Wakeman, Rick - Simply Acoustic

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Hope Records / Voiceprint
Catalog Number: HOPEVD101CD
Format: CD
Total Time: 77:53:00

Several years ago, long time Rick Wakeman friend and admirer Dan Wooding asked Rick if he could not help him out financing his ministry. Wooding being the journalist who gave Rick his very first interview ever and who also wrote his wonderful biography The Caped Crusader. Wooding left The Sunday People and England to live in America with his wife and two sons. In California he set up "The Assist Ministries" and in order to spread the good word asked Rick to step in and help out. That's where the idea to start Hope Records came about. With Rick's daughter Jemma creating the logo, Hope was destined for the Assist people first and not so much for the Wakeman fan, hence the fact that the albums were only available through Assist. This has now changed as Voiceprint has taken over the entire label, although some of the titles, if not all, are unavailable in the UK.

Simply Acoustic is a live album recorded at the Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California. With 8000 people showing up and only 3500 seats available, plus the fact that there wasn't a huge PA, as Rick would only perform on a grand piano that evening, meant the whole concert was also filmed and transmitted to an adjoining gymnasium. What you get here is a combination of Wakeman the classical pianist and Wakeman the entertainer, as in between songs he tells a lot of funny stories. In a way these stories are nice ? if you hear them for the very first time, but they tend to become a nuisance once you play this album for the upteenth time. What should be done with this kind of recording is to edit every single track. That way you could chose what you want to hear: all of the album, just the jokes or just the music [As they did for Return? -ed.].

I remember telling Rick it wouldn't be such a bad idea to release an album containing some of his best known sessions, thus including "Morning Has Broken" and "Space Oddity." To be honest, I was referring to the original Cat Stevens and David Bowie takes which Rick said would be impossible to do because of copyright reasons. However on this album he has managed to work his way around that problem by including instrumental versions of these classics. Whose a clever boy then? The first track on the album is a track called "A Glimpse Of Heaven" which was originally written by Dave Cousins of Strawbs fame. It is well known that the main reason for Rick joining the Strawbs in the first place was because the band had landed some dates in Paris. And, as Rick was about to get married (for the first time!), he thought a trip to Paris would be the ideal wedding present. It was during those dates that the band performed in a circus whilst the presenter was none other than Salvador Dali. Rick, who knew absolutely nothing about the artworld, pushed Dali from the stage, which resulted in Strawbs being banned from the festival!

Contained on Simply Acoustic are songs that either started out on piano or adapt themselves ideally for a treatment on piano. Just listen and marvel at the beauty and fragile nature of "Catherine Howard," where Rick incorporates kind of a boogie-woogie section that gets close to the black/white movies of the thirties (and even adding a snippet of "Rudolph The Rednose Reindeer"). Apparently where "Morning Has Broken" is concerned, all Cat Stevens had was a hymn which lasted around 45 seconds. Producer Paul Samwell-Smith told him he could never put something like that on an album, that it needed at least to be 3 minutes in length. Prior to the actual recording Stevens heard Rick play something in the recording booth. It was a rough sketch of what would later become "Catherine Howard." Stevens told Rick he liked it and wanted something similar as the opening section, the closing section, and if possible why not as a middle section as well! Rick told him he couldn't as it was his piece destined for a solo album, but Stevens twisted his arm and got him as far as adapting his own composition. In the beginning, Island records didn't want to put it on the album let alone release it as a single. The first single off the album made the company a little bit of money so they released a second single. That one also made some money so in the end they pulled four singles from the album. Greedy as record companies are, they decided to also give "Morning Has Broken" the single treatment. It went straight to number one staying there for five consecutive weeks, turning Cat Stevens into a millionaire overnight. Wakeman got $12 for the session! As Paul Samwell-Smith would never credit a session musician on any of his work, the name of Rick Wakeman is nowhere to be found on "Morning Has Broken," but the unique Wakeman talent is spread all over the arrangement, and as there is only one person on earth able to put his soul into this song -- the version on this album is next to stunning.

To link with his Yes past Rick adapted "Wondrous Stories" for piano. One of the rare occasions when Yes got onto the acclaimed Top Of The Pops show, this little song sounds ever so gentle when performed only on piano, taking over for the high pitched vocals of Jon Anderson. Whilst Rick often chooses material from his early days as a solo performer, he also delves into some of his recent work here with a selection from his Heritage Suite album. In "St. Michael's Isle" and "Chapel Hill" Wakeman becomes one with his piano as he tries to evoke the beauty of the Isle of Man, the island where he gained his second breath after a period of disasters. Another big mark in the life of Rick was his early friendship with a very young David Bowie. In fact, prior to his engagement with Yes, Bowie had asked him to become musical director of his Spiders From Mars group, but Rick was more interested in the symphonic rock structure that Yes was trying to deliver. In fact, Wakeman was the very first person other than Bowie himself to hear "Space Oddity." Bowie knew Rick was the only musician around who could play both the Moog synthesizer and the Mellotron, two brand new instruments at the time, and he needed some spacey sounds to go with the song, which by then he could only play on acoustic guitar. No spacey sounds here as the compositions are stripped to the bare necessity when "Space Oddity" is combined with "Life On Mars."

During the short existence of Anderson, Wakeman, Bruford & Howe, a track was written called "The Meeting" which enabled Rick to say a little prayer to "the big boss up there who has given me the ability to perform the way I do." So in no way could a track like this be omitted from an Assist tour, hence the fact it is included here, sounding very solemn. With the Yes link being re-established here, Rick steps over from "The Meeting" into "And You And I". After a hilarious story about being stopped by a policeman for a drink and drive offence, the music continues with a great rendition of "Merlin The Magician" from The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table. Rick tells the audience that he picked that long title because Billboard and Cashbox magazine always put the title in their top 100 and by using a large title would secure him of more exposure. In the end they referred to the album as being King Arthur!

Simply Acoustic is a wonderful album, bringing to light the true identity of the man Rick Wakeman: a true comedian on stage but with a big heart deep within trying to bring solace by means of his unique playing.

A Wish / A Glimpse Of Heaven / Catherine Howard / Morning Has Broken / Wondrous Stories / St. Michael's Isle ? Chapel Hill / Space Oddity ? Life On Mars / The Meeting / And You And I ? Merlin The Magician / Gone But Not Forgotten

Rick Wakeman - piano

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: Other

Origin UK

Added: June 5th 2001
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website: www.rwcc.com
Hits: 779
Language: english


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