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Design By Humans
Published On: Tue, Mar 21st, 2017

Rick Wakeman: Piano Portraits

Rick Wakeman
Piano Portraits
(UMe)

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Keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman presents an amazing roster of 15 solo piano compositions on his latest, Piano Portraits. After playing a tribute to David Bowie last year on BBC Radio, and the reaction he received from recreating “Life On Mars?” (Wakeman played piano on the original recording of the Bowie classic), he was prompted to get into a studio with just a piano. The result here is magical and earns Wakeman his highest rating in the UK top 10 album charts since 1975. Here we get a startling, beautiful rendition of The Beatles’ “Help” as well as a blisteringly fast “Eleanor Rigby,” bookending the album. Bowie’s “Life On Mars?” as well as “Space Oddity” are covered (Wakeman played on the original “Space Oddity,” but manned the mellotron, not the piano) and classical pieces, “Berceuse,” “Clair de Lune,” and “Swan Lake.” The only Wakeman original, “Dance of the Damselflies,” is written in a classical vein as well. Wakeman brings in a touch of Yes with “Wonderous Stories,” and arguably one of this most recognizable non-Yes/Strawbs/solo studio moments, his piano piece to Cat Stevens’ “Morning Has Broken.” If you ever catch Wakeman playing a solo concert, he tells the story of still not having been paid for the Cat sessions. Piano Portraits is the purest way to appreciate Rick Wakeman’s still-monstrous talent. This is about as good as it gets from real rock royalty appreciating their influences.

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Rick Wakeman: Piano Portraits