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Rick Wakeman - Fields Of Green CD (album) cover


Rick Wakeman

Symphonic Prog

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4 stars In my opinion this is one of Rick's best 'rock band' albums and it is certainly near the top of my playlist. The extra track (that I assume was not on the orignal release) smoothly blends the new themes of 'Election 97' with the familiar theme of 'Arthur' and is a perfect opener. But track two is one of my all-time Rick favourites, 'Starship Trooper/Wurm'. I guess this really qualifies, in every sense, as a Yes cover, taking into consideration that Rick was not the keyboard player on the original, despite having played it thousands of times since then. Chrissie Hammond's vocals are perfect for this track. I would have liked to hear a live drummer on the album, but Stuart Sawney's programmed percussion is as good as you're going to get out of a box. Other highlights are 'The Spanish Wizard' which has some great guitar work from Fraser Thorneycroft-Smith and the pacey rocker 'The Rope Trick'.
Report this review (#27566)
Posted Monday, January 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars This album begins with a dynamic and keyboard-driven cover of Starship Trooper which sounds insanely good! IT stays faithful to the original version (well at least the lyrics and chord progressions), but it is also a lot different. There is no guitar here. Instead, there are countless layers of overdubbed keyboards. The most impressive and shocking part of the song is the coda (Wurm). The guitar riff is replaced by a simple keyboard chord progression, intensifies whenever more layers of keyboards join in, and explodes in an amazing synth solo that lasts about 3 minutes.

What about the rest? Most of the tracks here are simple rock/pop tunes that except for their nice keyboard soloing, they are overall not very interesting. "The Never Ending Road" for example is a 9 minute long tedious track that should have been cut 3 or 4 minutes(the solos are interesting though). The Spanish Wizard is the strongest of the tracks here, with a nice flamenco guitar, and good chord progressions.

Highlights : Starship Trooper Let Downs : The Niceman, The Never Ending Road.

My Grade : D+ (just because of that version of starship trooper)

Report this review (#42890)
Posted Sunday, August 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars The Spanish wizard or the nice man?

Rick Wakeman has released extremely many albums in his days. Indeed, over 30 albums are listed here on Prog Archives from the 90's alone! Fields Of Green is one of these albums and as such it is one of the better of Rick's albums from that decade. Perhaps not quite as good as Softsword, African Bach or Return To The Centre Of The Earth, but certainly better than Phantom Power, 2000 A.D. Into The Future and Cirque Surreal, and very much better than the awful No Expense Spared. As far as I know, many of the other 90's albums are New-Age and Classical and as such not really part of Rick's Prog Rock career. Fields Of Green sits more comfortably in that category, however.

The version of this album that I have heard begins with a slice of the King Arthur overture and a cover of the Yes song Starship Trooper. The latter must be Rick's favourite Yes song as he always ends his shows with it. The present version is good enough, but very far behind the brilliant live versions available on live recordings such as the DVDs Live Buenos Aires and Made In Cuba and the fantastic live album Out Of The Blue. This studio version clearly lacks the dynamics and energy of those live versions. The keyboard and drum sounds are somewhat sterile and artificial, as they often were in the 90's generally, and this applies to this album as a whole. Do not buy this album just for the Yes song! Fields Of Green would indeed be better without it, in my opinion!

The rest of the songs here are originals and fairly good in their own right. Or some of them, at least! The vocals are all handled by Chrissie Hammond as on many Rick Wakeman albums from this period. The Promise Of Love is a (power) ballad which she handles well, and even if it is not really my cup of tea, it does bring a diversity of moods and tempos to this album. The Spanish Wizard is a great track, on the other hand, with both electric and Spanish guitars in addition to the keyboards, bass and drums. As I have said, the latter instruments, particularly the bass and drums, sound somewhat sterile but the guitar playing is very tasteful indeed! Never Ending Road is another good song that runs for almost nine minutes and as such is the longest of the original songs on this album. It features a rather folky melody and feeling and a strong vocal from Chrissie. You could almost mistake it for a Steeley Span song from the 80's/90's! This song has some lovely keyboard and guitar solos (sadly, played over a backdrop of a rather annoying and overly "bouncy" bass and drum track!). Don't expect too much of it in Prog terms, though!

The Fighter speeds things up a bit again and adds a stronger Rock edge in the process. We get another good vocal performance and some typical Wakeman keyboard extravaganza! Enjoyable for sure, but not really that memorable - a statement that pretty much applies to the album as a whole. Tell Me Why is another ballad that would not be out of place on the radio in the 80's. I'm certain that many Prog fans will want to skip this one, one of the least good songs here. The Rope Trick once again turns the volume up a notch with a "heavy" guitar riff backing up some fairly interesting keyboard and guitar solos. The Nice Man features some intriguing sounds at the beginning, but it soon reveals itself as nothing more than a straightforward and rather mundane Rock 'N' Roll number with awfully silly (autobiographical?) lyrics. No keyboard or guitar solo can save a number like that!

The title track ends this album and ties it nicely together. It is a slow and reflective little tune again with some Folk feeling.

Needless to say, this is not the best place to start investigating Rick's solo career, but if you already know and like some of his better solo albums from this period, Fields Of Green will be a nice addition to your collection. I'm happy to have it!

Report this review (#267898)
Posted Wednesday, February 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Rick Wakeman has his special place in my memory because of his excellent debut album, some works with Yes and collaboration on "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" album. Then, every his next solo album became less and less interesting, and I just stopped listen them long ago. But till now time to time, at some possibilities, I still checking what happens with his music. Everyone knows he has one of the largest discog at all, so there are plenty of possibilities for extensive listening.

