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Rick Wakeman - White Rock CD (album) cover


Rick Wakeman

Symphonic Prog

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Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Searching for gold

"White rock" is an early collection written for a documentary film on winter sports. The tracks stand up well in their own right, with Wakeman in good form both composition wise, and in terms of performance.

The album is almost entirely just Rick performing on keyboards, with basic rhythm section support. There's no orchestration and very little vocals, certainly no songs as such. Synthesiser takes central stage throughout, the scene being set by the break-neck speed of the opening title track. This is similar to Wakeman's solo on "The revealing science of God" (Yes), the synthesiser appearing to be pushed to it limits to reflect the speed and excitement of a downhill run.

There are softer, more fragile pieces such as "Searching for Gold" and other moments of up tempo excitement as in "Lax'x".

Wakeman succeeds here in transcending the gap between a soundtrack album, and a bona fide album release which stands in its own right. It's not by any means his most accomplished album, but it is still highly enjoyable.

Report this review (#27388)
Posted Saturday, June 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This was the soundtrack album to the Winter Olympics ' White Rock'. The songs are very pleasant and cope well with the theme of ice and snow. It is nothing dynamic however and only those Wakeman fanatics outthere will hunt this down for their collections.The title track and ' The Shoot' standout.I remember going to the movies in 1978 when this and Second's Out by Genesis was released in the country I lived in at the time and well you can guess which one I opted to go see first.
Report this review (#27389)
Posted Friday, September 24, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I am not a fan of soundtrack music on CDs, but this album is really really good, and of course excels on imagery. This is just Wakeman with his drummer pal, so it is dominated by keyboards.

The album begins with the energetic title track, which is just a moog dominated piece. I am a very big fan of this track, and I love the sustained moog sections. It is followed by Searching for Gold which is one of the highlights of this album. Wakeman does an overly beautiful mellotron drenched section in that track, and also plays the album's main theme which is great. The next two tracks are pretty, yet not mindblowing. In side b, there are two interesting tracks, one (laxx) being experimental, progressive, and having great drumming, and the other 'montezuma' sounding energetic and similar to a familiar classical music piece. Also, 'After the Ball' should not be overlooked: this little piece has gorgeous piano melodies. The closer of this album is easily the strongest track of this album, and one of Wakeman's best compositions. It contains many sections while it is only 6 minutes long and it is breathtaking all the way.

IF you enjoy soundtrack music, I highly recommend this album. If you enjoy bombastic epics, and overly complex music, look elsewhere.

My Grade : B

Report this review (#41584)
Posted Thursday, August 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
3 stars This soundtrack for the Olympic Winter Games sounds pleasant, most Wakeman aficionados will be delighted about the use of a wide range of vintage keyboards. Especially the Moog synthesizer is very omnipresent (sensational, dazzling flights in the titletrack and "Montezuma's revenge") but you can also enjoy the swinging clavinet sound ("The shoot" and "Ice run"), wonderful violin-Mellotron waves ("Lax'x" and "After the ball"), tender and sparkling Grand piano ("The loser", "Lax'x" and "After the ball"), Mander pipe (church) organ ("Lax'x" and "Ice run"), a swirling Hammond organ solo in "Ice run and some Fender Rhodes electric piano in "The shoot". The eight compositions are based upon Rick Wakeman his keyboard-wizardy and the drumming from Tony Hernandez is decent. Not a very memorable, dynamic or elaborated album but I enjoyed myself. Due to the high respect and appreciation for my keyboard hero Mr. Rick Wakeman, I award this album with three stars. THIS IS A MOOG FESTIVAL!!
Report this review (#42492)
Posted Thursday, August 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This record has many excellent piano and floating mellotron parts. Organ, clavinet and mini moog are also at the rendez-vous. The record is rather melodic, but it is also dynamic, nervous & borderline strident; it contains some good choir arrangements. There are also some unwanted parts, like the bizarre cymbal effects on "Lax's", or like the exaggerated & irritating moog solo on "White rock". The compositions are less progressive than usual and simpler. There are some tracks that sound like on the No Earthly Connections album, and others that sound like on the Rhapsodies album. The album is not bad at all, despite it seems a bit repetitive.
Report this review (#95882)
Posted Thursday, October 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars When this album was released, I initially felt disappointed, as it's lacking in the exuberant solos that made THE SIX WIVES and even KING ARTHUR such a pleasure. It's a soundtrack, and as such it's closer in spirit to Brian Eno's MUSIC FOR FILMS than anything else Wakeman has done. Throughout the years, I've gradually come to appreciate its qualities. The way Wakeman uses his extensive keyboard arsenal to produce the most colourful effects is admirable. It's ingenuity rather than virtuosity that counts, although a jolly little polka here and a sensitive piano ballad there only add to the fun! My favourite track on WHITE ROCK is "Lax'x", probably the most experimental thing Wakeman has ever composed: a sublime little tone poem in just under five minutes.

