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Rick Wakeman

Symphonic Prog

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Rick Wakeman Rhapsodies album cover
2.55 | 149 ratings | 14 reviews | 9% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1979

Songs / Tracks Listing

Disc 1 (34:46)
1. Pedra De Gavea (4:11)
2. Front Line (3:42)
3. Bombay Duck (3:14)
4. Animal Showdown (Yes We Have No Bananas) (2:40)
5. Big Ben (3:58)
6. Rhapsody in Blue (5:26)
7. Wooly Willy Tango (3:24)
8. The Pulse (5:21)
9. Swan Lager (P.D.) (2:50)

Disc 2 (35:48)
10. March of the Gladiators (4:53)
11. Flacons De Neige (5:01)
12. The Flasher (5:32)
13. The Palais (2:23)
14. Stand-By (3:30)
15. Sea Horses (3:52)
16. Half Holiday (3:00)
17. Summertime (4:27)
18. Credits (3:10)

Total Time 70:34

Line-up / Musicians

- Rick Wakeman / keyboards, arranger

- Nico Ramsden / electric guitar
- Tony Visconti / acoustic guitar, arrangement (6), producer
- Bruce Lynch / bass
- Frank Gibson / drums & percussion

Releases information

Artwork: Michael Ross with Paul Wakefield (photo)

2LP A&M Records ‎- AMLX 68508 (1979, UK)

2CD A&M Records ‎- D50Y3128 (1986, Japan)
CD Hope Records ‎- 844134-2 (1999, UK)
CD Real Gone Music ‎- RGM-0347 (2015, US)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy RICK WAKEMAN Rhapsodies Music

RICK WAKEMAN Rhapsodies ratings distribution

(149 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(9%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(20%)
Good, but non-essential (37%)
Collectors/fans only (20%)
Poor. Only for completionists (14%)

RICK WAKEMAN Rhapsodies reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Must try harder

This was really the beginning of Wakeman's slide into releasing albums simply to fund his lifestyle. It consists of a double LP of keyboard instrumentals, and while Wakeman's immense talent is apparent throughout, it is awfully dull. Many of the tracks are enjoyable in isolation, "Seahorses" probably being the best, but you get the impression Wakeman isn't really trying.

It's not just that the vocals are missing either, "Six wives.." at least found Wakeman using a multitude of different instruments on the same tracks. Here, each track is played from start to end on the same instrument, with no variation in the tune or pace within the track. I guess at least on this album the tracks sound different to each other, on some subsequent albums even that hope would be dashed.

Wakeman has produced many fine works, both as a solo artist and as a band member. Unfortunately, he has also released a lot of mediocre and substandard albums, which do him no credit at all. "Rhapsodies" falls some way between the two, but more towards the latter than the former.

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This double record is very accessible and Wakeman really uses a new technology to produce easy listening songs. One word: ADDICTIVE! But wait: the compositions are not simple at all! The keyboards are very varied and nervous, the songs are loaded, colorful and mainly joyful. There are TONS of good rythms involved and the melodies are omnipresent. Wakeman produces here a very good record IMO. After that, he has never been able to produce another album as good as this one. Listen carefully and you will find that this album is really progressive and never dull. I like the Wal? bass parts.
Review by Zitro
2 stars And here, it marks the beginning of Wakeman's sacrifices of art for quantity. It seems here that wakeman is not really trying his best, and some of the songs sound like TV commercials. IT also marks the beginning of poor keyboard sounds.

Sorry Wakey.

The album starts ok with a song with vocal effects, but then it contains loads of mediocre tunes in the first disc (exceptions being Rhapsody in Blue, and The Pulse)

The second disk is better, and has decent tracks like sea horses (pretty classical song), March of the Gladiators (with a great coda), and of course Summertime (a brilliant cover) Do not buy this disk, unless you want to collect Wakeman's discography ... mmm ... wouldn't that take forever?

My Grade : D

Review by fuxi
1 stars It looks as if Rick Wakeman recorded this dreadful double album ONLY for contractual reasons. 1979 was a dreadful year for prog: all the major British bands from the seventies were at the end of their tether; only King Crimson was on the verge of being resurrected in a truly spectacular way. I have often wondered why Rick lost his fizz. On SIX WIVES, WHITE ROCK and parts of CRIMINAL RECORD he'd proved himself an incredibly inventive soloist, but in the 1980s and 1990s there was nothing left for him but dreary New Age stuff and desperate collaborations with terrible vocalists.

I guess that by 1979 Wakeman felt there was nothing left to do on either moog synthesizers or hammond organ. He completely lost the spirit of exploration. RHAPSODIES is incredibly cheesy - what a shame Rick had to sink this low!

