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NO EARTHLY CONNECTION

Rick Wakeman

Symphonic Prog


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Rick Wakeman No Earthly Connection album cover
3.69 | 166 ratings | 19 reviews | 24% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


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Studio Album, released in 1976

Songs / Tracks Listing

Music Reincarnate: 28:08 (tracks 1-5)
1. The Warning (8:19)
2. The Maker (3:34)
3. The Spaceman (4:03)
4. The Realisation (4:17)
5. The Reaper (7:55)

6. The Prisoner (7:01)
7. The Lost Cycle (7:02)

Total Time: 42:11


Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Rick Wakeman / keyboards, synths, Mellotrons, harpsichord
+ The English Rock Ensemble:
- Reg Brooks / trombone, bass trombone, backing vocals
- John Dunsterville / acoustic & electric guitars, mandoline, backing vocals
- Tony Fernandez / drums, percussion
- Ashley Holt / lead vocals
- Roger Newell / bass, bass pedals, backing vocals
- Martyn Shields / trumpet, flugel horn, French horn, backing vocals


Releases information

Lp. A&M Records AMLH 64583

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to LiquidEternity for the last updates
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The Six Wives of Henry VIIIThe Six Wives of Henry VIII
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Rick Wakeman's Criminal RecordRick Wakeman's Criminal Record
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RICK WAKEMAN No Earthly Connection ratings distribution


3.69
(166 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(24%)
24%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(41%)
41%
Good, but non-essential (22%)
22%
Collectors/fans only (11%)
11%
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)
2%

RICK WAKEMAN No Earthly Connection reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
2 stars Of course after these megalomaniac project , who can still accord credibility to a man wearing stardust sprinkled capes? This lp is not any better than the previous ones but there was no grandiose side project except for this build your own circular mirror to see the keyboard wizzard. Sorry Rick but this one is also tacky

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#27402) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, February 26, 2004

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars Got this album by accident in the first months of 1977, my parents were in USA so I asked them to buy me Six Wives, Myths & Legends and Journey, but the clerk told my mom this was Rick's latest release, so she also bought it, still can't thank her more.

The album is absolutely different to all the previous, of course Rick keeps his classic baroque style but the album has a pessimistic and dark atmosphere with a more space rock oriented sound.

The concept is somehow pretentious because telling a parallel history of humanity and music is something impossible to achieve in 42 minutes, specially when the lyrics not strong enough (reaching in some parts the cheesy status). All along the album Wakeman shows an obsession for a supreme being, calling him by different names like The Maker, The Astronaut, The Spaceman or even The Reaper, obsession not strange in a man that reached the 30's and is becoming aware of his mortality.

But the music is outstanding, enhanced by the always capable English Rock Ensemble, "No Earthly Connection" is much more progressive and less classical than anything Rick did before, the constant changes of timing and the precise combination of instruments are a constant in this release. In this album Rick evolves from a classical music adapter to a more progressive and innovative composer, less pompous but still brilliant and more mature.

The first track ("Music Reincarnate") is a five part epic that tells a depressive story of humanity based on the loss of it's musical soul and abandoned to his fate by a disappointed maker. Full of abrupt changes and different musical influences, this track is the "Piece de Resistance " which goes from breathtaking chords to pleasant and calm melodies.

"The Prisoner" is a different track, more baroque than the previous with excellent chorus tells the story of a criminal who is condemned by man and by a revengeful God, the magnificent keyboards section in the middle of the songs reminds the listener of the classical Wakeman style. This is the song that I find more rewarding and well elaborated.

The album ends with a more eclectic song "The Lost Cycle" again Wakeman mixes spacey sounds with good piano solos, IMO the weakest track but still a very good one.

Not a masterpiece but absolutely essential, captures Rick Wakeman's music still at the peak of his creativity but with a different approach than in most of his albums.

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Send comments to Ivan_Melgar_M (BETA) | Report this review (#27403) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, May 08, 2004

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The last of Rick Wakeman's decent albums. After this the slide began to show. Maybe it had something to do with mass production and releasing of records, not sure really what happened. No Earthly Connection is an excellent album though and whilst being pretentious at times it has a great concept feel to it. Pointedly stating that music is more spiritual than we really think and of course having the cosmic reference of being a universal language. He transfers those ideas into this album very well.The whole album is continuous but Side 2 commencing with ' the Realisation' really gets the album moving.It has moments of lucid stillness and is very spatial which is unlike any of Wakeman's previous works. Give it a listen.

