Rick Wakeman's Criminal Record (1977)

Rick Wakeman's Criminal Record

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#Track TitleLength
1Statue of Justice06:20
2Crime of Passion05:46
3Chamber of Horrors06:40
4Birdman of Alcatraz04:12
5The Breathalyser03:51
6Judas Iscariot12:15
Artist Name Instrument Track (where known)
Rick WakemanKeyboardsAll
Alan WhiteDrums1/2/3
Ars Laeta of LausanneChoir6
Bill OddieVocals5
Chris SquireBass1/2/3
Frank RiccottiPercussion1/2/3/5
Type Cat No. Label Country Other Title
Vinyl LPAMLK 64660A&MUK
Vinyl LPSP4660A&MUSA
Vinyl LP394 660-1A&MGermany
CD MiniUICY-9301A&MJapan
Equipment Studio Engineering
  • Steinway 9' Grand Piano
  • Mini-Moog Synthesizer
  • Poly-Moog Synthesizer
  • Hammond C3 Organ
  • Birotron
  • Mander Pipe Organ
  • RMI Computer Keyboard
  • Harpsichord
  • Fender Rhodes 88 Electric Piano
  • Hohner Clavinet
  • Baldwin Electric Harpsichord
  • Church Organ
  • Mountain Studios, Montreux, Switzerland during Apr/Jun 1977.
  • Choir recorded at Eglise De Planches, Montreux
  • John Timperley
  • Dave Richards (1/3)
Rick's Perspective
This was always a loosely based concept album that was recorded in Switzerland with Alan White on drums and Chris Squire on bass. The album never really turned out as I wanted it to except perhaps for the Judas Iscariot track. The drums and bass were recorded after the keyboards and they did such an excellent job that I wanted to redo some of the keyboards again and change a few things I'd played....but there were no tracks left and no money either.
Wakey's Verdict
A "nearly" album. It was intended to be another 6 Wives but for me it never quite made it. Perhaps it was a mistake to try for another such album. Some excellent all round performances though.
Little Known Trivia
The scream at the end of Chamber of Horrors was real. I went down to the local pub in Montreux and asked every girl in there to scream one by one. They all kindly obliged providing I bought them a drink of course!!! Finally this one particular very pretty girl virtually cleared the pub with her effort...and I never even touched her either!!! I said "You'll do" and dragged her off to the studio where she dutifully screamed once more and then went back to the pub. Postscript - I never saw her again, which was just as well as she would have been too noisy for me!!

Marianne Donnachie on 10th October 2005 [Other reviews]

How does one describe such a seminal piece of music history? This album has been my all time favourite for many years and for many reasons. The six pieces of musical composition has everything, from the humour of The Breathalyser to the primeval gut wrenching emotion of Judas Iscariot. I defy anyone with a soul to listen to Judas Iscariot and not be moved. The sheer power of the Church Organ and choral vocals make the hairs stand up on your neck. This piece leads one through the betrayal of Christ and to his ultimate crucifixion, portrayed by the popular hymn 'there is a green hill far away without a city wall'. It ends with the moving music depicting Judas Iscariots suicide and his obvious angst and regret. I simply cannot hear this piece and not be absorbed by it. I can only liken it to Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings. It has that sort of power to evoke feelings of longing, of understanding regret. Quite simply moving. Conversely The Breathalyser makes one smile. The car chase reminds me of the old keystone cops music and the choice of Bill Oddie for the vocals is pure genius! The Birdman of Alcatraz is a wonderful piece, Rick accurately has depicted birds in flight so well. Those who know the story will easily recognise the dichotomy of a prisoner and the freedom of birds in flight. Take my advice...listen to Chamber of Horrors in the dark and imagine yourself locked in there after dark, that girl's scream makes me jump every time! Don't analyse this album by genre or even in comparison with Rick's other albums. Just get it! It is simply a work of pure genius. Thanks so much Rick for the many happy hours I’ve had with this masterpiece.

Steve Russell on 20th August 2005 [Other reviews]

Amongst his best. Classic vintage Rick sound. Beautiful, largely instrumental compositions. On side one Chris Squire plays bass and the combination is fantastic. Recorded while they were recording 'Going for the One'. Very Yes. Wonderful raw analogue synth sound and arrangements. Great piano as well. A must for fans.

