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Rick Wakeman - Silent Nights CD (album) cover

SILENT NIGHTS

Rick Wakeman

Symphonic Prog


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Marcelo
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars When I took this album for the first time, I asked myself: Is this the same Rick Wakeman who made incredibly wonderful works in the 70s? He plays the keyboards professionally, like ever, but the music is average and bored, and not really progressive. Add to the poor music a poor singer and you'll find a forgettable album. If one great musician choose to be prolific without preserving the quality standards, something's wrong. So, don't expect with Wakeman's 80s production similar high points like his firsts works, because you'll be very disappointed. And take care: before Rhapsodies, you can buy any Rick's album closing your eyes having the guarantee of a masterpiece, but next efforts aren't in the same vein. Silent Nights is a clear example.

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Send comments to Marcelo (BETA) | Report this review (#27509)
Posted Sunday, February 15, 2004 | Review Permalink
ProudlyUnhipp
4 stars Although, this is not Rick Wakeman's very best. Everyone agrees that his A&M recordings were his best. Had this album "Silent Nights" been done by any other obscure artist, I would say that it is quite good (for an 80's progressive output). I know that it's hard to except this as a Rick Wakeman album. For all the albums that Rick Wakeman has done, we cannot possibly expect everyone one of them to be a stellar masterpiece. In the 70's, musicians seem to have more liberty to be creative, and the media was open to expose any unique music concept. Many 70's artists are still legends today. 80's and 90's artists are generally easily forgettable. Thank the record companies for that because it seems that the record companies (from the 80's through to today) didn't allow new ideas to be recorded and sold to the media. This is probably why many people consider Prog Rock to be a dinosaur sound concept. Progressive Rock is intelligent music and yet it's not very popular. What does that tell you? People laugh at the 70's today, but yet, it was the most creative era of ALL music concepts. Now, to get back to Rick Wakeman's "Silent Nights": This is my last favorite album from Rick Wakeman. Basically, I usually enjoy Rick's instrumental works, but I'll say that I do enjoy this album, even for it's vocals. After this album, only a few moments of Rick Wakeman's following albums offered a spark of interest to me. I've bought many, and traded them away because of a lack of interest. The only other album I love from Rick Wakeman after "Rhapsodies", was his soundtrack for "The Burning". I wish it were on CD. "White Rock" is still my favorite Wakeman CD.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#27510)
Posted Thursday, April 01, 2004 | Review Permalink
1 stars Try to escape this record - plastic sound, flat melodies, lack of emotions and bad production are not what a prog fan needs. Even ironical Ghost of a rock'n'roll star doesn't save this poor record. Nothing here reminds of the man who has created 6 Wives, Arthur or Criminal Record...

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Send comments to Yurkspb2 (BETA) | Report this review (#36470)
Posted Tuesday, June 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars AN ACCESSIBLE PROG ALBUM

"Taking a chance on the opening line. Losing the impact, everyday time. Saving the friendship, holding a view. Out of perpective, never adieu." - Rick Wakeman "The Opening Line"

If you have ventured into the music of earlier Rick's albums in the seventies, what do you think about this album? I know, I know ... Most of you would not consider this album as an excellent one in the prog scene from keyboard virtuoso Rick Wakeman. You might even probe: "What? Rick plays this?". Even, some of you who adored The Six Wives album was really disappointed with this or hated very much. But for me personally this was (and still is until today as I still like it when I spin last night and today, three times already) truly an excellent addition to any prog music collection. Yes, as compared to other previous works of him, I agree that this one is less-complex and much more accessible because this is more toward melody-centered music with simple structure song. But, you have to admit there are great Rick style solos during interlude or transitions pieces in every song featured here. I think, prog music is not necessary to be too complex as there is room also for being "a bit of" complex in its composition. Remember bands like RPWL? Its music is not complex but it still falls into prog category. Why not this album?

"Tell 'Em All You Know" opens the album with an energetic, upbeat tempo music with keyboard-based structure. It's an enjoyable track with a smooth musical flow, great vocal, stunning guitar solo followed with great insertion of keyboard solo. "The Opening Line" is my all-time Rick Wakeman favorite. It's an upbeat track with simple structure and uplifting mood. The keyboard solo insertion during vocal line reminds me to pentatonic notes typically used in Indonesian gamelan music. The song has good transition pieces with quiet passage followed with stunning guitar solo. Bass lines are also solid and inventive in some segments. The keyboard solo at the end of the track augmented by electric guitar solo is really amazing! This is the reason I typically repeat this track whenever I listen to it. It continues with a mellow style opening "The Opera" through melodic vocal line accompanied with keyboard. The song suddenly moves into a very fast tempo music started with dynamic drum beats. This musical break with keyboard and brass section insertion is really excellent. Important to notice is the machine-gun drumming performed in this song. Really good!

