This disc has slipped out without a mention from Rick or his website. The first
I heard of it was on a Classic Rock Legends Catalogue. It is now also making
advertising in main Magazines. Wondrous Stories normally seem to be ahead of
the rest with their adverts and it is currently on their back page. I guess
advertising will follow elsewhere which will make a nice change for a Rick album.
So what is the disc? Well it is a bit of an oddball really. In 1993 Rick released
‘Greatest Hits’ on which he reworked himself and 7 Yes tracks. Rick hit financial
trouble in the late 1990’s and I believe he had to sell the rights to all his
work prior to about 1997. So Greatest Hits went to a new label. Now it seems
Classic Rock Legends own the rights to the disc or at least 3 of the tracks.
This disc contains 7 tracks and four recently recorded Piano versions ‘Your
Move’, ‘Long Distance’, ‘Close To The Edge’, and ‘The Meeting’, which alternate
with ‘Wondrous Stories’, ‘Don’t Kill The Whale’ and ‘Roundabout’ from ‘Greatest
Hits’. Rick in 1993 was working with Tony Fernandez on Drums and Alan Thompson
I have to confess over the years I haven’t played ‘Greatest Hits’ too much
as in 1993 Rick discovered a setting whereby if he holds a note for a while
it changes tone or pitch at the end. I thought it OK on the ‘Wakeman with Wakeman’
album but I got really fed up with it when he used it again on ‘Greatest Hits’.
I do play the Wakeman plays Wakeman half of the disc from time to time but I
almost never play the Wakeman plays Yes disc as to be honest I found the versions
over long and repetitive.
I am not good at listening to albums where I hear a mix of old and new so I
will review the ‘Greatest Hits’ tracks first.
‘Wondrous Stories’ – When I first heard this version I was disappointed that
the part Rick played on the Yes version is missing to my ears. Rick was the
star of the Yes track to me so I particularly wanted to hear his part. Never
mind though, I am now used to this version and think it is one of the better
arrangements. There is some nice probably fretless bass work from Alan on this.
I am not 100% certain Tony Fernandez actually plays on all Yes tracks. It sounds
like computer drums to me but then Tony can sound like clockwork live to. I
think it is just his style. Rick starts with a flute like voice for the vocal
line. There is also a sound I recognise from ‘Children of Chernobyl’ used in
the Chorus. As I say there is no attempt at Rick’s Chorus lines on this version.
For the 2nd version Rick switches to the voice, which changes at the end. It
is then back to the flute like lead. The backing arrangements are quite complex
but I find myself listening to the lead alone and with the drums it feels a
cheap arrangement. I like the next voice Rick uses then it is back to a milder
version of the sound I am not keen on to finish.
‘Don’t Kill The Whale’ is straight in with "the" voice. Then onto
a pipes type one for the chorus. I like the style of Rick’s playing just not
the settings. Alan is slightly less noticeable on this track. Rick basically
swaps voices back and forth in a kind of dual. At four minutes this track is
quite variable and about the right length for me.
‘Roundabout’ is sadly the track I liked least. The original Yes version is
fine but at 13 minutes with Rick almost alone I find this goes on too long.
The intro is fine and then we get a moog type sound on the main line and some
nice extra voices in the chorus. At the 3 minute mark we have already started
the third set of Moog. We do then get a break and I am certain Tony is really
playing on this track. This section is rather good actually. Alan is just basic
bass playing on this I think. By 7mins we have got to organ type break and I
am now thinking my memory has been way to hard on this song. This is probably
the best of the three tracks on this album. It is a lot less repetitive than
the other tracks and Rick is ad-libbing and having fun. Towards 10mins he starts
with "the voice" again. Then 10.45 it is back to the moog from the
Ok so that’s the bits I am less keen on over and done with. I have been a bit
harsh on them with my memory but I still don’t particularly want to listen to
them again and I find it extremely annoying that we go for acoustic Piano tracks
to old familiar tracks with drums that either are computerised or very close
to it. I have a feeling Rick had Tony using an Electric kit back in those days
Now to the new Piano tracks and the reason I ordered the disc: –
Your Move is 7 and half minutes long. It’s clever of them not to call it "I’ve
Seen All Good People" as I really hate that one live. In the opening few
bars I couldn’t recognise the song but once I do I still enjoy it. Not everyone
likes Rick on Piano alone but this is where his excellence really shows. There
seems to be so many extra notes or Rickism thrown in. The arrangements seem
so much better developed than the’ 93 ones. I can’t decide if the ‘Seen Good
People’ section is in this version or not. The last three minutes seems almost
new to me. They have certainly been changed well even if I recognise a few of
the lines vaguely. I really like this track. Mmm that’s annoying I can no longer
claim to hate "I’ve Seen All Good people" just Yes’ version of it
‘Long Distance Runaround’ is again about 7 minutes and is very busy for a one
person piano performance. Rick’s left hand starts with a good bass line. I see
the sleeve notes say some of these songs are Piano Duets. This must be one of
them. I have never heard Rick attempt a Piano Duet before. This works really
well. I would like to hear a lot more.
Close To The Edge is also done in 7 and 1/2 minutes. I think this is the most
fascinating piece to hear. Close To The Edge with Yes was 18 mins plus and seems
a daunting task to convert down to just one or two pianos. Rick has done it
beautifully though. It starts off very classically sounding. It’s not until
100secs in I know for sure the part Rick is in. I recognise phrases before but
not the whole section.
The Meeting has appeared in a Piano arrangement on a Rick CD before. Rick performed
it live at Costa Mesa, California and it was subsequently released as ‘The Piano
album’. That version was only short though as Rick chose to combine it with
‘And You And I’. On this CD we get a four minute version. Again it is a great
piece beautifully performed but it is less essential for fans with most of Rick’s
This disc is supposed to be the first of a new series releases. I hope that
means by Rick. As can be seen from my comments above I have very mixed feelings
about this disc. Given the marketing I know Classic Rock Legends will give it,
I wish it had been all new material. The piano only stuff is stunning and deserves
a couple of extra tracks and a full release on it’s on. To me the 93 arrangements
and the drums especially are just not up to the same standard. They are too
simple and Rick’s fingers aren’t flying as much. I am worried that fans won’t
buy this because they have the 93 album. If they don’t it might then put Classic
Rock Legends off Rick. I hope not, he needs a break and this is Rick’s best
opportunity since ‘Return To The Centre Of The Earth’. Classic Rock Legends
are a great label who are out to promote good music and have the money to do
so. If Rick can produce the goods I am sure he will do really well with them.
Hopefully the average buyer will like the 93 stuff more than me and the album
will work for them, fingers crossed. I am baffled that Rick made no comment
on this new album in his Christmas newsletter. He mentions a ‘Classical Variations’
album, which is in the same style and annoyingly is out at the same time.