Artists | Issues | CD Reviews | Interviews | Concert Reviews | DVD/Video Reviews | Book Reviews | Who We Are | Staff | Home

Rick Wakeman

Cost of Living

Review by Gary Hill

This is an uneven, but interesting solo album from Rick Wakeman. I think there are at least a couple throwaway songs here, but there are some that work so well. The closer (with poetry recitation by actor Robert Powell) is the brightest spot here for me. Hereward Kaye's vocal are often too campy and theatrical for my tastes, but they do manage to work at times. Wakeman himself was less than fully satisfied with the release, calling it an "almost album." This is certainly not his weakest disc, but it's not his best either. The thing is, every Wakeman album I've ever heard has its merits. 

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2023  Volume 1. More information and purchase links can be found at:

Track by Track Review
Classical piano starts things as this instrumental gets the album going. Wakeman's soloing takes on his trademarks as he continues. Then the tape seems to slow and we're brought into a different piece from there. It's still quite classical in nature. There is another tape-bend effect at the end.
Killer synthesizer sounds are on display as this gets going. The vocals are rather punky. The tune is a killer rocker with such a great groove. This has some intriguing twists and turns. There are some unusual short drop backs to just piano.
Gone But Not Forgotten
A beautiful and evocative piano solo as it gets underway, drums join after a time. Other keyboards are added to the arrangement as it all fills out.  This instrumental has some lush moments and some trademark Wakeman music.
One For The Road
This has a bouncy kind of groove to it. It feels playful and musical-theater-like. I'm not as enthused about this number as I am some of the others, but it has its charms. It turns heavy for a brief section later. Then the song twists into something a bit meaner from that point. We're taken through a number of changes along the road.
Bedtime Stories
Piano is heard as this starts, but it stops quickly. Then after a child asking for a story we get more piano to get this properly underway. This is a delicate, but still not quite balladic piece. It gets some children singing non-lyrically added to the mix at a couple points later. This song is not bad, not really my kind of thing.
Happening Man
Synthesizer based rocking modes start the second side of the record. This is a high energy tune. The vocals remind me a little of some of Pink Floyd's The Wall album. They take this through some intriguing changes. Overall it's is an energetic rocker that definitely has its charms. Some of the Wakeman's keyboard work really shines, particularly on a break. The tune shifts as if it's going to move into something else, but instead fades out. That is kind of a shame because I find myself really getting into that new section.
Shakespeare Run
This instrumental piece has some killer keyboard work in a bouncy, playful, old-fashioned arrangement that then turns toward more dramatic territory. Some cool synthesizer dances over the top as the number turns more playful again. Then it twists into some more prog changes from there. This is among the most dynamic and interesting tracks of the whole album. Wakeman really gets to show off on the number, too.
Monkey Nuts
More drama is heard as this piece gets going. We get some killer keyboard oriented prog rock as it continues. I have to admit that I'm not a fan of the overly theatrical vocal performance, but the instrumental arrangement is great, merging classical vibes, rock concepts and some smoking hot keyboard work into something that manages to make all those things feel like they belong together.
Elegy - Written in a Country Churchyard
The spoken recitation on that track makes me think of The Moody Blues to some degree. The musical arrangement that serves as the backdrop is based on a more purely keyboard concept at first, but turns toward more of a rocking arrangement as it continues. It drops back down later for a time, but then drives back up to more of a band arrangement further down the road. That sort of rising up and dropping back concept to the music is a constant on this piece. This song, as unusual as it is, works so well. It's another highlight of the disc. This might be worth the price of admission all by itself. It's dramatic and powerful. It's also a more epic piece, running nearly eight-and-a-half minutes.
Return to the
Rick Wakeman Artist Page
Artists Directory

   Creative Commons License
   This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

    © 2024 Music Street Journal                                                                           Site design and programming by Studio Fyra, Inc./