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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#27405) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, September 24, 2004

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is a VERY underrated album from Rick Wakeman, the Yes' keyboardist. Wakeman here is supported by the excellent English Rock Ensemble, made of Tony Fernandez on drums, Ashley Holt on lead vocals and some brass instruments musicians, among others. There are many excellent mellotron, piano, clavinet and harpsichord parts, and the bass even sounds like a clavinet!!! The tracks are VERY rhythmic and loaded. The omnipresent brass arrangements are very special and EXCELLENT, and it gives the music a very original sound! Ashley Holt's omnipresent lead vocals are EXCELLENT: his singing is ABSOLUTELY catchy, addictive and passionate. There are also MANY impressive backing vocals. ALL the tracks are excellent, and the music is VERY progressive: it is one of the most progressive rock record by Rick Wakeman! This splendid music is very introspective, serious, beautiful and it naturally predisposes the listener to a religious contemplation. The music is perfectly balanced between Wakeman's progressive keyboards and the omnipresent sophisticated rock dimension provided by the English Rock Ensemble. All the tracks can be uninterruptedly listened without any problem.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

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Send comments to greenback (BETA) | Report this review (#27408) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, March 10, 2005

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars A TRUE MASTERPIECE CLASSIC PROG ALBUM!

Taste of fruitful inhibitions of a human. Incapable of future seeing. Beyond his thoughts of music. ["The Warning"]

I was actually in the middle of reviewing some prog CDs from strange bands - that I have never heard before - when a colleague reviewer Greenback posted a review mentioning that this album is VERY underrated. Folks, I fully agree with his opinion. In fact, this is a true masterpiece progressive efforts by Wakeman not only in style but also in his approach to conceptualize this flawless and wonderfully crafted album. By the time I read Greenback's review, I just wanted to halt my review of those strange bands and strengthen his opinion thru my write-up on this No Earthly album, but I decided to defer any further and have some more research and some more spins. I first heard this album since 1976 through my brother Henky with a low quality record cassette transferred directly from an LP. It blew my mind at first listen. It has the same effect on me now as it did then. Even, last night when I drove alone in my car I put the CD of this album with a VERY loud volume while emulating Ashley Holt singing The Prisoner "You shall hang, said the judge ..!!" oh man ..what an excitement!

OK now, let's have a look the album in great details so that I can formulate compelling reasons on why I consider this as a true masterpiece classic prog album. I would start here by quoting Rick Wakeman's perspective so that all of us understand the concepts behind the album.

Rick's Perspective: "I truly believe there is life apart from that on earth and also that there are many other unknown dimensions as well and that's what this album was all about. Unfortunately the press thought I'd gone off my rocker and slagged it off. A&M records held emergency meetings because of poor sales - 4,000,000 plus as it happens!! Wakey's Verdict - Full of recording techniques and production that were way ahead of its time and the album has created more controversy than any other album I have made . It's either loved or hated - Little Known Trivia The sound of the waterfall, (and I'm not telling you where it is on the album), was created by making the band and crew drink copious amounts of wine all day without being allowed to go to the bathroom and then were all marched down to the echo chamber which was actually a cellar in the old French Chateau and where they stood on a long bench and all weed simultaneously into an old metal bath tub. It was recorded with 2 microphones in stereo. For years people have believed it was a sample from a famous waterfall." [source: http://www.rwcc.com]

Music Reincarnate: Part I The Warning (8:19)

This album opener comprises two sections: the first one with five minutes plus duration and the remaining one is less than 3 minutes. As an album opener, the first section opens with a long sustain, multi layer, keyboard sound in a single note followed with a quiet passage that is followed with an excellent choir "Taste of fruitful inhibitions of a human. Incapable of future seeing. Beyond his thoughts of music." This opening part has created a very colossal nuance that brings the music into an uplifting mood with the entrance of drum work of Fernandez followed with orchestra music. Keyboard inserts its sound in between the orchestra and brings the next lyrical part that starts with "Birth of music, birth of child is one. Language of the world, the missing sense.". The song is very rich in textures and melodies especially on the combination of brass / woodwind, keyboards, mellotron and catchy piano. One example of catchy piano is when the lyrical part says "Wait, wait, look at the sun, Music and blinding light, Sound strength destroying sight.". Wonderful compositions! The second section of this track is basically a more upbeat, even with a funky style, that starts with a break followed with a drum roll to start the music and second verse lyrical verse: "Warning man, time for collection ..". It's totally different style of music compared to first section but these two must be enjoyed as one track - so nice.

Music Reincarnate: Part II The Maker (3:34)

It's a very melodic song that begins with guitar fills backed with keyboard that flows into a spacey nuance. The classical piano solo follows with a very melodic notes to bring in Ashley Holt's vocal to enter the music. Piano accompanies the singing with dynamic notes. The crowded voice of people's talks have made this song an interesting one to enjoy. This song is so peaceful especially if you listen to it in the night-time. It ends up with a boiling water sounds.

Music Reincarnate: Part III The Spaceman (4:03)

This song flows seamlessly from Part II with an ambient and simple acoustic guitar fills backed up excellently with single layer keyboard sound that brings the music with the entrance of drumming. The music is a combination of brass instruments, keyboard, bass and drums that abruptly turns into quiet passage to let vocal entering the music. It's a catchy melody. Some transitions contain stunning guitar rhythm followed with dynamic drumming and solid bass lines by Roger Newell. The interlude part with multi layers keyboard work is truly stunning - even though it's short. I like the verse with this lyrical part: "Take us to your leader, To the man who rules the mind." - oh man .. what a catchy segment! The song concludes with a very nice choirs without any music. Excellent compositions!

