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RICK WAKEMAN

Symphonic Prog • United Kingdom


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Rick Wakeman biography
Richard Christopher Wakeman - Born May 18, 1949 (Perivale, Middlesex, UK)

Rick WAKEMAN is one of the best known progressive musicians and a pioneer in the use of electronic keyboards in rock music. He's also been extremely prolific: in addition to his work as a member of The STRAWBS * (folk-rock band), YES * (post-psychedelic hard rock band), and YES offshoot ANDERSON - BRUFORD - WAKEMAN - HOWE*, he has a huge number of session credits, including work with David Bowie, Elton John, BLACK SABBATH, Al Stewart, and Lou Reed. And he's released more solo albums than anyone this side of FRANK ZAPPA. The list below includes 100 titles, including a best-of anthology, a CD EP, and six albums Rick did in collaboration with his son Adam (WwW)*. He also remained associated with YES into the '90s.


YES*: - Fragile, 1972 (expanded and remastered, 2003) / Close to the Edge, 1972 / Yessongs, 1973 / Tales from Topographic Oceans, 1973 / Yesterdays, 1974 / Going for the One, 1977 / Tormato, 1978 / Yesshows, 1980 / Classic Yes, 1981 / Union, 1991 / YesYears, 1991 / Yesstory, 1992 / Highlights - The Very Best of Yes, 1993 / Keys to Ascension, 1996 / Keys to Ascension 2, 1997 / Keys to Ascension Volume 1 & 2, 1997 / Keystudio, 2001 / In a Word: Yes (1969 - ...), 2002
(ABWH)* Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe: - (ABWH) Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, 1989 / (ABWH) An Evening of Yes Music Plus, 1993
The STRAWBS*: - Just a Collection of Antiques and Curios, 1970 / From the Witchwood, 1971 / 30 Years in Rock, 2001 / Wakeman & Cousins: Hummingbird, 2002
(WwW)* Wakeman with Wakeman: - Wakeman with Wakeman, 1993 / No Expense Shared, 1993 / Wakeman with Wakeman Live, The Official Bootleg, 1994 / Romance of the Victorian Age, 1994 / Tapestries, 1995 / Vignettes, 1996 / Yes, Friends and Relatives, 1998

"THE BEST" & "THE NEXT BEST" (12 CDs):
Reaction to WAKEMAN's music is mixed: his catalog represents the best and worst aspects of progressive rock, but there's no denying that more than a few gems exist in his massive catalog. And, of course, everything is just in y humble opinion - yours may differ.

"THE BEST" : His earliest recordings are generally regarded his best, both commercially and artistically.
1- The Six Wives of Henry VIII - 1973
During the making of "Clo...
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RICK WAKEMAN discography


