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Rick Wakeman

Symphonic Prog

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Rick Wakeman Retro album cover
3.08 | 58 ratings | 10 reviews | 9% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2006

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Just Another Day (11.14)
2. Mr. Lonely (3.47)
3. One In The Eye (5.32)
4. Men In Suits (8.05)
5. Leave The Blindfold (3.02)
6. Waveform (6.01)
7. Retrospective (6.35)
8. Homage To The Doctor (9.04)
9. Can You Smell Burning? (6.30)
10. The Stalker (8.45)

Total Time 69:01

Line-up / Musicians

- Rick Wakeman / Prophet 5, RMI Electra Piano, Poly Moog, Korg Mono Poly, Korg ES50 electric piano, ES1, Mellotron M400, Korg Vocoder, Mini Moog, Korg Trident, Hammond M102 organ, Moog Taurus bass pedals, co-producer

- Ashley Holt / lead vocals
- Jemma Wakeman / backing vocals
- Dave Colquhoun / acoustic & electric guitars
- Lee Pomeroy / bass
- Tony Fernandez / drums

Releases information

CD President Records ‎- RWCD 38 (2006, UK)

Thanks to KingBarbarossa for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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RICK WAKEMAN Retro ratings distribution

(58 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(9%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(40%)
Good, but non-essential (38%)
Collectors/fans only (12%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

RICK WAKEMAN Retro reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by richardh
4 stars I have some Rick Wakeman albums but the only one I really like (up to now) is Six Wives Of Henry VIII. For me too much of Rick's music borders on the cheesey. Thankfully he avoids that here. This is clearly a labour of love and great thought and time has been put into the songs and compositions. There is also the joy of hearing a range of 'vintage' keyboard instruments like the Mellotron and Moogs... hence the title.

The first track 'Just Another Day' gets things off to a great start. The instrumental intro draws you very nicely before Ashley Holts powerfull lungs get to work. Tony Fernandez provides able support on the drums, not too flashy. 9/10

The second track 'Mr Lonely' features some aggressive distorted vocals with a straight forward beat laid underneath and finishes with a superb synth solo.7/10

'One In The Eye' is an excellent short instrumental work out.Very well executed and reminds me a little of White Rock.Fernandez is excellent here while Rick has plenty of fun. Classic Wakeman.10/10

'Men In White Suits' starts with a nice slow symphonic introduction. The Mellotron is well used here before Holt takes over with his powerfull vocals. Then another instrumental section follows that again is classic trademark Wakeman before Holt returns again. Not too much to dislike here. Good solid prog. 8/10

'Leave The Blindfold' comes across as a bit Beatlesish (similar to 'When I'm 64' perhaps?) and is ably sung by Rick's grown up daughter Jemma Wakeman. Very nice.7/10

'Waveform' is the second pure instrumental piece on the album. Starts fairly quietly but builds quite effectively. Not earth shattering but maintains the high standard nevertheless.7/10

Its about this time on a long album that I'm looking for a bit of something different. 'Retrospective' isn't it. Maybe Rick could have done something a bit more interesting here.6/10

'Homage To The Doctor' is a tribute to Bob Moog as you might guess. Rick does some brilliant soloing before Jemma and Ashley finish the track off with great vocals.Probably my second favourite track here. 9/10

'Can You Smell Burning' starts with some Wakeman hammond work similar to Six Wives (Catherine Parr). Mr Nimble fingers is up to all his old tricks, and so much the better! Tony Fernandez provides the oomph factor on the drums. Top notch instrumental. 9/10

The album is finished off with 'The Stalker'. Holt sounds suitably desperate as he laments not being able to be with his true love. The lyrics are maybe a little on the Andrew Lloyd Webber side of things but its okay.7/10

Overall is this a masterpeice? No not really but it comes in at nearly 69 minutes and as I said in my pre amble Rick has put a lot into this.

