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Rick Wakeman - 1984 CD (album) cover


Rick Wakeman


Symphonic Prog

3.38 | 150 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars One of his finest

If I had a pound for every time Rick Wakeman released an album (or every time they show Geoff Hurst's 1966 world cup goal on UK television), I'd be a very rich man. I have to say though, I think "1984" is close to being the best of the lot.

Actually made prior to 1984 (in 1981), this is concept album, based on the George Orwell novel. Tim Rice (co-writer of many fine musicals) was drafted in to write the lyrics, and a great job he does too. Wakeman of course contributes the music score throughout. His keyboards, while ever present, are not nearly as dominant as they are on most of his albums, Indeed, he is joined by a veritable host of musicians, including a medium sized orchestra.

The two part instrumental "Overture" includes many of the themes from the album and is the closest we come to typical Wakeman solo keyboard work. Even here, there is a band feel to the music. "War games" is the first of three tracks with vocals by soul singer Chaka Khan. These songs show off her vocal talents superbly, it really is astonishing how well her voice complements the prog based music composed by Wakeman. "Julia's song" is the best of the three, a wonderful ballad which she sings in a straight rock mode, how many prog bands could benefit from having such a powerful female vocal up front? Khan's voice is similar to Clare Torry's vocal on Pink Floyd's "Great Gig in the sky".

Jon Anderson is the guest vocalist on "Hymn", and it's hard to think of a time, even with all his excellent work with Yes, when he sounded better. As the title implies, the track has religious overtones, suggesting that God should remain concealed in order to preserve faith in him. Anderson sounds truly sincere as he sings "I could not love someone just like me". "The room" rounds off side one of the LP with a choir backed Wakeman instrumental.

Side two of the album is not as strong as the first side, but it does have its moments. Steve Harley ("Come up and see me, make me smile") provides the vocals on "No name", while in a fit of pure indulgence, non-singer Rice unwisely sings on "Proles".

In all, a thoroughly enjoyable album, well put together, and superbly performed (Rice's vocal aside). Unfortunately, apparently for contractual reasons, the album has never been released on CD outside Japan. Well worth seeking out though.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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