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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Rick Wakeman

White Rock

Review by Gary Hill

This album was composed for the 1976 winter Olympics. The music is essentially instrumental, but there are chorale vocals in places. It's pretty standard Wakeman in that it combines classical, rock and electronic music to create something dramatic. This might not be Wakeman's best solo album, but it is quite strong. There was a second set released as "White Rock II," and I've previously reviewed that. This review was written from the original LP of the album.
This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 1 at
Track by Track Review
White Rock

The keyboards start this thing off in a mellow fashion that hints at more magic to come. From there this thing works out into some really rocking sounds. It's a powerhouse tune based on keys and drums. It's energized and a great opener.

Searching for Gold
Here we get a mellower piece of music. This one starts quite sedate, but gets a bit more powered up as it moves forward. Wakeman's synth seems to almost cry above the backdrop at times. Or perhaps it's a searchlight in the sky. There are some chorale vocals in this one, too.
The Loser
There are chorale vocals at the heart of a lot of this piece. In fact, they actually take completely control for a time. This is much more classical in nature in a lot of ways. It's a bit less straightforward than some of the rest here. It has some solid moments, but doesn't work as well for me as the two previous cuts did.
The Shoot
More synthesizer based, this is more of a rocking tune. It's pretty much trademark Wakeman in a lot of ways. There is a mellower movement at the end.
While percussion starts this, the really freaky stuff happens when the keys join. Echoey pitch bent lines make up the musical concept. The percussion and weird keyboards in the next section lend an almost otherworldly vibe to it. Then more standard keyboard driven music brings it back to Earth as the piece continues. The percussive elements return after that movement and then an almost classical sound ensues. A noisy line of sound pierces that. Then we move out to some cool piano from there. Organ takes over after that and creates some intriguing melodies. This piece just keeps reinventing itself, though as it works out to some trippy stuff from there. A pretty segment takes it at the end.
After the Ball
The story is that Wakeman completely forgot about promising to write this song for the movie. When asked, though, he said he had it for them and improvised this number. It's quite a pretty piece of music, whether that's true or not. It's also trademark Wakeman piano and synth work.
Montezuma's Revenge
Old world sounds are the idea behind this piece. In fact, it's a traditional tune in modern arrangement. It's bouncy and a lot of fun. I love the synthesizer stuff later in the track. It's a real powerhouse.
Ice Run
Synths bring this in with a lot of style. The cut grows from there in nearly trademark Wakeman style. As this evolves there are some bits of The Six Wives of Henry the VIII that emerge. The rocking section is just so cool.
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