Review by Zitro
3 stars Recommended album for Wakeman fans, but not interesting enough for anyone else. Retro is an album where Rick Wakeman decided to focus solely on 70s vintage instruments like the hammond, the analog synthesizers, and the mellotron. It is a refreshing album full of nostalgia, but some of the keyboard sounds are the hideous ones from his clunker "Rhapsodies" album. Other problems include some mediocre songwriting in places.

Nevertheless, you can't ask for a better opening track as "Just Another Day" takes you back to the 70s and the composition simply shines all the way through. Opening with a bizarre motif (later used in the second half of the song) and leading with the grandiose mellotron, great old-school keyboards and synthesizers, and Ashley Holt giving possibly his best vocal performance since No Earthly Connection's "The Prisoner." Sadly, the best song is followed by the worst one: a weak, noisy, repetitive rocker with distorted vocals and horrid guitars. "One In The Eye" has a weak main synthesizer motif and while the playing is good, the instrumental does not leave a good impression. Fortunately, "Men in Suits" improves things somewhat, with great use of the mellotron and analog synthesizer, but it's still not an excellent tune by any means. "Leave The Blindfold" is a melodic tune sang by Wakeman's daughter. It's not bad, but it is out of place here. While "Waveform's" middle section is good, the rest suffers from a horrible quacking-sounding synth sound and out of place mellotron. A bad song. "Retrospective" rescues the album again, a mellow and more thought out composition with appropriate usage of the old instruments. "Homage To The Doctor" is a tribute to the deceased Robert Moog, the inventor of the synthesizer. I really think that Rick Wakeman should have dropped the cheesy lyrics and focused on putting a great show by playing loads of synths. He does play the synths well here, but the vocal parts are a bit unnecessary. While this review doesn't look too positive for now, the last two songs are better than anything after 'Just Another Day'. "Can You Smell Burning?" is an instrumental with blazing synthesizer runs, 5/4 rock groove, and fiery Hammond B3. The closer "The Stalker", while having weak lyrics, it is the most epic-sounding track and both Ashley Holt and Jemma provides good vocals. It provides a very good dramatic climax to the album.

1. Just Another Day (A) 2. Mr. Lonely (F) 3. One In The Eye (D+) 4. Men In Suits (C) 5. Leave The Blindfold (C-) 6. Waveform (D-) 7. Retrospective (C+) 8. Homage To The Doctor (C) 9. Can You Smell Burning? (B+) 10. The Stalker (B)

Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars In the process of moving, Rick Wakeman came across a bunch of old equipment he'd not used for thirty years. He used this equipment to make 'Retro', as he explains; "As more and more flight cases were opened to check contents, my engineer was continually coming out with comments such as: 'That's got to be older than me!' and 'When was the last time you plugged that in?' The average age of the keyboards used was around 35... the most commonly heard phrase over the first few days was 'can you smell something burning?' Our only concession to the 21st century was that of using modern recording techniques and therefore to record onto hard disk, but no sequencing or music software was used in any way".

That alone is enough to make this project worthwhile. The music isn't bad either and though it may not have the grand spirit of vintage Wakeman, it certainly has the sounds of that period and is a treat for fans and synth-heads. Beefy arcade waves start 'Just Another Day' and are followed-up by a 'tron, Rick's electric piano and some downright Yes-like lines for a bit of old-style Wakeman and plenty of classic keyboard sounds from his endless assortment of Hammonds, Moogs, Korgs and Prophets. Grating pop tune 'Mr. Lonely' is irritating but 'One in the Eye' is back with slippery synths and a fresh take on old ideas. The bright modern drum sound proves a distraction throughout most of this recording and doesn't match the old fashioned tone here, and would've done with a warmer quality. But a very nice twin-synth duet supported by the grind of an ancient mellotron for 'Men in Suits' and though the vocal performance is more theatrical than serious, it has some real cool noodling from Rick. Showcase track 'Waveform' cuts along nicely, Wakeman pulling out all his tricks as he moves from keyboard to keyboard, sound to sound, setting to setting. It's at this point one wonders why Keith Emerson hasn't made a solo album so good and 'Retrospective' is even better, setting a film score atmosphere. 'Homage to the Doctor' is questionable but at nine minutes covers enough good ground to merit some attention. It's when he lets go that Wakeman really shines, unhindered by trying to write 'a song' and just doing his neo-classical thing better than anyone.

