Wakeman, Rick - Retro

Year of Release: 2006
Label: President Records
Catalog Number: RWCD 38
Format: CD
Total Time: 69:01:00

I guess that the majority of music lovers that have been in touch with Rick Wakeman's music since his debut album The Six Wives of Henry VIII still rates this album as his very best. In fact, the first six Wakeman solo albums are rated amongst the top seven of his entire output by members of his fanclub. Everyone will have a different reason, yet fact is that from the 57 million albums sold worldwide, the majority were from those six titles. One main difference has to be the use of vintage keyboards as opposed to the more reliable yet synthetic sounding keyboards as used in the latter period of his career. Everyone who knows the slightest bit about Moog synthesizers and Mellotrons knows how difficult to handle these instruments were. In fact even during one single performance, Rick had to constantly tune his synths so that they wouldn't sound out of tune. Yet regardless of these problems and even if we are able to use a multitude of great sounding samples, nothing really beats the sound of those vintage analogue keyboards.

The idea for this album began when Rick moved all of his gear from the Isle of Man back to England. Each time a flightcase opened another museum piece would come out of the closet, an instrument his much younger co-producer Erik Jordan had never ever seen before. "These instruments probably were around when I wasn't even born," he used to joke. To take things even further he suggested to Rick to record an entire album using both the instruments as well as the technique used ? before he was born! So out went midi and sequencing and in stepped an unlimited amount of vintage keyboards together with real drums, bass and guitars. To nevertheless make things different Rick made sure Retro wasn't an all instrumental album, as was Six Wives so in stepped his trusty vocalist Ashley Holt, surprisingly joined in the vocal department by Rick's daughter Jemma.

Rick once told me every single album contains the atmosphere and spirit of that particular time. When Yes recorded Close To The Edge, it was the music that was hatching in the minds of the Yes members at that particular time. Maybe it would have been impossible for them at that time to come up with Going For The One, whilst there simply is no point to repeat yourself. It's like a painter who paints just the one painting and goes on to develop his style in other paintings. There's no point to keep on copying the same image. In that respect we simply could not expect Retro to sound like Six Wives Part Two although Rick in his own right could already fill one side of Six Wives Of Rick Wakeman. Instead this album to me sounds more like kind of a revamped Rhapsodies rather than the more complex all instrumental nature of Rick's debut album. On Retro the same drummer is used, the same bass player and guitarist. On Six Wives?, various drummers, bass players and guitarists were used, all delivering their unique way of playing best suited for each song. Finally there's the constant development of the composer himself making sure the end result is different. One thing that hasn't changed though is the incredible speed on the ivories as well as the unique nature of Rick's playing. "Can You Smell Burning" is probably the closest you'll get to the early days, although Tony's drumming sounds more compact, tighter and less experimental than the likes of Bill Bruford or Alan White.

Right at the very start of this album, the sounds of oscillators and modulators takes us right back to the seventies, to the experimental nature of those, then brand new, electronic instruments that would change the face of music forever. "Just Another Day" perfectly uses Mellotron as well blending in nicely with the synths. The feel of the song together with its arrangement contains some of the Return To The Centre Of The Earth splendour, adding nice Mellotron (what else?) choir sections to the whole. With "Mr. Lonely" a funny little tune is delivered including "treated" vocals by Ashley and backings by Jemma. I wonder to what extent the title is autobiographical, Rick? Once again, great synth sounds and a little more aggressive than usual. "One In The Eye" I like a lot because it has such a lively, quirky atmosphere, whilst the mellotron in the background adds nice Moody Blues-like patches to the whole. With "Men In Suits" Rick delivers one of his strongest melodies on Mellotron in years. "Leave The Blindfold" is a little na?ve ditty in which Jemma holds the reins even allowing Rick to ? whistle. In the all instrumental "Waveform," Rick explores more possibilities of the unique Moog, which will most certainly please a lot of fans. Again the combination of synths and Mellotron is the foundation on top of which "Retrospective" is built. I also note the not so easy to sing lines by Ashley here.