Niel D. Rodriguez on 28th April 2005 [Other reviews]

A very, very nice but humorous application of synth sounds turned into music.

Maurizio Trombetta on 8th August 2003 [Other reviews]

I have always found difficult to classify Rick's music. It's a melting pot of classical, progressive, jazz and other genres. This album is no exception. Rick shines above the rest and consolidates not for his technique or exuberant live playing, but for its composition. I don't have any musical instruction, but "coherent" is the word I can find to describe the album. How the music relates to each of the Criminal Record themes... Do yourself a big favour in life and rent Scorsese's Last temptation of Christ movie, and then go listening to Judas Iscariot once more (with a subwoofer). If you don't cry or feel any goosebumps, you are already dead!! Do the same with The Birdman of Alcatraz, I think it's Burt Lancaster playing Stroud. Great movie too.

Guillermo Vazquez Venegas on 21st April 2003 [Other reviews]

For me, this is the best Wakeman album ever. I first made contact with this one after I heard Six Wives, back in 1979. The style portrayed in Criminal Record overpasses what he accomplished before. It's incredible how can a man can display such hability and pureness on keyboards. Rick really becomes keyboards in this album. I've tried to find it again in Mexico, but it's been very difficult. Thank God, I have a good copy that one of my friends (a Wakeman fan also) gave me two years ago. From the beginning with Statue of Liberty to the end with the breath-taking Judas Iscariot, Rick portrays his true feelings and concepts about instrumental music. Long live Mr. Wakeman!!!

Elmar Spiegelberg on 2nd April 2003 [Other reviews]

Yes - It´s it. When You reflect what might be the best Album or piece of music you ever heard - you will of course make no decision. But there are some things that will come out every 5 years. So I wonder what´s been going on in his mind - the mind of the creator of f. e. Music Reincarnate. Variations on only that 5 Notes - ascending or descending - will hammer you a concept in your mind - I don´t know if Rick has had really this concept of consequent variation. But I think developing such a cycle of so different pieces of music, based on a little five-tune-theme, can be named almost classical. My Favorites: In 1978 I was surely first impressed by Judas Iscariot (Tr. 6) but soon I found the Birdman of Alcrataz (Tr. 4) - You can hear each single Bird out of one overdubbed Piano - just MUSIC HISTORY. But then you go into the Chamber of Horrors (Tr. 3) - for me one of the greatest and most dramatic pieses of music ever composed - very breathtakin, anytime you listen to it - imagine there is no vocal on it - But you can feel the story so real! But when you know the record intensively you´ll discover there is an Opener - Statue of Justice (Tr. 1). There will never be another Intro. The tunes get introduced - there´s a wake up - and then you an imagine what means the Word: to compose. (Wasn´t it the Year of Awaken Mr. Wake.man?) It´s a Composition. I´th ONE composition - the whole Album. Probably one of the best. Wish similar came out today !!

Note, published as received

Ron Grech on 27th August 2002 [Other reviews]

I heard this album for the first time today. I literally had tears in my eyes listening to Birdman of Alcatraz. What a wonderful collection of music. This album is as good, maybe even better than Six Wives of Henry VIII.

Tim Boudewijn van der Wart on 30th March 2002 [Other reviews]

If there were any academy-awards for best album Rick would win these for this album every year again! The first half of the album consists of three very beautiful, versatile and energetic pieces of perfect Wakeman keyboard art And the second part really knocks you off your socks every time you listen to it. Birdman of Alcatraz is probably his best pure piano composition, the Breathalyser is a fast and striking keyboard piece with a funny vocal ending, and Judas Iscariot is...it is so amazingly good that it can make you cry over and over again. This album is unquestionably a top three album if not number one in the Wakeman album charts!

John Chivers on 16th January 2002 [Other reviews]

This is the album that first got me in to Rick's music (and consequently Yes). Recorded at the same time as Awaken (my favourite Yes track), this album is Rick's finest. I saw it once on CD (Japanese import), but didn't buy it immediately and it was gone when I went back! Finally found it on vinyl. Judas Iscariot is simply wonderful - the sheer power of the church organ, together with the choir is awesome and beautiful. I'd like to see Rick do more albums like this. Note its place in the favourite albums poll, despite how rare it is.

