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Wakeman; Rick: Fields Of Green

Originally released on Griffin records in 1996 and then again by Music Fusion a year later, it is the 1997 version of Fields Of Green which Cherry Red have chosen to remaster and reissue. Hence the inclusion of the opening "Election 97/Arthur", the former being two pieces commissioned specially for the BBC's 1997 Election coverage, rolled into one and then joined to "Arthur". It actually makes for a strong introduction to this album - if one which even with an excellent remaster does sound as thin as, well…a mid 90s recording. A sprightly if rather pointless rendition of the Yes classic "Starship Trooper" proves this album's only real misstep by failing to really add anything of great worth to the original. However from there things perk up considerably, the slow deliberate "The Promise Of Love" showcasing the excellent vocals from Chrissie Hammond, while bassist Phil Laughlin adds a solid bottom end.

The jaunty "The Spanish Wizard" brings staccato guitar bursts from Fraser Thorneycroft-Smith into strong focus, although, as the whole album is, this track is particularly blighted by the ultra-dated percussion-programming courtesy of Stuart Sawney. Oddly the rockier the album gets, the less the electro-beats niggle at the mind - "The Fighter" being an almost Jan Hammer meets Wakeman tour de force - yet in the slower numbers, the constant clicking and popping of percussion really does become overbearing. "The Fighter" also features some expert double tracked vocals from Hammond and along with the brooding, yet sprightly on its feet, "The Rope Trick" they find Wakeman getting surprisingly down and dirty. That said it is the variance of touch from song to song which really perks things up here and with the likes of the title track proving to be a joyous mid-paced meander and "Tell Me Why" a less exuberant, almost Jon & Vangelis like sway, it is easy to forgive the rather clunky and uninspired (and overly lengthy) "The Never Ending Road".

As ever, Cherry Red really have presented the package well here, a Rodney Matthews cover improving on both of the original release versions and while this album is decidedly of its time and less memorable because of it, Fields Of Green is still an interesting and, at times, exciting window into the world of Wakeman. Those looking to delve deeper into the keyboard maestro's (ridiculously) lengthy catalogue could do much worse than dabble here.

Track Listing
1. Election 97/Arthur
2. Starship Trooper
3. The Promise Of Love
4. The Spanish Wizard
5. The Never Ending Road
6. The Fighter
7. Tell Me Why
8. The Rope Trick
9. The Nice Man
10. Fields Of Green

Added: October 3rd 2014
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Fields Of Green at Cherry Red Records
Hits: 1736
Language: english

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