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars In the mid 70's when I was captured by this addiction called Progressive Rock, I would had killed to see the Cape Crusader making wonders with his Hammond and Moog.

"Six Wives of Henry the VIII", "Journey to the Centre of the Earth" and "Myths & Legends" were my favorite albums, each time I listened them i was transported to a different universe where music was perfect and everything was great, but nothing lasts forever, Rick Wakeman had signed a bad contract with A&M Records so he had to release as many albums as possible to survive and this caused a loss of quality.

"No Earthly Connection" and specially "Criminal Record" were outstanding albums, but it was obvious his sound was changing, but it's not until "Rhapsodies" was released when I discovered that my musical god was just a man who's days of glory had passed.

I don't know how to describe this album, but the two phrases that come to my mind are "Symphonic New Age" or "Bland Neo Classical", because it's a complete hybrid, and to make it worst it's a double, so it's like a winter Sunday...long and boring.

Rick is sober as never, which is a terrible mistake, his music has to be pompous, that's his style and that's what we are used to listen, in this album he simply plays nice melodies with almost no brilliant moments, it's a total disappointment.

The sad thing is that "Rhapsodies" is not a bad album, his musicianship is intact, the melodies are cute and well elaborate, but this is not Rick Wakeman, there's no energy, no power not a single excess that made of his first albums such a gems, in other words it's anodyne.

I won't dare to comment song by song, because I could fall asleep, the only thing I have to say is please avoid it, stick to his early masterpieces or jump until "Return to the Centre of the Earth"

Now the hard task.How do I rate this album?

Bad it isn't, so one star is out of the possibilities, even two starts is a bit unfair, but 3 stars is way too much for an album that shows no progress in his career and which works better than a valium if you dare to listen it from start to end.

Being that the fair rating of 2.5 stars doesn't exist in Prog Archives, will have to stay with two stars.

Review by b_olariu
3 stars Rick Wakeman's eight album from his solo career since 1971, named Rhapsodies released in 1979 as double album. Another accesible album , here Wakeman uses diffrent keybords, synthesizers sounds and to create more accesible elements but still have a lot of progressive arrangements. He is a very versatile keybord player and I mean he can very easy crosses from realy jazzy parts to almost disco beats in only few minutes, even seconds. The album has more then one hour of good playing, some intristing elements in part, some of them are only keybord noodlings, and very easy can be boring at some point, but the whole result is ok, at least for me. The album is very varied in arrangements, from jazzy parts to symphonic prog to almost pop and disco parts, this album to many listners a dull record without intristing moments. Ok is understandable at some point, but to me is an ok album, his skills as keyboard player is undenible awesome. Maybe a little to long , if it was only simple not double would be a much more great relase. I like it to tell the truth, he has some superb and very skillfull moments but are combines with some boring ones aswell, not bad but totaly unintristing. I can't trace a piece to be the best, but at least for me the ones with more up tempo beats are the most intristing. 3 stars for sure.
Review by Tarcisio Moura
2 stars Yeah, I guess this was the beginning of Wakeman´s decline. I remember at the time it was released asking a friend who had bought this album what he thought of it. His answer was: "Rick Wakeman´s disco record!" Needless to say I was not interested anymore. But this assertive was not entirely true. Ok, some typical disco bass runs on a few tracks, but still not quite the sellout I found on so many other artists of the time. And yet this is hardly one fo Wakeman´s memorable works. Short instrumental tracks, a few covers and the general sensation that he just made it to fulfill some constractual obligation. In other words, no energy nor power. Not bad, nor sloppy. In fact some tunes are pretty nice (Big Ben and Seahorses are nice exemples). The cover of Summertime also shows his terrific technique on the piano.

But that is pretty much it. Rick seems to be trying to get a more accessible sound for the mainstream, hence the new synth sounds, maybe. Or he just got fed up with the whole scene. The production is good, the performances of all musicians are flawless, and he is still Wakeman. However, unlike all his previous albums, his songs here do not reflect his genius like any other before did. Only hints of his tremendous songwriting habilities are shown. And to deliver such uninspired moment through a double album... this is really his criminal record.

Conclusion: for the first time a Wakeman record did not made me feel like listening to it again. I had to force myself into repeating listenings to write a fair review. But really, with a few scattered exceptions, it only made me miss his previous, truly symphonic works. This one is surely for fans and collectors only. 2 stars.

Review by DangHeck
2 stars When the creator of an album or any piece of art themselves are somewhat baffled by it, you know you're in for something that is... less than desirable. Rick said of the album at one point that Rhapsodies as an album was "probably the most confusing [he had] ever made," apparently because of its untethered diversity(?).

