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Rick Wakeman

Time Machine

Review by Gary Hill

This was a 1988 release from Rick Wakeman. It features multiple vocalists. The sound here is often marked by some rather dated sounding 80s tonal choices. This is not Wakeman's best solo work, but it has some great moments, and is well-worth the time.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 5. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
Custer's Last Stand
Electronic sounds bring this into being. The cut begins to rock out from there. As the keyboards join it becomes trademark Rick Wakeman music. The rocking vocals from Roy Wood work really well. This has a lot of energy and a classy groove to it. There are some classy twtsts and turns, too.
Ocean City
A mellower keyboard introduction is heard at the start of this. The cut works out from there with a somewhat restrained, but dramatic arrangement. There is a bit of an Alan Parsons vibe to this as it gets going. That said, there are some soaring high vocals that contrast with the main singing and bring almost an operatic meets Buggles vibe. Wakeman gets some understated soloing in on this thing. It's an unusual, but captivating, piece of music. There is a Yes-like build-up on an instrumental section later in the track.
Angel of Time
I love the intricate, harpsichord-type music that starts this. Then again, I'm a big fan of that instrument, so, of course, I do. The introduction works through with some killer keyboard playing. Then they shift to a very 80s sounding rhythm section. Wakeman's keys come over the top in style. Female vocals (Tracy Ackerman) are interesting touch. While this has some funky vibes, it also feels a bit like something Alan Parsons might do, but with that Wakeman flair to it. This CD version of the song is a little longer than the one on the vinyl LP.
Slaveman
The CD version of this is more than a minute-and-a-half longer than the edit on the vinyl record. This has a cool rocking groove to it. The vocals are of a more rocking variety. This feels like a merging of classic Wakeman and Alan Parsons. It's a cool rocker. I dig the scorching hot guitar solo on this thing. It has an almost metal sound to it. This has some killer keyboard work on it, too, but what else would you expect. It should be mentioned, that while this song is about being under the spell of romantic charms, in retrospect, the title is perhaps unfortunate.
Ice
I really love the fast paced prog jamming of this. Ackerman is back on the vocals here, and she delivers things in an intriguing way. This is really a powerhouse that's one of my favorite tracks on the disc. The dropped back instrumental movement with its funky bass work is so cool. The vocals come back in over the top of that  before the track explodes out for some killer keyboard work. The whole extended instrumental section is a progressive rock screamer that works so well.
Open Up Your Eyes
A nearly ten-minutes of music, this is not only the epic of the set, but it is the most extended track in comparison to the vinyl, being more than four minutes longer. A cool, almost jazzy groove with tasty keys starts this and holds it for quite a while. It's around the four-minute mark before that part ends, and the cut drops back to an 80s styled keyboard arrangement that serves as the backdrop for the vocals. This time Ackerman's singing feels somewhat soulful. The cut drives out to some harder rocking prog jamming after the vocals end. That instrumental movement gives way to a return to the vocal section. After that part of the track again does its thing, we get a cool Wakeman solo movement. The rhythm section is a bit too 80s sounding, but Wakeman's soloing and the bass that is at times funky both work well. That section eventually ends the track.
Elizabethan Rock
There is a playful, section that starts this. It is based heavily on synthesized vocals. This instrumental piece never wanders far from its origins. It's weird, but fun.
Make Me A Woman
This version of the song is a few seconds longer than the one on the record. It comes in feeling rather like mellow fusion with a real 80s edge to it. The vocals (Ashley Holt) come over the top of that arrangement. The cut begins to grow from there. This gets more powerful as it continues, and it has some really soulful vibes to it.
Rock Age
This one is about half-a-minute longer on the CD than on the record. Screaming hot rocking guitar starts the song. Eventually that gives way to a keyboard section. They turn to an energized rocking sound for the entrance of John Parr's vocals. He sounds a little like Phil Lynott at times here. This cut has plenty of rocking edges, but also quite a dated sound. It is not the proggiest thing here, but it does work pretty well. There is a cool twist to a bouncing kind of somewhat proggy jam later in the number. The song turns a bit funky beyond that for the return of the vocals. The vocals turn almost Glenn Hughes-like on that part of the piece. A mellower section comes in from there to end the album.

 

 
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