WB 885982 Almost Live In Europe
a/k/a The Best of Rick Wakeman
Produced by Rick Wakeman
Released on February 1995
no chart information
Find it at GEMM
WB 885982 cover
[high resolution scan]

T his thing has more aliases than Sean Combs: Almost Live In Europe (the original and, by far, most accurate of the titles), Rock & Pop Legend (pop legend?), and the most heinous version (which is the one I got suckered into), The Best of Rick Wakeman. Actually, it’s printed as “the best of Rick Wakeman,” perhaps a subconscious concession that, no, this isn’t really the best he has to offer. And it isn’t, by a long shot. What it is, is a live performance recorded in Europe (don’t ask me where, since the pretense to providing value is dispensed with once the disc is opened -- i.e., no liner notes) and featuring some overdubs. My guess is that Wakeman added an extra post-performance keyboard track on some of the songs, and it’s logical that Davy Paton added the guitar tracks after the fact as well. The selection is a little unusual, particularly the leadoff track: “Elizabethan Rock/Make Me A Woman.” This comes from The Time Machine, not exactly one of Wakeman’s most beloved records, so it may help us to carbon date this poor pony (c.1988). The synth sounds here hardly evoke greatness, and Ashley Holt is his usual canary-killing self (i.e., his vocals tend to suck the air out of a room). However, I’ll give Holt this: even Adam didn’t have a pair of apples big enough to sing the lyric “Make Me A Woman” over and over in some stentorian monotone. (“Make him shut up!” the troll lamented). That unpleasantness out of the way, selections from Henry VIII prove unsinkable in the “After Henry” medley, with one exception: sandwiched between them is “A Crying Heart,” which I’ve never heard before. Imagine the theme to “Love Boat” moored in “Margaritaville,” and you’re close. Really, I’m not trying to be funny; those are the two songs that come to mind. Not to pick on Ashley Holt all the time, but there are moments when I’m convinced his voice could drive rats from an abandoned cheese factory. “The Realisation/The Prisoner” is the only consistent ride on here, and (as way of atonement) I’ll note that Ashley sounds great here, almost Byronic (for those who enjoyed the late Heepster’s vocal acrobatics). The closing “King Arthur” suite is a little disappointing, having been served so much better on the King Biscuit disc (which is superior in all ways). I’ve seen Rick Wakeman live in the ‘90s (with his son, Adam), and he’s eminently capable of putting on a great show, but this one lacks the requisite electricity to spark even a fan’s interest.


  2. AFTER HENRY    20:34
      Catherine of Aragon
      A Crying Heart
      Jane Seymour
      A Crying Heart (Part 2)
      Catherine Howard
  4. KING ARTHUR    20:37
      Lancelot and The Black Knight
      The Last Battle

    All titles written and composed by Rick Wakeman


RICK WAKEMAN -- keyboards
TONY FERNANDEZ -- drums and percussion
ASHLEY HOLT -- vocals and percussion
DAVY PATON -- bass and guitars
Ian Barfoot -- house engineer
Stuart Sawney -- engineer and mixing
Studio van Dijken -- cover design

US February 1995 Griffin CD GCD 282  
GER June 12, 2000 MVI CD 531377  
UK 1998 Wise Buy CD WB 885982 repackaged as THE BEST OF RICK WAKEMAN
NET October 1, 1998 Disky CD 427212 repackaged as THE BEST OF RICK WAKEMAN
    Disky CD RPCD 13 repackaged as ROCK & POP LEGEND


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