Reviews by Bjorn Olaf Syvertsen

Reviews by Bjorn Olaf Syvertsen

Review of The Six Wives of Henry VIII submitted on 4th December 1997

This album is good, though not so good as some people say it is. "Anne of Cleves" is terrible, but apart from that, the five other wives seem much nicer, judging from Rick's music. I'm particularly fond of "Jane Seymour", as it reminds me so much of "Judas Iscariot". More church organ, please!

Review of Journey to the Centre of the Earth submitted on 4th December 1997

This album is really great, except for Ashley Holt's voice, which should be kept in a studio (he sings very well on "No Earthly Connection".) On the b-side his voice cracks terribly. But apart from that, this album is excellent. The music is very melodic, and yet complex. It is always fun listening to it. This album is perhaps the nearest thing to a fusion of rock and classical music the 70s brought, with some competition from Mike Oldfield's "Ommadawn" and "Tubular Bells", Camel's "The Snow goose", "Close to the Edge" and "Tales from Topographic Oceans" by Yes, and "Sheherezade and other stories" by Renaissance.

Review of The Myths & Legends of King Arthur & The Knights of the Round Table submitted on 4th December 1997

This used to be my favourite Rick Wakeman album, but now "Journey to the Centre of the Earth" has passed it. The good thing about this album, is that some tracks are really great ("Arthur", "Sir Galahad" and "The Last Battle"), while others are not that good. The style is however very fascinating, and being a medievalist myself, I clearly delight in the lyrics, the cover and the "text book". "Arthur" is the perfect opener and my favourite Rick Wakeman track, next to "Judas Iscariot" from "Criminal Record".

Review of Lisztomania submitted on 4th December 1997

Some of this album is great, like the one track Rick wrote himself. Also very good are the two versions of "Liebes- traume", particularly the rocking "Peace at last", which is the song most fit for Roger Daltrey's rock'n'roll voice. There are, however, pieces on this album which I found rather unpleasant, namely "Hell" and "Excelsior Song". I never could handle those.

Review of No Earthly Connection submitted on 4th December 1997

This album is among Rick's best. As far as I know, it also marks Ashley Holt's peak as a singer. Particularly "The Prisoner" is very good. It contains a very catchy chorus, followed by great baroque keyboards. No Rick Wakeman fan should miss this one.

Review of White Rock submitted on 4th December 1997

This album contains some good pieces, but I can't ever begin to understand why on earth the title track "White Rock" is one of the most popular songs on this site! I think this is one of the weakest parts on this album! "Searching for Gold" is good, though, and "After the Ball", which reminds me very much of "Liebestraume" (see Lisztomania). Except for the first track, the b-side is good all the way through. This "sports album" is definitely better than the next one, "G'ole".

Review of Rick Wakeman's Criminal Record submitted on 4th December 1997

This record is truely great. "Judas Iscariot" is my favourite Rick Wakeman recording ever (admittedly I've not heard them all - who has?). That track alone is more than reason enough to buy this record. And the rest of the album is good as well, particularly "Statue of Justice", "Chamber of Horrors" and "Birdman of Alcatraz". Need I say more?

Review of Rhapsodies submitted on 4th December 1997

1979 was the year when Rick obviously got tired of being serious. It was also a time when punk had taken over the rock scene and progressive rock unfortunately was nearly abolished by critics the world over. It was also a time of disco... That marks Rick's recordings in 1979. "Rhapsodies" is a double album, containing more or less instrumental disco pieces. It does not stand out as a great album, but it contains some really entertaining tracks, especially "Bombay Duck" and "Woolly Willy Tango".

Review of 1984 submitted on 4th December 1997

This album is very good, especially side 1. Highlights are the first three tracks - and of course "Hymn", where Jon Anderson makes his contribution. Those four tracks are among Rick's best. The rest of the album is also quite good, but still far inferior to those four tracks. But I would definitely recommend this one.

