Review of Rick Wakeman's Criminal Record submitted on 12th October 2000
Rick Wakeman's BEST Record! (Although possibly tied with Six Wives of Henry VIII for that title.) An EXCELLENT album, showing Rick Wakeman's diversity extremely well. Statue of Justice starts on some jazzy piano stuff and eventual dives into some Hammond organ pyrotechnics reminiscent of Catherine Parr. Birdman of Alcatraz is a beautiful piano piece with gorgeous melodies. Judas Iscariot is a wonderfully deep piece, using a church organ and choir. Rather dark, albeit excellent. Overall probably his best work in my eyes.
Review of Chronicles of Man submitted on 12th October 2000
Absolutely beautiful! I ordered this from President Records in the UK (I'm from the US), and although I do not own a massive Wakeman collection (yet), it is one of my favorites. Stand-out track is #2, the Abbey Garden. Breath-taking interaction between the melody and chord progression. Very relaxing, a wonderful piano album. There are occasionally some string overdubs, but it is mainly Rick massaging your ears with his Steinway prowess. Top-notch stuff, really.
Review of Journey to the Centre of the Earth submitted on 12th November 2000
When I first listened to this, I (like many people) did not like it. This is definately an acquired taste. It was the same way with Yes music for me. The first time I heard Close to the Edge, I was confused and indifferent to the music, but with repeated listenings (thousands and thousands of times!) I now regard it as the best rock composition ever. Now to back to JTTCOTE; this is an addicting album! Rick has a band, orchestra, choir, and narrator perform live on stage for a concert. No overdubs (to my knowledge)! This is impressive, but also contributes to a weak point in the album. The lead vocals. One voice, the softer, higher voice, lacks character and power, while the other more operatic voice that mainly sings harmonies and backups is simply wretched, being just plain flat for most of the album. Not that its really their fault; you have a full orchestra choir and rock band on stage, and you cant expect everything to go just right. But I am for! giving on the vocals and the rather cheesy lyrics, seeing as my aforementioned favorite song ever opens with "a seasoned witch could call you from the depths of your disgrace." Ricks keyboards are excellent as ever. He tended to use a LOT of Minimoogs, and he also used a Clav quite a bit. To my dismay he didnt tear up on a Hammond organ very much (if at all), and the Steinway was neglected for most of the album. But overall, it is essential library material if you are a patient Wakeman devotee.
Review of The Six Wives of Henry VIII submitted on 20th November 2000
Wow...but for the mature power and beauty of Criminal Record, this one would easily have the spot for best Wakeman record ever. This was my introduction to Ricks solo career (I bought it because of the Six Wives medley on the Yessongs video). Catherine of Aragorn starts off the album with the perfect blend of classical and rock; complex and powerful, yet beautiful. Ann of Cleves lacks a bit I'd say given its inclusion on such a inimitably great album, but still is excellent nonetheless. Catherine Howard has beautiful melodies, although now I prefer Ricks version from The Piano Album. I cant remember the next two very well. I believe Jane Seymour has some cool church organ work, but nothing to rival Close to the Edge or Judas Iscariot, or even Going For The One. Anyway, the final piece, Catherine Parr, is an absolute gem. It jams. Rick tears up a Hammond organ with lightning speed, and flies through chord changes without slowing down his insanely out of! control right hand. Unbelievable. I want to learn how to play the organ now! Anyway, this is an excellent piece, and if you dont own it already, I wonder how you managed to find this site. EVERY Wakeman fan, no matter how casual, needs a copy of this album.