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Nolan & Wakeman

Clive Nolan and Oliver Wakeman - Dark Fables

Review by Gary Hill

This is a new release as a single disc. I previously reviewed it as the third disc of a Nolan and Wakeman box set. That brings up a point. This is listed under the right name "Clive Nolan and Oliver Wakeman" in the print edition of this issue. For the online version, though, since the other one was credited as "Nolan and Wakeman," that's how this one is listed. For the sake of consistency the track by track reviews here are copied from that earlier review.

This disc consists of a number of songs that were recorded for other projects, but never previously released. Some were extra tracks from two other albums. Some were songs recorded for a "Frankenstein" concept album that was never finished. All of this is quite good with an often theatrical vibe, but a real symphonic prog bedrock beneath it. There are a number of guests on this set. The most notable for Yes fans is Oliver's father Rick Wakeman who provides the spoken recitation on the closing piece.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 1. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
The Overture
Majestic sounds and killer symphonic keyboard textures are on hand for this cut. I really love the synthesizer work mid-track in particular. The tune drives out from there into a more powered up progressive rock jam. That said, the keyboards are still dominant.
I'd Give You Everything
A piano based arrangement starts this. The vocals come over the top of this as a balladic sort of concept. There is a theatrical element to it. There are some duet vocals on this, and the cut continues building as it works forward. It really explodes out into dramatic symphonic prog for a while.
The Mirror
I love the passion and melody of the piano that opens this track. The vocals come in over the top of that backdrop. This becomes a potent prog rock piece.
Elizabeth
This one begins with a piano solo. Synthesizer rises up after a short time, and the piece continues to evolve. This instrumental is a beautiful keyboard solo.
Why Do You Hate Me?
Distorted, processed percussion starts this track. Vocals come in over the top of it with a swinging groove. Eventually it blasts out to dramatic hard rocking prog, but it drops back to the strictly percussion arrangement. We get a much more developed and involved arrangement further down the road. I love the particularly expressive guitar solo.
The Wedding Approaches
Again, this begins with a keyboard arrangement. The piece has a pretty and rather old-fashioned arrangement. This piece is beautiful and quite classical in nature. There is a real operatic quality to it.
Time Passes
This is another symphonic piece of music as it gets underway. It explodes outward into smoking hot symphonic prog from there. This is a screaming hot tune. As the vocals join, the piece turns to more of a hard-rocking AOR prog sound. It's driving and powerful.
A Descent into Madness
A powerhouse keyboard solo brings this tune into being. It's driving and potent. Then it drops to delicate mellower sounds based around piano. The exploration continues from there with intriguing old-school music playing its part. As a keyboard solo explodes this definitely feels like something that would fit in Rick Wakeman's solo catalog. This becomes quite a potent stomper from there, but with all the focus on keyboards. I love this instrumental.
221B
There is a playful vibe to this up-tempo number. The sound on it feels a little less polished, but the track has some great music that more than makes up for it. There is a jazzy angle to this thing.
The Man Called Sherlock
There is a lot of drama and style built into the keyboard heavy introduction here. The track moves out from there with a more symphonic take before working to more music that would fit in Rick Wakeman's solo catalog. After the extended introduction piano takes control, serving as the backdrop for the vocals. The piece grows outward as a soaring, but still rather mellow and soaring arrangement as it continues. After the vocals are finished this powers into a hard rocking and driving prog jam that is quite tasty. That eventually evolves to take the track to its close.
The Baker Street Irregulars

Piano starts this track. It grows out from to a playful and energetic keyboard based arrangement led largely by the piano. The cut works forward in that format for a while before shifting to more serious feeling and more fully filled out progressive rock. The synthesizer solo section later again calls to mind the solo work of Rick Wakeman. This instrumental is quite tasty.

The Jabberwocky
This recitation by Rick Wakeman has only the sound of a crackling fire as its backdrop.

 

 
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