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Rick Wakeman - Treasure Chest Volume 1 - The Real Lisztomania CD (album) cover


Rick Wakeman


Symphonic Prog

3.24 | 19 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars The rhinestone cowboy

Long ago in 1975, around the time of the "King Arthur" album, Rick was asked to compose music for the film "Lisztomania". At the time, Rick's relationship with the management of his record label A&M was somewhat strained. The music Rick presented to them was immediately rejected, with the label then passing the recordings on to the film company while permitting them to do what they liked with them. The film company substantially changed what Rick had presented, but the soundtrack album was still released under Wakeman's name. To this day, Rick rejects that album outright.

The master tapes to Rick's original work for the film were thought to have been lost, but were rediscovered about 25 years later. These have now been remastered and put together to form this album, which represents the way Rick always wanted you to hear the music. Initially, this release was only available as part of the "Treasure chest" set, but it has since been given its own individual release.

The first thing you notice when comparing this to the original album is the number of additional tracks. There are no less than 21 titles here, 9 more than on the original. While many of the pieces have been retained, a few have been dropped altogether. With a running time of just 46 minutes, it follows that the tracks are somewhat brief.

It must be remembered though that this is music written for a film, it was never intended as a follow up to "King Arthur", and should not be judged as such. While this is primarily an instrumental album, Roger Daltrey (The Who) and Linda Lewis guest on some tracks on vocals, and singer/comedian Paul Nicholas provides spoken narratives at various points.

The music is best described as eclectic, "The country sword dance" for example venturing into Zappa territory in a frenzy of country, ribald comedy and distorted avant-garde. There are occasional bursts of Wakeman synths such as the following "Free song" which, like many of the pieces here, is based on a classical theme (Liszt perhaps?!). Despite the obvious use of such themes, Wakeman claims the writing credits throughout.

Roger Daltrey's distinctive tones grace four songs including the graceful "Orpheus song" and the pop based "Peace at last". There are two versions of his song "Love's dream", the original and a rare piano and vocal mix added to the album as a sort of bonus track. Linda Lewis only appears once on the brief "Hell", her performance sounding distinctly Toyah like. While Paul Nicolas' role is mainly restricted to narration, he does get to sing on "Excelsior song", where he offers a strong performance.

The majority of the tracks are instrumental, featuring either Wakeman solo or with brass or orchestral arrangement. There is a general frivolity to the music which makes a welcome change to the seeming endless stream of new age albums Rick has churned out in the intervening period.

This is not an album for the feint hearted fan of Wakeman. Here we have a surprisingly adventurous collection ranging from the classical, through the mainstream, to the avant-garde, calling at all stations in-between. It may sound off the wall, and it is, but this is an album worthy of investigation.

Footnote, Rick actually had a small part in the film, playing the god Thor. This required him to were somewhat more than just a giltzy cape, his face being covered in sliver paint and rhinestones.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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