That's certainly a good way to view this album. But not all is lost. The least I figured I could do (as I often enough try) was provide personal highlights. Most notably is "Stand-By", the strongest of all the tracks in my opinion. Most exciting, most interesting, and least grating (and that's to say that a good half of the tracks were indeed grating or even unlistenable). The other two tracks I would suggest if you're going to otherwise write off this album are "Big Ben" and "The Flasher".

It's more than acceptable, I would say, to, at most, flip through this release (that is to say, I kind of hope you didn't purchase it). A lot of the textures and sonic choices did not age well at all. Hokey. Cheesy. Bad. Something I try to do, regardless of how I actually rate an album is to see for myself an aggregated average rating for all the tracks (sometimes this gives me a better idea what to rate the album overall). In the case of this one the average was 2.6875. What's nice about that is how near it is to what I was going to say anyway: 2.5/5.0

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars As a follow up to the brilliant "Criminal Record", Wakeman decided to release a double album of shorter tracks. The music is quite accessible, bright, cheerful and happy, for the most part. Wakeman calls this album his most confusing album he has ever made. I do get that because of the different styles that Rick incorporates here. Usually, I like hearing a lot of variey. The problem here is, there just isn't a lot of variety except for in the style. Each song goes by quickly. They are cheerful and fun tracks that do quite well when listened to separately. But when you listen to them one after another, they start to sound too similar. Sure Rick throws in a lot of surprises and what not, but it seems almost like he is making music for the sake of getting another album out there.

I remember when this album came out, I really loved it. But now when I listen to it, it seems to lack a lot of substance. Through the entire album, Rick constantly borrows from several different classical themes until it almost gets to the point that it starts sound like a "Hooked on Classics" album, though it does manage to stay a couple of steps above the tackiness of that. "Rhapsodies" is not a terrible album, and there are some great moments on it such as his interpretation of "Summertime" from Porgy and Bess and "Sea Horses". There are even a few times when you might catch your booty moving in your chair a little bit, especially if you have it playing as background music. It is quite upbeat for the most part. But if you are expecting some huge orchestra or choir accompanying Wakeman, or even guest singers, you'll be disappointed. Like "Criminal Record", this is a band album and Rick made it in the same vein as that album with his keyboards taking center stage and the instruments mostly supporting his keyboards. That's a good thing. However, there is only one song with vocals ("Pedra de Gavea") and they are very heavily treated. All of the songs are quite short and a bit "all over the place" with not enough development. Even with so few vocals, it just seems like there are very few solos as it all seems way too structured with little room to explore or improvise. Thus you get a bunch of tracks that are nice, but they have very little to distinguish them from each other. Yes, he does a version of "Rhapsody in Blue" by Gerswin, but it's so poppy and trimmed down to the basic melodies that it does just like I mentioned earlier; sounds like something from "Hooked on Classics". We all know RW can do much better than that.

So, this is a good album, but not a great one. It's way below what RW is capable of. And it has that "manufactured" feel to it, like the music was made for accessibility and sales. I don't love it at all like I used to, but, if each song is taken individually, then they are not so bad. Put all together in one double album type of listening experience can get rather tiring.

Latest members reviews

3 stars The first RW album that I actually bought at release, and I'm not heard it in years, until now. Rhapsodies is Rick having fun, going by the cover, and the track titles. The techniques from Six Wives et al are matured - multiple keyboards, drum/bass rhythm - and each track has a distinct identit ... (read more)

Report this review (#235142) | Posted by oldgoat | Wednesday, August 26, 2009 | Review Permanlink

1 stars First of all, I wonder if this is really a Rick Wakeman album. After a genial Criminal Record it came to this... I would like to say I admire the ambition of Rick to explore very many musical styles and territories, but the result is often surprisingly bad and even awful. ... (read more)

Report this review (#195275) | Posted by Sachis | Saturday, December 27, 2008 | Review Permanlink

1 stars To start here, let me say that one reason why I am going to buy some of Yes' CDs is Wakeman. He knows how to play, a master of the keys. But when I listen to this LP, there are several thoughts in my head. -''YES, we know you are a great player and all, and you can do that scales!'' Every promis ... (read more)

Report this review (#169507) | Posted by Luke. J | Friday, May 2, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I definitely understand the universal (I mean, among Rick's fans) hatred towards this album, and if to prove that point just listen to the very last track of Rick's previous album back-to-back with the first one of Rhapsodies, and you'll be wondering whatever happened to Wakeman's musical ambi ... (read more)

Report this review (#55801) | Posted by Guillermizzimo | Thursday, November 10, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This album was indeed rick's turning point, into a world of thrown up albums, just for the sake of trying to line his pockets. Overhaul Rhapsodies is good, but not that good. If you listened to what went on, of rick's work, on his previous albums. You would have to say, what the hell is going ... (read more)

Report this review (#27505) | Posted by | Thursday, May 12, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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