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WAKEMAN - Your top 5 Wakeman albums of the 80's

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    WAKEMAN - Your top 5 Wakeman albums of the 80's

    Dug out some Wakey albums from the 80's, President Records, that sort of thing. Much to like, some fine albums, others less so. What are your favorite 5 Wakeman albums. I say 5 because there's a number of them, but if you want to include more, that's cool too.

    Here's my 5, and in no particular order - just 5 that I like more than some others from the same era:

    1) 1984 (1981) - with Jon Anderson and Chaka Khan(!). Starts off pretty good, some good instrumental bits like Robot Man. Supposed to be a concept album based on George Orwell's 1984, but doesn't really follow it completely.

    2) Rock & Roll Prophet (1982) - a ridiculous album, but I like it. First bought a cassette of it in 1988 in the cheap-o bin. The reissued 90's version scrambles the track listing and adds unrelated instrumental tracks to the running order. No problem, CD-R reinstates the original running order and I just threw the new stuff at the end as bonus tracks. I'm So Straight... Dark, Do You Believe In Fairies and the title track are faves. This schlocky album is indefensible, yet I still like it a lot.

    3) Time Machine (1988) - underrated prog/rock album, with variety and great keyboard sounds. The two tracks with female vocals are the best ones.

    4) Zodiaque (1988) - a more ambient/new age offering and one of the better ones in that style. It's credited as a duo album with regular Wakeman drummer Tony Fernandez, but there isn't any crazy drumming involved.

    5) Live At Hammersmith (1985) - even though these tracks have appeared ad nauseum on every live Wakeman live album, these are well executed and this is the first Wakeman live album I had heard. I know its a live album, but I'll include it. If not Live At Hammersmith, then I'll go for one of my honorable mentions:

    Honorable Mentions: Silent Nights (1985), Cost Of Living (1983)

    Interesting. Exploring a dark corner of Prog. These are my unreliable memories, good and bad.

    1. Rapsodies. After Tormato, Rick went back to tax exiling in Switzerland and recorded a bloated double album after a car crash saw him over a crevice. See cover. Aimless synth pieces plus a disco Raphsody in Blue.

    2. Next. My brother told me of a great piano album. Country Airs. Delightful. Very musical.

    3. Now he didn't appear on my radar until Return to the Centre of the Earth. Much later.

    So after No Earthly Connection, Criminal Record and Rhapsodies he fell off my radar apart from the telly shows Grumpy Old Men and Nevermind the Buzzcocks. Just assumed he'd run as a tory candidate in some safe seat in Sussex belt of retired rockstars. So then Keys and then saw him in 03 with YES and then solo a year later. So he came back. Remarried. Leant into the classics. Sold a ton when Bowie died. Did more piano records. Did ARW. No interest in hearing The Quest. Strange cat. But like her Majesty. Has always been there (knock on wood)
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    Last edited by Gilly Goodness; 02-20-2022, 09:19 PM.


      It's a bit difficult to select 5 'top' albums from Rick's 80s output as many of the albums lacked funding and 80s keyboard sounds haven't worn well. But I would say Country Airs is the best (no dodgy synth sounds for one thing), with Time Machine and Sea Airs also getting honourable mentions. I used to quite like the live at Hammersmith album too although there's better live stuff out there now.


        Oh boy, what a mixed bag in the 80’s. Live, piano, synth, soundtracks......I’m gonna do this off top of my head without looking or thinking too hard (not a stretch 😂😂😂)

        Here’s a good 5. Prob about 15 others out there in that in the other room from me. 😊

        Live At Hammersmith.
        Silent Nights.
        Country Airs (one of my first CDs, and my first RW cd).
        Gole soundtrack.


          1. Time Machine
          2. 1984

          Er... I'd probably stop there. Don't know the others well enough! Maybe Black Knights third?

          His worst release of the '80s, and possibly his worst release ever, was 1987's The Gospels.


            Couldn't actually say I'm aware of anything worthwhile in the 80's, and I love Rick.


              I like quite a lot of his 80s stuff!

              The Burning
              Silent Nights
              Country Airs
              Black Nights

              I actually think The Gospels is pretty good despite my atheism! Had it on tape, but that's long gone. Must have a relisten and see if my memory is what it was.


                Great thread! My three picks:

                - Live at Hammersmith. Great guitar work and superb drumming from Mr. Fernandez as always.
                - Country Airs. Rick's first venture into new-age music and it paid off wonderfully. Very melodic and well performed, though the 1992 re-recording on a digital piano is not recommended.
                - Sea Airs. More of the same, but still strong enough material.



                  1) 1984 - right up there with his best A&M period work. the opening section and closing section are stunning. Hymn is also absolutly amazing with a top performance from Hans Anderson who had an almost hit back in the day with a song called Never My Love (and was never heard of again! )

                  2) The Burning - an album of 2 sides, with the first being traditional wakeman arrangements of the soundtrack stuff on side 2, which is actually vey interesting as he shows a lot of discipline, producing an album of Carpenter-esq simplicity and atmosphere that works surprisingly well.

                  3) Zodiac - interesting album. sort of atmospheric and again reining in the bluster and technique so as to create mood rather than bombast. Seems to use a lot of the Yamaha DX7 sounds which I love so am biased.

                  4) there is no 4

                  5) see number 4

                  Yes he did quite a few albums but none none where coherant and anged from the dreadful ( Rock n Roll prophet) to the bland ( Time Machine; Silent Nights - whch has a complete rip of of seen all good people on it; Cost Of Living). This sounds harsh but aside form 1984 and The Burning, you would be lucky to compile a one full album of quality songs ffrom his 80's out.

                  I think if I had been his manager at the time I would have had him working on more soundtrack work and evidenced by side 2 of The Burning, he was very good at it. And of course the 80's - especially action and horror genres were very keyboards/synth based. It never did Tangerine Dream Jan Hammer, John Carpenter or Harold Faltermyer any harm. he could easily have provided music of the quality those guys did.