During the recording of this album Robert Moog sadly died of cancer, leaving behind a legacy which can't be rivalled by anyone. The effect the Moog synthesizer has on the music industry is unheard of making Moog an immortal institute. So instead of the planned nine tracks Rick wrote the extra track "Homage To The Doctor" in memory of the great inventor Dr. Bob Moog. Again it's the kind of tune that would have fitted perfectly on Rhapsodies, as it has that playful nature I associate with said album. Maybe it's the "near to disco" rhythm by Tony which gives it this flavour? It's energetic and fun throughout. "Can You Smell Burning" to me is the 21st century "Catherine Parr" with very fast sprints on the organ and is probably my favourite track on the album, ending in an almost Yes-like fashion. For the final track "The Stalker," again I don't know to what extent this is autobiographical material. Here Rick uses the flute sound from the mighty Mellotron which sheds yet another light on the music. From the opening lines of Ashley, it becomes clear that this is the type of song which Ramon Remedios could cover easily.

I have been friends with Rick for nearly thirty years now and am very pleased to hear he's found the ideal combination of "new and old" in creating "new" compositions with "old" approach. The quality is to be found in every single new song and all I can hope for now is that Rick continues to use this instrumentation also in the future, maybe in combination with modern instruments, at least where studio recording is concerned. Don't lock up these little babies, Rick, as they are part of who you are yourself, of the Rick Wakeman we all love so dearly! Maybe this retrogressive album can bring healthy sales with retrospective effect?

For the keyboard players amongst you here's what's used on Retro: Hammond M102, Leslie cabinet, Korg Mono/Poly, Moog Polymoog, Squential Circuits Prophet 5, Korg electric piano ES50, RMI Electra piano, Mellotron M400, Korg Trident, Mini Moog, Korg vocoder, Moog Taurus pedals, Moog Taurus pedals II, Korg Sigma, Cry Baby wah wah pedal.

Just Another Day (11:14) / Mr. Lonely (3:47) / One In The Eye (5:32) / Men In Suits (8:05) / Leave The Blindfold (3:02) / Waveform (6:01) / Retrospective (6:35) / Homage To The Doctor (9:04) / Can You Smell Burning (6:30) / The Stalker (8:45)

Rick Wakeman - authentic vintage keyboards
Tony Fernandez - drums, percussion
Dave Colquhoun - acoustic and electric guitars
Lee Pomeroy - bass
Ashley Holt - vocals
Jemma Wakeman - vocals, background vocals