This Rick's album from mid-90-s is somewhere in between. The music there is still not Mike Oldfield's elevator's new age (and it is good). But to be honest, it is not too far from that ( and it is not so good). Wakeman is great keyboardist, and it feels even in such works as this album is. Keyb/synth passages get the dynamics to all music. Some guitar solos and added vocals finish the picture. Melodic keyboards based art-pop - possibly the best name of the music you can hear on this album. Vocals as well build Oldfield-like feeling.

In all, if you like Mike Oldfield works from eighties, possibly you will like this work as well. Quite professional music, but for specific listener.

Report this review (#268971)
Posted Sunday, February 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Rick Wakeman is indeed an iconic figure in the music scene, known both for his prolific output and creative genius. His remarkable ability to release such a vast number of albums over the years is truly noteworthy and demonstrates his unwavering commitment to music. In the 1990s, specifically, his prolific output of 37 studio albums and 9 live albums is an extraordinary achievement in itself. Among this extensive discography, "Fields Of Green" stands out as one of Wakeman's finest works during that period, being an album that encapsulates not only Wakeman's exceptional technical skill as a keyboardist and composer but also his ability to create emotive and immersive soundscapes that resonate with the listener on a deep level.

Fields Of Green does not have influences from the New Age genre like some other albums from the same period, although at many points it also isn't far from it. After all, at many moments the album presents elements that echo some of the qualities found in New Age music, such as ethereal atmospheres, serene textures, and a sense of tranquil contemplation. It's remarkable how Wakeman shows incredible dynamics and skill on his keyboards throughout all the tracks of "Fields Of Green." His ability to create intricate and emotive arrangements adds an extra layer of depth and richness to the compositions, elevating the album to an even higher level of musical excellence.

"Starship Trooper," this version of a Yes classic brings a special spotlight to Wakeman's unparalleled keyboard skills, offering a fresh perspective on the track. Purists may argue that the original version of "Starship Trooper" carries an irreplaceable magic, however, this reinterpretation has opened a new portal, especially for those who crave an extra dose of Wakeman's musical mastery. In summary, it's an invitation for both long-time Yes devotees and newcomers to the progressive rock universe to explore a different facet of a classic.

"The Promise Of Love" begins with an atmosphere of suspense and anticipation that gradually transforms into a powerful and deeply emotional rock ballad. The female vocals add a layer of sweetness and vulnerability to the piece, skillfully contrasting with the intensity of the guitars and the strength of the melody. It wasn't a song that caught me initially, but after a few listens, it became a charming track. As always, Wakeman's keyboards add moments of brilliance and depth that further elevate the listening experience.

"The Spanish Wizard" is a track that delivers an intriguing fusion of elements from dramatic hard rock and some fine and catchy textures. The guitar lines are great, conveying intensity that establishes a solid foundation for the musical narrative. It doesn't have any kind of intricate arrangement or virtuosic instrumental maneuver, but it works well.

'The Never Ending Road' tt's undeniable that the solos and instrumental segments performed by Rick Wakeman are skillful and technically solid. However, the composition as a whole seems not to reach the expected potential. The lack of originality and the feeling that the music is dragging on without a clear purpose for almost 9 minutes is one of its main issues. Perhaps it would work better if it were half its length.

'The Fighter its first second of guitar, there's a possibility to relate a Rick Wakeman song to 'Alive' by Pearl Jam ' remember, I'm just talking about the very first second of music, okay? Unlike the previous track, "The Fighter" represents a step forward in terms of energy and dynamism. Rick Wakeman's solos, as usual, are the highlight of the song, it's through these solos that some progressive essence can be felt along with its hard rock atmosphere.

'Tell Me Why' emerges as a ballad that aligns with catchy melody AOR. At first, it might seem like it will fall into the same generic field as 'The Never Ending Road", but it goes beyond that, delivering good guitar lines and keyboards that add a layer of sophistication and texture to the music, complementing the melodic vibe.

"The Rope Trick" stands out as a track that strongly evokes the characteristic sound of 80s rock, even reminiscent of the band Survivor. The guitar line adds a dose of energy and intensity to the track, while an engaging mix of catchy melodies and very good chord progressions gives it plenty of dynamics. A song that captures the essence of 80s rock very well.

"The Niceman" begins with an atmospheric texture that immediately captures the listener's attention, quickly transitioning to a more playful and energetic line, marking a shift from the initial ambiance to something more dynamic and vibrant. Asserting that this song leans more towards hard rock than progressive rock isn't surprising, given the trend observed in previous tracks. Excellent guitar and keyboard lines give the track a special flavor.

"Fields of Green" is the closing track of the album, marking a smooth transition into more progressive territory, distinguishing itself from the previous tracks with its more reflective and emotional approach. It's very beautiful and has excellent moments, but, although I don't usually - with few exceptions - take issue with the track order of an album, I'm not sure if this one is in the right place, making it somewhat disappointing in terms of concluding an album.

While not the ideal starting point for those venturing into Rick Wakeman's vast musical universe for the first time, "Fields of Green" represents a less explored yet valuable aspect of the keyboardist's career. For fans already familiar with Wakeman's most acclaimed works, here lies an opportunity to delve deeper and discover new facets of his artistic expression. For music aficionados seeking a more comprehensive understanding of Wakeman's art, "Fields of Green" serves as a reminder that beyond the grand peaks, there are serene and beautiful valleys to be explored. This album invites the listener to appreciate the subtle details and depth that reside in these less prominent works.

In summary, while "Fields of Green" may not boast the audacity of Wakeman's other albums, it offers an interesting musical experience in its own way. For those willing to dive beyond the recognized classics, there are valuable rewards to be discovered in this and other lesser-known "worlds" of Wakeman.

Report this review (#3034327)
Posted Sunday, March 31, 2024 | Review Permalink

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