Reviews by George R

Reviews by George R

Review of Retro submitted on 4th May 2006

Retro is a fully produced, fully realized prog-rock masterpiece with a proper band. Ashley, Jemma, and Rick himself take turns on the vocals. Rick plays only analog keyboards and they sound amazing. Retro has a great variety of material. There’s stuff that’s spacey, stuff that’s bubbly and exuberant, stuff that’s dark, stuff that’s very funny, stuff that’s epic, and stuff that rocks your socks off. And of course there are jaw-dropping displays of musicianship throughout. The running order is perfect resulting in a very satisfying listening experience from start to finish. The production is adventurous and Retro is one of the few recent rock albums that was actually mastered properly. It sounds crisp, clear, spatial, and dynamic. Bottom line: I consider Retro one of the greatest prog albums of all time. I hope it sells very well. It deserves to.

Review of In The Nick of Time submitted on 25th January 2013

This record and Live At The BBC are Rick's best live albums in my view. The performances here are top notch and full of energy and there are a lot of great keyboard sounds. Ashley does a great job singing the Out There material, especially considering that Rick composed vocal melodies containing some notes that only dogs can hear. I think I like this version of Out There better than the studio version as it sounds a little beefier and the incredible solos from Ant Glynne and Rick are even more exciting here. Another highlight, which really surprised me, is a version of White Rock that is just as insane as the record. Rick's MiniMoog playing is masterful on this recording. Not just the notes he's playing, but the way he's adjusting the glide control and altering the sound as he's playing. The only criticism I have is that the cymbals and the guitar sound too bright, but this is still a must have record.

Review of Journey to the Centre of the Earth 2012 submitted on 25th January 2013

I used to think Return to the Centre of the Earth was Rick's best record, but the new Journey tops it. This is simply the ultimate concept album and the ultimate prog album.
Journey is what I would call ear candy. The production is excellent. The orchestra sounds very rich, and there are some wonderful keyboard sounds. And once again Rick didn't let his album get destroyed by the mastering engineer. Journey is a very healthy and dynamic record.
A special highlight is Dave Colquhoun's guitar playing. The solo in Quaternary Man is incredibly clever and the guitar sound is fantastic.
The new material does not disrupt the flow of the record, probably because it was supposed to be there originally. The transitions from one track to another are all great and the story feels more complete with the missing pieces put back.
This album may not have quite the same level of energy as the live performances of Journey in the 1970's, but I think this is overall Rick's best studio record.

Review of Retro 2 submitted on 28th January 2013

The second Retro album has a grittier sound than the first. There is more organ, more guitar, and more bass pedals. Rick warns us to Expect the Unexpected and he delivers. No two pieces on this record have the same structure and Rick has once again put some surprises in his arrangements.
The highlights for me include the epic and huge organ chords in Standing Room Only, the whimsical vibe of Fairground Shuffle, and the spacey and epic Beyond The Void which has a killer mellotron choir part. Dave Colquhoun really shines on this record with tasty slide guitar playing in Expect The Unexpected and great solos on several tracks.
Retro 2 is one of my top 10 favorite records from Rick.

Review of The Myths & Legends of King Arthur & The Knights of the Round Table 2016 submitted on 13th November 2016

The new Arthur sounds phenomenal! It was mixed and mastered even more dynamically than Journey. The dynamics might actually frighten people who are used to the current era's heavily squashed rock albums. Rick's keyboards are ear candy. I love the dramatic palm glides on the Hammond organ, the funky Wurlitzer piano riff in Holy Grail, the rich grand piano, and all the killer Mini-Moog sounds. I think the second Mini-Moog solo in Merlin is the best solo Rick has ever recorded. Tony Fernandez and Dave Colquhoun really shine on this record as well. Percival is my favorite new track on Arthur. It's one of the most rocking tunes Rick has written. Percival has great Mini-Moog parts, some killer guitar playing, rhythmic complexity, shifting meters, and the ultimate bombastic ending. This is prog at its best.

Review of The Red Planet submitted on 20th June 2020

Red Planet is everything I hoped it would be and more. I think it's the best sounding album from Rick. The production is so rich, warm, and dynamic. The guitar, bass, drum, and keyboard sounds are all killer. Red Planet needs to be actively listened to in its entirety. The arrangements are incredibly complex and full of surprises. The tunes are chock full of catchy riffs, tricky rhythms, and dramatic themes. In Arsia Mons, Cooney plays an excellent Gilmour-esque acoustic guitar solo over an awesome electric piano sound. I love how the beautiful and gentle South Pole precedes the insane closing number. Valles Marineris might be the best piece Rick has ever composed. It is simply breathtaking.