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

4.13 | 916 ratings
The Six Wives of Henry VIII
1973
3.62 | 562 ratings
The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table
1975
2.58 | 146 ratings
Lisztomania (OST)
1975
3.75 | 285 ratings
No Earthly Connection
1976
3.29 | 166 ratings
White Rock
1977
3.79 | 294 ratings
Criminal Record
1977
2.54 | 148 ratings
Rhapsodies
1979
3.41 | 165 ratings
1984
1981
2.60 | 47 ratings
The Burning (OST)
1981
1.65 | 57 ratings
Rock N' Roll Prophet
1982
2.60 | 50 ratings
G'Olé ! (OST)
1983
2.59 | 55 ratings
Cost Of Living
1983
2.56 | 34 ratings
Crimes Of Passion (OST)
1984
2.88 | 28 ratings
Rick Wakeman, Jeff Wayne & Kevin Peek: Beyond the Planets
1984
2.39 | 48 ratings
Silent Nights
1985
3.23 | 46 ratings
Country Airs - Piano Solos
1986
3.18 | 33 ratings
The Gospels
1987
1.77 | 25 ratings
The Family Album
1987
3.36 | 51 ratings
Rick Wakeman & Ramon Remedios: A Suite Of Gods
1988
2.18 | 39 ratings
Rick Wakeman & Tony Fernandez: Zodiaque
1988
2.60 | 43 ratings
Time Machine
1988
3.41 | 32 ratings
Sea Airs
1989
2.73 | 41 ratings
Rick Wakeman & Mario Fasciano: Black Knights At The Court Of Ferdinand IV
1989
3.13 | 31 ratings
Night Airs
1990
2.13 | 21 ratings
In The Beginning
1990
2.55 | 23 ratings
Phantom Power (OST)
1990
2.51 | 30 ratings
Aspirant Sunrise
1990
2.58 | 29 ratings
African Bach
1990
2.27 | 11 ratings
A World Of Wisdom
1991
2.01 | 35 ratings
Aspirant Sunset
1991
3.22 | 27 ratings
Aspirant Sunshadows
1991
3.27 | 38 ratings
Softsword
1991
2.42 | 39 ratings
2000 A.D. Into The Future
1991
3.06 | 22 ratings
The Classical Connection 2
1991
3.40 | 25 ratings
The Classical Connection
1991
3.46 | 30 ratings
Country Airs (1992)
1992
2.89 | 38 ratings
Wakeman With Wakeman [Aka: Lure Of The Wild]
1993
2.76 | 20 ratings
Wakeman With Wakeman [Aka: Lure Of The Wild]
1993
2.75 | 27 ratings
Wakeman With Wakeman: No Expense Spared
1993
2.95 | 27 ratings
Heritage Suite
1993
3.74 | 22 ratings
Prayers
1993
3.59 | 28 ratings
Wakeman With Wakeman: Romance Of The Victorian Age
1994
3.09 | 29 ratings
Cirque Surreal
1995
3.20 | 39 ratings
The Seven Wonders Of The World
1995
2.20 | 16 ratings
Visions [Aka: Visions Of Paradise]
1995
3.00 | 27 ratings
Fields Of Green
1996
1.27 | 13 ratings
The Word And Music
1996
2.59 | 13 ratings
Orisons
1996
3.43 | 23 ratings
Can You Hear Me ?
1996
3.10 | 22 ratings
The New Gospels
1996
2.47 | 17 ratings
Rick & Adam Wakeman: Vignettes
1996
3.20 | 20 ratings
Rick & Adam Wakeman: Tapestries
1996
2.94 | 17 ratings
The Natural World Trilogy
1997
2.71 | 30 ratings
Tribute To The Beatles
1997
3.23 | 22 ratings
Themes
1998
3.54 | 169 ratings
Return To The Centre Of The Earth
1999
3.66 | 37 ratings
Rick Wakeman & Mario Fasciano: Stella Bianca Alla Corte Di Re Ferdinando
1999
2.79 | 15 ratings
Art in Music Trilogy
1999
2.42 | 31 ratings
White Rock II
1999
3.79 | 28 ratings
Preludes To A Century
2000
3.28 | 18 ratings
Chronicles Of Man
2000
3.27 | 20 ratings
Christmas Variations
2000
2.96 | 16 ratings
Morning Has Broken
2000
3.21 | 15 ratings
Classical Variations
2001
3.60 | 54 ratings
Two Sides Of Yes
2001
3.24 | 19 ratings
Treasure Chest Volume 1 - The Real Lisztomania
2002
3.53 | 36 ratings
Two Sides Of Yes, Volume II
2002
2.63 | 24 ratings
Wakeman & Cousins: Hummingbird
2002
3.72 | 20 ratings
The Wizard And The Forest Of All Dreams
2002
3.83 | 124 ratings
Out There
2003
3.09 | 61 ratings
Retro
2006
3.32 | 37 ratings
Retro 2
2007
2.94 | 25 ratings
Always With You
2010
3.82 | 116 ratings
Journey To The Centre Of The Earth
2012
3.99 | 61 ratings
The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table
2016
1.80 | 5 ratings
The Rainbow Suite
2016
3.19 | 12 ratings
The Phantom Of The Opera (OST)
2017
3.37 | 35 ratings
Piano Portraits
2017
3.33 | 15 ratings
Piano Odyssey
2018
3.81 | 213 ratings
The Red Planet
2020
3.43 | 38 ratings
Rick Wakeman & the English Rock Ensemble: A Gallery of the Imagination
2022

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

3.75 | 412 ratings
Journey To The Centre Of The Earth
1974
4.26 | 23 ratings
"The King Arthur" Concert
1976
3.65 | 35 ratings
Live at Hammersmith
1985
2.83 | 12 ratings
Unleashing the Tethered One - The 1974 North American Tour
1994
3.00 | 13 ratings
Live on the Test (1976)
1994
3.10 | 11 ratings
Wakeman with Wakeman Live
1994
3.95 | 21 ratings
Rick Wakeman In Concert KBFH
1995
2.16 | 6 ratings
Almost Live in Europe
1995
3.89 | 15 ratings
The Piano Album - Live
1995
3.88 | 5 ratings
Rock & Pop Legends
1995
3.67 | 12 ratings
Simply Acoustic - The Music
1997
2.86 | 7 ratings
The Best Of Rick Wakeman (original live recordings/ 1998 Wise Buy)
1998
3.64 | 8 ratings
Live in Buenos Aires. Official Live Bootleg
1999
3.73 | 15 ratings
The Legend - Live in Concert 2000
2000
4.46 | 29 ratings
Out Of The Blue
2001
3.94 | 8 ratings
Treasure Chest Volume 2 - The Oscar Concert
2002
2.44 | 9 ratings
Treasure Chest Volume 3 - The Missing Half
2002
4.00 | 11 ratings
Treasure Chest Volume 4 - Almost Classical
2002
2.57 | 7 ratings
Treasure Chest Volume 5 - The Mixture
2002
3.38 | 8 ratings
Treasure Chest Volume 6 - Medium Rare
2002
3.20 | 10 ratings
Treasure Chest Volume 7 - Journey to the Centre of the Earth +
2002
1.43 | 7 ratings
Treasure Chest Volume 8 - Stories
2002
4.14 | 7 ratings
Banda Sinfonica Jovem Do Estado De São Paulo
2004
3.74 | 16 ratings
Rick Wakeman At Lincoln Cathedral
2005
3.85 | 11 ratings
Live At The BBC
2007
4.19 | 59 ratings
The Six Wives of Henry VIII - Live at Hampton Court Palace
2009
4.25 | 16 ratings
In The Nick of Time - Live In 2003
2012
3.92 | 6 ratings
Access All Areas
2015
0.00 | 0 ratings
Fear of Love
2023