Review of G'ole! submitted on 4th December 1997

This is not one of my favourites. That is, it contains some quiet and very nice piano pieces, but some of the more synthetic tracks gives one an unpleasant feeling of being in a supermarket...

Review of The Family Album submitted on 4th December 1997

This album is very nice.It contains pleasant music perfect for relaxation. And the concept of portraying the family musically is also quite sympathetic. Especially Rick's wife Nina is portrayed by a very nice piece of music.

Review of Rock n Roll Prophet submitted on 4th December 1997

No wonder Rick had problems getting this album out! This album is sheer stupidity. Having finished "Rhapsodies" (see my review of that one), Rick wanted to go further into the land of disco. It was definitely the wrong way to go. Yet, it is not totally hopeless. "I'm So Straight I'm a Weirdo" is very funny and has an ingenious title. And "Spy of 55" is an amusing blend of disco and doo-wop. This album was recorded in 1979. No wonder Rick hoped that "Maybe 80" would "be a better year"...

Review of Zodiaque submitted on 5th March 1998

This album reminds me very much of Jean-Michel Jarre. If you like him, buy it. The softer tracks are perfect for relaxation. This is not Rick Wakeman's best album, but it is quite enjoyable.

Review of The Piano Album submitted on 19th March 1998

This album is very nice and gentle - and I have finally realized what "Catherine Howard" sounds like without the worst 70s moog sounds. (You know the ones that make you think of primitive computers...) On "The piano album" the sounds are acoustic, nice and relaxing. So I can very much recommend Rick Wakeman's "Unplugged"-album...

Review of Silent Nights submitted on 8th June 1998

This album illustrates nicely quite a lot of what I DON'T like about the 80s. It sounds like music left out of "Phantom of the Opera", which Rick desperately tries to turn into rock'n'roll. It is not exactly bad, it is just so extremely typical of the 80s

Review of Crimes of Passion submitted on 21st September 1998

This soundtrack albums reminds me of "1984", but it is definitely inferior compared to that one. Some of the instrumental parts are good, but on lots of them Rick brings in a horrible saxophone that does not sound good! All in all, this is not one of Rick's most important albums.

Review of Wakeman with Wakeman submitted on 21st September 1998

Some have called this a "rocking" album. That's not very accurate. If you're looking for rock'n'roll, then check out the Rolling Stones and forget about Rick Wakeman. On the other hand, if you like instrumental keyboard music, then stay put. And especially - if you like "Criminal Record", then this might be a good choice for you. "Wakeman with Wakeman" recaptures some of the excitement of "Criminal Record", although I think it is not that good (but still good!) And like on "CR", there is a long song here that is by far the best cut, namely the one about Caesar... Rick again demonstrates his interest in history.

Review of The Seven Wonders of the World submitted on 20th January 1999

I had high hopes with this one, and it is a good and relaxing album, but it is not among Rick's best work. But it is good. The return of a narrator gave me hopes of hearing something like "Journey to the Centre of the Earth", and I suppose it was unwise to raise that kind of expectations. But apart from this not being able to match his early work, it still is an album I quite enjoy, especially "The Hanging Gardens of Babylon". The entire album is soft and very synthetic, with no trace of piano. This fact makes it sound like a softer version of "Zodiaque", but with narration. Like "Zodiaque", it also has a marked Jean-Michel Jarre feel to it.

Review of Cirque Surreal submitted on 20th January 1999

I had read some nice things about this album, and to a certain extent, they were true. This is not among Rick's best work, but not among his worst either. Chrissie Hammond's voice suits the rougher pieces and makes me think of "1984" and "Crimes of passion". "Cirque surreal" is weaker than the former but better than the latter. "The party" reminds me of Jim Steinman (the man who writes all the best songs for Meat Loaf and Bonnie Tyler). The best track however is definetely "Juliet". That is very good. All in all, this album is quite good, but I would have liked some more vocal pieces.

Review of Return To The Centre Of The Earth submitted on 8th May 1999

This album is among Rick's best, although I have some negative comments as well. I think the album is a bit too long. The narration could have been cut down to about half of what it is now, which would have been more in line with the format of "Journey.."

