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Rick Wakeman

G’olé Soundtrack

Review by Gary Hill

Originally recorded and released for a documentary film on the 1982 World Cup, this has been out of print for years and is seen here in its first ever release on CD. I’d have to say that this one is considerably stronger than the Burning soundtrack – also just now reissued – and has a lot wider ranging appeal. It seems to forge some central territory between Wakeman’s earlier solo albums (The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Journey to the Centre of the Earth and others) and the 1980’s somewhat lighter fare (Rock and Roll Prophet, etc.). While I’m not blown away by everything here, I’m also not vehemently opposed to any of the music, either. There are also plenty of songs that really shine. If you are a fan of Wakeman (we know who we are) you really must get this now that it’s available on CD.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
International Flag
A sprightly, fun sort of keyboard texture leads things off here. Other instruments are joined to create an upbeat, light rock band arrangement that’s trademark Rick Wakeman. After running through like this it drops to a mellower keyboard dominated sound. Then it’s intensified out into a slightly harder rocking motif. The cut alternates between the mellower, near keyboard solo sections and the rock band oriented portions to create a light and lively introduction to the disc.
The Dove (Opening Ceremony)
While in some ways this doesn’t differ much from the opener, it has a bit more of a “meaty” approach, feeling a little less light. The dramatic mid-section is a great touch and calls to mind such classic Wakeman albums as The Six Wives of Henry the VIII
Wayward Spirit
The piano sounds that start this off are evocative, intricate and beautiful. They serves as a great introduction to this mellower, rather ballad-like instrumental procession. Bells and other elements work their way across the surface to add drama. While this is not as energetic as the previous pieces, I’d say it’s a stronger number. The keyboard solo section later in the track brings in some more volume and speed, but this still remains fairly low key. I hear traces of Wakeman’s work in Yes in varying places here – and in fact that introductory section sort of reminds me of “Awaken.” The organ sounds later on also bring in that sort of a texture.
Latin Reel (Theme From G’olé)
Light and playful, this is fun, but not overly exciting. The percussion break is a nice touch, though.
Red Island
Starting with keyboards and Gregorian chant styled vocals, this track feels all the more dramatic after the wispy light heartedness that made up the preceding number. Those vocals drive a lot of the track and the number has a powerful and theatric approach. It drops down to a section based on these vocals with just a bit of keyboards in the background. Then a new melody threatens to rise up, creating tension. Instead of transitioning to this more rock band oriented texture, though, the track shifts back to a more intensified version of the earlier themes. This is one of the strongest pieces of the disc.
Spanish Holiday
Wakeman’s keys are again quite playful here. This is not quite as light as some of the other material, but does include a couple fun breaks and changes. While this isn’t as obvious choice as a standout on the disc, with repeated and closer listenings it will grow near and dear to your heart. Wakeman has some killer keyboard work here.
No Possible
If you can picture a song cowritten by Elton John and Rick Wakeman you’ll get a grasp on what the keyboards that open this feel like. That’s not such a stretch as Wakeman did appear on an Elton John disc. It doesn’t stay there long, though, instead twisting out into a fast paced fun rock and roll excursion. This is just a steadily shifting sea of music variations, though, capturing a number of potent themes and sounds – with Wakeman shining throughout. While this is a bit odd, it’s also probably my favorite track here.
Shadows
The keyboard sounds that start the proceedings here are quite dramatic and evocative. The tune shifts into more playful ground later, but then cuts into some extremely powerful music further still down the road. The pounding segment that takes over later is potent, although it doesn’t remain long. Instead it gives way to a new jam in which hints of that texture continue to reemerge.
Black Pearls
This starts in dramatic ways, but quickly shifts to piano to carry forward. Essentially a keyboard solo, this is gentle and pretty and features a lot of varying voices provided by Wakeman’s fingers and black and white keys. I’d have to put this one amongst my favorite tracks. It has some of the Caped Crusader’s most emotional playing.
Frustration
This has a rather mysterious texture to it. With waves of sound effects competing with the drama of the keyboard melodies and rhythmic structures this is really space rock and wouldn’t be out of place on a Hawkwind album.
Spanish Mortgage
Starting with baroque sounds thanks to harpsichord and acoustic guitar, this builds into a great ballad-like tune based on those two instruments. It has neo-classical leanings and is a lot of fun.
G’olé
Rick Wakeman takes on bouncy salsa music to end the set. While this is fun and kind of intriguing – the fast paced extended dynamic (ever changing) midsection in particular, I’m not sure I would have used it to close the disc. The thing is, between Wakeman and myself, which one is the god of keyboards – one hint, it’s not me. So, he must know what he’s doing.
 
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