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

4.04 | 4 ratings
Simply Acoustic (VHS)
1996
3.68 | 15 ratings
The Legend Live in Concert 2000 [Aka: An Evening with Rick Wakeman] (DVD)
2000
3.97 | 22 ratings
Rick Wakeman and the English Rock Ensemble: Live in Buenos Aires (DVD)
2001
3.17 | 5 ratings
Classic Rock Legends (DVD)
2001
3.46 | 29 ratings
Journey To The Centre Of The Earth (DVD)
2002
3.03 | 18 ratings
Out There (DVD)
2004
4.04 | 17 ratings
Made In Cuba (DVD)
2005
3.21 | 5 ratings
Amazing Grace
2007
4.00 | 4 ratings
The Otherside of Rick Wakeman
2007
4.32 | 10 ratings
Swedish Television Special 1980
2008
3.06 | 8 ratings
Rick Wakeman's Grumpy Old Picture Show
2008
3.84 | 63 ratings
The Six Wives Of Henry VIII - Live At Hampton Court Palace (DVD)
2009
4.80 | 5 ratings
Classical Wakeman Volume 1 - Live In Lugano
2010

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

2.20 | 36 ratings
Piano Vibrations
1971
5.00 | 4 ratings
20th Anniversary (Limited Edition)
1988
1.12 | 6 ratings
Chronicles - The Very Best Of Rick Wakeman
1992
2.33 | 3 ratings
Best Works Collection
1992
3.33 | 12 ratings
The Classic Tracks
1993
2.13 | 20 ratings
Rick Wakeman's Greatest Hits
1994
3.50 | 2 ratings
The Stage Collection
1994
3.00 | 4 ratings
The Private Collection
1995
4.37 | 11 ratings
Voyage: The Very Best of Rick Wakeman
1996
3.33 | 4 ratings
Master Series
1998
2.58 | 7 ratings
The Masters
1999
3.79 | 10 ratings
Recollections: The Very Best Of Rick Wakeman
2000
4.00 | 2 ratings
The Caped Collection
2000
3.06 | 15 ratings
Tales of Future and Past
2001
3.09 | 4 ratings
My Inspiration
2001
2.00 | 4 ratings
Frost In Space
2001
3.00 | 2 ratings
The Definitive Music of Rick Wakeman
2001
2.63 | 38 ratings
Songs of Middle Earth
2002
2.69 | 14 ratings
Revisited
2004
4.00 | 6 ratings
Journey To The Center Of The Earth (2CD compilation)
2005
5.00 | 1 ratings
After The Ball - The Collection
2015
3.76 | 17 ratings
Starship Trooper
2016

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

3.75 | 4 ratings
Catherine
1973
2.00 | 1 ratings
Love's Dream (with Roger Daltrey)
1975
3.00 | 1 ratings
After The Ball
1977
2.50 | 2 ratings
Animal Showdown
1979
3.10 | 2 ratings
Birdman Of Alcatraz
1979
1.00 | 1 ratings
Swan Lager
1979
1.47 | 12 ratings
I'm So Straight I'm A Weirdo
1980
3.00 | 1 ratings
Spider
1980
4.00 | 2 ratings
Julia
1981
3.00 | 1 ratings
Glory Boys
1984
3.00 | 1 ratings
The Theme From Lytton's Diary
1985
0.00 | 0 ratings
Waterfalls
1986
2.16 | 7 ratings
Custers Last Stand / Ocean City
1988
5.00 | 3 ratings
Don't Fly Away/After Prayers
1991
4.00 | 2 ratings
Special Sampler
1991
3.00 | 4 ratings
Light Up The Sky
1994
5.00 | 3 ratings
Welcome a Star
1996
4.00 | 1 ratings
Fields of Green
1997
4.00 | 3 ratings
Buried Alive feat. Ozzy Osbourne
1999
3.00 | 1 ratings
Amazing Grace
2007
0.00 | 0 ratings
Welcome A Star
2015
2.40 | 6 ratings
Life on Mars
2016
0.00 | 0 ratings
Morning Has Broken
2017

RICK WAKEMAN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Criminal Record by WAKEMAN, RICK album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.79 | 294 ratings

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Criminal Record
Rick Wakeman Symphonic Prog

Review by Hector Enrique
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Returning to the musical and conceptual path of "The Six Wives of Henry VIII", Rick Wakeman uses the dark theme of crime and villainy, combining real and not so real stories, to release his sixth studio album, "Criminal Record". Pressed by a complicated financial situation related to tax issues and the costly staging of pompous live tours that hardly left any income, Wakeman didn't have much budgetary leeway for this new adventure, which is why the album is generally perceived as a less ambitious and more earthy proposal in relation to his previous works.

