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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Rick Wakeman

Out There

Review by Bruce Stringer

The first thing I noticed about this CD is the bizarre spaceship on the front red-coloured cover booklet, which looks like a weird marriage between V8 engine and mechanical fish with a protruding golf putter to add to its other-worldly imagery. Released through Classic Pictures (the company behind the recent music DVD EPs of classic TV performances of bands such as Yes, Deep Purple and the Who), Rick Wakeman's new album, Out There, is not a typical solo recording in the way that one might think. We are offered a palate of beautifully crafted songs, arranged with a progressive rock style grouping and some very haunting choir vocals. Out There doesn't contain Rick blazing around the keys taking over the sonic spectrum. Instead, he holds back playing within the context of a band setting allowing the songs to breathe.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2003 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Out There
Clocking in at a little over 13 minutes, the title track is an epic prog-rock track made up of 7 movements. After a brief intro, the band burst into a triplet feel fanfare with straight but off-time vocal passages by vocalist Damian Wilson (who has subsequently departed the group). At times reminiscent of groups like Magellan and much less like Yes, we are taken on a journey into Rick Wakeman's musical mind.
The Mission
The Mission is possibly the most radio-friendly number on the album and continues the lyrical theme of seeking the intangible which is the feeling obtained through the soul of music. Some very tasty guitar soloing takes us into the furthest reaches of our imagination before returning to one final verse and outro consisting of some moving organ and guitar interplay.
To Be With You
This dark and moody piece relies heavily on a simple, 'breathing' industrial drum loop and atmospheric keyboards allowing the listener to become drawn into this dark and seductive world. It is a haunting and very memorable track.
Universe of Sound
Now, with rocking, bluesy riffs more akin to a Deep Purple anthem than what one might expect from Mr Wakeman, Universe of Sound stands in stark contrast to To Be With You. I felt that the vocals were mixed a little loud for my ears, but of course this doesn't detract from my enjoyment of Daiman's performance. After 3 ½ minutes the song takes a sudden left turn before reprising the original rock feel and then Rick takes off, duelling with Ant Glynne on guitar. This is a great rocking number at a length of 7:45!
Music of Love
Music of Love is a pumping rock song, also, broken up with yet another beautiful chorus. The middle has a nice interplay between Rick's keys and the drums and then the bass. Rick's soloing really lets loose with a hinted return to a duel with Ant before leaping back into the chorus. The intro and outro give Wakeman the chance to play around with a kind of Celtic-inspired theme that sets a slightly different mood.
Cathedral of Sky
Beginning a little like the middle section of the amazing Yes piece, Awaken, Rick takes us further on his journey along the pews and toward the choir and onto the platform of the Cathedral of the Sky. A military-esque snare leads us on this cosmic trip resolving the enigma of our search for music… Or does it? Cryptically, the words offer more questions than answers, possibly proving that the analysis of music defies the intention of why it is. It is to be enjoyed as a spiritual uplift, assisting in our spiritual growth and giving us master-ship to go forward into the beyond with the self-control of mature beings. Some very nice drum fills stand out as counter to the smooth vocal passages of the choir, ending the album off in true progressive rock style!

 
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