T Jordan on 12th January 2002 [Other reviews]

On this album you'll hear piano,synthesizer and church organ. Judas Iscariot without doubt is the best track with all the above instruments and that amazing church choir. Time may pass but everytime I play this track it is guaranteed to give me goose bumps. I remember hearing Rick playing the church organ when I first heard Awaken and Parallels on the Yes album Going For The One. If you can find this album,BUY IT!

Matias Mendez Lopez on 18th September 2001 [Other reviews]

The best Rick Wakeman album I've ever heard. I think it has some of the most beautyful piano pieces and arrangements. I love "Birdman of Alcatraz". Just a MASTERPIECE.

Nic Neufeld on 12th October 2000 [Other reviews]

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.

Max Hult on 29th February 2000 [Other reviews]

I was really lucky to find this vinyl in perfect condition, with a promo stamp on it, for a low cost... this is a really entertaining album, with many great tracks... this album seems to be underestimated, as almost no tracks appear on any "greatest" record... Voyage contains "Judas Iscariot", though, which I think is the highlight of this Criminal Record... Rick's accompanying piano playing through the album is truly great, but this album contains a few weaker points too...

Bjorn Olaf Syvertsen on 4th December 1997 [Other reviews]

This record is truely great. "Judas Iscariot" is my favourite Rick Wakeman recording ever (admittedly I've not heard them all - who has?). That track alone is more than reason enough to buy this record. And the rest of the album is good as well, particularly "Statue of Justice", "Chamber of Horrors" and "Birdman of Alcatraz". Need I say more?

Jon Leaffe on 8th November 1997 [Other reviews]

Perhaps the finest fusion of Rick's talents as a performer, composer and arranger. All the classical, rock and electronic techniques coming together for a focused, dynamic, exhilirating experience. Even though the work deals with some of mankind's most evil personalities, it never falls into mere shock or morbidness. For me, the most moving is the mini-epic: Judas Iscariot, surely the most reviled and perhaps misunderstood man in history. Rick gives this tragedy one of his most intense treatments, on one hand grandiose and on the other a feeling for the true torment that Judas must have felt (the worst thing about committing a crime is being aware of it). If you are new to the works of Mr. Wakeman, this is an excellent introduction!

Fernando Larrea on 1st November 1997 [Other reviews]

Probably the best Rick Wakeman's album. A perfect balance between rock and classical, acoustic and electronic, rocky and intimate music. The melodies are wonderful, with a great collaboration of harmonies, rythms and instrumentation. After several beautiful and vital songs, the jewel of the collection arrives: "Judas Iscariot" is a long piece of music, in which a church organ combines perfectly with piano and syntethizer, and with a chorus. Emotionally powerful, profound and evocative, this piece is one of the major musical points of reference in Rick's career.

Tom Brenny on 24th September 1997 [Other reviews]

An album that has everything; the power of the church organ of 'Judas' (great for haunted houses), poignancy of the overdubbed pianos on 'Birdman...', humour of 'Breathalizer', and heavy electronics of side 1. Great production, performances, and the most melodic bass line I've ever heard (Chamber of Horrors). Great album!

Mats Landstrom on 22nd September 1997 [Other reviews]

Wonderful. Backed by Alan White and Chris Squire who were at their peak then, the first side is a feast for keyboard fans. Maybe not as hot as the first album, but the sound is bigger. As for "Judas Iscariot", well the only thing I can say is that that song, including Rick's best church organ work ever, as well as a big choir, gives me everything I want in music. Power, beauty, emotion!

Levente Toth on 21st April 1997 [Other reviews]

A stunning, mainly instrumental album - baroque influences, dynamic keyboard lines, imaginative arrangements, wide symphonic passages. The last track takes the listener into a different sound universe- it is a dramatic, yet uplifting choral piece, where the tone of the music, the exquisite textures succeed to portray the controversial figure of Judas Iscariot.