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Rick Wakeman - Almost Live in Europe CD (album) cover

ALMOST LIVE IN EUROPE

Rick Wakeman

 

Symphonic Prog

2.59 | 10 ratings

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daveconn
Prog Reviewer
2 stars This thing has more aliases than Sean Combs: "Almost Live In Europe" (the original and, by far, most accurate of the titles), Rock & Pop Legend (pop legend?), and the most heinous version (which is the one I got suckered into), "The Best of Rick Wakeman". Actually, it's printed as "the best of RICK WAKEMAN", perhaps a subconscious concession that, no, this isn't really the best he has to offer. And it isn't, by a long shot. What it is, is a live performance recorded in Europe (don't ask me where, since the pretense to providing value is dispensed with once the disc is opened -- i.e., no liner notes) and featuring some overdubs. My guess is that WAKEMAN added an extra post-performance keyboard track on some of the songs, and it's logical that DAVY PATON added the guitar tracks after the fact as well. The selection is a little unusual, particularly the leadoff track: "Elizabethan Rock/Make Me A Woman." This comes from The Time Machine, not exactly one of WAKEMAN's most beloved records, so it may help us to carbon date this poor pony (c.1988). The synth sounds here hardly evoke greatness, and ASHLEY HOLT is his usual canary-killing self (i.e., his vocals tend to suck the air out of a room). However, I'll give Holt this: even ADAM didn't have a pair of apples big enough to sing the lyric "Make Me A Woman" over and over in some stentorian monotone. ("Make him shut up!" the troll lamented). That unpleasantness out of the way, selections from Henry VIII prove unsinkable in the "After Henry" medley, with one exception: sandwiched between them is "A Crying Heart", which I've never heard before. Imagine the theme to "Love Boat" moored in "Margaritaville", and you're close. Really, I'm not trying to be funny; those are the two songs that come to mind. Not to pick on ASHLEY HOLT all the time, but there are moments when I'm convinced his voice could drive rats from an abandoned cheese factory. "The Realisation/The Prisoner" is the only consistent ride on here, and (as way of atonement) I'll note that Ashley sounds great here, almost Byronic (for those who enjoyed the late Heepster's vocal acrobatics). The closing "King Arthur" suite is a little disappointing, having been served so much better on the "King Biscuit" disc (which is superior in all ways).

I've seen RICK WAKEMAN live in the '90s (with his son, ADAM), and he's eminently capable of putting on a great show, but this one lacks the requisite electricity to spark even a fan's interest.

daveconn | 2/5 |

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