Music Reincarnate: Part IV The Realisation (4:03)

Through this song, Ashley Holt demonstrates his true capability as one of best prog lead singers whereby he sings low and high points excellently in operatic style. Yeah, it's a kind of rock opera tune I think. The music flows nicely with inventive and solid bass lines by Roger Newell that brings the music into brass instruments section in energetic style. "It's too late to find your music soul Aaaahh ..". Sometimes the vocal turns into choirs smoothly in the middle of the track backed with orchestration produced by brass instruments. Bass lines help the music flows nicely.

Music Reincarnate: Part V The Reaper (4:03)

This ending part of five-part epic concludes all the stories depicted nicely throughout previous tracks. It starts off with melodic guitar work with a spacey keyboard sound and its solo at the back. The guitar turns into a rhythm section while keyboard maintains its original sound until it lets the voice line enters nicely to the music - in ambient mood. What's so interesting is that this song contains musical loops of previous tracks backed up with an ambient combination of keyboard and guitar fills accentuated by solid bass lines. I think this is great part of this ending part. The keyboard solo at the end is really stunning!

The Prisoner (7:01)

Well, this is a song that is different from the other tracks. The composition is so powerful and dynamic. The rhythm is excellent, and the melody is really catchy - performed in an operatic style. It's my best favorite of Rick Wakeman's song. It starts nicely with a melodic keyboard sound and acoustic guitar fills followed with staccato and oh ..man . stunning keyboard solo that later brings the music with a powerful lyrical part:" The shadow of the noose grew long A sun dial of the time .." Oh my God . what a killing and catchy melody here! The music flows dynamically with inventive and solid bass lines, powerful vocal, simple acoustic guitar rhythm, weird but nice choirs, great clavinet sounds and great orchestration. Simply, I love the following section of the track:

One man's life has cost another. You shall not lie in sacred ground. The time has come to meet your Maker. Down on earth, they heard no sound.

..and the music that follows is wonderful: magnificent keyboard and organ sounds. "You shall hang", said the Maker, For your presence on our planes, Is no use for those who wish to rest in peace. Wow! What a great song!

The Lost Cycle (7:02)

It concludes the album with strong combination of keyboard and piano sounds that accompany melodic singing style. I don't need to explore further on this track as this one is at par excellent with the preceding tracks of this album.

Overall, like Rick has mentioned it at his perspective (above), it's a love or hate thing with respect to this album. For me personally, I definitely in the "love" bandwagon and this album has been and will be in my heart forever. Why? Because have no single reason at all to hate this album - it's completely SUPERB and AWESOME! Thanks Rick! For composing such a wonderfully crafted album like this one. Keep on proggin' ..!!!

Yours progressively,

GW

Your evil lives forever, "You shall hang", said the Maker You shall hang, You shall hang. You shall hang!

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#27409) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Review by Zitro
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Tales of Topographic Oceans! the Wakeman way!

I mean it has few long songs, it drags a bit, and it is a little out of this world like the Yes Album.

Music Reincarnate 6/10 : This is a very long epic that well ... is longer than it should be in my opinion.It actually feels like Abbey Road's side b, since it feels like a bunch of songs put together in one. The vocals are mediocre like always, but the musicianship is decent. Some melodies are memorable and pretty, especially the "wait wait look at the sun" one. After the song changed many ways, they are heard again at the end of the song.

Prisoner 7.5/10 : I can't help but be amazed at Rick Wakeman's keyboard work in this track, and the chorus is catchy in an odd way.

The Lost Cycle : 7/10 : Starting with a very good synth, and good musicianship all the way, this is a strong closer in this album.

I do not recommend this album, unless you are a Wakeman fan. The wakeman site put this album I think on the top 5 of the list based on voters. It is possible that I do not comprehend the art of this album.

My Grade : C

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Send comments to Zitro (BETA) | Report this review (#41582) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, August 04, 2005