Quite uneven and the commercial stuff may nauseate, but there is enough good stuff here and 'Retro' is probably the most interesting thing this icon has done in awhile.

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars When I read reviews of some post New Age Wakeman albums and people compare this albums with the ones of the early 70's, I can't do anything but laugh, of course the Wakeman of the 00's is not like the Wakeman of the 70's...Please, the music, musicians, audience, styles, moods of the 70's are not the ones of the 21st Century, not even the world is the same,so a musician must change and re-invent himself in order to survive.

Of course I consider the period between "Six Wives of Henry the VIII" and "Criminal Record", the peak of Wakeman's career, but RETRO is an excellent album for the new century, as the name implies he returns to his roots, and does it well, with outstanding melodies and pompous arrangements as we are used to.

The alum starts with the electronic intro of "Just Another Day" which leads to a beautiful Baroque passage and Ashley Holt vocals that sound unusually great on this album, the song has multiple changes with Rick playing extended and fluid keyboard passages in which he includes massive amounts of Mellotron and Moog plus the always effective support of that human metronome called Tony Fernandez, one of the most underrated drummers in history...What else can a Prog Lover ask for?

"Mr Lonely" is a weird electronic oriented song, not what you expect of the Cape Crusader, but a good innovation that proves he didn't got caught in the 70's cliche allowing his versatility to flow, of course the classical connection can always be found attached to the unusual performance, good change.

"One in the Eye" is a return to his usual sound, accuse him of arrogant or pompous, who cares, this wonderful excesses are one of the reason why I still listen Progressive Rock after 3 decades. Rick's ability to jump from Classic back to Baroque and forward to late Romantic, is impressive, he has changed with the years, but to be a more solid performer.

The intro of "Men in Suits" reminds me instantly of Vivaldi's delicacy and structured compositions, this time Rick Wakeman doesn't jump from styles, he concentrates in only one so his movements and changes are soft and structured, just brilliant. But that's not all, after a strong vocal passage by Ashley Holt, Rick takes us back in time playing a passage extremely close to "Merlin the Magician" but in a different mood, can't be more pleased by this moment.

"Leave the Blindfold" is probably the weakest track in the album, Jemma Wakeman adds good vocals to a soft and predictable track with some BEATLES aroma, not ,my cup of tea.

At this point, I caught the idea behind the album, seems like a trip across past stages of Rick's career and "Waveform" sounds close to "The Breathalyser" from "Criminal Record", but this time with enhanced brilliance and pomp.

Retrospective also brings us back some years, this time the song has a similar ,mood to "Return to the Centre of the Earth", even when softer and more gentle, followed by "Homage to the Doctor" more or less in the same vein, but now more martial and strong with magnificent Moog solos and organ performance plus a great touch adding Jemma and Ashley powerful vocals at the end.

"Can You Smell Burning?" is a real gem, that has everything, as usual the guy is a wizard with the Moog and the organ, taking us back to the "Six Wives of Henry the VIII" era, frenetic from start to end.

"Retro" is closed with "Stalker" a pompous song that seems to recapitulate everything done in this album with Ashley Holt giving one of his best performances ever, really solid sand the perfect complement for the epic sound of the track.

If you are one of the fans who believe Wakeman only wrote great music in the 70's, the solution is simple, go to the store and get new copies of "Journey", "Six Wives" and Myths & Legends", but if you have a wider vision and are ready to listen new material with a touch of the 70's, get RETRO, a really strong release hat I enjoyed almost completely.

