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Rick Wakeman - Cirque Surreal  CD (album) cover

CIRQUE SURREAL

Rick Wakeman

 

Symphonic Prog

3.02 | 15 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
2 stars Rick, why did you make so many albums?

Cirque Surreal is a funny little album filled with mostly up tempo, rather cheerful keyboard driven Rock 'N' Roll tunes. It is thus miles away from Rick's New-Age, Classical and Christian albums and also far from his more serious, progressive Rock albums. The closest comparison I can think of is that awful late 70's album, Rhapsodies. But Cirque Surreal is actually much better than that disaster of an album since this one has more Rock punch and there is a strong band feeling. Still, it is clear that the purpose of this music is primarily just to have fun and listening to this album does indeed bring a smile to my face, but it sounds somewhat underworked and as if they just went into the studio and played without putting too much thought into the process. There are some good moments here for sure, but where is the substance?

The major problem with Rick's solo discography in the 80's and 90's is that it is so vast and that he often put priority on quantity over quality. With more work, this album could almost certainly have been better than it is. It is indeed very impressive that he managed to record so many songs, but he seemed to be content with leaving them in a somewhat underdeveloped state and move on to the next. I'm not saying that this is poorly recorded or that it sounds like a demo. This is a professional recording. But I get the feeling that they could have done more and better than this. The songs are all well performed, but I would not call this progressive Rock as the tunes are rather simple and conventional in their structure.

The music here is based on the standard (Prog) Rock format; keyboards, drums, bass, electric guitars and female vocals. The keyboards all have that unmistakable and very distinctive Wakeman sound and feeling and devoted followers will almost certainly enjoy this album to at least some degree (I know I do!). The guitar solos add another dimension to the music, but it fails to be particularly memorable. The vocals of Chrissie Hammond are always powerful; she has a good Rock voice. But again, could they not have done better than this with the tools available to them? I find this music enjoyable, but rather unchallenging.

I would recommend this to devoted Wakeman fans, but there are many other albums of his that are much better than the present one (but even more that are far worse, I'm afraid!)

SouthSideoftheSky | 2/5 |

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