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Rick Wakeman - White Rock CD (album) cover


Rick Wakeman


Symphonic Prog

3.22 | 136 ratings

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4 stars Hard to obtain on CD ? as is No Earthly Connection ? this is one of Rick's efforts that is not deemed worthy of a proper re-mastering/re-release on CD. I had to get this off eBay ('scuse plug) as one of the Japanese editions that, like "No Earthly Connection", have been re- mastered from vinyl (and a very good job they've done too). If offered a cheaper, Russian/Eastern European compilation CD featuring any of Rick's stuff, I strongly suggest you pass. Although it's a niche product, and probably only for Rick devotees (like me), I felt I had to have it ? but it came at a price. It's one of the first half dozen releases Rick did (ignoring "Piano Vibrations" and "Lisztomania") that were probably his best and certainly most consistent solo work ? stretching from "Six Wives" to "Criminal Record". After that, we got "Rhapsodies", and "1984", and the New Age stuff, a lot of which seemed to be rushed and inconsistent. From then on things got worse..... I sat in a cinema in 1977 eager to watch the film "White Rock" that was on a double bill with a film of Genesis in concert. I was in the minority in having gone primarily to see White Rock, with Genesis for me being second on the bill ? but hey, the cinema was not surprisingly packed mainly with Genesis fans! In truth White Rock the film was I recall a pleasant if not spectacular documentary of the Winter Olympics. But I did think the music worked well and was effective, parts of which stayed in the memory long after the film ended. Turning to the music, it needs to be remembered that this is a soundtrack album, not ? how shall I say ? a "proper" album. This means that instead of each track being crafted from scratch as a piece in its own right, the music is composed in sections to accompany the film, then added to and re-ordered to make tracks on the album. So some themes repeat on different tracks as we work our way through the album. It also means ? at least for this listener ? that the music, not surprisingly, reminds one of events in the film, rather than encouraging one to visualize your own interpretation as you listen. The music is Rick on his own, with overdubs, accompanied only by Tony Fernandez from his English Rock Ensemble, and sometimes a choir. There is no "band" playing together (unlike on the subsequent "Criminal Record"). But overall the music is good, with some great themes and some great playing, this being just before Rick returned to Yes for "Going for the One". As an entire track, I think "Searching for Gold" works best; it introduces the main theme, being the title of the song, and moves into a lovely slow piano movement that Wakeman does so well; it then it segues into "The Loser" which continues and re-states the main theme ? this track representing the pain of those that fail to win. These two together are the perhaps the highpoint of the album. "The Shoot", Lax'X" (ho ho, a play on the name of a laxative product for those that don't know) and "Ice Run" represent the speed and aggression of some of the events and this is reflected in the style and pace of the music. "Montezuma's Revenge" is an arrangement of a traditional, instantly recognisable Hungarian folk tune. The title track is I would suggest the least successful piece, coming across as an add-on written as a headliner for the album rather than something crafted to accompany the film. It's all a bit too frantic and rushed. A portent of things to come..? Having taken the plunge, I expected I would wallow in nostalgia for a couple of listens then begin to regret my (expensive) purchase, but no, it's a good solid (soundtrack) album, and a lot better than some of Rick's later efforts. For want of a better comparison, it's chronologically, and in terms of style, between "No Earthly Connection" ? under-rated and perhaps having more melodies than any other of Rick's works ? and the light hearted, well presented "Criminal Record", though overall White Rock is a more lightweight if still pleasant outing. Actually it may be the last album in which we hear Rick really using the classic combination of mini-moog and Mellotron, a la "Close to the Edge" or the first side of "Tales". The quality of the recording is pretty good (as far as my modest system can tell) and it comes with professionally produced reproduction of the original LP cover, and a representation of the original record label. 3.5 stars. Oh heck, for nostalgia's sake, I'll make it 4. NB ? I was not surprised to find that the film "White Rock" is not available in any format!
Phil | 4/5 |


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