wives of Henry the VIII" and "Criminal Record", the peak of Wakeman's career, but RETRO is an excellent album for the new century, as the name implies he returns to his roots, and does it well, with outstanding melodies and pompous arrangements as we are used to.

The alum starts with the electronic intro of "Just Another Day" which leads to a beautiful Baroque passage and Ashley Holt vocals that sound unusually great on this album, the song has multiple changes with Rick playing extended and fluid keyboard passages in which he includes massive amounts of Mellotron and Moog plus the always effective support of that human metronome called Tony Fernandez, one of the most underrated drummers in history...What else can a Prog Lover ask for?

"Mr Lonely" is a weird electronic oriented song, not what you expect of the Cape Crusader, but a good innovation that proves he didn't got caught in the 70's cliche allowing his versatility to flow, of course the classical connection can always be found attached to the unusual performance, good change.

"One in the Eye" is a return to his usual sound, accuse him of arrogant or pompous, who cares, this wonderful excesses are one of the reason why I still listen Progressive Rock after 3 decades. Rick's ability to jump from Classic back to Baroque and forward to late Romantic, is impressive, he has changed with the years, but to be a more solid performer.

The intro of "Men in Suits" reminds me instantly of Vivaldi's delicacy and structured compositions, this time Rick Wakeman doesn't jump from styles, he concentrates in only one so his movements and changes are soft and structured, just brilliant. But that's not all, after a strong vocal passage by Ashley Holt, Rick takes us back in time playing a passage extremely close to "Merlin the Magician" but in a different mood, can't be more pleased by this moment.

"Leave the Blindfold" is probably the weakest track in the album, Jemma Wakeman adds good vocals to a soft and predictable track with some BEATLES aroma, not ,my cup of tea.

At this point, I caught the idea behind the album, seems like a trip across past stages of Rick's career and "Waveform" sounds close to "The Breathalyser" from "Criminal Record", but this time with enhanced brilliance and pomp.

Retrospective also brings us back some years, this time the song has a similar ,mood to "Return to the Centre of the Earth", even when softer and more gentle, followed by "Homage to the Doctor" more or less in the same vein, but now more martial and strong with magnificent Moog solos and organ performance plus a great touch adding Jemma and Ashley powerful vocals at the end.

"Can You Smell Burning?" is a real gem, that has everything, as usual the guy is a wizard with the Moog and the organ, taking us back to the "Six Wives of Henry the VIII" era, frenetic from start to end.

"Retro" is closed with "Stalker" a pompous song that seems to recapitulate everything done in this album with Ashley Holt giving one of his best performances ever, really solid sand the perfect complement for the epic sound of the track.

If you are one of the fans who believe Wakeman only wrote great music in the 70's, the solution is simple, go to the store and get new copies of "Journey", "Six Wives" and Myths & Legends", but if you have a wider vision and are ready to listen new material with a touch of the 70's, get RETRO, a really strong release hat I enjoyed almost completely.

Not a masterpiece, but a solid album for the 21st Century with hints of the past, no less than 4 very solid stars.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 4/5 |

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