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Having momentarily run out of historical and literature-related themes, Wakeman went for the ambitious peaks of metaphysics: the concept of "No Earthly Connection" is an observation about the musical essence of the human soul, providing a perspective about mankind's ideal goals, dark side, spiritual connections and recurring failures to achieve a genuine greatness. Given the cosmic-and-almost-religious nature of the concept, it is no wonder that the instrumentation gets very based on Moog layers in so many occasions, while the lyrics put a particular emphasis get solemn, at times even getting really hopeless from an existentialist perspective. Lyrics are actually quite abundant, regarding the wide array of instrumental passages that usually occupy the Wakeman repertoire - it seems like our keyboard wizard had so much to say and explain in this introspective journey into the fields of music-centered anthropology. Ashley Holt really shines here, making good use of his rock-vibrating vocal cadence, while drummer Tony Fernandez makes a more-than-spectacular debut in the world of Wakeman. The 5-part 'Music Reincarnate' suite works as the album's nuclear core. Parts I and V are the longest ones, either anticipating or reprising some of the motifs developed in the three intermediate parts. My favourite sections are 'The Maker' and 'The Spaceman': the former shows a fluid juncture of meditative beautiful melodic lines, while the former shows the rockier side of Wakeman in an effective fusion of energy and elegance. 'The Realisation' wanders through the path of melancholy blues, with added touches of symphonic prog provided by the mellotron and horns in a delicate interaction. From now on, the album will step into the realms of pessimism never to get out of it again. 'The Prisoner' is my fave track in the album. This energetic portrait of the evil that men do and the punishment they are bound to receive for it both in this world and the afterworld is an example of Wakeman's ability to translate the majestic energy of classical music into a rock context. The song is not that fast, really, but it surely rocks - before I got to know this song for the first time, I couldn't imagine that a harpsichord could be used as real rock instrument while preserving its own idiosyncratic sonic source. The well-oiled ensemble of guitar, bass, drum kit and brass duet works efficiently in perfect harmony with Wakeman's mellotron layers and Moog leads, all the way through until the fiery climax - meanwhile, Holt does a beautiful job, managing to make those horrible, implacable words of eternal condemnation sound actually captivating. The closing track fully retakes the Moog-centered sound delivered in most sections of the 'Music Reincarnate' suite. It is built on a similar tempo to that of 'The Prisoner', so it makes the album seem like it's wearing out a little bit toward the end. All in all, it's a good prog symphonic song that accomplishes the mission of completing the pessimistic observation about man's potential to destroy the world he lives in and should protect instead. It also contains some of the most amazing grand piano passages in the album, as well as the bizarre inclusion of an upright piano in the instrumental interlude. The almost sinister mixture of keyboard layers and chorale in the final moments of 'The Lost Cycle' serves a proper ending for this excellent album. Although, generally speaking, it doesn't match the majesty of the predecessor "King Arthur" or the non-immediate successor "Criminal Record", it remains one of Wakeman's most notable efforts in his abundantly prolific career.

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Posted Sunday, August 28, 2005

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Don't ask about the waterfall effects

This is quite a difficult album to get into when compared with its immediate predecessors ("Arthur" and "Journey"). The songs are not generally as accessible, the music being slightly heavier, and more complex. It is however well worth the effort, as the album can be very rewarding,

The concept is based on Wakeman's belief that there is life and "unknown dimensions" beyond what we know of.

The whole of the first side (of the LP, CD versions of the album are very rare), and part of the second is taken up by the "Music reincarnate suite". Four of the five sections are on the first side. The opening minute or so is magnificently striking, with layer after layer of held synthesiser note building to a crescendo. "Part 1, The warning" jumps from theme to theme as Ashley Holt leads the proceedings in a predominantly vocal piece. Wakeman's keyboards are countered by the unusual inclusion of brass instruments, offering a vaguely jazz rock feel (especially in view of Holt's vocal similarity to David Clayton Thomas of Blood Sweat and Tears). "The warning" may well scare off a few Wakeman aficionados, such is the diversity of the track.

"Part 2, music of my soul" is one of my favourite Wakeman pieces. This haunting soft ballad includes a wonderful duet (embarrassingly, I cannot say who the higher voice belongs to but I think it is Roger Newell, it is superb anyway) and some more conventional but nonetheless excellent synth by Wakeman. "Paer 3, The spaceman" is a more upbeat rock number, while "Part 5, The realisation" has a stage show feel. The final part of the suite, "Part 5, the reaper", opens the second side of the album. The superb vocal melody of the verses is interrupted by a lengthy middle section. This contains brief extracts of the vocal melodies from the first 4 parts, which drift in and out as if they are being spasmodically picked up from space. The track closes with a haunting epitaph and a return of the layered synthesiser notes. Throughout the suite various themes re-emerge as Wakeman interweaves them with new ones.

"Music reincarnate" stands as one of Wakeman's most complex and ambitious pieces. Many, especially those who only hear it once or twice, will most likely fail to grasp the depth of the composition. If fact it stands proudly among Wakeman's finest works, but one which is woefully under-recognised.

The album is completed by two stand alone tracks. "The prisoner" appears to have been inspired by the Strawbs "Hangman and the papist", which Wakeman of course played on. The songs sits rather uncomfortably with the rest of the album. "The lost cycle" is not about a missing bike! While the song returns to the main theme of the album, it is messy and disjointed.

The album cover has an obscure circular picture of Rick on the front, and a similar image on the reverse. Inside the LP sleeve was a square of reflective foil, and instructions on how to roll it up, place it on the cover and thus see the images in all their glory. It must have seemed like a good idea at the time! In recent times, Wakeman released what he himself called the follow up to "No earthy connection" in the form of his "Out there" album.

For what appear to be contractual reasons, the album has been rather left by the wayside in the flood of subsequent Wakeman releases and has never been released in full on CD (apart from in Japan), all the indications being that this sorry state of affairs is unlikely to change.

