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OLIVER WAKEMAN

Prog Related • United Kingdom


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Oliver Wakeman biography
Oliver Wakeman was born into a musical family and is the eldest son of rock musician Rick Wakeman. He has written and appeared on various albums, all of which have been released to critical acclaim.

Oliver's musical career started at about the age of 5 with piano lessons taken during break time at New Gregories School in Beaconsfield. As a child, Oliver would often sit at his dad's grand piano in the lounge and run his fingers haphazardly over the keys thinking that if he did it enough times them something tuneful would happen and one day it did - only briefly, but it was enough to make the young Oliver sit there all day, annoying everyone, trying to 'guess-play'. Eventually Oliver realised that he was just going to have to learn to play properly.

Oliver's recording career started in 1984 when he and his younger brother Adam contributed backing vocals to a track on father Rick's "Cost of Living" album. The track is called 'Bedtime Stories' and to this day is the only track that features Oliver, Adam and Rick Wakeman on the same track.

At age 17 Oliver started to gig regularly in pubs in the Devon area and considers those experiences to be as important as the formal musical training he has received. 1989 saw Oliver's own personal recording debut as part of the band 'Obssession'. He featured on the cassette-only release "Debut of Desire'". Oliver wrote one song for the album called 'Into the Mirror' which he is still threatening to re-record one of these days. Oliver left 'Obssession' and started college in his late teens. He trained as a graphic design artist and holds a diploma in the subject. He continued to perform on the North Devon music scene as an integal part of the Rock Blues band "Smokestack" which was well regarded by the public and fellow musicians alike. Oliver left the band in early 2002 although he was re-united with the members of the band when they were the backing band at his wedding reception!

1997 saw the release of Oliver's first solo album "Heaven's Isle". "Heaven's Isle" was written at the request of the Landmark Trust to promote their 1997 season of Lundy Island. The album was re-released throughout Europe by Verglas music in late 1999. Music from this album has been used by BBC 1 & Independent Television for various programmes. The Tarka Tourism board's video "The Secret Country of the Two Rivers" also features music from this album.

His second album 'Jabberwocky' (a collaboration with London base...
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Mother's RuinMother's Ruin
ProgRock Records 2005
Audio CD$5.25
$12.32 (used)
Purification By SoundPurification By Sound
Import
President Records 2003
Audio CD$10.25
$13.30 (used)
ChakrasChakras
Import
Disky Records 2002
Audio CD$144.20
$12.16 (used)
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OLIVER WAKEMAN discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

OLIVER WAKEMAN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.08 | 6 ratings
Heaven's Isle
1997
3.59 | 21 ratings
The 3 Ages Of Magick (with Steve Howe)
2001
3.04 | 4 ratings
Chakras
2001
2.33 | 3 ratings
Purification By Sound
2003
2.89 | 10 ratings
Mother's Ruin
2005

OLIVER WAKEMAN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

OLIVER WAKEMAN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.36 | 4 ratings
Coming To Town - Live In Katowice (DVD)
2008

OLIVER WAKEMAN Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

OLIVER WAKEMAN Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

OLIVER WAKEMAN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The 3 Ages Of Magick (with Steve Howe) by WAKEMAN, OLIVER album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.59 | 21 ratings

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The 3 Ages Of Magick (with Steve Howe)
Oliver Wakeman Prog Related

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

3 stars The recent re-release by Esoteric Recordings includes three previously unreleased tracks and lots of looking back at the time when the elder son of Rick Wakeman had made his solo debut and was friendly contacted by Steve Howe. The collaboration however didn't start immediately, and perhaps Howe's role in the end product was primarily one of a mentor and producer, and to a lesser portion one of a co-musician. At least I would have wanted to hear much more of his guitars. The arrangements are extremely keyboard-oriented.

I have no urge to compare Oliver to his famous father as I'm not a fan of the latter (I do appreciate his collaborations in YES, but his solo output is usually too overblown and pretentious to my taste), and furthermore this is the only album I've heard from Oliver this far, but why stubbornly avoid some inevitable comparisons either? Oliver's composing style is much softer, not quite as oriented to the showing off in the keyboard virtuosity - who would ever expect it to be either. The atmosphere often approaches New Age; nocturnal, slightly mysterious, deeply romantic and with the inevitable "Celtic" flavour. Yes, quite beautiful and pretty, but on the other hand a bit clichéd and toothless. As I only had the CD in loan, I chose the best tracks to keep, but frankly the number of them was a small minority, in the end. Back in the early nineties when I listened to a lot of New Age and such, I would have been much more impressed. Some more edge and richer arrangements, please!

