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THE MASTERS

Rick Wakeman

Symphonic Prog


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Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars The sad truth about Rick Wakeman's lengthy solo career is that his best work came on his early classic trio of albums ... The Six Wives Of Henry VIII (1973), Journey To The Centre Of The Earth (1974) and The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table (1975). After touring the world with an extravagant Myths And Legends opera on ice, our Rick returned to the Yes fold for the second times, but he was never quite the same. During the late 70s and early 80s, his solo career floundered as he recorded a substantial number of unremarkable soundtracks for unremarkable films.

This compilation draws its material from 12 of the 30-plus albums Wakeman recorded between 1982 and 2000! There are moments of sheer Wakeman genius with the dancing synths of Return Of The Prophet (from 1982's Rock'N'Roll Prophet), The Bear (1994's Light Up The Sky EP), Dance Of The Elves (1994's Romance Of The Victorian Age) and the delectable piano runs of Fremiet's Cat (1996's Tapestries). Portions of The Pharos Of Alexandria (from 1995's 7 Wonders of The World ... arguably Wakeman's best album since Myths And Legends) are also pretty engrossing.

Unfortunately, the bulk of this two-CD collection shows that over the last quarter of a century, Wakeman's artistic journey has generally taken him downhill, and there are loads of frustrating moments like the lengthy live covers of Three Wives (a medley of half the tracks off his debut) and Merlin, both from 1985's Live At Hammersmith album, showing that the man can still play, but has somehow lost his edge (the cheesy sound selection doesn't help).

There's boring New Age stuff like Future Memories and some really dated rock tracks featuring guest vocalists (Light Up The Sky and The Opening Line are bad throughout, but Freefall's awful vocal section contrasts dramatically with some great keyboard passages). Most tragic of all are the light instrumentals (Forever In My Heart and A Painting Of Our Love come to mind) on which Mr. Richard Wakeman sounds uncannily like Mr. Richard Clayderman!

Occasionally breath-taking, but far more often mundane, this mid-priced double-CD will interest only a small group of synthesiser die-hards, although I suppose it has done me a service in that an acceptable number of the bright spots from a barren period in this man's career have been packaged together. ... 40% on the MPV scale

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Send comments to Trotsky (BETA) | Report this review (#56176)
Posted Sunday, November 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars A friend gave this collection about a few weeks ago. And I guess it was a good thing because recently I was quite interested to know Wakemanīs work after 1984. I had lost contact with much of what he had done after No Earthly Connection anyway. And since his solo discography is so vast, it was nice to have this double CD compilation instead of jumping into one or two of his 30 odd albums and hope to find something strong there.

The Masters is a collection of his output from 1982 to 2000. To please and atract some old fans they also included two of his old symphonic stuff (a meddley from his debut The Six Wives Of henry VIII, called heare Three Wives and Merlin from the Myths And Legends of King Arthur And the Knights Of The Round Table), both cuts taken from Live At Hammersmith (1985). The remaining tracks are original ones, and shows that Rick Wakeman tried almost every style possible during this time: pop, new wave, classical, symphonic, you name it. Certainly the album sounds a bit uneven at times but I also should say everything here was very well done and bearing Wakemanīs tasteful synth and keys lines. I heard both CDs several times and I like it. Nothing extraordinaire of course. Nothing like his first four great prog works. Still, it is good music.

The Masters is a good compilation from a time most progheads were not listening to Wakeman. And I found it to be rather good for a casual listener like me. Rating: 2,5 stars tjat Iīll round up to three since itīs pleasant enough to make interested in this long compilation from start to finish.

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#275714)
Posted Wednesday, March 31, 2010 | Review Permalink

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