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Rick Wakeman

No Earthly Connection

Review by Gary Hill
This is a great album, no question about it. It's the classic example of how Rick Wakeman works with the combination of rock and symphonic music. There are a number of hard rocking sections that have catchy hooks. At the same time the music is complex and often challenging. It's packed with meat and substance. The first side of the record version contains the first four parts of a five part suite. I've written this review from the vinyl version of the album.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Music Reincarnate

This is an epic piece, weighing in at over 20 minutes in length (well, technically longer than that since the first track of side two is the fifth part of the piece, adding another seven and half minutes to it). It's divided into four parts on the first side of the album ("The Warning," "The Maker," "The Spaceman" and "The Realization."). Since I'm reviewing from the vinyl, it's hard to tell where each segment starts and ends, so I'll just review this as one piece. It comes in with a bit of dramatic keyboard sound. Then some chorale style vocals are heard. From there we're taken into more rocking stuff. After this extended introduction we're taken into the song proper. I love the multiple layers of vocals. This piece is complex, in many ways constructed like a classical piece with recurring themes and variants. Some of the rocking stuff is very complicated and powerful. There are hints of almost a funk or even disco feel at times. It has chorale vocals in segments, yet there are rock hook based movements, too. To my ears some of the less rocking movements get a bit too theatrical. The rock ones clearly more than make up for it. Other than distinctly different vocals, a lot of this could probably pass as Yes music, really.

Music Reincarnate (Continued) - Part V: The Reaper
This rises up and works forward in style. It moves in instrumental ways for a time, but then works out to a song based movement for the vocals. There is a weird sort of segment that emerges next. We can get some of samples of bits from the first side of the album that show up as sort of echoes of themselves. Literally, they are pre-digital sampling samples. I really love some of the keyboard bits that come over the top of an instrumental movement later. This is such a great merging of classical and rock music styles.
The Prisoner
This is probably my favorite tune of the whole album. I've always loved this piece, since the first time I heard it. It has some great hooks. The rocking music here is among the most compelling of the album. The instrumental breaks that take us toward symphonic are great, too. This is complex, but well enough rooted in the basic song structures to feel accessible.
The Lost Cycle
There is some killer prog at the start of this thing. It works out to a mellower kind of prog sound that has some almost folk basis to it. There are definitely classical elements at play on this, too. Some of the later instrumental segment here feels like it has some backward tracked music built into it. There is a nice piano solo bit beyond that movement.
 
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