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Rick Wakeman

Rhapsodies

Review by G. W. Hill
As you might guess from the layout in the track by track, I've done this retro review from the vinyl version of this album. This Wakeman album is perhaps not his most proggy one. Still, there is enough here to consider it a prog rock set. The third side of the vinyl is most traditional Wakeman sounding stuff here. Most of the rest has a more modern edge to it. This isn't my favorite from Wakeman, but it's still worthwhile for sure.
Track by Track Review
Side One

                   
Pedra da Gavea

The base of this makes me think of "Willie and the Hand Jive." There are vocals here that seem to be run through a vocoder. This is bouncy and fun. It's perhaps not prog rock, but it's entertaining.

Front Line
The backdrop on this leans toward disco at times. The shifts and changes and soloing, though, are trademark Wakeman.
Bombay Duck
Bouncy and fun, this is cool stuff, too.
Animal Showdown (Yes We Have No Bananas)
This rendition of the old tune is fun and has some definite Wakeman textures.
Big Ben
There is some serious funk built into the bass line of this. The whole cut just rocks out with great energy and "oomph." This is one of the strongest pieces of the whole set as far as I'm concerned. This gets into some of the most decidedly prog rock stuff of the disc, too.
Side Two
                   

Rhapsody in Blue

George Gershwin gets a great Rick Wakman treatment here. This does the piece justice while modernizing it. I really love this piece. 

Wooly Willy Tango

I love this bouncy little number. It's so much fun, really.

The Pulse
I love the energy and fire of this thing. It's a killer cut that's trademark Wakeman in so many ways. Sure, there is an 80s element to it, but still.
Swan Lager
Here Wakeman takes some Tchaikovsky and merges it with Grieg to create something original and unique. This is energetic, bouncy, and most of all, a lot of fun. Who says classical music can't be fun? Technically, I suppose this is more symphonic prog, but it is quite classically based, really.
Side Three
                 

March of the Gladiators

This is perhaps the most trademark Wakeman piece here. It's a powerhouse cut that feels like it could have come from his 1970s period. It's fast paced and very prog-like.

Flacons de Neige
Here is another that feels a lot like older Wakeman. It's mellower and quite pretty. This works through some changes getting into some world music and gaining energy later.
The Flasher
This is another fast paced cut. It's another that's more like the older material from Wakeman. It's classy stuff for sure.
The Palais
Piano leads this out. The cut builds on that basis as it moves forward. There is a definite old school vibe to this.
Side Four
             

Stand-By

This is energized and effective. It has a great balance between the more rocking movement and mellower one.

Sea Horses
A slower track, this is trademark Wakeman in terms of the keyboard sounds. The rhythm section brings almost a fusion element to the table.
Half Holiday
Playful and energetic in nature, this is a fun little piece. It feels like something from Copland in a lot of ways. There is definitely a healthy helping of jazz built into this.
Summertime
The piece is very classical in nature. It's also quite cool.

 

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