The six pieces that make up "Criminal Record" attempt to describe sordid situations, without transmitting them instrumentally with all the rawness that they imply. But there are some very good passages to highlight, such as the epic beginning that Wakeman makes with keyboards and synthesizers in "Chamber of Horrors", seconded in the development by Chris Squire's bass and Alan White's characteristic drums, or also the melancholic notes overlaid on classical piano in "Birdman of Alcatraz", one of the Englishman's most delicate and beautiful melodies, or the anecdotal detail that the comedian Bill Oddie contributes in exaggerated and satirical soul mode in the foggy "The Breathalyser" or, above all, the extensive "Judas Iscariot", the most complex piece on the album, where Wakeman makes use of the pipe organ of St. Martin's Church (Vevey) and the choirs of the Ars Laeta Choir of Lausanne to generate a piercing and dramatic atmosphere that the moog amplifies and accompanies, closing the album.

"Criminal Record" shows that Wakeman's keyboard skills were intact, but this time in a quieter and less grandiloquent way, and is probably one of the last works to be included in his most representative discography.

3/3.5 stars

 No Earthly Connection by WAKEMAN, RICK album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.75 | 285 ratings

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No Earthly Connection
Rick Wakeman Symphonic Prog

Review by Hector Enrique
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Without being a full-fledged conceptual work, "No Earthly Connection", Rick Wakeman's third studio album without counting the soundtrack "Lisztomania", reflects on the human being and the myth of his existence based on music and the possibility of extraterrestrial life referenced through a fictitious spaceman. The futuristic cover that shows the distorted image of the musician and an imperceptible keyboard corrected in the reflection of an aluminised paper, serves as a starting point to enter into the spirit of the work.

Composed of five sections, the suite "Music Reincarnate" is the backbone of the album, featuring the initial and innumerable overlapping layers of Wakeman's infallible moog in the choppy "The Warning", the beautiful and splendid "The Maker" with the classical piano and the curtain of mellotrons caressed by Ashley Holt's voice, the sorrowful "The Realisation" and its theatrical performance with the trumpets and trombones of Martyn Shields and Reg Brooks, and the verses sung by Holt on the hypnotic and astral journey of "The Reaper" (a gem in Wakeman's discography), including flashes taken from the previous pieces. "Music Reincarnate" concludes circularly, with the same moog layers with which it began.

And without carrying the pomposity and grandiloquence of "Sir Lancelot and the Black Knight" from the predecessor "The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table", the album's fantastic second piece "The Prisoner" features a similar structure, less orchestrated but just as dizzying, where Roger Newell's energetic bass, Tony Fernandez's consistent drumming and John Dunsterville's acoustic guitars underpin the dynamic melody for Wakeman's virtuosic display of crystalline clavinet sounds. The lilting "The Lost Circle" closes the work by rounding off the idea of the probable existence of life outside this planet.

The 2016 40th anniversary reissue brings with it a concert at London's Hammersmith Odeon in 1976 recorded by the BBC, with a very good sound and a rich selection of songs, highly recommended.

Despite not having achieved greater popularity or widespread recognition, "No Earthly Connection" is one of Wakeman's finest creations and an inescapable classic in his discography.

4 stars

 The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table by WAKEMAN, RICK album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.62 | 562 ratings

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The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table
Rick Wakeman Symphonic Prog

Review by Hector Enrique
Prog Reviewer

4 stars For his second studio album as a solo artist, "The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table", which captures events and characters from the life of the legendary king from his fabled ascent to the throne until his death, Rick Wakeman fuses his usual artillery of keyboards and rock instruments with orchestral grandiloquence, generating that epic, medieval atmosphere that accompanies the work as it unfolds; And, unlike the instrumental debut album "The Six Wives of Henry VIII", this time it is accompanied by a loquacious narrative in the powerful voices of Ashley Holt and Gary Pickford Hopkins.

The orchestration takes on special relevance in pieces such as the opening and descriptive "Arthur", the vertiginous and remarkable "Sir Lancelot and the Black Knight" (the best track on the album), or the choral "Sir Galahad", where Wakeman masterfully incorporates classical pianos and the exuberance of the moog, instrument that also takes a leading role along with the harpsichord and Roger Newell's defiant bass in the mesmerising "Merlin the Magician", a piece that also adds unexpected and contrasting elements taken from the Charleston. And amidst the stories of the knights and their fierce battles, the delicate "Guinevere" pauses to introduce Arthur's wife with a beautiful and accessible melody guided by classical piano, synthesizers and the melancholy effect of mellotrons, supported by a gentle chorus, acoustic chords and Jeffrey Crampton's guitar solo.

