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Rick Wakeman - Rick Wakeman & Mario Fasciano: Stella Bianca Alla Corte Di Re Ferdinando CD (album) cover


Rick Wakeman


Symphonic Prog

3.66 | 37 ratings

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4 stars Yes it's true that "Stella Bianca Alla Corte de Re Ferdinando" can't be compared with "Six Wives of Henry the VII" or "Myths & Legends", because it's a different sound and most important a different era.

Rick had spent most of the 80's making some sort of New Age in order to survive in a tough decade and after a terrible contract with A&M Records, and he was rebuilding his career as a musician interested in serious conceptual Symphonic Rock, but this takes time, sometimes more than starting a career from zero.

The album has a couple problems

The concept based apparently in Ferdinando IV King of Naples is hard to locate historically due to certain events in the album, mostly seems an excuse to release songs based in beautiful Neapolitan music, and the electronic or Synthesised drums, that are always hard to accept.

But the achievements are so strong that any problem can be forgotten. The unusual election of the melodic and almost troubadour style of Mario Fasciano is a great asset, because the powerful vocals of guys like Ashley Holt would collision with the soft melody and the atmosphere of the album.............Emotion instead of power is a good change in this case

"Stella Bianca Alla Corte de Re Ferdinando" is opened with "Stella Bianca", a song that perfectly captures the essence of the Italian Courts enhanced by the fantastic vocals of Mario Fasciano, the atmosphere is hard to decipher, some Medieval hints with a pastoral flute (synthesised obviously) and the usual extravaganza by Rick with his lush and pristine keyboard solos, incredibly beautiful.

"A Quatte Mane" is a weird song even for Wakeman, now the atmosphere is even harder to discover, but this time the keyboard solos are simply delightful, taking us back to the 70's when he was considered The Cape Crusader.

"O Core" is a very interesting fusion between Neapolitan music and some sort of Hard Rock with aggressive keyboards in which Rick proves us his skills remain intact, he seems to get more confidence and allow himself some of the excesses that we love so much, and Fasciano's vocals are more than adequate.

"Ariel" is a softer melody with some Sicilian touch, this time Rick relegated the Moog and other complex Synths to give priority to the ´piano and organ, well at least until the middle of the song when he adds a breathtaking Moog with very nice chorals to complement.

"Aria Di Te" is an extremely beautiful melody for piano and vocals, the song is extremely melancholic and sentimental and only around the end Rick allows himself to add some electronic keyboards, nut mainly an acoustic tune.

"Romance Napoli" strangely reminds me of MARILLION and specifically to Mark Kelly, absolutely dramatic and full of melodic nostalgia, the inclusion of a delicate Harpsichord creates a better atmosphere.

"Sologoccia"has little relation with Naples and it's music, it's clear that Wakeman created an intermezzo to allow himself to return to his roots and sound as in the early 70's, preparing us for "Carcere's San Francisco", a pompous track with Neapolitan sound and a lead female vocal to make the change, very nice ending.

This time I have strong problems with the rating, the album is not a masterpiece, it seems that Rick manages to control himself along most of the album, but hey, it's strong music with excellent melodies that any Prog listener will enjoy in his collection.

So will take the risk and go with 4 stars.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 4/5 |


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