After the monstrous success of his early albums, "No earthly connection" sold relatively poorly causing panic at Wakeman's record label. As Rick points out though, it still sold over 4 million copies. "No earthly connection" is undoubtedly among Rick's best albums, and certainly worthy of a place in any decent record collection. By the way, Wakeman's official website has an amusing tale of how the waterfall sound effects were created.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#102715) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Review by fuxi
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Chances are this album will sound as turgid to you as Wakeman's later solo effort OUT THERE did to me, when I bought the latter on the strength of some of the recommendations on this site. (Wakeman has recorded a lot of turkeys, but OUT THERE was to-tal-ly unbearable.)

Much depends on what you make of Ashley Holt's sturdy tenor. On KING ARTHUR, Holt shared duties with another lead vocalist whose voice sounded fragile and somewhat effeminate, but here it's JUST HIM, and if you don't like his blustering style you may be in trouble. An additional problem is that he's been given such lines as: 'Feel and touch the music sense. / Hear the cycle man should have. / Feel and touch the music sense. / To fight emotion, man's defence.' No comment.

To tell you the truth, when NO EARTHLY CONNECTION was first released, I felt happy there was a new album from Rick Wakeman, and I remembered Ashley Holt from previous albums, so I simply accepted him. The idea of Wakeman using a stripped down English Rock Ensemble (i.e. without any symphony orchestras blasting away in the background) seemed an attractive one, and in fact the presence of a two-man horn section is one of this album's great strengths. The horns lend a lot of warmth to "Music Reincarnate", the suite that occupies all of Side One as well as the first track of Side Two. They also blend well with Rick's grand piano, synths and occasional mellotron.

The first ever rock concert I attended was the Brussels gig by the band that appears on this album, and I remember that Rick and his ensemble managed to reproduce the best bits from ARTHUR so well that you didn't even miss a full orchestra. I also remember Holt throwing his tambourine high in the air during "The Prisoner", probably the strongest composition on this album. "The Prisoner" contains several exciting harpsichord solos (Rick's best since "Siberian Khatru") that are strongly reminiscent of J.S. Bach's keyboard suites; these actually encouraged me to start exploring Bach himself.

Because of the concert I now find it impossible to review such tunes as "The Maker" and "The Spaceman" objectively. They will always sound lovely to me (no matter how strange anyone else may find them) because they sounded wonderful that night. And let's face it, in spite of the pedestrian lyrics (and in spite of Holt's falsetto) "The Maker" IS a touching paean to music, starting as it does with the same sensitive grand piano you will hear on "Life on Mars" or "Morning has broken".

NO EARTHLY CONNECTION does contain some weak moments. Towards the end of "The Warning", Rick plays an unexciting solo on what sounds like a Dutch barrel organ - a foretaste of even cheesier things to come on his future albums. On "The Realisation" Ashley Holt sounds so incredibly melodramatic that even my concert memories will never save him. The final part of "Music Incarnate" is a dud: what's the use of rehashing all of the suite's themes, in vastly inferior sound? And the album's final track is simply terrible: horrible lyrics, no melody worth speaking of, uninspired solos.

I guess this is strictly one for the fans, although I'd advise everyone else to try and hear it at least once. I bought a Japanese paper sleeve CD of the album a few years ago. It neatly reproduces the inner sleeve with all those incomparable lyrics, and it even includes a square of aluminium foil which, when rolled up, ought to show you a reflection of the flattened keyboard wizard depicted on the outer sleeve - a trick I've never managed to perform.

Two and a half stars!

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Posted Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Review by Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I never really understood why this LP got so much flack at the time of its release. Well, maybe I do. Maybe people got fed up with all the pretentious opus he had released up till then. He was simply one of the most prestigious names in rock music since Six Wives of Henry VIII came out. His work with full orchestra and choir, his keyboards wizzarry and classical themes brought him in the center of rock´s world. It´s anyone´s guess if he stood there too long and people got tired of it. Whatever the reason, by the time he came up with No Earthly Connection there was nothing less hip than claiming to like Rick Wakeman´s music. When I borrowed this album from a friend in 1976 everybody at school told me it was pure crap.

I really did not understand all the mockery. The album was very good and I listened to it with pleasure. Over 30 years I got it again and the feeling remains the same: very fine prog music. I wouldn´t call this a masterpiece in the same league as Journey... or King Arthur but still very good, some parts even excellent. This album is maybe the closest thing he´s ever done in his solo career that truly seems to be a team work. The whole band shines and No Earthly Connection sounds neither an overblown ´classical music meets rock´ like his previous works, neither the keyboards driven ego trips of much of his latter day releases. Ok, the lyrics are pretentious, but I can live with that. And the music is what really matters in the end.

Not that the album is perfect. Actually sometimes it sounds a bit repetitive by the CD´s second part. Still is a valid work and his most progressive I can remember. Without all the big, bloated orchestrations and choirs, his English Rock Essemble proves that they are really fine musicians and have a chance to prove it. Rick himself does a great job here, but never overdoes it, which reminds me of how much importance was his contribution to Yes. A lot of the time he sounds like one fo the band members: certainly the most important one, but still a member.

