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Rick Wakeman - Live at Hammersmith CD (album) cover


Rick Wakeman

Symphonic Prog

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4 stars This live recording is among the finest in Progressive Rock History. Presenting Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, Arthur & Merlin (From The Myths And Legends...album). The Rick Wakeman Band puts together the fine craftmanship of a prog rock band playing these songs without the orchestral arrangements from the original recordings. The live atmosphere makes this album so special since all musicians have turns on solos suported by Wakemans keyboards. "Journey" is condensed and some longer orchestral parts was taken out. Instead a very high energy output comes from Tony Fernandes perfect drumming, and Chas Cronck's beautiful bass-lines. Arthur and Merlin values the guitar and vocals in a higher standard than the originals. This album is a true "Must Have" in any Progressive Rock Collection. Due to a few flaws in the technical part of the album I truely cant mark it an "essencial" recommendation. These flaws are only percieved by the very demanding ear.
Report this review (#27511)
Posted Monday, January 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This live performance was recorded on 9th May 1985 and it delivered Rick's masterpiece works from his previous ground-breaking albums: Journey To The Center of The Earth, Six Wives of Henry VIII, and The Myths & Legends of King Arthur. To "fully" enjoy this live set, you should have two prerequisites (I don't impose on you; but this is a kind of suggestion if you wish): 1. You have been familiar with that three albums; 2. You enjoy live recording. If only one of these prerequisites is fulfilled you might drop this live set from your listening pleasure and if you don't have both, you should skip this CD (after all, it's an expensive price - especially for me). As for my case, I have fulfilled those two so I really enjoy this live set.

If in original studio version Rick brought in orchestra musicians, not with this live performance; all orchestral arrangements are replaced with Rick's multi-layered keyboard sounds. For me, it's a treat that I can enjoy another version of them. All tracks are medley of its respective album like Arthur that comprises three original songs Arthur - Sir Galahad - Sir Lancelot as a medley and also three tracks from The Six Wives album. I fully enjoy this live set as the Wakeman music style in electronic fashion is delivered dynamically. Song like Arthur is performed in a faster tempo with Gordon Neville looks after vocal department replacing Ashley Holt (my favorite Wakeman's vocalist). The guitar solo parts are also performed wonderfully. Tony Fernandez has always been an excellent wakeman's drummer. Basically, all musicians who contributed for this album was the ones who contributed at Silent Nights album. With Gordon on vocals, it's for me like having an alternative vocalist than regular Ashley Holt. And I enjoy his voice. My ultimate satisfaction is reached when the band play Journey and Merlin (oh man . I love the keyboard interplay!).

There was a memorable backstage problem that Rick himself said it clearly: "There was a power failure during the show and so I walked to the front and told jokes for 45 minutes. At the end of the show I was told that I had to pay a penalty for going into overtime. I protested that it was not my fault because of the power failure and in fact I had done pretty well by telling gags for almost an hour. I was then politely told that the power was actually put back on after 3 minutes but I had carried on doing a stand up act regardless. I paid the fine.". Despite this problem, Rick and his band still performed the job excellently!

Overall, I'm tempted to give this album as an excellent live performance and it's probably one of the finest live set by Rick Wakeman. It's true with me. But as far as wider audience with the possibility of not fulfilling what I put as the prerequisites (mentioned at above paragraph) I would give this a three stars plus. Keep on proggin' ..!

Progressively yours,


Report this review (#39394)
Posted Wednesday, July 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I first encountered this album some years ago and have enjoyed it ever since. I seem to recall that, in the mid 80's, Rick joked that progressive rock was so out of fashion that he couldn't even get a job as a piano tuner, let alone a performer. It's now 2022 and I'm glad that Capital radio broadcast this concert and it eventually saw a good quality CD release. MIxer John Acock and masterer Denis Blackham are names that appear many times in my record collection and have excellent reputations.

A good decade after his mid 1970's successes Rick has assembled a great band who perform well. The set includes collections of music from his first three solo albums presented with the clarity of 1980's technology.

Writing this in 2022, I noticed this afternoon that you can buy a CD quality download from at least two online retailers for less than £4. What is there not to like? At that price it has got to be four stars, at least.

Report this review (#2774241)
Posted Sunday, July 3, 2022 | Review Permalink

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