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Rick Wakeman - Made In Cuba (DVD) CD (album) cover


Rick Wakeman

Symphonic Prog

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4 stars There are obvious comparisons between this release and the Live in Buenos Aries DVD which came out in 2001. One major niggle for me is the large number of tracks that are duplicated; Journey, Catherine Parr, The Visit/Return of the Phantom, Merlin and Starship Trooper are all on the previous release. The band isn't the same however and this ensures that the tracks are sufficiently different.

Lee Pomeroy is still present on bass but he is much more prominent and puts in a better performance. The drummer is Ashley Soan and although he was called upon at the last minute (due to Tony Fernandez sustaining an injury) he also puts in a great performance. Guitarist Dave Colquoun doesn't reach the same level as the others but he does produce a couple of good solos. Vocalist Ashley Holt, a Wakeman stalwart from the 70s, is woefully under rehearsed he has to read all the lyrics and strains on some of the songs. He fairs better on the material where he was the original vocalist.

Wakeman's own performance is significantly better though. It is obvious he is enjoying himself, several tracks are simply outstanding. He has a set of 10 keyboards in all, including two genuine mini-moogs, arranged in a big semi-circle and the way he effortlessly moves from one to another is mesmerising.

Journey is slightly longer but only really gets going at the end. The Recollection/The Spaceman is a great track and it's where the band starts to take off. Catherine Parr is much the same but the improvised section in the middle is superb, I found myself listening to what Wakeman was playing with his left hand as well as his right. On Jane Seymour he completely outdoes himself and this is one of the highlights of the concert. Merlin doesn't work quite as well with Wakeman strolling about in the crowd but the ending of Starship Trooper shows his unsurpassed ablility.

Fans are going to buy this to see Wakeman in action and from this point of view it's an excellent purchase, and it's the reason I give it 4 stars.

Report this review (#92803)
Posted Sunday, October 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars Wakeman the magician

The live performance presented here is admittedly not one of perfection, but it is, however, a presentation of perfect band chemistry, great passion for music and immense instrumental skills of all involved. These things count for more than mechanical perfection in my book. The picture quality is great, the sound quality is great, the set list is fantastic, the band brilliant and the performance is simply amazing! Both the audience and the band are having a great time here and that feeling spreads to the viewer/listener at home.

With many timeless classics performed, often in new and interesting arrangements, this live concert video should appeal both to beginners and to hard core fans. Rick's very best albums are all represented with cuts from The Six Wives Of Henry VIII, The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur, No Earthly Connection and Out There all making the set list. Plus, an excellent, condensed, new version of Journey To the Centre Of The Earth, that easily surpasses its original recording in my opinion! The sometimes annoying narration in the original version is here removed and more space is left for instrumental workouts. Yes is also represented with an exhilarating version of Starship Trooper, incorporating snippets of Heart Of The Sunrise!

The vocalist here is none other than Ashley Holt, the original vocalist on such albums as Journey To Centre Of The Earth, King Arthur and No Earthly Connection and many others. He has still got an excellent set of pipes! The rest of the band are amazing and all members do extended solos. Rick is a very 'democratic' leader of the band here and he does not need to be at the centre of attention all the time. This creates a strong band feeling and the musical atmosphere benefits greatly from this. The bass guitar solos from Lee Pomeroy are especielly brilliant and new drummer Ashley Soan does a great performance despite being recruited only a short time before this concert. The guitarist is hardly a Steve Howe, but there are a few passages when he truly shines.

The imperfections I mentioned at the start of this review occurs mainly when Rick's Moog synthesiser runs amok and goes out of tune here and there. There are also a few minor mistakes in the performance, most notably by the old guys, namely Rick himself and vocalist Ashley Holt. Holt did not have the chance to rehearse the material on which he was not the original vocalist. But these small mistakes do no ruin my overall impression of the show as a vey good one. For the most part they get it right completely and all band members have their moments of utter brilliance. Despite not being perfect, Made In Cuba is still the best Rick Wakeman concert film I have (and as far as I know I have them all)!

If all you know from Rick Wakeman is his early albums, this DVD will surprise you as it rocks harder than you probably can imagine! It brings together some of Rick's very best songs and presents them in a new fresh way, the conclusion can only be that this DVD is both an excellent place to start if you want to discover Wakeman's solo career and an essential purchase for his most devoted fans. However, as I have mentioned there are some mistakes and technical problems. Therefore, I cannot give the highest rating. There is a live album called Out Of The Blue that is even better than this as it doesn't suffer from such imperfections.

As a bonus, there is an insightful interview with Rick that adds great value as well with very interesting and sympathetic views on the relation between politics and music among other things.

Highly recommended!

Report this review (#177407)
Posted Sunday, July 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars I love me my Rick Wakeman! Especially the opportunity to see Wakeman's cream O the crop vintage material performed in contemporary times.

With that said, it's surprising that it's taken over 7 years for me to finally watch this performance start-to-finish.

With that said, I'll start with the material:

Great selection! I'm not sure if I could request a better playlist than what Rick and The Ensemble came up with. Well, perhaps I'd trade the Phantom piece for another Six Wives track.

The Band: Definitely a great band! It goes without saying that Rick will be masterful as always. I've never seen him slouch or seem unrehearsed... ever!

The drummer, Ashley Soan (Del Amitri, Jordin Sparks), I have read was a last minute fill in, with that said, Rick obviously knew talent was required to pinch hit and be more than just serviceable. I thought he was great.

The bassist, Lee Pomeroy (Steve Hackett, Take That), was outstanding! His solo riffs on "Heart of the Sunrise" near the end put Chris Squire to shame!

The guitar player, Dave Colquhoun, somewhat of an unknown commodity was technically capable, but I thought his was a bit too "pyro-technic" for Wakeman's material. No doubt he's a good guitar player, but in my opinion, just not a good fit.

Finally, we get to good old Ashley Holt, original vocalist from "Myths and Legends", Journey and "No Earthly Connection". Now, don't get me wrong, I find nostalgic appeal in his presence, but honestly, I think that he's just one of Rick's old drinking buddies that he's dragged out to sing for decades. His vocals from the 70s until the present just make me cower. I've enjoyed all the music in spite of his voice! His best moments in this performance were when he was off stage!

The vocals are the one reason I give this recording and performance four and not five stars.

The "Road to Cuba" extra on the DVD is also a great add in. If you're a Wakeman fan this is a "must have". If you're a Yes fan of Wakeman era material, it's also close to must have. if you're a casual fan, definitely worth checking out.

Report this review (#899527)
Posted Friday, January 25, 2013 | Review Permalink

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