So, after hearing it so many years after the last time I had this album in my hands I´m glad to say it stood quite well the test of time: it is a good prog album that sounds more like a band efford than a solo project. And the first 3 tracks are excellent examples of that. Pehaps not really essential, but it is above just good. 3,5 stars.

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Posted Friday, October 26, 2007

Review by ExittheLemming
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Before He Became a New Age Pensioner

Where to start?

Pompous, overblown, pretentious, bombastic, overwrought, egotistical, unwieldy and self indulgent.

These are just some of the perfectly justifiable barbs that could be hurled at No Earthly Connection but for reasons which I cannot begin to understand even after all the intervening years, it somehow manages to surmount all my habitual objections and be...unfailingly brilliant.

Musical ideas this good prove to be resilient to any manner of stylistic interpretation be it in bad OR good taste and Wakeman certainly displays a healthy disregard for both on this record. It is perhaps his own very powerful and sometimes 'difficult' personality that is imbued in the arrangements but not the compositions themselves that might go some way towards explaining the contradiction between the sublime message and the unsavory messenger.

Every track is top notch and there is never a lull or dip in the excitement throughout the whole 40 minutes.

The intro, utilising a dizzying number of multi-tracked monophonic Minimoogs, is one of those Prog soundbites that you wish were on an oxygen powered loop forever. But relax, it is reprised later on in the piece.

Ashley Holt's larynx must be twice the size of a small Balkan republic and he has one of those 'trained' voices that could conceivably puncture a spacesuit or divert a charging rhino, such is its power and dynamic range. Together with the repugnantly named 'English Rock Ensemble' he hollers with inimitable brio, his usual brand of panto villain melodramatics. The melodies and songs are of such high calibre however, that they survive this artifice and you can just tell that Mr Holt is having loads of fun in the process.

I do think it significant that the 'Ensemble' do not employ a string section, as this gives their brass only parts a 'bite' and rock energy that the addition of bowed instruments would perhaps mollify. What parts there are that may have been suitable for strings appear to be covered by Rick's organ and mellotron.

Much use is made by Wakeman of his trusty clavinet on these numbers and he proves once again to be one of the few keyboard giants who can approach 'funky' without embarrassing either himself or his listeners.

The 'portamento' effect available on the Moog (where the attack portion of the note is left out and you bend quickly into the next one) is perhaps a real Wakeman trademark and there are plenty of instances here where his mastery of this type of soloing is unmatched.

His piano playing is also equally distinctive, particularly on those sections where he appropriates those very fast arpeggios and trills found in some early medieval harpsichord music to great effect.

If I had one reservation it would be that although Newell's bass and Fernandez drums are both uniformly excellent, they don't appear to mesh or meld together in the way that other rhythm sections do.

Just an observation, not really a criticism. I have noticed this also on previous Wakeman solo albums where they seem to be 'divorced' from each other and not necessarily functioning as a single dynamic unit.

I will not comment on the faintly risible concept supposedly behind the album as I can invariably see in my mind's eye Wakeman's wry grin from behind his arsenal of keyboards when the gregorian choir chant:

He heard an astral choir

There is more than a glint in Rick's eye for many of the lyrical aspects of his solo work and it would be foolhardy to take such utterances too seriously. I am sure that Rick would be the first to admit that he is an entertainer first and an artist second.

In lesser hands this record could have resembled 'Jesus Christ Superstar' played by the Trumpton Infants School Orchestra but somehow Rick Wakeman has gelled an appalling potpourri of stylistic excesses into a progressive rock masterpiece.

The man is either a genius or luckier than a mosquito in a nudist colony

(Where to start?)

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Send comments to ExittheLemming (BETA) | Report this review (#169628) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, May 03, 2008

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
4 stars The fact that this album is not available on CD (yet?) is one of the big tragedies in rock music! Together with King Arthur, this is Rick Wakeman's best album. And together with Chris Squire's Fish Out Of Water album the year before, this album is among the best solo albums by any Yes member. This is also one of Rick's most consistent albums. The vocalist is Ashley Holt for the whole album and he does a great job.

No Earthly Connection is also one of Rick's most progressive albums. However, the Music Reincarnate suite is a little bit too long and repetitive to be a masterpiece. But there is much to enjoy in it. Also, I think that this album would have benefited from more electric guitar. It is not exactly a hard rock album.

The Prisoner somehow reminds me of The Hangman And The Papist by the Strawbs (on which Rick played) partly because of the lyrics and partly because of the music.

Please release it on CD and restore it to dignity!

Highly recommended for Yes fans and absolutely essential for Wakeman fans.

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Posted Monday, November 03, 2008

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
4 stars Although I've always heard that I wouldn't find another album is Wakeman's discography that would match his debut album I still decided to push on and, surprisingly enough, was rewarded in my search!

