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Rick Wakeman - Fields Of Green CD (album) cover


Rick Wakeman


Symphonic Prog

3.00 | 28 ratings

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Symphonic Team
3 stars The Spanish wizard or the nice man?

Rick Wakeman has released extremely many albums in his days. Indeed, over 30 albums are listed here on Prog Archives from the 90's alone! Fields Of Green is one of these albums and as such it is one of the better of Rick's albums from that decade. Perhaps not quite as good as Softsword, African Bach or Return To The Centre Of The Earth, but certainly better than Phantom Power, 2000 A.D. Into The Future and Cirque Surreal, and very much better than the awful No Expense Spared. As far as I know, many of the other 90's albums are New-Age and Classical and as such not really part of Rick's Prog Rock career. Fields Of Green sits more comfortably in that category, however.

The version of this album that I have heard begins with a slice of the King Arthur overture and a cover of the Yes song Starship Trooper. The latter must be Rick's favourite Yes song as he always ends his shows with it. The present version is good enough, but very far behind the brilliant live versions available on live recordings such as the DVDs Live Buenos Aires and Made In Cuba and the fantastic live album Out Of The Blue. This studio version clearly lacks the dynamics and energy of those live versions. The keyboard and drum sounds are somewhat sterile and artificial, as they often were in the 90's generally, and this applies to this album as a whole. Do not buy this album just for the Yes song! Fields Of Green would indeed be better without it, in my opinion!

The rest of the songs here are originals and fairly good in their own right. Or some of them, at least! The vocals are all handled by Chrissie Hammond as on many Rick Wakeman albums from this period. The Promise Of Love is a (power) ballad which she handles well, and even if it is not really my cup of tea, it does bring a diversity of moods and tempos to this album. The Spanish Wizard is a great track, on the other hand, with both electric and Spanish guitars in addition to the keyboards, bass and drums. As I have said, the latter instruments, particularly the bass and drums, sound somewhat sterile but the guitar playing is very tasteful indeed! Never Ending Road is another good song that runs for almost nine minutes and as such is the longest of the original songs on this album. It features a rather folky melody and feeling and a strong vocal from Chrissie. You could almost mistake it for a Steeley Span song from the 80's/90's! This song has some lovely keyboard and guitar solos (sadly, played over a backdrop of a rather annoying and overly "bouncy" bass and drum track!). Don't expect too much of it in Prog terms, though!

The Fighter speeds things up a bit again and adds a stronger Rock edge in the process. We get another good vocal performance and some typical Wakeman keyboard extravaganza! Enjoyable for sure, but not really that memorable - a statement that pretty much applies to the album as a whole. Tell Me Why is another ballad that would not be out of place on the radio in the 80's. I'm certain that many Prog fans will want to skip this one, one of the least good songs here. The Rope Trick once again turns the volume up a notch with a "heavy" guitar riff backing up some fairly interesting keyboard and guitar solos. The Nice Man features some intriguing sounds at the beginning, but it soon reveals itself as nothing more than a straightforward and rather mundane Rock 'N' Roll number with awfully silly (autobiographical?) lyrics. No keyboard or guitar solo can save a number like that!

The title track ends this album and ties it nicely together. It is a slow and reflective little tune again with some Folk feeling.

Needless to say, this is not the best place to start investigating Rick's solo career, but if you already know and like some of his better solo albums from this period, Fields Of Green will be a nice addition to your collection. I'm happy to have it!

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |


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