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 The 3 Ages Of Magick (with Steve Howe) by WAKEMAN, OLIVER album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.59 | 21 ratings

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The 3 Ages Of Magick (with Steve Howe)
Oliver Wakeman Prog Related

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars Oliver seems to be more busy than his brother these days. In the next issue I will be reviewing his new album with Clive Nolan, but first here is an instrumental album that he has recorded with Steve Howe providing all of the guitar parts. I am indebted to Dave Wagstaffe (Landmarq etc) who plays drums on this album, as it was only through his contact that I knew that this album had even been released.

To have not heard this would have been a shame as there are some glorious 'songs' to be heard. Steve seems inspired and produces some of his finest guitar work for a long time. The music is very emotive and the keyboards drive along in songs such as "Mind Over Matter" that make one feel that vocals would be an unwanted distraction. When reading the booklet it transpires that Karl Groom mixed the album and Rob Aubrey mastered it which is why the sound is so good.

In fact, the only disappointing thing about the album (love the front cover) is that it was released on Resurgence, which is an imprint of Voiceprint. This album deserves to be heard, and many prog fans would snap this up if only they knew that it was available. A prog album that can be enjoyed at all levels, first time.

Originally appeared in Feedback #65, Dec 01

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 Mother's Ruin by WAKEMAN, OLIVER album cover Studio Album, 2005
2.89 | 10 ratings

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Mother's Ruin
Oliver Wakeman Prog Related

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 stars Walk away

I was familiar with eight out of the nine songs of this studio album as they were included (in live versions) on the live concert DVD Coming To Town that was recorded and filmed in Poland in October 2007. Compared to the live versions, these studio versions sound rather tame and watered down. In the live concert setting, the songs sounded invigorated and much improved. This is one of the reasons that I rate this studio album a bit lower. It is not bad at all as such, but also not particularly special either.

For those who are new to Oliver's music it should be pointed out that he has picked up more than a few tricks form his legendary father. But the music of Mother's Ruin is however more towards melodic Hard Rock with some progressive touches than to classic Rick Wakeman-esque Symphonic Prog. The compositions are rather conventional. The vocals are by Paul Manzi who would later go on to become Arena's new vocalist. He does a fine job, but he lacks a unique and distinctive voice.

Both the aforementioned live concert DVD and the all instrumental album Oliver did with Steve Howe called 3 Ages Of Magic are better places to start with Oliver's career. In addition to almost the whole of the Mother's Ruin album the DVD also offers five songs from Oliver's collaborations with Clive Nolan with four of them from Jabberwocky and one from Hound Of The Baskerville. The DVD is thus a better way to get acquainted with both Mother's Ruin and Jabberwocky. Only fans need this CD in addition, hence the two star rating.

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 Heaven's Isle by WAKEMAN, OLIVER album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.08 | 6 ratings

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Heaven's Isle
Oliver Wakeman Prog Related

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars Like father....

"Heaven's isle" is the début album by keyboards virtuoso Rick Wakeman's eldest son Oliver. He makes an inauspicious start here, with an album of mood music rather than something which reflects his true talents.

The "Isle" in question is called Lundy, located at the mouth of the Bristol Channel between Wales and England in the south west of the United Kingdom. Oliver was inspired by a day trip to this protected island which is a wildlife haven and picturesque location. Heaven was the appropriate surname of the minister who at one time owned the island, and built the church there. Oliver used to visit the island regularly, and was inspired by it to write this music under the endorsement of the current administrators of the island, the Landmark trust.

"Heaven's Isle" contains 13 tracks, each of which attempts to paint a picture of an aspect of the island. Thus we have sea birds soaring above high cliffs, seals swimming in the sea, pirates attacking shipping in the channel, dolphins passing by, and so forth. In reality, what we have musically is a succession of pleasant but undemanding synthscapes which lean towards new age. I hesitate to label the album as such, as there is a bit more life to most of the tracks than that, but the music never ventures beyond the pleasant.

"Heaven's isle" is very much a chip off the old block in that it mirrors the plethora of albums Rick recorded to pay the heating bills in the 80's and 90's. It is hard to be critical of such music as it is charmingly inoffensive. Thankfully, Oliver has since found his own identity with his "Mother's ruin" album and his recent superb live DVD.