The concluding, languid "The Last Battle" takes elements from all the previous tracks and harmonises them into an unhurried finale, which indulges in a prolonged instrumental build-up, sadly reviews the final days of Arthur's reign at the hands of the Saxons and orchestrally closes the album.

"The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table is one of Wakeman's most ambitious conceptual works. Although it is blamed for the overflowing virtuosity that the musician can sometimes use and abuse, it is one of the indispensable albums of his discography.

3.5/4 stars

 The Six Wives of Henry VIII by WAKEMAN, RICK album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.13 | 916 ratings

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The Six Wives of Henry VIII
Rick Wakeman Symphonic Prog

Review by Hector Enrique
Prog Reviewer

4 stars With a reputation built up as a session musician, former member of The Strawbs, but above all for his fundamental contribution to the sound of the legendary Yes, Rick Wakeman decided to release his first solo album, "The Six Wives of Henry VIII", in 1973. Taking the story of the wives of the controversial king at a time of reforms and profound political and religious transformations in 16th century England as a source of inspiration, the Englishman uses his excellent virtuosity to evoke each of the wives with his countless keyboards and the support of a large and renowned group of guest musicians.

From the chords of the melodic "Catherine of Aragon", Wakeman draws on instruments such as classical piano, hammonds, mellotrons and moogs, accompanied by a female choir that brings a halo of drama to the track, and continues more aggressively with the long, linear "Anne of Cleves" backed by Alan White and Frank Ricotti's relentless, pounding percussion. The album's finest moments come with the piano tunes of the beautiful, shifting "Catherine Howard" and the celestial solemnity of the baroque "Jane Seymour" and the soulful sonority of the organ of London's St. Gilles Cathedral, which Wakeman masterfully combines with the moog.

And after the volatile contrasts and instrumental variations that portray the most famous of the wives, the temperamental "Anne Boleyn" including a short hymn attributed by Wakeman to the 19th century composer Edward J. Hopkins, the album concludes with another great track a must in Wakeman's live repertoire, the intense "Catherine Parr" and its lilting back and forth keyboards, with a brief chorus and the melodramatic effect of the moogs underpinning the closing.

It's worth noting that fragments of the work are compiled in the six and a half minute superlative medley "Excerpts from The Six Wives...", contained on Yes' live album "Yessongs".

"The Six Wives of Henry VIII" is one of the best albums, if not the best, in Wakeman's vast discography, and conveys the luminous state of grace he was in at the time.

4/4.5 stars

 Glory Boys by WAKEMAN, RICK album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1984
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Glory Boys
Rick Wakeman Symphonic Prog

Review by MellotronBoy37

— First review of this album —
3 stars This is a prequel from Silent Nights from 1985.

I have the entire album on my cellphone and honestly, i like that album.

Right... About the songs, Glory Boys have a power Rock with a slow segment. The singer is not so bad, but nothing surpass Ashley Holt and your works on Journey, Arthur and Earthly. The opening is shining and melancholic.

Ghost of A Rock'n'Roll Star (Jethro Tull aspires the thematic of this song) is from a Phantom of Rock get to wish to return to the stages. The melody is interesting and the musical references (like a Jimi Hendrix) is so cool.

Elgin Mansions is a piano training. I feel this song should stay in one of the Airs Trilogy, but, the "rickrock" album have a necessity to have a different things...

Well, i never known a one single album have a differences from the integral album, but i think this don't have differences... (I need to check...)

 Rock N' Roll Prophet by WAKEMAN, RICK album cover Studio Album, 1982
1.65 | 57 ratings

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Rock N' Roll Prophet
Rick Wakeman Symphonic Prog

Review by Rfd60

4 stars Rick Wakeman's "Rock 'n' Roll Prophet" is a musical masterpiece that transcends time and genre. The album showcases Wakeman's virtuosity on the keyboard, taking listeners on a mesmerizing journey through rock and roll history. With its intricate compositions, explosive solos, and a fusion of classical and rock elements, this album is a testament to Wakeman's incredible talent. The tracks are a rollercoaster of emotions, from the electrifying "Prophet" to the soul-stirring "Ballad of the Broken Arrow." Each note is a revelation, and the storytelling through music is exceptional. "Rock 'n' Roll Prophet" is a testament to Wakeman's enduring influence on the world of rock music.
 1984 by WAKEMAN, RICK album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.41 | 165 ratings

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1984
Rick Wakeman Symphonic Prog

Review by shantiq

4 stars I have just read Rick Wakeman's autobiography Grumpy Old Rock Star and I must admit I am a very very late convert to the music of Mr Wakeman . In the 1970s I would not have been seen dead carrying his LPs in my school satchel no way he always was perceived as a buffoon by many.