Review of Return To The Centre Of The Earth submitted on 12th June 1999

Return really is a return, the return of the Wakeman of the 70s, but with improved 90s sound quality. There are some really good songs on this album, like "The End of the Return", "Dance of a Thousand Lights", "Buried Alive" and "Is Anybody There?". What is also positive, is that the arrangements backing the narrative are better than on "Journey". The singers are better than on "Journey"; no voices cracking this time. As with lots of CDs from the 90s, however, this album is too long. Too much narrative to my taste, and some of the songs on the second half of the album are not that great, like for instance "Mr.Slow". A shorter, tighter, album, presenting about two thirds of this album, would be great. Then this album would be about as good as "Journey".

Review of The Burning (Film Soundtrack) submitted on 14th October 1999

The A-side of this album is quite weak, but alright. It sounds like a collection of outtakes from "White rock" or "Criminal record" - tracks not good enough to be included on those albums. But still they are not exactly terrible. The B-side is, however. The B-side is more or less uninteresting movie effects.... All in all, this album is among Rick's worst work.

Review of Cost of Living submitted on 14th October 1999

This album could have been "1984 II". Tim Rice has written the lyrics, and the two albums are very similar. If you like one of them, you'll probably also like the other. "Cost of living" also reminds me of "Silent nights". The album is quite good (not quite so good as "1984" but better than "Silent nights") and contains one of Rick's all time classics: "Gone but not forgotten".

Review of Tapestries submitted on 14th October 1999

Tapestries is a very nice and relaxing father and son coproduction. Mainly acoustic, except for some calm and quiet synthesizers in the background, the album is perfect when you lie on the sofa and just want to relax and let your thoughts stray... The opening track is my favourite, but it is a good album all the way through. The up-tempo tracks are my favourites on this album, though.

Review of Softsword submitted on 12th November 1999

I had high hopes with this one. The cover looked just right. And well - this is Rick trying to meet the 90s but still keeping one foot back in the 70s. The arrangements are nice - and some of the instrumental parts are quite good. The songs, however, are simply a bit monotonous and boring. The great exception though, is "Hymn of Hope", which is truly a great song. It is placed at the end - but the question remains: Is really all well that ends well?

Review of Preludes to a Century submitted on 14th April 2000

Another piano album. As for most of Rick's piano albums, "Preludes" is nice and gentle, and perfect for relaxation. It was a bit disappointing, though, because I miss the really strong compositions. Most tracks on this album are nice but not great. "Preludes" is quite inferior compared to albums like "The Piano Album" or "Tapestries".

Review of Black Knights at the Court of Ferdinand IV submitted on 22nd May 2000

This album is quite nice, with some very nice and melodic pieces. If you want Rick to play nice SONGS, then this is one of the obvious albums to go for. The singer is ok, and the arrangements as well. But the strongest part of the album is truly the melodies. Very few Rick fans have noticed this album. Perhaps they should.

Review of Country Airs submitted on 12th October 2000

This is the first of Rick's pure piano albums, released in 1986. I generally like Rick's pure piano albums, but this one was a bit of a disappointment. I regard it as the weakest album of this category (I haven't heard "Romance of the Victorian age" yet, though). It is very calm and quiet, so much in fact, that it gets a bit boring. If you're into this type of music, buy "Heritage suite" or "The piano album", or "Tapestries", instead.

Review of The Heritage Suite submitted on 12th October 2000

This is a really thrilling, pure piano piece. If you like Rick's pure piano albums, then this is it. Perhaps his best pure piano work. The tunes are sometimes fast and thrilling, sometimes slow and relaxing. This creates variation, so that the album avoids being boring.

Review of The Gospels submitted on 12th October 2000

This album is among Rick's best 80s work, and shows us the man thinking big again, like in the mid-70s. The sound is very different though, due to new synthesizer technology and Ramos Remedios' voice. The narration and the choir are both in place, but the orchestra is missing. However, Rick's doing a very decent job, making all the instrumental sounds himself. The music is generally good on this album. All in all, it is a Wakeman album a fan should possess.

