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Rick Wakeman - Criminal Record CD (album) cover


Rick Wakeman


Symphonic Prog

3.76 | 245 ratings

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4 stars When any normal fan was starting to loose his faith in Rick mostly because of the weak and ultra boring White Rock, the keyboard wizard surprised everybody with the wonderful "Criminal Record".

Not as pompous as Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Myths and Legends but almost as carefully elaborated as Six Wives of Henry the VIII, with the advantage of being much more descriptive without need of lyrics (Six Wives is a great album, but there's no relation between the music and the concept), Criminal Record is a mixture of everything Rick did before, the sordid atmosphere related with judicial affairs is perfectly achieved, and Wakeman plays with the listener going from excessive baroque tracks to softer ballads.

"Statue of Justice" is a powerful song and one of my favorites from this album, starts with a soft and mysterious piano that almost immediately changes with an explosion of violence and complexity hard to achieve, an excellent track where Wakeman proved why he is the best soloist of progressive Rock.

"Crime of Passion" somehow sounds more like a Classic Wakeman song, complex and elaborated, begins aggressive and haunting as if he was describing the jealousy (main element of a crime of passion) and lets himself go through contrasting sections that describe the steps of this crime, including the violence and later regret, excellent development. Squire and Alan White do an outstanding job in this track.

"Chamber of Horrors" is probably the only weak song; the music doesn't fit into the concept of a Chamber of Horrors, too fast and a terrible section that reminds more of a comedy, too light for the issue.

"Birdman of Alcatraz" is another extremely beautiful song where Rick plays the piano as the virtuoso he is, and shows the world his amazing skills, with a soft tune he tells the story of Robert Stroud, a violent pimp and murderer who had to be transferred of prison because of his violent behavior including stabbing a guard, but who also found peace observing birds and writing complete encyclopedias and veterinary works. Wakeman works more on the personality of the bird observer than in the criminal.

"The Breathalyzer", the only track with lyrics is a funny song that provides some humor before the dramatic closer, has a jazzy sound very pleasant, if you are waiting for anything serious may sound weak, but if you take it as a joke is a good track.

Judas Iscariot is a perfect closer, using the incredible Church organ of L'Eglise St. Martin, Vevey, recreates Bach's perfect baroque style with extreme strength that goes in crescendo, combines the dark atmosphere prevalent in the album with an almost angelical sound achieved with the help of the Ars LŠta Choir of Lausanne, between the betrayal and regret there's no moment to rest and not a weak note, simply perfect

I believe nobody else except Rick Wakeman dared to make an album about criminals, traitors and horror with such beauty and perfection.

An excellent addition for any Prog' Collection and one of the last Wakeman masterpieces.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 4/5 |


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