Review of No Earthly Connection submitted on 12th May 2003
After the opening synth-chords, the music just flourishes. Great vocals from Ashley, terrific playing from the band, and a superb concept. I used to use the opening chord as a demo when I used to sell HiFi speakers in the early 1980's. Brilliant.
Review of Black Knights at the Court of Ferdinand IV submitted on 23rd October 2003
Looking at the Italian sounding name on the cover of this made me think that we were in for something very classical sounding, and maybe even an operatic album. This is not the case at all. Mario Fasciano has a voice very similar to the Great 70s sound of PFM (anyone remember them?). This is a really good prog rock album, which interweaves the Neapolitan sound with rick's excellent keyboards almost as if the'd been working together for years. My old copy still gets played on my Radio Show regularly.
Review of The Myths & Legends of King Arthur & The Knights of the Round Table submitted on 23rd October 2003
Having heard Journey when it first came out in 1974, I was really eager to hear what Arthur held in store for us. The packaged Booklet was a joy to handle for the first time, and I anticipated the music with what can only be described as glee. Back were the vocal duo from the previous release, and in fine voice they were too. Every track on this has it's merits, but my favourites have to be the Opener, "Arthur" and the opening track from the second side, "Merlin". The spoken word finish, concerning the fate of Arthur was very moving, and I do wonder how much of that last statement is true. Arthurian Legend is one of my interests, and this is a very fitting musical tribute.
Review of 1984 submitted on 23rd May 2004
This is one of those albums where there are several guest vocalists, and your appreciation of the songs is largely dependent upon whether or not you like each vocalist. Chaka Khan has never been one of my favourites as I've always found her to be a bit undisciplined, but the others are good. Jon anderson always works well with Rick, as they are after all, both members of Yes, and Steve Harley does a brilliant guest spot, so you are more than compensated for Chaka Khan if you don't like her. The instrumental tracks are again, superb, and the finale is even more so. Even though the concept was all too quickly overtaken by history (it being released in 1981), the musical content carries it way past that, and it stands up as a great recording even now, twenty years after the actual "1984".
Review of Cost of Living submitted on 23rd May 2004
The high speed start of track one on this album is a bit of a surprise, and when it slows down, it is a bit of a releif. Rick himself is the first to admit that the piano used was a turkey, but my father (who is a fan of all things Wakeman orientated) thinks that this simply fits in very nicely with the concept of the title. There are a couple of real gems on this album, including "Gone but not Forgotten", which is really beautiful, and the closing track with Robert Powell narrating, but overall the consistency is not as good as with other albums. Buy it anyway, because it's a lot better than some stuff you'll hear elsewhere.
Review of Out There submitted on 1st December 2004
Having ordered this from RWCC, and asked for a signature, I expected this to take a while to come back, but it was faster than expected - about three weeks. I couldn't wait to stick it in the CD player, and boy was it worth the wait. The epic opening title track sets the pace for a superb album that Rick should be incredibly proud of. His band are, in a word, great, and the singer has a good range to his voice allowing the music to soar to incredible heights, without him sounding as if he was straining his guts out just to hit the notes (note Hammersmith Live CD, where the singer had to transpose the songs as he sang them). This is a really excellent package, and I can't wait to see them live.
Review of The Natural World Trilogy submitted on 3rd August 2019
I consider the Rick Wakeman Album "The Natural World Trilogy" to be a "Good" album. By that I mean an album that can be listened to in its entirety, without interruption, and be enjoyed for its own sake. The musicianship is, as one has come to expect from our Mr. Wakeman, of exceptional quality. Rick is a long standing professional, who has been a member of too many top class groups and sessions to be anything else. His 1999 album therefore cannot be anything other than what it turns out to be on playing. A perfectly executed piece of pure class. If you are expecting dramatic drums and soaring guitars, you will be disappointed, but make no mistake here; what you will get is a keyboard player who has realized that these trappings are totally unnecessary to show his own artistry and ability as both a writer and performer. To cut it short, I bought this album on Ebay, thinking it would be a gap-filler. I loved it. Rick is brilliant on this. A definite precursor to his later piano projects of the very recent past, like Piano Portraits and Piano Odyssey, both of which I have and love. That's not to say that this trilogy is a piano project. There is, naturally, some piano on it, but the overall feeling and style is of the kind of album that the majority of "keyboard" orientated artists would produce if they could actually play the keyboard instead of programming it. There are no sequencers on this album - every trill and every repeated phrase is played by Rick and he can reproduce it live. That is the beauty of a genuine keyboardist like Rick Wakeman. If you want further proof of his ability, just watch him during his keyboard solo slots on any of the Yes live videos he's participated in. His live renditions of the themes from his own "Six wives of Henry VIII" are absolutely stunning! Look at it like this - if Rick Wakeman came to your house and played a track from this album live in front of you, and you did not know who he was (say, He wasn't famous), you'd want him to join your band immediately because he's a keyboard maestro, and it shows. Buy It!
Review of The Red Planet submitted on 20th June 2020
What can I say about the "Red Planet"? What a Beautiful Recording! It has been worth the wait! Congratulations on a great album, Rick! As with the last album done with the English Rock Ensemble, superb sound and excellent musicianship from all participants. No vocals this time, and Rick sure makes up for that with his virtuoso keyboard performances. My favourite track so far (it may change with further listenings) is "Pavonis Mons", where the soloing is amazing. It reminds me occasionally of the style used in the opening track of "White Rock", where the keyboard solo goes off at a tangent and you wonder where this is going and he finishes the run of notes and you find youself amazed that he could even think of a run of notes like that let alone play it! Then it changes pace (as it should with the Prog genre) and you get a superb finale. Love this sort of thing in Rick's Music! Very impressed with all the other musicians, especially Lee Pomeroy's bass work. I first came across his playing on the Yes ARW live album last year, and like all Southpaw players, he really plays superbly. Just waiting now for the CD release later this month (June 2020), and can't wait to see that special edition packaging!