Review of Stella Bianca alla corte de Re Ferdinando submitted on 12th October 2000

The follow-up to "Black knights in the court of Ferdinand IV" is, like its predessessor a nice and melodic album. Ten years have passed since the last album with Mario Fasciano, and the sounds have improved. This album has got a more superb and elaborated sound. The songs, however, can be a bit less interesting - except for the title track "Stella Bianco", which is the absolute gem of these albums. This track alone could justify this album. And the rest are quite nice as well.

Review of Chronicles of Man submitted on 2nd November 2000

This is perhaps the best pure piano album Rick has ever released. It is soft and melodic, but intense and fast as well. Therefore it is quite varied and never boring. It reminds me of the great Rick compositions; tracks like for instance "Caesarea" from "Wakeman with Wakeman". This album has a more "grandiose" feel than most of Rick's pure piano albums.

Review of Phantom Power submitted on 8th April 2003

This album sounds like Rick summing up the 80s - as well as taking a quick look back at "No earthly connection" from the 70s. The album features typical 80s instrumentals from Rick and songs sung by Ashley Holt, Chrissie Hammond and Ramos Remedios. The fact that these three singers all appear, makes this album sound a bit like a "greatest hits without the hits"-album. (Quotation: Bob Dylan). The album summs up the Ramos Remedios era, as well as the Chrissie Hammond era. The Ashley Holt tracks reminds me very much about the "Cost of living" / "1984" period. This album contains some very good tracks, like for instance the last two, but it can also be a bit too much to listen to the entire album. Programming can be a good idea to avoid losing interest along the way. The 90s was a period when Rick Wakeman sometimes seemed to prefer quantity to quality... (Who else would release ten to fifteen albums a year?) This has improved from "Return to the centre of the earth" and onwards.

Review of Wakeman & Cousins - Hummingbird submitted on 18th June 2003

This is a very nice album - and quite a pleasant surprise for Strawbs fans. The songs are good and melodic and the entire album is quite pleasant and relaxing. A must for all Strawbs fans, and also an album Rick fans should buy. (I had looked for it some time when I suddenly found it in the record shop under "H"... Someone in the shop obviously thought there was a band named Hummingbird who had just released an album called "Wakeman & Cousins"...)

Review of Out There submitted on 18th June 2003

I had read all these ecstatic reviews of this album, and by all means - it IS a good album. But is it really THAT good? "The cathedral in the sky" is a glorius triumph, however, and quite obviously the best track on the album. It sounds like a cross between "Judas Iscariot" and "The last battle". This is Rick at his best. The rest of the album is generally good but not truly great. They pass by more unnoticed. But "The cathedral in the sky" would make this album worth the money all by itself, so there is no doubt that Rick fans should buy it.

Review of Can You Hear Me? submitted on 1st September 2003

This is a good album. It contains progrock with Christian lyrics. The music reminds me somewhat of "The gospels" and in particular of "Softsword". "Hymn of hope" is present here in a new version, and that song is quite representative of this album.

Review of Romance of the Victorian Age submitted on 1st September 2003

nother one of the quiet and gentle instrumental album, containing mostly piano music. Every other track is Adam's, like on the "Tapestries" album - the most obvious album to compare this one to. "Tapestries" is perhaps somewhat better, but not much. If you like "Tapestries" you'll like this one too. Esepcially the opening track is very good.

Review of Themes submitted on 1st September 2003

This is one of those albums that make you think: "What's the point?" This is not among Rick's major works. It sounds like diverse instrumental keyboard work which Rick has done quite similar and often better somewhere else. No songs are really very good, and not really bad either. This album remains anonymous and very easy to be totally indifferent about... It resembles perhaps albums like "Wakeman with Wakeman", "Zodiaque" or "Crimes of Passion" - although with a 90s sound.