This is the album that everyone should check out after hearing The Six Wives Of Henry VIII. I like most of Music Reincarnate which is important since the track takes up almost 2/3 of the album but I can't really call it a complete masterpiece. My main reason for that is the lengthy intro section that I basically can't stand and therefore always fast-forward through. I also think that each separate section works fairly well on its own but the transitions leave much to be desired of.

After the lengthy first composition we are treated to a nice surprise in form of The Prisoner. This composition is great because of Rick Wakeman's phenomenal performance and although it could actually have been even better without the vocal arrangement I'm still very happy for the way it turned out.

Overall it's a real surprise of an album that I believe can be appreciated by most fans of progressive rock. So, I guess the moral of my lesson is not to give up and hopefully you will also be as rewarded by this album!

***** star songs: The Prisoner (7:01)

**** star songs: Music Reincarnate (28:07) The Lost Cycle (7:02)

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Posted Sunday, December 27, 2009

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars The best thing Wakeman ever did...with or without Yes. The cover art is kind of lame, but doesn't that look like a Compact Disc? Speaking of CDs, this was only released in Japan in that format at one point. Wakeman's most consistent and least cheesy album is not currently available on CD. Go figure.

The 28-minute "Music Reincarnate" is the heart of this album. It begins and ends with overdubbed synth drones. The vocals of Ashley Holt are generally really good. There is some nice brass throughout. The first vocals are sung in Gregorian-chant style. "The Warning" has a nice balance of funky and orchestral parts. I love the part where it goes "warning man, time for collection". Good clavinet here. You would never think this milky white cheesy bastard could be so funky. I never imagined I would hear anything by Wakeman that would make me want to shake my booty. Well done Ricky!

During "The Maker" there is some backwards talking and some lovely piano. At the end of this section you can hear waterfalls. But it's not waterfalls at all; it's some roadies or somebody urinating. Somehow I enjoy this part more by knowing that. I'm weird that way. During "The Reaper" you hear earlier parts of "Music Reincarnate" along with some spacey Mellotron. Nice. Wakeman's playing throughout the almost half-hour piece is really well done. For it's length, there really are no boring or overlong parts.

The last two songs are not quite as good but still better than most of the stuff on his other albums. "The Prisoner" has an awesome bass sound; it sounds like a fretless bass but I'm not sure. "The Lost Cycle" begins with some truly awesome sounding synth and bass. Later on there is what sounds like backwards Mellotron. I don't really like any of Wakeman's other solo albums from the 1970s. I can barely stand what he does on Yes albums. For this album all the planets were in the right houses of the zodiac, and the gods looked down upon him favorably. Not a masterpiece but a solid 4 stars. Re-release this on CD...now!

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Posted Friday, November 05, 2010

Review by tarkus1980
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars There are two factors that prompt me to rate this slightly higher (it's still a ***, but I'd almost rate it a ****) than the better known 'classics' before it. The first is that, in a return to Six Wives form, Rick doesn't bother to incorporate an orchestra, instead relying on his seven-man "English Rock Ensemble." This is for the best: for all of his grandiose ambitions, Rick just didn't have the skills to come up with interesting melodies and arrangements for 50-odd instruments, and he was better off attempting his classical-rock fusions on a smaller scale. The second is that, unlike the easily understood but extremely banal topics that made up the previous albums, this album's theme makes absolutely no sense. Critics of the day tended to note that Rick had seemingly gone completely off his rocker with this album's concept, and I agree with them, but given the choice between a topic that makes me roll my eyes and one that makes me cross my eyes, I'll take the latter any time.

And doggone it, I like the actual music. The vocals are terrible, as usual, but underneath the sheen of pompous keyboard-driven self-importance are a bunch of well-written melodies (with one theme that pops up repeatedly on the first side), an acceptable level of diversity in terms of style and vibe, and a nice assortment of keyboard sounds and creative production techniques (it's hard to have a great deal of ire towards an album where the sound of a waterfall is simulated by having a dozen men urinate at once). The only track on the album that doesn't do anything for me is the closer, "The Lost Cycle," which I find a bit lacking in substance given the level of pomp, while everything else has something likable. "The Warning" is driven by a fascinatingly odd sounding wah-wah effect in the guitars, which combine with the drums in such a way as to create the closest thing to funk you will ever hear on a Rick Wakeman album (that is to say, it's not funky at all, but it momentarily fools my brain into thinking it is). "The Maker" has an extremely lovely theme dominated by horns and piano (with synths coming in over time), with a "music of my soooooul" line that pops up repeatedly and is the best idea on the album. With some better vocals, I don't see any reason why this wouldn't have worked as a decent single to lure in some of the fans that were starting to abandon him around this time.