Three and a half stars, I guess. Essential to everyone who wants to know "another side of Rick Wakeman".

Report this review (#125342)
Posted Sunday, June 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
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!
Report this review (#294188)
Posted Wednesday, August 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars White rock - The original motion picture soundtrack of the Innsbruck winter games

Rick Wakeman needs no introduction, he is one of the most if not the most prolific and influential keybord player from entire progressive rock music and not only. He has as solo musician many many albums, almost 100 releases until today, that something realy, but only fiew worth to be discoverd , the rest are from disco to pop to instrumental noodlings on keybords and only rare intristing moments, at least is my opinion. One of the album I've enjoyed since I know his solo career is White rock. An instrumental album made specialy for winter games from Innsbruck. The arrangements here are well balanced, well performes, some parts are slower some with more vein, but in the end an enjoyble record for me. The album was released in same year with his return in Yes family and recording Going for the one, but the diffrences between these two albums are major. Here the progressive elements are obvious shown , Rick is a very talented and manage to came with some good arrangements, not spectacular of course but plesent most of the time. He very versatile musician, I mean he can go from more upbeat tempos to slower moments, from almost disco beats to jazzy elements in only few seconds, very strong and talented keybord player. His trademarks can be easy recognize on many of his albums, not to mention his job in Yes. Best pieces are all, maybe little to mellow in some parts but overall a good album that desearve from me 3 stars. Nothing special for sure but ok in the end.

Report this review (#306821)
Posted Wednesday, October 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars A very good, if a little short CD. And quite underrated too. Although it was written mainly as a soundtrack for the winter games of Innsbruck, the music inside stands very much on its own and shows Wakeman in fine form. Save for the use of a choir a copuple of tracks, this is a totally instrumental record. The tracks are divided by some heavy synth driven themes, like the title track , and a few more introspective piano pieces. There are no orchestrations and all the instruments are played by Wakeman himself, with the precious help of Tony Fernandez on drums and percussion.

I regret not having paying much atention to it when this album was out. I thought it was just another soundtrack collection (and I haven´t exactly fallen in love with Rick´s previous adventure on that field with Lisztomania, if you know what I mean). However, White Rock shows Wakeman still pretty much at the height of his powers as songwriter, performer and arranger and many tunes here do remind me of his classic The Six Wives Of Henry VIII. Not only he shows great skill and knack for fine short symphonic pieces, but it has excellent percussion parts played by Fernandez.

Although I feel it does not reach the point where I feel too comfortable to give it a 4 star rating, it is indeed a work that stands very well along his more well known ones, like the aforementioned The Six Wives.... So I guess a 3,8 star rating is quite fitting. Very good, and I´m glad I found this CD recently and still have time to appreciate this little prog gem. If you like keyboard driven symphonic prog, you won´t be disappointed.

Report this review (#508445)
Posted Wednesday, August 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars I know that this is the soundtrack to a film of the same name (about the 1976 Winter Olympics), but could there be a more unintentionally hilarious name for a Rick Wakeman solo album than White Rock? This is actually more of a true solo album than the other albums he'd done since launching his career with Six Wives: whereas Journey and King Arthur included very large ensembles, and Six Wives and NEC included a large number of contributors in their own right, this one is just Rick, a drummer and a female choir on two tracks. Needless to say, anybody wanting to hear Rick's keyboards in the context of ensemble performance should probably stay away from here.