On the Vergalas releases, two of the tracks are re-recorded. The accompanying booklet gives picturesque descriptions for each track, acting as a sort of marketing brochure for what is undoubtedly a beautiful part of Britain.

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 Coming To Town - Live In Katowice (DVD) by WAKEMAN, OLIVER album cover DVD/Video, 2008
3.36 | 4 ratings

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Coming To Town - Live In Katowice (DVD)
Oliver Wakeman Prog Related

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Mother's Ruin live

This live concert was recorded and filmed in Poland in October 2007 and features Oliver Wakeman and his band. The set list relies heavily on Oliver's most recent Mother's Ruin album with no less than eight out of nine songs from that album being performed here. But we also get five songs from Oliver's collaborations with Clive Nolan with four of them from Jabberwocky and one from Hound Of The Baskerville. Perhaps surprisingly, we get nothing at all from the all instrumental album Oliver did with Steve Howe called 3 Ages Of Magic which in my opinion is his best effort. But maybe is would be hard to perform those pieces without Howe. Anyway, what we get here is appealing and I think that this DVD is a great way to get acquainted with both Mother's Ruin and Jabberwocky. Indeed, I think that the songs here sound invigorated and improved compared to their original studio versions. Jabberwocky suffered from having different vocalists on different tracks making it a bit incoherent and also some distracting narration by Oliver's famous father (who is a great narrator, but as with all narration on musical albums I tend to get tired of it after the first listen).

The set is varied, alternating between rockers, ballads and instrumentals to great effect. The band is good with drums, bass, guitars and vocals by Dave Wagstaffe, Paul Brown, David Mark Pearce and Paul Manzi respectively. Needless to say, the keyboards are all handled by Oliver himself. For those who are new to Oliver's music it should be pointed out that he has picked up more than a few tricks form his father, but has also developed a personal style from Rick's teachings. The music itself, however, is more melodic Hard Rock than classic Wakeman-esque Symphonic Prog. Though, this is keyboard driven melodic Hard Rock with progressive touches. Oliver thanks his family, Steve Howe, Karl Groom (of Threshold and Shadowland), "the Starcastle guys", Bob Catley (of Magnum) and Clive Nolan among others in the liner notes. These names certainly give some indication about his inspiration. Guitarist David Mark Pearce thanks Yngwie Malmsteen, Ritchie Blackmore, Ronnie James Dio and others. It is funny that he actually even looks a lot like Yngwie Malmsteen hair, clothes and all!

This is a good live performance captured in high sonic and visual quality. This DVD proves not only that Oliver is a great keyboard player but also that he has gathered a very competent band around him to perform some fine material. It will probably not appeal to all Prog fans, but for those who are interested in Oliver's career this is a fine addition to your collection.

As a bonus feature there is an interview with Oliver.

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 The 3 Ages Of Magick (with Steve Howe) by WAKEMAN, OLIVER album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.59 | 21 ratings

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The 3 Ages Of Magick (with Steve Howe)
Oliver Wakeman Prog Related

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

4 stars Two generations of magic

As a complete Steve Howe fanatic, I had to check this album out. Steve plays on several tracks - both acoustic and electric guitars. I was surprised about how good this album is, and not just because Steve plays on it.

Oliver has picked up more than a few tricks from his father. Their playing styles are indeed very similar. Rick has taught both his sons very well. But I would not say that Oliver doesn't bring anything new. I don't think that this album just as well could have been a Rick Wakeman album - Oliver has developed his own style. What impressed me the most was not the playing but Oliver's ability to write music. This is very good instrumental material. The album is varied yet consistent and does not get boring half way through as so many instrumental albums do.

The music is something of a crossover between Rick Wakeman and Mike Oldfield. The Celtic influences and instruments stand out in particular. But this is hardly New Age music even if some tracks have that feeling. This music has much more punch than New Age music. Some tracks really rock! In their own kind of way.

For fans of Rick and Steve, give Oliver a chance.

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 The 3 Ages Of Magick (with Steve Howe) by WAKEMAN, OLIVER album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.59 | 21 ratings

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The 3 Ages Of Magick (with Steve Howe)
Oliver Wakeman Prog Related

Review by Valeco

5 stars This is a very good album, the combination between Oliver and Steve are excelent, I can see how Oliver takes the Rick's heritage but with his own style. is a serious work and worty to have. The ejecution is perfect and the band work as if there were playing for long time togeter. This album remembers me the Steve Howe and Billy Currie Transportation.

