Review of Fields of Green submitted on 23rd August 1999
I am very positively surprised by this album. Having the multitude of albums in mind, which are coming from Rick, it is still amazing that the quality doesn't suffer. "Fields of Green" opens with a Yes-track from their 3rd album,"Starship trooper/Wurm" (a
Review of The Burning (Film Soundtrack) submitted on 2nd September 1999
The Burning soundtrack contains some very untypical work by Mr.Wakeman and is sometimes highly interesting. Rick does here some very good sounding recordings with some help from Alan Brawer (guitars), Kevin Kelly (bass) and Mike Braun (drums) in the best 70's tradition (although it was seemingly 1981). Those band performances ("Theme from burning","The chase continues","Variations on the fire") are of highest standards. Some very unusual instrumental keyboards passages ("Sheer terror and more", "The chase", Sheer terror") from Rick here, trying to illustrate the filmed action, sounds like I never heard him anywhere else, sounds like some Tangerine Dream or Klaus Schulze gone wild. And also we have here 2 very forgettable country instrumentals played without Rick's contribution. Those are included probably to complete the soundtrack. Without the latter two it can be really recommended.
Review of Wakeman with Wakeman - The Official Bootleg submitted on 6th September 1999
Well-known Wakeman classics played once again by gifted musicians. Plus one Beatles and one Stones composition. I don't quite see, why having a huge discography Rick always seems to play only "Six wives","Journey" and "The myths.." live. After two discs of this "Official bootleg" I get the feeling that this kind of synth-improvisation over given rhythm-section doesn't quite fill the listener's time. A change of mood or of improvisational speed might have caused some increase of audience's attention.
Review of Themes submitted on 6th September 1999
The title may suggest this to be a kind of "best of"-compilation. But it isn't. "Themes" can be described as a set of brilliant new musical ideas Rick had on his mind at the time. As it states on the cover the catalyst element could be "the strong sense of thematic composition". This album contains all in all very strong themes varying from rocky-synth-up-tempo tracks (he could have used them within Yes) with vocal contribution from guitarist and from Chrissie, to beautiful lyrical themes played with traditional or guitar-sounding keys, little bit of happy pop,baroque music and one Tangerine Dream-influenced track. On "Themes" Rick uses guitarist,female-singer and drum-machine from "Fields of Green" but this remains to me even more interesting proposition than "Fields". Great stuff!
Review of A Suite of Gods submitted on 13th September 1999
Some very melodical, convincing compositions here, performed by classical tenor voice with Rick and Tony accompanying. The sound concept of this seems very unique to me and I think it corresponds well with chosen mythological themes. The market needs descriptions come what may, or is it actually New Age, tenor singing over electronic keyboards?
Review of The Gospels submitted on 13th September 1999
Contains great singer, very good compositions and ascetic keyboards but the awfully sounding drum-machine makes it sound like a cheap demo recording sometimes. It needs and deserves a re-recording! [Ed - like the New Gospels?]
Review of The Art in Music Trilogy submitted on 13th September 1999
Over 3 hours of peaceful, beautiful music played by Rick on electronic (in need for a better word) keyboards used mainly as if they were a piano. If you liked the "Airs..." or "Aspirant.." -Trilogy you will probably enjoy "The Art in Music Trilogy" as well. On the cover they call it an "instrumental new world ambient music", but it draws more of your attention than just relaxating background sounds. As ever Rick takes his inspiration from a chosen item, this time it's arts. Every disc has it's own title ("The Sculptor","The Writer",and "Sketches"), the latter being "a musical pastiche of time that stands still". But it's still not boring. All 3 discs have also their own beautiful artwork, so it's a shame that we can only see the picture of "The Writer"-disc on the cover, remaining two images being reproduced in the thumbnail-format in the booklet and on the discs themselves.
Review of The Private Collection submitted on 20th September 1999
This is a great collection of long lost and/or unreleased recordings like the only studio performance of "Battle" from "Journey to the Centre of the Earth" with original line-up and orchestra. Next rarity is a track from the "Journey" concert at the Royal Festival Hall ("The Pearl an Dean Piano Concerto"). Also four very nice previously unreleased solo-piano pieces to be found on this CD. Last but not least we have here two convincing rocking group tracks recorded during the early 80's.
Review of The Natural World Trilogy submitted on 8th October 1999
This trilogy consists of 3 separate discs called "The Animal Kingdom"(inspired by the animal world; I thought this is also a very cruel world before hearing this), "Beneath the Waves"(inspired by the sea world) and "Heaven on Earth" based on some peaceful aspects of the nature. The first disc seems to be musically less interesting than the other ones. I guess the music here should be understood more as a functional relaxating background matter. It seems to me that "The Art in music trilogy" provides some more valuable musical themes than this one. The kind of music and artwork are very similiar on both Trilogies so they could've become a 6CD-Box as well.
Review of Softsword submitted on 11th October 1999
To me it's very far from being a masterpiece. Some good compositions here, some indifferent and at least one very bad.It sounds indeed like a cheap production also including partly the worse vocal contributions from Chrissie I've heard till now. Personally I also would expect something epic sounding from an album called "Softsword (King John And the Magna Charter)" instead of shallow poppy sound. Well, choir and orchestra may be to expensive; how about some heavy overdubbing action then? Nowadays, one man can sound like an orchestra, technique is no limit anymore.
Review of Stella Bianca alla corte de Re Ferdinando submitted on 11th October 1999
I find this is a very good album, full of beauty. My absolute favourite is the last track of this CD, I still wonder, have I heard this one before somewhere or does it just go straight to my heart? The one called "Stella bianca" (White star) is superb, too. As a whole possibly a little bit looser than the first album with Mario Fasciano and with a slight touch of pop-music here and there but still highly enjoyable.
Review of Journey to the Centre of the Earth submitted on 18th October 1999
I think this was a good effort, it has many good bits and pieces, but as a whole it seems incoherent to me and I can't stand the vocalists. Maybe it would have sounded better in the studio.
Review of White Rock II submitted on 18th October 1999
A nice piece of happy instrumental music, not more, not less. Partly interesting, partly illustrating, the ideal CD to accompany a sunday walk or a drive through your favourite landscapes during colder seasons. My favourite is "Dancing on Snowflakes", this little beauty. I'm afraid this one won't sell like it's better relative album buts it's worth listening though.
Review of Tapestries submitted on 19th October 1999
Astonishing beautiful musical pieces. A must for every Wakeman fan.
Review of Preludes to a Century submitted on 11th February 2000
Maybe it is not a Wakeman's classic but it's surely a classical Wakeman, which I like. Reminds me sometimes of some of his better piano passages from the seventies. Comparing this to his other piano works it sounds fresh with some moments of passion. I believe that this world needs good piano albums but on the other hand is such a release predictable and reliable. Thanks God there's something around to rely on. Everyone enjoying Wakeman playing grand piano should get one copy. That says it all. My fave melody here is Seasons of change, light as a feather, with passages full of energy and virtuosity. In no way do I find this one boring. I'd even tend to agree with President Records calling this "his finest piano work to date".