The fourth track "Man's Best Friend" is a very nice instrumental break exploring soft keyboard play by Rick. The melody produced by this track is awesome and it provides good musical break after three upbeat tracks. Yes, it's well positioned as fourth track. The next track "Glory Boys" brings the music back to upbeat one with a combination of keyboard and guitar rhythm accompanying good vocal line. The composition is really good. "Silent Nights" has an excellent bass lines combined with keyboard, performed in slow tempo. The bass guitar is given an opportunity to perform its solo before drum sets into the music. Oh man . this is a great music. I really like it!!! I like the part when it reaches "Don't you know we're looking for life ." continued with chorus "Silent nights, stay away .".

"Ghost of a Rock'n'Roll Star" is an amazing composition combining rocking style with "funny" vocal line that creates a very entertaining song. I really enjoy this track. Yeah, it's about an aging rock'n'roll star who is still dreaming his past as he grumbles he was once as big as Jimi Hendrix. Amazing music. "the Dancer" continues with another funny music that also favors my taste. The opening is really funny and I especially like the musical rhythm when the lyrical part reaches "Slow, slow, quick, quick, slow .". It's really good! The saxophone plays excellently here.

"Elgin Mansion" is another instrumental track reminiscent of Rick's 1984 album (oh, I haven't reviewed this album yet) using piano touch as main melody augmented with acoustic guitar work. Bass guitar also performs well here. "That's Who I Am" concludes the album with a mellow track featuring piano, bass, keyboard and great vocal at its opening. The music build up into a full blown music when all instruments play together, commenced with drum work. Again, it's another great track. Keyboard solo performs stunningly during musical breaks.

Overall, I would say personally that this album is excellent (four stars) as all tracks were composed brilliantly even though most of song structures were straight forward and simple. It's an easy listening prog kind of music, I guess. But, remembering other great works and better music, composition-wise and complexity-wise like "The Myths and Legends", "The Six Wives", "Journey", "1984", it's fair enough to put this album as a very good one to add in any prog music collection. If you are not familiar with Rick's music, this album is accessible for you. But if you compare with Yes "Close To The Edge" album, you may find this album is disappointing because it's much simpler. I leave it up to you. Keep on proggin' ..!

Progressively yours,

GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#39096)
Posted Sunday, July 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
Zitro
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars This is an ok accessible and straightforward album with below average musicianship from The Maestro. The first two tracks are the strongest ones of the album : They are both melodic pop songs with good musicianship. Opera unfortunately doesn't deliver and is for me a mediocre pompous instrumentally-driven long song. Other interesting songs are the title track which has great bass playing, and "Ghost of a Rock And Roll Star" which seems like an autobiography of Wakeman himself talking about not being a star anymore.

My Grade: D

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Send comments to Zitro (BETA) | Report this review (#43222)
Posted Wednesday, August 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars In his own words "He's an ageing man without a future plan, he was a star but now they've all forgot. Now he just lives in the past, he's just a blast from the past. Our ageing star has lost the plot." ("Ghost of a rock and roll star")

The title of this 1985 release is deceptive, as it implies the music of Wakeman's new age sojourn. In fact this is a full blown band album with dominant vocals on most tracks, and Wakeman taking his place as a soloist and backing musician.

The lengthy list of guest musicians includes sometime Strawbs rhythm players Tony Fernandez and Chas Cronk, plus Rick Fenn on guitar. Most of the lead vocals are provided by Scotsman Gordon Neville, a leading session musician who has worked with such artist as Elton John and The New London Chorale. Wakeman himself takes lead vocal on "The dancer", but more of that later. The list of backing musicians includes Tony Burrows, who in the early 1970s sang lead vocals on hits by many bands including Edison Lighthouse, Brotherhood of Man and White Plains.

The album opens with two decent but largely anonymous rock tracks. The third track, "The opera" is optimistically described by Wakeman as "Prog rock", presumably due to its more complex structure. Sue Glover's harmony vocals certainly give the track an appealing atmosphere, but the rather jarring contrast between the two main sections is less than satisfactory.

"Man's best friend" is a ubiquitous Wakeman instrumental tribute to an unidentified dog. "Glory boys" was released as a single; surprising in that it is the most forgettable (but not the worst) track on the album. The title track is a meandering, atmospheric piece which bizarrely finds Neville moving into a Jamaican reggae sounding vocal towards the end.

Of the two tracks "Ghost of a rock and roll star" and "The dancer", Rick says that he turned them into " Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band type of efforts". That is perhaps a little unkind (to the Bonzos!) but there's no denying they are the low points of the album, being rooted in the plastic pop of the 80's. The processing of Wakeman's vocals on the latter track fails to adequately disguise his shortcomings in that department.

Fortunately things pick up again, in relative terms at least, for the softly inoffensive instrumental "Elgin mansions", but as we all know, Wakeman can churn out 20 such pieces before breakfast. We close with "That's who I am", an undistinguished piece of 80's pop rock.

Wakeman himself describes this album as "confused" in terms of its direction. At the time he felt that no matter what he did, the press would slate it, and was thus trying various styles in the hope of finding a style which would meet with approval.