Not a masterpiece, but a solid album for the 21st Century with hints of the past, no less than 4 very solid stars.

Review by Matti
2 stars I was quite disappointed with this album - even when my expectations weren't very high in the first place. I have learned that Rick is not a great song-writer (or a composer at all) but that he can turn out his keyboard wizardry into a fairly enjoyable music. And usually he also sees the effort to avoid sounding always the same and having always the same atmosphere throughout his albums. Yes, he does so in this album too (the tracks vary from each other quite well). But the problem is, none of the tracks is a guaranteed winner, and the most of them are more or less stupid. What a wishful title Retro was... No, the music is not very 70's style, Yes-like symphonic or whatever you'd expect; the title refers to the used instruments. It came as a (bad) surprise that about half of the album features vocals. As I said, Rick is not a good song-writer.

Furthermore, I don't like either of the singers, Ashley Holt and Jemma Wakeman (his daughter). Ashley's manly vocals are a bit musical-like with too much vibrato and power; in this case "strong" is not a virtue. Some of the more proggy, longish tracks here would have been better without his vocals, for example the opener 'Just Another Day'. And Jemma is just an average young singer (I have a feeling that Country genre has lots of vocals in her style), who delivers mostly backing vocals, and lead vocals only on 'Leave The Blindfold', which is sadly one of the most useless tracks. Silly little staccato number with a melody part similar to the Beatles' 'Blackbird' line "you were only waiting for this moment to arise". The harmless song is only three minutes but once you've heard it there's no reason to listen to it ever again. But that's even a better case than with some of the other tracks that I got bored with within seconds. (A little remark on my listening habits in general: I don't waste my time with music I clearly dislike within its very beginning. Very rarely the music after its nasty beginning turns out to be something I like. Not even in Prog!) In Rick's case it's usually just silly sounds and the lack of "something to say" feeling. That is, the music just leaves me cold. Sometimes he can get away with it (the lack of emotional substance) by showing his virtuosity, but even in that department this album is not very strong.

I can't say that the whole album is crap. Of course 69 minutes of it include some nice moments too, but there's way too much below-average stuff going on.

Latest members reviews

2 stars Rick himself once said in an interview that if you notice the sounds as a standout, the the songs are probably substandard. To make an album out of the sounds, unfortunately indicates that this material was not really 'top drawer' material and more stuff he could use and use fairly well. Now ... (read more)

Report this review (#284668) | Posted by theinvisibleman | Thursday, June 3, 2010 | Review Permanlink

1 stars Dear Santa Claus, Mama said that I'm a good boy and behave very well this year. I hope you can give life to my wish, that is intended for the benefit of the fans of Mr. Rick Wakeman. Ater filling our ears with tons of sh*t for more than 20 years mr. Wakeman decided to record an album with th ... (read more)

Report this review (#235117) | Posted by moodyxadi | Tuesday, August 25, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I guess it seemed like a good idea at the time. Make an album using only vintage keyboards - "just real playing, exciting to play just as exciting to listen to" according to the album's liner notes. However it's one thing to come up with good ideas it is another to execute on the concept. I feel ... (read more)

Report this review (#170305) | Posted by jimpetrie2000 | Friday, May 9, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I was - am - a big Rick Wakeman fan and was pleased to hear about this album using "old" keyboards - Mellotrons, moogs, Hammond, RMI, Prophet and early Korg, and the like. Wakeman's solo efforts have been disappointing for some time but this seems to have been a real labour of love, and the ca ... (read more)

Report this review (#76824) | Posted by Phil | Monday, May 1, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars A welcome new effort from the grand master of keys. The previous reviewer rendered much of the details which I don't need to get into here. But I do have a few comments. One thing is that I very much like this effort getting all the old equipment out dedicate this album to the good old vintage so ... (read more)

Report this review (#73552) | Posted by KingBarbarossa | Thursday, March 30, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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