Wakeman, Rick - Christmas Variations

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Mascot
Catalog Number: M 7087 2
Format: CD
Total Time: 55:01:00

This album was already released on Rick's very own Music Fusion label in 2000 sporting a different sleeve and has been re-released by Mascot Records in time for the Christmas season. Other than having a new cover, the music on this album is exactly the same as when the album was first released. Christian-inspired Rick Wakeman has chosen a selection of Christmas carols, treating them in such a way that they don't become the umpteenth release with the sole intention of selling truckloads of albums whilst losing the true spirit behind the entire Christmas idea. So you won't hear any sleigh bells nor jingle bell lyrics nor has Rick posed for the album's cover wearing a silly goblin's hat.

Although Rick is accompanied by a fair selection of keyboards he nevertheless turns mainly towards the piano with synths settling for choir parts and different solos. To enhance certain parts I would have loved to hear real brass for instance, but then again if Wakeman should have done exactly that, he would have released an album we might have heard a dozen times before. Instead this is an authentic Wakeman solo album in the literal sense of the word, not only putting his technical skills in favour of the end result, but also putting heart and soul behind the idea. The result is a wonderful, ambient and soothing album full of lovely soft instrumental beauty that will go down a treat in order to digest those triple helpings of turkey and X-mas pudding!

If you know about Rick's life you can hear all these stages throughout this album. At a very young age he started out on the piano winning tons of competitions. Then he moved to the Royal College of Music where he learned about classical arrangements. Having already proved to the world that he is indeed the world's fastest and best keyboard player of all time, he no longer has the urge to demonstrate these skills. Instead he delivers and arranges new material stripped to the bare essentials, Rick Wakeman "unplugged" if you like. In "O Little Town Of Bethlehem" I even hear a little bit of Rick van der Linden (ex-Ekseption) shining through, but then again Dutch Rick also had classical tuition when he was young. Although obviously this album is ideal to be played during the Christmas period, it contains so much calm that you can use it to fully relax after a stressful day whatever time of year. However, to be really honest, the music itself does get close to muzak at times, so although some tunes are nicely structured, the full duration of this CD might be a trifle too much in the end. Yet the spirit of good will is displayed in every single track which still makes Christmas Variations the kind of album that will be liked by lovers of classical and rock music alike. Merry X-mas to all of you!

Silent Night (4:35) / Hark The Herald Angels Sing (6:19) / Christians Awake Salute The Happy Morn (7:02) / Away In A Manger (5:28) / While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks By Night (5:33) / O Little Town Of Bethlehem (6:06) / It Came Upon A Midnight Clear (5:14) / Once In Royal David's City (4:58) / O Come All Ye Faithful (5:16) / Angels From The Realms Of Glory (4:27)

Rick Wakeman - Kurzweil K2500x, Korg Trinity Pro X, Korg 01W Pro x, Roland JD800, Korg X5DR, Korg Prophecy, Roland D70

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: December 23rd 2003
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website: www.rwcc.com
Hits: 488
Language: english


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