"The Spaceman" (which begins with the aforementioned urine waterfall) combines beauty and absolute art-rock cheese in a way I enjoy despite my dignity (the "chorus" is great). "The Realization" almost sounds like it could have fit in on Jesus Christ Superstar (with different lyrics, of course) without a great deal of reworking, which is a compliment. "The Reaper" combines a decent theme with a creepy stretch where various themes from the rest of the first side fade in and out under Rick's synth grumblings, which I guess symbolizes the protagonist dying and having flashbacks. Plus, the side begins with a five minute 'overture,' which has some terrible vocals but which also introduces a number of the better themes that come later (plus, it starts off with that cool, albeit extremely dated, sequence of synth tones, which later come back during "The Reaper"). All in all, then, the first side is a lot of fun if you don't mind a lot of pretense in your music. It's nowhere near perfect, but it's a decent way to kill twenty-odd minutes.

The first of the two second half tracks, "The Prisoner," loses me a bit, as Rick's attempt to 'menace' up the sound is a little laughable, but it still has its charms. I mean, it does have that "YOU SHALL HANG" bit, with Rick bringing out the harpsichord for its best appearance since "Siberian Khatru." That doesn't change that its seven minute length could be cut down to three without difficulty, or that this is the point where listening to Ashley starts to really wear on me, but it's not terrible.

The album, then, deserves a pretty decent dose of credit. Of course, it should still be mocked on the principal that Rick left a band that he felt was too pretentious, only to set out and make albums like this, but the mocking should be slight. The chances that you'll ever find this album for a decent price on CD are rather low, but if you have a way to acquire this in a way that won't set you back terribly, I'd definitely recommend giving it a listen.

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Posted Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars Taste of fruitful inhibitions of a human incapable of future seeing ... Hell, I was starting this review in the same way of another reviewer. Thanks God I've spotted it.

So let's change. We are in 1976 and the Rock dinosaurs are still in a good shape. Rick has failed to repeat the success of the six wives with Myths and Legends (good) and Listzomania (less good) but had the great live Journey in the middle.

For this album he gives up to the pomposity of Journey and Myths and the only gadget that the vinyl package has consists in a piece of reflecting paper to be shaped in a cylinder so his face that's painted deformed on the cover sheet can be seen on on it.

Music reincarnate is a long epic that wasn't fitting in an LP side, so on the original edition the last section of it was on the B side. So in total this album has 2 tracks because The Prisoner and The Lost Cycle were a single song.

After an organ major chord, a male choir opens the epic with the sentence on the top, then a kind of funky leads to the first effort of Ashley Holt---"Wait, wait, look at the sun, music of blinding light, sound strength destroying sight"---. I'm surprised, I'm writing basing on my memory only as I don't have the record here. After this excellent intro that's a complex song itself not just an opener, it comes "The Maker". It's a melodic song that can remind to some parts of Journey to the Centre of the Earth. There are no transitions of silences between the various parts of the suite, for what I remember. "The Spaceman" is darker than the previous segment but is more oriented on symphonic rock. "The Realisation" is darker and bluesy with the brasses making a good work and Holt sometimes screaming. "It's too late to find your music soul". A citation of the initial theme closes the side A. The transition here was needed because of the limitations imposed by the vinyl capacity. In order to give continuity between the two sides, the Maker is ended by a sort of repetitive "beeps". Despite the title, the Reaper is a very nice melodic song even if the chord's progression is not much original. It continues with a slow base of bass and keyboards on which all the relevant parts of the previous "songs" are represented as in a sort of "summary" ehich leads to the melodic conclusion with the piano on the initial theme, then it ends in the same way it started.

After an epic of this kind another long track can pas unobserved. "The Prisoner", from a musical point of view doesn't differ too much from the epic, it also recalls it in some passages, but it's the darkest moment of the album and the argument is a sort of trial ("you shall hang said the judge....") long before Roger Waters'. As I have written, on the vinyl The Lost Cycle was part of The Prisoner. It's less dark and features that keyboard sound that made Wakeman famous. It's the same year of Going for the One, and that is the sound that I mean.

Not a masterpiece but one of the best albums released by Rick Wakeman. One of the last good albums, unfortunately.

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Send comments to octopus-4 (BETA) | Report this review (#443537) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, May 06, 2011

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1 stars I can think of not earthy reason to buy this example of Prog dross. The Original master tapes where most probably eaten by Rick on one of his Alcohol fueled Benders. Not a great period in Ricks life and not a great LP. Even "the Gospels" is better than this (in fact a great deal better) The c ... (read more)

Report this review (#96461) | Posted by burgersoft777 | Wednesday, November 01, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Not in the same style as its predecessors like "King Arthur" but possibly his best album; certainly the best lyrically, the most ambitious in scope, and the one on which Rick's keyboards play as part of a band rather than just keyboards with a backing band. It's always struck me as ironic t ... (read more)

Report this review (#36734) | Posted by Phil | Friday, June 17, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars It´s just a matter of opinions, of course, but how can anybody say this is a bad album? In my opinion, as well as many others, this is one of Rick´s best works, without the extra pomposity of for example "Journey" or "Myths". Great album. Good compositions. Great keyboard (and MELLOTRON) work. ... (read more)

Report this review (#27401) | Posted by elpprogster | Thursday, February 19, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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