Fast forward to a year ago when I am now investigating 8-track recordings from that period and found that there were many recordings of Rick Wakeman available on 8-track cartridges so I start to get the classics the first three albums and find them to be amazing music truly amazing inspired music.

So when I am wrong I am wrong the guy is a genius I totally dismissed him all these years ago and was in any case always a very lukewarm admirer of Yes. I have also reviewed that attitude of mine and now think of them as a fairly fairly good group from the 1970s but to me never on a par with early Genesis or King Crimson.

Enough of my personal history and shortcomings.

Reading his autobiography you realise that the man is a natural-born contrarian so it is not surprising to see him here use Chaka Khan a disco queen and diva from the 1970s on a Prog concept album based on 1984 dystopian novel by Eric Blair also known as George Orwell.

It seems insane maybe he couldn't get Barry White maybe he couldn't get Perry Como to warble on his Opus; maybe he was in Vegas and unavailable. As many have remarked elsewhere the album is far too upbeat for a rendition of the feelings and tale told in 1984. It is one of the bleakest story available to mankind and here he makes it sound like the Phantom of the Opera or some West End musical

Tim Rice is involved here proving that point. I find his masterpieces from the 70s the three first albums very much on the borders of musical anyway. he also makes him sing here (more contrarian behaviour)

In tone and in feel this album is very very similar to the 1989 album by Mike Oldfield titled Earth Moving it reminds me of that due to the constant change of vocalist also this kind of 1970s Progmaster recycling himself into a sort of 1980s Power Rock pop extravaganza aficionado with clearly his heart in both cases only partly involved in this new persona.

All in all a mixed bag.

It really feels like all these tracks do not belong on the same album since they are completely different almost antithetic genres. Chaka Khan doing Musical Prog is at least quite unexpected. Tim Rice in fake discordant Punk (Proles) is mildly disturbing, Jon Anderson doing a God number like a visit from Yes; very odd combo indeed ... oh yes and a side-order of Steve Harley WTAF ...

Chaka Khan Tim Rice electronic organs pretty queer-sounding production I think Rick did most of it himself here maybe not so successfully maybe he should've use some professional producer and stayed on the artistic side anyway as others have remarked not anywhere near as good as the earlier 70s offerings but still totally worth a listen

EDIT: after a while Chaka has a voice which starts to grate like emery cloth on the nervous system; totally not suited to this type of music (she is great in her own field no doubt) but just too amped up for this ... he is really a twisted comedian is Rick ... mixing oil with orange juice or whatever he thought he was doing ... still ... a genius

 Rick Wakeman & the English Rock Ensemble: A Gallery of the Imagination by WAKEMAN, RICK album cover Studio Album, 2022
3.43 | 38 ratings

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Rick Wakeman & the English Rock Ensemble: A Gallery of the Imagination
Rick Wakeman Symphonic Prog

Review by BrianS

4 stars I always find it annoying when reviewers claim that Wakeman is not progressing anywhere and producing the same fare. The man has created 80 "solo" albums (including those who shared with his son) which range from new age, to ground-breaking prog to straight piano pieces. In addition, he has released countless live albums, worked with the Strawbs, and more famously Yes; as well as contributing to Black Sabbath tracks, and numerous other works (including a couple with his close friend John Anderson). Sheesh, how much variation does one require from an artist.

(I can always pick a Tchaikovsky orchestral piece due to his distinctive use of the strings. I don't suppose he showed any musical progression or maturity either!)

Now on to album 81. The cover includes with "The English Rock Ensemble" which gave me a bit of a giggle. Many of Wakeman's early albums (No Earthly Connection for instance) included the English Rock Ensemble. Like Yes, its membership changed a lot but with Ashley Holt and Tony Fernandez in most lineups. Again, like Yes, none of the current members on this album were in the original lineup.

This is quite a serene, laid-back album with a touch of melancholy on some tracks. There are a couple of more upbeat lively tracks (Cuban Carnival & A Dinner Party) which, for me, are the least successful. This is a fine album, nothing like his previous red Planet album.

If you like his quieter music (Two Sides Of Yes, The Legend Live in Concert, or Live at Lincoln Cathedral, etc.) then you will probably enjoy this. Unlike the albums I just listed, this does include a singer, not Ashley Holt, but Hayley Sanderson. Her singing is not unlike that of Wakeman's daughter, Jemma, on Retro.

This is a fine album by my favourite keyboardist (sorry Keith & Bo).

