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Rick Wakeman - 1984  CD (album) cover

1984

Rick Wakeman

 

Symphonic Prog

3.32 | 95 ratings

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octopus-4
Special Collaborator
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
3 stars Another of my Wakeman's vinyls, I still remember the moment I bought it and the first listen at home. By coincidence my current house is exactly in front of that records shop. I put it on in the late evening, wearing headphones and the prologue which includes more or less all the musical themes which will come later, like an opera's ouverture, was actually a very big surprise: so rock and uptime, with Jon Anderson quite screaming instead of using the sweeter timbre he was used to show with YES. I also remember to have been a little surprised reading the name of Chaka Khan in the vocalists as she was actually a disco dance star. Another surprising name who will later appear on other Wakeman's albums is the lyricist Tim Rice, author with Andrew Lloyd Webber of one of the greatest rock operas of all times: Jesus Christ Superstar.

If only the whole album were at the same level of the initial about 11 minutes....

"Julia", which in Orwell's concept should introduce the main character is a mellow song with a trivial melody only partially saved by the touch of Rick at the piano and by Jon's vocals, now back to more usual notes respect to the ouverture.

"The Hymn" is nicer. Short and very in line with the concept with Jon in a good shape. After the proper hymn, the music is vaguely reminding of "Journey to the Centre of Earth" then returns to Jon's vocals for the conclusion.

"The Room" is the first totally instrumental track. This is rock side of Wakeman. He was already off of YES, but this track in some parts sounds similar to Going For The One. This track has similarities with the ouverture as it's made of very different parts, only it's shorter.

"Robot Man" is the last rock effort of Jon Anderson and the last rocking song of the album. It closes the "A" side and the "B" side is less exciting. Effectively, relistening to it today, it's a radio-friendly 80s song featuring vocoder and on which Jon sounds like a metal clean vocalist but reaching very high notes. The album notes say that the singer is some Kenny Lynch, but I can't believe that somebody can sing the same high pitches other than Squire.

The B side is opened by a piano driven instrumental of the kind of Myths and Legends. Not bad, but I don't think it fits well in the concept.

"No Name" is sung by another singer, some Steve Hurley who has a very particular voice which adds something to this averagely good song. I don't like much "Forgotten Memories". An instrumental which doesn't add much to the album and seems totally outplaced respect to the dramatic concept. This music doesn't seem to have anything to do with the story, even though is surely not bad on its own.

"The Proles" seems coming out from the union of the Rocky Horror Picture Show and Carla Bley's Fictitious Sports. I quite like it, but I don't think I'd put it on a Wakeman's compilation. Listening better to the very high falsetto...well it's possible that's not Jon. Would you have ever thought? Somebody with a pitch higher than Jon....

The closer and title track is like the end-titles of a movie. The story is already ended and this melodic track reprises some of the principal musical themes of the album. Also this, taen on its own is good, but at this point of the album is a bit unnecessary.

I have liked this album when it was released, but today it shows its age. When I went to see Wakeman few years after, I think it was in 1985, he didn't play any song from this album. He played the whole Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, instead, and I wasn't unhappy.

octopus-4 | 3/5 |

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