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Rick Wakeman - The Red Planet CD (album) cover

THE RED PLANET

Rick Wakeman

 

Symphonic Prog

3.86 | 151 ratings

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octopus-4
Special Collaborator
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars 47 years after...Possibly some artists need to quit thinking to the market. Sometimes they should come back to their original soundscapes. So after decades of boring newage, Rick Wakeman finds himself back and gives us a great rock album, with a proper rock band and sticks to his symphonic roots. Some sounds, like the "ooh" sound dated, some passages remind to previous masterpieces (and this is good IMO).

The guitar solo on "Ascraeus Mons" brings the "Journey's caves" to space. "Tharsis Tholus" has links with No Earthly Connection (forgive the joke), a sort of quantistric entanglement crossing time instead of space, but also Judas Iscariot appears here and there. Important to say: this is not Mike Oldfield repeating the nth version of Tubular Bells. All the material is fresh and new. It's the mood that reminds to the old masterpieces.

"Arsia Mons" rocks. On this track I can see glimpses of 1984, quiet part included. Instrumentals are fine, but I personally think that a bit of Ashley Holt wouldn't have been bad.

For the highest mountain of the Solar System Mr Wakeman has created a complex track which is a follow-up of the previous one, but with a bit of imagination it could even be a ghost track from Going For The One. A highlight inside a great album.

We are on Mars, so a bit of space rock is required. It comes with the intro of "The North Plain": about 90 seconds of electronics introducing a classical Wakman part full of fast notes, then...I can't describe it. It's various, it has sudden unexpected changes and is completed by a skillfully played guitar,

"Pavonis Mons" Reminds to the Six Wives. I think it's good that Wakeman's style is so easily recognizable. You know what to expect even if you don't know when it comes. I remember when at one of his concerts I happened to stay very close to the stage. It was a small location so I was very close, watching his hands moving on the keys and wondering how many fingers he has.

"Vallis Marineris", where the Mariner probe landed many years ago. Percussion like a bolero and a bass riff which comes unexpected. How is it possible that a musician like Rick Wakeman can let another skilled player perform a riff like that on oe of his albums? This is the (unneeded) demonstration that he is first of all a musician and doesn't need to demonstrate anything. If that bass fits well in the track, let the bass overcome the keys.

Finally, from the equatorial zone of Mars, a long jump to the South Pole. It's the closer, so using the sounds of the final of "Journey" isn't a bad idea. Then the track evolves and after two minutes I can't name a specific album to tie it to.

In brief, this is the best album that Rick Wakeman has released in about 40 years.

octopus-4 | 4/5 |

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