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 Coming To Town - Live In Katowice (DVD) by WAKEMAN, OLIVER album cover DVD/Video, 2008
3.36 | 4 ratings

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Coming To Town - Live In Katowice (DVD)
Oliver Wakeman Prog Related

Review by erik neuteboom
Prog Reviewer

3 stars

In 1976 I was watching the just released movie Yessongs in a small cinema and went to Vintage Keyboard Heaven during Rick Wakeman his solo performance: wearing long blond hair and a glitter cape, Rick stunned the audience with his virtuosity and creativity, especially the Mellotron part is mindblowing symphonic rock magic, goose bumps! I turned into a huge Rick Wakeman aficionado and one year later I succeeded to see 'the caped crusader' live during the Going For The One tour, one of the best progrock gigs I have ever seen with Rick Wakeman parading between his huge array of keyboards, including 5 Minimoogs! More than 30 years later Rick Wakeman has two grown up sons who are both professional keyboardplayers, I had seen Adam on the DVD Live In Buenos Aires (with father Rick) but I was not familiar with the work of 'other son' Oliver.

Well, watching this concert in Poland by The Oliver Wakeman Band, it's incredible to notice how much Oliver looks like his father Rick, both visually as musically: if I listen to Oliver his sparkling piano runs and his flashy synthesizer flights and look at his face and way of playing, I tend to think that "it's Rick Wakeman Junior!" But seriously, in the Extra's you can find an interview in which Oliver tells about his love for Jon Lord and Deep Purple, listening to this live DVD that influence is very obvious: singer Paul Manzi can be described as a 'laidback version of Ian Gillan' while the powerful rhythm-section and the heavy guitarwork sounds as the foundation Jon Lord had in Deep Purple. But Oliver doesn't use the organ sound very much, he colours the melodic rock music very tastefully (but less abundant than his father) with a varied sound, from dazzling and fat sounding synthesizer runs (spectacular solos in Don't Come Running, Three Broken Threads, I Don't Believe In Angels and the titletrack with sensational use of the pitchbend button) and sumptuous classical orchestrations (The Agent and Three Broken Threads) to dreamy or sparkling (like in Dangerous World and Enlightenment) work on the piano. Despite those excellent keyboard escapades Oliver remains a teamplayer but looking at the camera positions, it's quite obvious why the band is named The Oliver Wakeman Band! Watching this live DVD I got more and more impressed by the very tasteful and professional melodic rock, from fluent mid- tempo songs to compelling bombastic or moving ballads and Heavy Prog (like Deep Purple, Uriah Heep and Steve Perry era Journey). I am also very pleased with guitarplayer David Mark Pearce, he sounds like an archetypical rock guitarist but more varied, in the track Enlightenment he got room and he used it to the limit! And in The Agent and the epic Wall Of Water the interplay between the guitar and keyboards is awesome and exciting, this band rocks.

So don't expect progrock or keyboard driven music, just enjoy this alternating and pleasant melodic rock, embellished with an inventive lightshow. My rating: 3,5 stars.



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 Chakras by WAKEMAN, OLIVER album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.04 | 4 ratings

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Chakras
Oliver Wakeman Prog Related

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars Reinventing the "wheel"

It is difficult to know how to classify this album, as it is not an official release by Oliver in the strictest sense. He does indeed write and perform all the tracks here single handed, but this is a "commissioned work". The music was specifically composed and recorded for the Balance and Harmony record label for their "Spiritual vitamins" series of releases. As such, there is no artist mentioned on the front cover of the digipak sleeve, although Oliver does receive a small compositional credit on the back, and a performance credit in the accompanying booklet. This was the only work recorded by Wakeman for the "Spiritual Vitamins" series, although he has worked on other commissions.

Given the background to the album, it becomes apparent that this will not be an album of rock orientated material, but a collection of relaxing, new age sounds. The tracks are based on the seven "Chakras", each running to between 5 and 11 minutes. The only instrumentation is the piano and electronic keyboards of Wakeman, devoid of drums, bass, guitar etc. The sleeve notes helpfully encourage us to "Float away with the music and become enveloped in waves of reflective calm as your body responds".

The music uses the usual new age techniques such as repetitive motifs, wave like sounds, and floating synths. Oliver's keyboard talents are most apparent in his piano leads, which naturally reflect similar albums recorded by his father and his brother.

In all, a pleasantly relaxing album of excusable ubiquity and anonymity. Those who have come to appreciate the music of Oliver through his rock orientated work should not expect to hear anything of that nature here. On the other hand those who enjoy the new age work of Rick and Adam should seek this one out too.

