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Nolan & Wakeman - The Hound of the Baskervilles CD (album) cover


Nolan & Wakeman



3.40 | 60 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Elementary my dear Watson

The prolific Clive Nolan has a finger in so many pies (Arena, Pendragon, Strangers on a Train, etc.) he must all but live in the studio. For "Hound of the Baskervilles", he teams up with Oliver Wakeman (son of Rick) to transform Arthur Conan-Doyle's most famous Sherlock Holmes novel into a concept album. They are joined by a number of artists with excellent prog credentials, including Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon and Star One), Peter Banks (early Yes), John Jowitt (IQ and Jadis), Karl Groom (Threshold), Tony Fernandez (Rick Wakeman), and Nolan's Pendragon band mate, Peter Gee. The resulting production is very Rick Wakeman in its structure and performance to the extent that this could be the follow up to his 1999 album "Return to the centre of the earth".

The story is narrated by Holmes' trusty sidekick Dr. Watson, portrayed by Robert Powell (who played the role of Jesus in the Franco Zeffirelli's "Jesus of Nazareth"). Although at times it seems like the album has lapsed into a talking book, without the sometimes lengthy narrations the plot would be unclear unless you were already familiar with the intricacies of story. The songs themselves do not tend to tell the tale as such, rather they reflect incidents within it. That said, the album is very lyrical, with vocals dominating many of the tracks.

After the obligatory "Overture", the Rick Wakeman feel is further emphasised by the appearance of Ashley Holt (who sang on "Journey to the centre of the Earth" among others) on vocals, playing the part of Dr James Mortimer on "The Curse Of The Baskervilles". A number of other vocalists are used, each assuming a role. Bob Catley (Sir Henry Baskerville) of Magnum features on four of the tracks. For those who do not know of Catley, he has a distinctive, powerful rock voice, which suits this type of music well. Other guest singers include Tracy Hutchings (Beryl Stapleton) who worked with Nolan on his Strangers on a Train albums, Paul Allison (Stapleton), Ian "Moon" Gould (Seldon) and Michelle Young (Laura Lyons).

Catley's rendition of the ballad "Picture of a lady" is one of the album's highlights, offering a similar contrast to that of "Through her eyes" on Dream Theater's "Metropolis 2" album. Michelle Young's rendition of "By your side" has a similar feel, sounding in some ways like Yvonne Elliman's contributions to "Jesus Christ Superstar". That stage show feel comes through in several of the tracks. Perhaps this is deliberate on the part of Nolan and Wakeman, who may have (subconsciously?) had ambitions for their project on that front.

With two talented keyboard players leading things, it might have been expected that such an album would be largely instrumental, being swathed in synthesiser and piano solos. There are certainly good instrumental pieces, such as the closing "Chasing the hound", but for much of the album the two appear happy to take on supporting roles as for as their performances are concerned.

In general, the album follows a rather predictable pattern, and lacks originality. It is however a highly enjoyable effort, which will appeal to those who enjoy the major productions of Rick Wakeman, and/or the various projects of Clive Nolan.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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