This is a very silly album. It's also an album with a good share of interesting ideas and themes, and more importantly it's one filled to the brim with piano mixed with all sorts of glorious 70's keyboard sounds, played with typically superhuman speed and fluidity. The opening title track may be underpinned by one of the lamest attempts at a "Latin" rhythm ever (at least that's how it sounds to me), and the keyboards may be set on full-on wank mode (and they sound way more like what I'd expect from Emerson than from Wakeman on a given Yes album), but I find myself drawn in more than I might like, and I'd have to give the track a thumbs up. The next two tracks ("Searching for Gold" and "The Loser") feature the only instances of vocals on the album (courtesy of the female choir), though they're mostly indecipherable apart from an occasional "Searching for gold" line (the line makes its way into both tracks, and an instrumental reprise of the theme can be found in a later track). "Searching for Gold" doesn't sound worse than a typical Six Wives track to me (perhaps with a little less direction, but there are some really lovely mellotron-sounding moments interspersed with other sounds), and "The Loser" has some really lovely piano parts (with other keyboards giving texture as needed).

Hitting the other tracks: "The Shoot" (which makes me think of skiing in the faster parts for some reason) has some goofy pseudo-honky-tonk parts interspersed with piano. "Lax'x" (what a strange name) is a bit of a bore in its "main" portion, but when the mellotron flutes come out I'm very happy, not to mention that the synth-driven reprise of the "Searching for Gold" part is surprisingly moving. Also, am I wrong in thinking that a lot of the last portion sounds awfully "Ritual"-esque? "After the Ball" is a very lovely, very tender piano-dominated piece (with synths coming in a little over a minute into it); "Montezuma's Revenge" is a goofy synth-reinvention of Gypsy music (which for whatever reason brings to my mind an image of miniature Krusty the Clowns quickly shooting up and down in a whack-a-mole game), and the closing "Ice Run" is surprisingly eerie and majestic (at least, if you're into cheeseball synth moods) in its first half before turning into a rather typical up-tempo solo Wakeman passage (it does have some Hammond, though, which hadn't been a Wakeman staple lately).

Honestly, there's probably no chance somebody who doesn't somehow already have this would ever listen to it; it's ridiculously out-of-print except as a Japanese import (and not even available on iTunes or other legal downloading sites), and I can hardly recommend putting a ton of effort into trying to seek it out. And yet, I can definitely say that this fits very well into my established pattern of listening to (most) 70's solo Wakeman as effective background music that's sporadically very entertaining. If you're incredibly curious, try to seek it out. It's no worse than his most famous albums, I think.

Report this review (#572351)
Posted Monday, November 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I was hoping the succeeding album after No Earthly Connection was something phenomenal as I was so satisfied with musical quality of Ricks' previous works. But I was a bit disappointed with White Rock as it did not fulfill my expectations. I was not aware then that White Rock was actually a 1977 documentary film about the 1976 Winter Olympics held in Innsbruck, Austria - directed by Tony Maylam, who at around the same time had also made a concert film Genesis: In Concert. Having known this is a soundtrack I was then aware why the music is like this. The opening track actually impressed me at first spin of the cassette that I purchased back then. It contains all elements that Rick had always demonstrated in his previous works: inventive keyboard work in a dynamic composition and especially this time it's coupled with great percussion work. I really love the opening track "White Rock".

"Searching for gold" (4:20) is another excellent composition but in different style than the opening track. This time he delivers the melodic keyboard work that later it became the kind of his style as I could find with his later work "Criminal Records" released the same year. "The loser" (5:30) is actually not a bad composition at all - i contains very nice piano work coupled with synthesizers. "The shoot" (3:59) continues the style of previous one but then I get confused with the overall integrity of the music - again, If i'm not aware that this is a soundtrack music. Once I know about this then I understand why it has this style. "Montezuma's revenge" (3:56) brings the music into something in up tempo with dynamic beats - something that you might not expect that this is Rick's work. "Ice run" 6:11 is more like theme song than a full music composition and it can be well understood if we watch the film. But I enjoy the keyboard solo Rick plays plus the part with the drums where in some way it reminds me to his masterpiece The Six Wives of Henry VIII.

Overall, this is a well-written album for a film and it contains the characteristics of Rick's keyboard playing backed with good musicianship of Tony Fernandez on drums. I would say this album is a must for those who love Rick Wakeman early works. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#879493)
Posted Friday, December 21, 2012 | Review Permalink

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