The sleeve notes (written in 6 different languages) explain that "Chakras" relate to the energy channel of the body which runs from the top of the head to the base of the torso. Along this channel are spinning "wheels" called Chakras. Each of these has a name, which perform various functions according to their location. In short, the state of each of these Chakras dictates our physical, metal and spiritual health. The track titles use the Sanskrit names for these Chakras, which in English correspond to areas such as the heart, the throat, and the solar plexus.

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 Coming To Town - Live In Katowice (DVD) by WAKEMAN, OLIVER album cover DVD/Video, 2008
3.36 | 4 ratings

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Coming To Town - Live In Katowice (DVD)
Oliver Wakeman Prog Related

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

4 stars Another Katowice concert classic

The 31st October 2007 was quite a night at the Wyspianski Theatre in Katowice, Poland. On that night, the charming old building hosted not one but three fine gigs. The centrepiece of the night was Clive Nolan's Caamora making their debut presentation of his ambitious "She" rock opera. Supporting this were Pallas and the Oliver Wakeman Band. Oliver and Clive have worked together several times in the past, so it made a lot of sense for Wakeman's band to play that night, their music being of a type which was bound to please the partisan but appreciative audience. Recordings of the Caamora and Pallas performances have already been released on DVD, so with the arrival of this DVD the unique night has now been captured in full.

Given that Caamora's set ran for the best part of two hours alone, it is perhaps surprising to find that we get a full set of 13 songs from Oliver here the gig running to about 75 minutes.

This is the first DVD release for Oliver, who chooses the band environment for the excursion. Hence this is not simply an exercise in keyboards wizardry, but a full blown rock band presentation. The five piece line up focus mainly on the 2005 album "Mother's ruin", on which guitarist David Mark Pearce and drummer Dave Wagstaffe also performed. No less than eight of the nine tracks on that album feature in this set. The remaining numbers are taken from Oliver's two collaborations with Clive Nolan, "Jabberwocky" and "The Hound of the Baskervilles".

The set gets off to a rousing start with the first track on "Mother's ruin", "Don't come running". There is a sort of Rainbow feel to this song, with singer Paul Manzi sounding reasonably like Ronnie James Dio. While Wakeman's relatively modest keyboards array is naturally fairly predominant in the sound, equal prominence is given here and throughout the gig to Pearce's guitar work. Pearce's style is similar to that of Nick Barrett of Pendragon, the overall sound often being reminiscent of that fine band. The mood soon changes for the fine ballad "Dangerous world" from "Jabberwocky", the lead guitar being particularly appealing here. Manzi turns his hand well to the four Jabberwocky songs included here, displaying admirable versatility with songs originally performed by a variety of singers. The sole track from "Hound." is the instrumental "Three broken threads", which offers Wakeman and Pearce the opportunity to compare dexterity.

There are a number of fine ballad style songs throughout the set, including the excellent title song from "Mother's ruin". Towards the end of the gig the band seem conscious of the number of ballads and the desire of the audience to party when introducing "If you're leaving" (Also from "Mother's Ruin"), promising "a few fast ones after this". The song is a superb Journey like number, Manzi now sounding admirably like Steve Perry. Given that he did not sing on any of the songs here when they were first recorded, great credit is due to Manzi for the way he adopts them as his own. He also makes an excellent front man too.

"Wall of water" is introduced as the "epic track from the last album" ("Mother's ruin"), the song running to around 11 minutes. Even here, while Oliver does slip into some of the family magic, it is more in the form a Yes like Wakeman/Howe duel, the lead guitar remaining equally prominent. The gig climaxes with the crowd pleaser "Walk away" ("Mother's ruin") and the encore "Coming to town" ("Jabberwocky"), Oliver describing the latter as one of his favourites.

While the Wakeman name will naturally attract interest from fans of Oliver's illustrious father, he is very much his own man. He tends to avoid the flamboyant excesses of his father (on stage at least) preferring to remain towards the rear of the limelight. Rick's influences can naturally be found in Oliver's style, but the band environment means that he is happy to simply take his place as a contributor to the overall sound of the band. This in turn results in a highly satisfactory set of great diversity, played flawlessly by a quintet of fine musicians.

The sound quality is superb throughout, the 5.1 surround sound capturing the well balanced sound with great precision. The main DVD extra of interest is a 25 minute interview with Oliver, which shows him to be articulate, interesting, and a right chatterbox!

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