Rick Wakeman — The Masters
(Purple Pyramid CLP 0565-2, 1999, 2CD)
by Mike Ezzo, Published 2000-05-01Between 1982 and 1995 Wakeman released a staggering 35 recordings! None of these are known to more than a few people (I have only seen about four of them myself), so the convenience of this compilation of 20 tracks from 13 albums of that period is certainly a foregone conclusion. Disc one blasts off with a surprisingly commercial pomp-rock tune with absolutely astonishing production quality, and a singer who could have replaced Steve Walsh in Kansas! Who is he?? A pair of flashy prog instrumentals follow; nice, if cliched, but great keyboard work. A jazzy piece from his Zodiac CD follows but seems unfinished, like a demo. Later he cranks up the drama on two more instrumental prog numbers. Then there is a poorly executed pop song which doesn't match the production quality of its predecessor. Closing out this half are a completely remade suite from Six Wives which features loads of new material; and a beautiful piano-based song with percussion accompaniment. Disc two starts with another stab at radio play, but quickly (and fortunately) abandons it in favor of more instrumental piano and synth-heavy pieces from Rick's relatively recent concept albums: Romance of the Victorian Age, and 7 Wonders of the World. A couple veer nigh a light new age side; others are deadringer Brahms/Beethoven piano material. A live reworked suite from Merlin (again with a ton of new twists added) provides contrast. Based on what this CD offers I'd choose Tapestries and No Expense Spared as the two recommendables. But this leaves another 23 recordings — including three soundtracks — that (probably like you) I have never heard, so my judgement is of limited value.
Related artist(s): Rick Wakeman
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more