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Sixty Minutes With Rick Wakeman
Artist: Rick Wakeman
Label: Voiceprint  
Length: 10 tracks / 63 mins
Here is yet another Rick Wakeman compilation album. But like others on this series of carefully assembled retrospectives, it is collated with the listener in mind and gives a representative view of the artist's work that is tilted in favour of popular selections.
Wakeman seems to live out his impulsive character through his music, keen once he has established a motif to move on quickly to something else. His success in Yes comes from the fact that he has so many other musicians to give him a disciplined framework. His solo recordings, by contrast, can feature the blissful, the bombastic and the bizarre cheek-by-jowl so much that it would not be surprising for him to go straight from a hymn to the keystone cops.
This selection of essential tracks is bookended by tracks from his crucial Six Wives album ("Jane Seymour" live and his signature "Catherine Howard") and features his definitive Yes track "Starship Trooper," albeit a guitar-free version that noticeably misses the textures that Jon Sanderson and Steve Howe normally add. That said, he does let loose with nearly five minutes of the all-guns-blazing solo that many fans will buy it for. 
Up to date, "Universe of Sound" from the recent Out There is included, as is "1984" and "Julia" (where Chaka Khan's vocals disappoint). Anything from his excellent Piano Album would have been welcome, but we do get an acoustic spell with the Beatles' "She's Leaving Home."
While his other compilations seem to suffer from the inclusion of one extended track, by avoiding the epic works (other than the short tracks "Election/Arthur" and "Merlin the Magician") this set has a range of fine pieces.
These strong tunes, added to the usual musical pyrotechnics and that distinctive style, make this the best Wakeman compilation that I have yet come across.
Derek Walker



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