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Rick Wakeman

Romance of the Victorian Age

Review by Gary Hill

This might not be one of the better known Wakeman solo releases, but it’s actually one of the strongest. The music here tends towards the mellow end, but it’s also quite pretty and often times powerful. I really like this one a lot and would highly recommend it to all fans of Rick Wakeman and prog fans in general.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Burlington Arcade
This is a catchy and fast paced little dittie. It’s a lot of fun. It almost feels jazzy at times, but yet the sounds that it seems connected to predate jazz. Still, I could see flappers dancing to this. We get some great keyboard stylings that are easily identifiable as Rick Wakeman – yet this is far from bombastic. It’s a great tune and an excellent way to lead things off in style.
If Only
A beautiful and moving piano solo this is in contrast to the previous cut and yet works very well with it. It’s sort of a yin and yang feeling. There are some other keyboard elements at time, but really the piano rules the world of this song.
The Last Teardrop
In many ways this doesn’t differ a lot from the previous cut, but it is perhaps a bit more classical in nature and more melancholy.
Still Dreaming
This is even mellower than the number that came before it. That said, it’s also even prettier. I’d have to peg this as one of my favorite pieces on show here. It’s also one of the most delicate. 
Memories of the Victorian Age
Another that’s based mostly on piano but gets more powered up keyboards for effect later, this is pretty. It reminds me at times of some of the solo stuff Wakeman does during Yes concerts.  There is a definite sadness to much of this piece – along with a definite classical music element. 
Lost in Words
The format isn’t changed much here, but this one just doesn’t seem as strong as some of the others on show.
A Tale of Love
I detect an almost Russian element to this and it’s definitely a step back in the right direction. It feels dramatic and powerful. 
Mysteries Unfold
This is another of the highlights of the disc. It’s pretty and suitably mysterious in nature. It’s closer to a rocking motif, but not really there. 
Forever in My Heart
A gentler and pretty piece of music this works well, but isn’t really a huge standout. 
Days of Wonder
Although this is still quiet and quite pretty in nature there’s a bit more drama and, dare I say it, wonder involved. It’s another strong piece of music. 
The Swans
Here we have one of the most delicate cuts on show and for some reason I keep thinking I’m about to hear someone sing, “Send in the clowns” in the early portion of this. It takes on a much more classical structure later in the cut.
Another Mellow Day
Well, with a title like that you didn’t expect a rocker did you? This is piano based and while gentle has some serious energy to it.
Dance of the Elves
If “Memories of the Victorian Age” called to mind Wakeman’s solos in Yes, this one is even more so. It really reminds me a lot of some of the excerpts from Six Wives of Henry the VIII. This is quite a cool piece of music and one of the more rocking pieces. It’s also a highlight of the disc and a great way to end it in style.
 
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