CD Reviews

Rick Wakeman - 'Caped Crusader Collectors Club: Bootleg Box Vol. 2' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     June 15, 2012    
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I enjoyed it immensely.

There is always the risk when acquiring bootleg recordings, whether they are official or otherwise, that the sound quality will be found wanting and leave the listener disappointed.

Fortunately the quality across the five discs presented here is generally better than average but will probably still only engage the attention of diehard fans, who no doubt are exactly the people it’s aimed at. That said if you wanted to get acquainted with Wakeman’s work then this would actually be a good start because there is some tremendous music on offer.

Needless to say the famous Wakeman humour is in evidence throughout, both in his between song banter and in his musical selections. The first disc (Hammersmith 1976) has the band diverting into the ‘Monty Python’ theme in the middle of the ‘Catherine Howard’ track.

This show provides a nice mix of material with tracks being taken from each of his albums up to that date, although the use of a brass section on some tracks grates on me a bit. Full orchestra (as appears elsewhere) is fine but the brass doesn’t fit well, particularly where it is replacing well known and much loved synth sounds.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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The strange chronology of this collection then takes us to Norwich in 1997, where the sound quality is extremely good and the set list eclectic, featuring covers of Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity/Life on Mars’ and George Harrison’s ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’. One of the highlights is the piano solo (or is it a duet with his dad?) by Adam Wakeman; it’s a beautiful piece. ‘The Breathalyser’ famously sung by Bill Oddie on ‘Criminal Record’ makes an appearance and it’s good to hear a trilogy from ‘1984’.

Disc three is from Crystal Palace in 1974; it’s an audience recording and therefore is of dubious quality, which is shame as it’s a terrific set. It also shows that the annoying trend of members of the audience talking isn’t new. Discs four and five are the best of the bunch as they reproduce almost the entire set from Preston in 1981. The sound is good and the performances right up there with the best, in fact the band is on fire with splendid renditions of a wide range of material. The ‘1984’ album is well represented and the medleys from ‘King Arthur’, ‘Six Wives’ and ‘Journey…’) are all wonderful. The band gets to show off their chops on ‘Shuffle’ (albeit introduced with a different title by Wakeman) as well as ‘Big Bem Party’ and ‘Wooly Willy Tango’.

If nothing else, listening to this collection made me realise the depth and variety of Wakeman’s solo work and making me think that I really need to dig out some of those less famous early albums (on vinyl) for a full reappraisal. It probably wouldn’t have occurred to me to buy this set but having been sent it I’m very pleased to have it and to have enjoyed it immensely.

Gary Marshall

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