Piano Vibrations (1971)
The Six Wives Of Henry VIII (1973)
Journey To The Centre Of The Earth (1974)
Lisztomania (1975)
The Myths & Legends Of King Arthur & The Knights Of The Round Table (1975)
No Earthly Connection (1976)
Rick Wakeman's Criminal Record (1977)
White Rock (1977)
Animal Showdown (1979)
Rhapsodies (1979)
I'm So Straight I'm A Weirdo (1980)
1984 (1981)
The Burning (OST) (1981)
Rock N Roll Prophet (1982)
Cost Of Living (1983)
G'ole! (1983)
Crimes Of Passion (OST) (1984)
Live At Hammersmith (1985)
Lytton's Diary (1985)
Silent Nights (1985)
Country Airs (1986)
The Family Album (1987)
The Gospels (1987)
20th Anniversary Limited Edition (1988)
A Suite Of Gods (1988)
Custer's Last Stand/Ocean City (1988)
Time Machine (1988)
Zodiaque (1988)
Black Knights At The Court Of Ferdinand IV (1989)
Sea Airs (1989)
Phantom Power (1990)
In The Beginning (1990)
Night Airs (1990)
Phantom Power (1990)
2000AD Into The Future (1991)
African Bach (1991)
Aspirant Sunrise (1991)
Aspirant Sunset (1991)
Aspirant Sunshadows (1991)
Rock N Roll Prophet Plus (1991)
Softsword (1991)
The Classical Connection (1991)
Best Works Collection (1992)
Country Airs (1992)
Classic Tracks (1993)
No Expense Spared (1993)
Prayers (1993)
The Classical Connection 2 (1993)
The Heritage Suite (1993)
Unleashing The Tethered One - The 1974 North American Tour (1993)
Wakeman With Wakeman (1993)
Light Up The Sky (1994)
Live On The Test (1994)
Lure Of The Wild (1994)
Rick Wakeman's Greatest Hits (1994)
The Stage Collection (1994)
Wakeman With Wakeman - The Official Bootleg (1994)
Wakeman With Wakeman Live (1994)
Almost Live In Europe (1995)
Cirque Surreal (1995)
Rick Wakeman In Concert (1995)
Rock & Pop Legends (1995)
Romance Of The Victorian Age (1995)
The Piano Album (1995)
The Private Collection (1995)
The Seven Wonders Of The World (1995)
Visions (1995)
Can You Hear Me? (1996)
Fields Of Green (1996)
Orisons (1996)
Tapestries (1996)
The New Gospels (1996)
The Word And Music (1996)
Vignettes (1996)
Voyage (1996)
Welcome A Star (1996)
Fields Of Green '97 (1997)
Simply Acoustic - The Music (1997)
Tribute (1997)
Master Series (1998)
Themes (1998)
Official Live Bootleg (1999)
Return To The Centre Of The Earth (1999)
Stella Bianca Alla Corte De Re Ferdinando (1999)
The Masters (1999)
The Natural World Trilogy (1999)
White Rock II (1999)
Christmas Variations (2000)
Chronicles Of Man (2000)
Morning Has Broken (2000)
Preludes To A Century (2000)
Recollections - The Very Best Of Rick Wakeman (2000)
Rick Wakeman The Legend Live In Concert 2000 (2000)
The Caped Collection (2000)
Classical Variations (2001/2002)
Simply Acoustic (2001)
Out Of The Blue (2001)
Two Sides Of Yes (2001/2002)
Treasure Chest Volume 1 - The Real Lizstomania (2002)
Treasure Chest Volume 2 - The Oscar Concert (2002)
Treasure Chest Volume 3 - The Missing Half (2002)
Treasure Chest Volume 4 - Almost Classical (2002)
Treasure Chest Volume 5 - The Mixture (2002)
Treasure Chest Volume 6 - Medium Rare (2002)
Treasure Chest Volume 7 - Journey To The Centre Of The Earth (2002)
Treasure Chest Volume 8 - Stories (2002)
Two Sides Of Yes - Volume II (2002)
Wakeman & Cousins -Hummingbird (2002)
Out There (2003)
Retro (2006)
Retro 2 (2007)
The Six Wives Of Henry VIII Live At Hampton Court Palace (2009)
Always With You (2010)
Past, Present, and Future (2010)
Anderson/Wakeman - The Living Tree (2010)
In The Nick Of Time-Live In 2003 (2012)

Journey To The Center Of The Earth Live In 1975 (2001/2002) (DVD)
Rick Wakeman The Legend Live In Concert 2000 (DVD) (2001/2002)
Rick Wakeman & The English Rock Ensemble - Live In Buenos Aires (DVD) (2001/2002)
Rick Wakeman & The English Rock Ensemble - Out There (DVD) (2004)
Journey To The Centre Of The Earth Live In 1975 - 30th Anniversary Edition (DVD) (2005)
Made In Cuba (DVD) (2005)
Amazing Grace (DVD) (2007)
The Other Side Of Rick Wakeman (DVD) (2007)
Video Vault Volume 1 - 1975 Live At Empire Pool, King Arthur On Ice (DVD) (2007)
Video Vault Volume 2 - Live At The Maltings 1976 (DVD) (2007)
Video Vault Volume 3 - Live 1980 Swedish Television Special (DVD) (2007)
Video Vault Volume 4 - 1984 Live At The Hammersmith Odeon 1981 (DVD) (2007)
Video Vault Volume 5 - Night Music (DVD) (2007)
Video Vault Volume 6 - Rarities Plus Interview (DVD) (2007)
The Six Wives Of Henry VIII Live At Hampton Court Palace (DVD/BR) (2009)
Classical Wakeman Volume 1 - Live In Lugano (2010)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: April 9th 2006
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website: www.rwcc.com
Hits: 913
Language: english


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