Review of Rick Wakeman's Greatest Hits submitted on 17th September 1998
I have mixed feelings about this CD. All of the tracks are good in their own right, however, some suffer from comparison to previous versions. On the original Wondrous Stories, Rick's work on the Polymoog was spectacular - see the video if you have any doubts. On the originals of Siberian Khatru and especially Madrigral, Rick's use of the harpsichord was highly melodic and seemed to add a texture that is missing from these version - could he have overdubbed the original melodies? In comparison, these versions sound almost like Elevator music. So what's good?... "Going for the One" and the entire second disk, with the exception of a subdued Gone but Not Forgotten, however, these exceptions seem to confirm the opinion that Rick sometimes plays below his ability. If you already own the "true" greatest hits, "VOYAGE", and the YES originals of the remakes, this CD may gather dust.
Review of The Piano Album submitted on 16th October 1998
Piano, all piano, and nothing but piano... fabulous! If your not completely convinced that Rick is a fantastic piano player (although he doesn't always play great - see my review of "Greatest Hits"), this CD will make a believer out of you. Recorded at a church in California, this is Rick, a grand piano, and nothing else! A variety of music is represented including RW classics like "Catherine Howard" and "Merlin the Magician", YES classics "Wondrous Stories" and "And You And I", and even some David Bowie. All the variations and melodies are superb; a virtuoso performance without ever being "showboat" - I'm assuming Rick didn't wear a cape. Live performances always seem to bring out the best in Rick's playing, and despite the fact that he's in a church with no staging, special lighting, etc., this performance is no exception. If you like pure unaccompanied piano, this CD is a must have!