 Rick Wakeman & the English Rock Ensemble: A Gallery of the Imagination by WAKEMAN, RICK album cover Studio Album, 2022
3.43 | 38 ratings

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Rick Wakeman & the English Rock Ensemble: A Gallery of the Imagination
Rick Wakeman Symphonic Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars In this judgment-heavy, opinion-driven world we currently are forced to 'luxuriate' in, negative words and pessimistic feelings seemingly outperform the positive vibes by a very long shot. Where have all the hippies gone? LOL. Music critics have that incredible self-appointed political leeway to choose to trash a respected artist either because the latter has foisted the same (successful) formula once again, thus blandly not progressing anywhere, or the opposite, crying out why has the 'respected' musician not created anything along the lines of what made them popular in the first place! Catch 22 or as the French call this, a conversation between deaf-mutes. Bottom line, everyone is ENTITLED to their opinion. The hyper prolific Rick Wakeman surely cannot publish 34 versions of the 6 Wives of Henry VIII and 16 versions of Voyage to the Center of the Earth, now, can he? Furthermore, I have also noticed that most online professional wizards seem to omit reading the subject matter of their received messages or e-mails. This 2023 release has such a CLEAR subject title: Rick Wakeman & The ENGLISH ROCK ENSEMBLE! Meaning surely, that it's therefore NOT a Wakeman solo album! I dunno? Maybe?

This is altogether a different creature and quite an interesting one at that. Let us begin with the English Rock Ensemble and its current cast: One of the finest bass players on the planet in Lee Pomeroy, a fabulous drummer in Ash Soan, a truly gifted guitarist in Dave Colqhoun and finally, a female lead vocalist who will blow your mind! Oh, and some former Yes guy on the ivories taking a bit of a back seat on this project. This is certainly not even Close to the Edge, but it is a tad Fragile, a more accessible, varied and entertaining album than the uber-symphonic storm showcased on the Red Planet. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed this from the get-go, much like my fellow reviewer Lazland (also known as my musical Walter Ego) who expressed deep admiration for this release. Twelve musical paintings adorn the wall of this art gallery , for the audience to peruse and enjoy. The piano-driven instrumental intro 'Hidden Depths' sets the imagination gallery in motion, with a rather breezy yet solemn ramble, with a clear introduction of all the players, the rumbling bass undertone, the wiry guitar lead, and a bustling drum assault. The whistling synth solo serves as an emotional outcry instead of technical wizardry (we know he is quite capable of doing that) , as it flows over the massed choirs that give just the right amount of depth to the piece. Looking up to the stars, 'The Man in the Moon' introduces the sultry voice of Hayley Sanderson, and I must say that its about time that the microphone is handled by a shining comet (pun intended) , as she has an incredible voice that can escalate beyond the norm, as we will hear later on in the show. Wakeman's classic fluttering finger Moog solo flickers over the massed choirs where Hayley chooses to scat sing a tad, a little detail glimpse of her talent. Yes, its seductive, sultry, bluesy, and sexy. Hovering high above the centre of the earth, 'A Mirage in the Clouds' is almost a vaporous segue, Hayley hitting the high notes effortlessly, rolling on an e-piano carpet with the ticking drums in shuffling tow. This is all serene mood and smoky emotion, with a flurry of details that entice and seduce, such as the acoustic guitar flicker. Deliriously entertaining.

Some of the most beautiful Wakeman pieces are to be found when he just caresses his grand piano and whips out melodies that can touch the romantic soul in those who have one. 'The Creek' is an etude for the ages, something a famous classical composer of yore would have skillfully produced. The melody is front and center, the playing nuanced and tempered with flair. Three words come to mind: Drop dead gorgeous. One of my personal highlight 'paintings' is 'My Moonlight Dream', a dreamy, atmospheric ballad where Hayley does her thing, after which the instrumental bridge shows off a synthesizer foray followed by an electric guitar twirl and then back to the Moog. The massive choir makes the heart race and pound mercilessly. The delicately passionate 'Only When I Cry' showcases the piano and the voice once again, deeply resonant yet simple, a melody and the tools to express it. Like a delicate spring flower gently waving in the breeze. 'Cuban Carnival' serves as an homage to a concert in Cuba (there is a DVD of that out there) that Rick seems to have adored, as its still in his mind. Ah the power of good rum. So, he decides to enjoy himself, so what? Super cool calypso mood, a Latino-synthesized dance and just a feel good piece. Even the guitarist does a tropical shuffle as the synth trumpets make the coconuts tango into the night. The grand piano does another whirl on the ceremonial and graceful 'Just A Memory', almost a variation on 'the Creek', a pristinely crafted piece , loaded with that patented trio : passion, atmosphere, and melody (the infamous PAM ). The ivory keys surge into a frenzy on the funky 'The Dinner Party' , a chugging rhythm guitar setting the stage for a feast of delicacies, a buffet of tasty bass, choppy drum sticks, lots of saucy synths, flavourful choir work from the wait staff, and the maitre d' directing the dining experience with his usual with and glamour. Food for thought. Yummy! Well, since it's called the English Rock Ensemble, 'A Day Spent on the Pier' sounds like a very English pastoral tune from the post-WW2 days, perhaps even to be heard on a seashore Brighton pub, with screeching gulls acting as backing vocalists. 'Ice cream always makes it a very special day'. Light, unfettered and utterly fun. Back to moody and mysterious is 'The Visitation', an e-piano saunter to set the spot light on Hayley's amazing lungs, until she suddenly decides do a Kate Bush variation, by hitting notes so high, I nearly fell of my chair when I first encountered them. Holy wuthering heights!