In all, an effort by Wakeman to move with the times which unfortunately did not work. The album is neither good quality pop or inspired traditional Wakeman, and as such lies in the great no-mans-land of heroic failures.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#103928)
Posted Thursday, December 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover Team
3 stars Silent Nights is no where near the global mastery of the 6 Wives, his addition of vocals has never been a unanimous consensus as Gordon Neville is more suited for AOR or FM rock and his voice almost grates on occasion. This album is a tale of two extremes with some great tunes as well as some average stuff. It's certainly not his best or worst. Oh well! Highlights include amusing "The Opening Line", the interesting and bass fueled gentility of "Silent Nights" and the somewhat overtly commercial but sarcastic "Ghost of a Rock 'n Roll Star" (both almost in Alan Parsons territory) and the absolute majestic "Elgin Mansions" which remains one of his finest piano compositions ever. Then we have an instrumental about "Man's Best Friend", a whistling synth étude that is completely enjoyable. The average stuff: "Glory Boys" is very commercial, almost prog veneered pop (check out the cheesy backing vocals), "Tell "Em All." is pretty much the same, soulless music. "The Opera" leaves me indifferent. The Dancer is just plain bad. In all, this is worth getting but certainly nothing vital. Nice cover artwork though. 3.5 golden capes

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Send comments to tszirmay (BETA) | Report this review (#174874)
Posted Sunday, June 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I've never been a fan of Wakeman's solo works though it wasn't for lack of trying. I'm surprised at how many albums are listed here for him. Over 80 records are listed under studio albums alone. The man must like to work.

This album was released in 1985 and you can tell unfortunately. I can't say I like the vocals here from Gordon Neville but it's much more than that. The songs aren't progressive in the least, these are tunes you might find on FM radio back in the day but to be honest they're not even good enough for that. It has been almost torture to listen to this album in order to review it. I can't bear to do a track by track review here although i'll say the instrumental "Man's Best Friend" is the one I like the best. I feel it deserves 1 star but out of respect for Wakeman i'll give it 2 stars.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#293014)
Posted Sunday, August 01, 2010 | Review Permalink
octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
2 stars The initial negative impact that I had when I have bought this vinyl album some...wow...28 years ago...was caused mainly by Gordon Neville'svocals. Not that he's a bad vocalist, it's only that the opener sounds like it was written for Jon Anderson and he is too different.

The second reason of my negative reaction was that in this album he apparently sounds more Genesis than Yes, but this was only my impression. I have litened to the whole album few times and I have forgotten it.

I'm relistening to it after all this time, with less prejudices and the first surprising thing is that I remember the songs while I listen to them, so I must have listened to it more than what I remember. Now I can say that the sound is more 80s YES than anything else. "The Opening Line" could feature on 90125 or Big Generator, other than of course on ABWH.

"The Opera" would have benefit of Jon's voice but I have to say that Neville doesn't sound too badly here. Not that this song is a masterpiece,but it's the kind of things that can be found also on Anderson's albums of the same time, including the rock and roll interlude in the middle of the song.

"Man's Best Friend" is one of the songs which lower the album's rating. It's Rick Wakeman who plays, but the melody is very trivial and not skipping it is very hard. It's probably a first taste of the newage to come.

With "Glory Boys" we are in the deep of the 80s. This song has some in common with Camel's "The Cloak And The Dagger Man" for what concerns the sound and the tempo, but it's not as good as the Latimer's one. In the instrumental part we can appreciate some good fast fingers, but it's all.

The title track has a good bass line and even if also it is deeply in the 80s and musically reminds to a Metheny/Bowie's "This Is Not America" sung by a Phil Collins thinking to sing "On The Air Tonight" with some "oooh"s borrowed from The Wall. Why writing something like this?

"The Ghost of A Rock 'n' Roll Star" sounds like a song excluded from "1984" and reused later. Not bad, effectively, but too few to raise the rating. The following "The Dancer" doesn't have much to do with what one can expect from Wakeman but listened today is not as bad as it was appearing to my prog ears in 1985.

Rick remebers to be Rick Wakeman with "Elgin Mansions". It's a sweet piano solo and the only thing on this album which reminds to Six Wives (but also to the intro of "Twij"). A track which deserves to be listened to.

The closer "That's Who I Am" is a good song, but the fretless bass with chorus makes it sound very 80s, like Pino Palladino does on Gilmour's About Face. The piano part which interrupts it in the middle is very good, but it "interrupts" the song more than being part of it. Also this song would have had a different flavour if sung by Jon Anderson.

In brief, it's still a quite good album but it has some very weak moments. I'd like to rate it with three stars, but honestly I can't. Also the definition "Fans only" doesn't apply much. A fan, knowing what Wakeman is capable of, can be very disappointed listening to an album of this kind.

Dated arrangement and little-inspired compositions don't deserve more than 2 stars.

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Send comments to octopus-4 (BETA) | Report this review (#990740)
Posted Tuesday, July 02, 2013 | Review Permalink

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