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Rick Wakeman - Criminal Record CD (album) cover


Rick Wakeman


Symphonic Prog

3.75 | 232 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars "Rick Wakeman's Criminal Record" was recorded during the sessions for YES' "Going for the One", which opened the door for the return of ALAN WHITE and CHRIS SQUIRE. They, along with percussionist FRANK RICOTTI, had last appeared on WAKEMAN's debut, "The Six Wives of Henry VIII", and in many ways this record is a return to the ennervated progressive rock arrangements of that album. The theme (and, with WAKEMAN, there's always a theme) is the history of the criminal justice system, from the pre-enlightened "Chamber of Horrors" to the modern-day "Breathalyser." At their best, these songs display WAKEMAN's notorious array of keyboard instruments: "Statue of Justice" employs eight different keyboards, "Crime of Passion" nine. The works are occasionally bombastic in their pursuit of prog rock's complexity, but fans of the genre aren't likely to mind. If tracks like "Statue of Justice" and "Chamber of Horrors" are guilty of excess, WAKEMAN is the perfect perpetrator, blending his keyboards with the clever rhythms of SQUIRE, WHITE and RICOTTI and implementing the artful turns that ensure things move briskly. There are a couple of sentimental songs at the piano, "Crime of Passion" and "Birdman of Alcatraz", that benefit from WAKEMAN's fancy flourishes, plus the orchestral "Judas Iscariot" (complete with a full choir and pipe organ) to exercise the keyboardist's serious side. Only the brief "Breathalyser", a pastiche of familiar themes that incorporates "Little Brown Jug" and includes an unfortunate vocal cameo from Bill Oddie, is dispensable. The connection between the songs and their subjects are pretty clear this time, including an appearance of WAKEMAN's macabre sense of humor on the reggae-tinged roller coaster interlude for "Chamber of Horrors."

While it's still a flashy affair, "Rick Wakeman's Criminal Record" is less ostentatious than anything since "Six Wives", allowing his keyboards to once again reclaim the spotlight. For many fans, this ranks among his most enjoyable work.

daveconn | 4/5 |


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