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Rick Wakeman - Rock & Pop Legends CD (album) cover


Rick Wakeman


Symphonic Prog

4.00 | 3 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Almost live in Europe

Let's take the ridiculous title as read. "Rock and Pop legends - Rick Wakeman" was one of a series of CDs under that name featuring different artists, all released on the "Disky" label.

This is an extremely low priced compilation of live versions of extracts from three of Wakeman's early albums plus one medley from his slightly more recent "Time machine". The performance is excellent throughout, making this a far more worthwhile album than the many new age albums he churned out in the eighties and nineties. The recordings date from 1989 to 1991 and represent some of the last by the English Rock Ensemble. They were not released until the mid nineties as there were "problems with the master tapes". This resulted in three months of re-recording of some of the parts, and the opportunity was also taken to add lead guitar parts, which did not feature in the live shows originally. The sub-title of the album, which is far more appropriate, is "Almost live in Europe".

"Elizabethan rock" is a typical Wakeman synth performance, which introduces the Ashley Holt sung "Make me a woman". The title may be slightly misleading as this is not a plea by Holt for a change of sex(!), but merely a request for the manufacturing of a partner. Given the ambiguity though, hearing Holt's gruff he-man voice singing "Make me a woman" can be unintentionally amusing.

"After Henry" is made up of extracts from three of the "Wives" from Wakeman's "Six wives.." album, "Catherine of Aragon", "Jane Seymour", and "Catherine Howard". These are interspersed with two sections from a "new" piece, "A crying heart", which features the vocals of Ashley Holt. This piece has strong melodic similarities to the old classic "Spanish Harlem". The track as a whole runs to over 20 minutes, being a well put together collage. While the "Six wives" sections are instantly recognisable, they are noticeably different to the originals, especially due to the later addition of the guitar parts.

"The realisation/The prisoner" is a fairly routine recreation of two tracks from "No earthly connection", although Wakeman's almost jazz like keyboards do sound somewhat different to his usual style, they're almost Moraz like.

The final piece is a 20 minute medley from "The Myths and legends of King Arthur". The sleeve lists "Guinevere", "Lancelot", and "The last battle" as being the source tracks, but the opening "Arthur" from that album is also included. The renditions are pretty faithful here, but well executed nonetheless.

It does seem strange that a fine album such as this should be hidden away on a budget label with a generic title. Those who enjoy Wakeman's solo work will find this to be an excellent live/studio montage, which finds Wakeman and the ERE in fine form.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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