The brief 'The Eyes of a Child', no its not a song by the Moody Blues, Patsy Cline, Aurora, or Mike McDonald but perhaps nearer spiritually to Bush's 'The Man with the Child in His Eyes', serving as a clever hint for the above piece. As many know, Rick has to be one of the funniest artists anywhere, his sense of humour truly legendary. That being stated, the finale here is a shifting affair, with a Fellini-esque feel of a circus carnival , a merry-go-round piano and whooshing sounds that spiral in harmony . Great way to end the exhibition visit. I will keep the ticket stub for my collection.

4.5 Arcade Visions

 Rick Wakeman & the English Rock Ensemble: A Gallery of the Imagination by WAKEMAN, RICK album cover Studio Album, 2022
3.43 | 38 ratings

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Rick Wakeman & the English Rock Ensemble: A Gallery of the Imagination
Rick Wakeman Symphonic Prog

Review by proghaven

2 stars Que faire? The candle is going out. Nothing can last forever. A talent is sooner or later exhausted, a source of new ideas is sooner or later running low. Now, after Wakeman's glorious 1970s, ragged 1980s, all that ensued and, finally, his alleged 'return to genuine Wakeman prog' in 2020s, there's a reason to suppose that the great musician Richard Christopher Wakeman will be remembered mostly from his 1970s. My personal opinion is that, for example, Myths And Legends..., No Earthly Connection and the 'Airs' trilogy will be remembered for decades to come, while Criminal Record and Aspirant Sunrise will be remembered for centuries to come. The composer Rick Wakeman will take his place in the history of music somewhere between Beethoven and Richard Strauss, the keyboard player Rick Wakeman will be considered a virtuoso comparable to Gilels or even Richter... but mostly due to his legendary 1970s works. Moreover, his future audience should forgive and forget most of his later releases just to appreciate him as a musical genius.

Indeed, while Wakeman's 1980s were ambiguous (at least to me The Gospels, The Family Album, A Suite Of Gods and all the three 'Airs' are masterpieces, while The Burning, Silent Nights or Time Machine are hooey), what followed in 1990s, 2000s and 2010s was a sort of musical graphomania. Three albums per year, four albums per year... even seven albums per year! Many of them were just collections of reworked versions of old tracks. (A neat way to make a 'new' album, isn't it?) Three albums (Aspirant Sunrise, Aspirant Sunset and Aspirant Sunshadows) formed Suntrilogy, an underrated masterpiece from 1990-1991. As for the rest...

Well, some people scold Wakeman's 1990s to 2010s albums as 'boring new age'. To me, no matter if it's (so-called) 'prog rock', or (ce qu'on appelle) 'new age', or (il cosiddetto) 'neo classical'. The only thing to be taken into account is the relationships between musical sounds that a composer builds. I dislike most of Wakeman's 1990s-2010s studio releases just due to poor, often vulgar, sometimes boorish, sometimes outspokenly plebeian musical thinking. In Criminal Record, or Myths And Legends..., or Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, or even Lisztomania, Wakeman discovered new worlds. Later, he put tons of platitudes on his listeners' heads. Of course not every album was as awful as Fields Of Green (when I first listened to it I could hardly believe that it's Wakeman). But most of them were composed really clumsy. And looks like none was really inspired.

With The Red Planet, Wakeman reportedly returned to his roots. Sorry but I cannot share the audience's enthusiasm about this album. No, it's not a new Six Wives Of Henry VIII, far from that. I cannot compare it even to White Rock. I find The Red Planet just being a 'counterfeit' version of 1970s 'Wakeman prog', a forgery. Though I must admit that South Pole and the intro to The North Plain add something new and important to 'the idea of Rick Wakeman' we used to know since 1973.

Finally, this narrow path has led to A Gallery Of The Imagination. I think the album is a logical conclusion of the entire Wakeman's way as a musician: from majesty - through fuss - to failed recovery. Fortunately, there's no more attempt to imitate 'Wakeman prog' in the new Wakeman album. I'd say due to this circumstance, the album is much better than The Red Planet. It does not simulate a 'drive' that is in fact missing. What's remarkable here? Very nice and heartfelt melody in A Mirage In The Clouds. The Creek is an amazing instrumental piece for piano, more or less in the vein of Chopin. What else? Inventive melody in Only When I Cry. A nice musical surprise is Cuban Carnival, unusual and unexpected, but (on the other hand) rather a memory of the carnival that ended many years ago than a current carnival. The rest is sometimes pleasantly quiet and thoughtful, sometimes unpleasantly rocky and fussy (especially The Dinner Party!), and anyway full of banalities. I'm afraid Mr Wakeman spent too much time for trifles in the previous three decades. This could damage even so mighty talent.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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