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Wakeman, Rick: Red Planet

For his 25th solo album (yes, you read that right!) former Yes keyboard legend Rick Wakeman has enlisted the help of The English Rock Ensemble for Red Planet. The members include Lee Pomeroy on bass, Ash Soan on drums, and guitarist Dave Colquhoun, and alongside Wakeman on his collection of keyboards (Korg, Roland, Mellotron, Hammond organ, Mini Moog, and others) the group has created a splendid album of progressive rock instrumentals that might very well be the best thing we've seen out of keyboard legends camp in quite some time. Containing eight new tracks, Red Planet is just what you'd expect and want from a symphonic rock album, "Ascraeus Mons" and "Tharsis Tholus" kicking things off in grand fashion, as tight rhythms allow for plenty of soaring synth & organ solos as well as some tasty guitar excursions. "Arsia Mons" has more of a harder prog edge, Wakeman's heavy Hammond tone straddled alongside some beefy bass and guitar riffs, before acoustic guitar drops in alongside simmering synths, eventually giving way to full-on prog assault once again. Rick adds in some splendid Mini Moog & Hammond solos on the grandiose "Olympus Mons", while "The North Plain" is another aggressive prog gem that sees the band locked in tight and the leader delivering an assortment of tones and flashy solos on various keyboards. Some funk & fusion elements come into play on the upbeat "Pavonis Mons", while "South Pole" might be the most symphonic, orchestral piece on the album, relying less on solos and more on creating textures and alluring soundscapes. Of course, you have to have an epic here, and that comes at the end of the album with the 10-minute "Valles Marineris", fat Rickenbacker bass lines from Pomeroy and Soan's intricate drumming allowing for nimble Colquhoun guitar acrobatics and lots of Wakeman's musical tapestries. Majestic, thrilling stuff.

Basically, one of progressive rock's legendary figures is back in fine form, so make sure you don't miss out on Red Planet from Rick Wakeman and The English Rock Ensemble.

Track Listing
1. "Ascraeus Mons" 5:53
2. "Tharsis Tholus" 6:17
3. "Arsia Mons" 6:10
4. "Olympus Mons" 5:20
5. "The North Plain" 6:53
6. "Pavonis Mons" 7:14
7. "South Pole" 7:35
8. "Valles Marineris" 10:02

Added: September 27th 2020
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Artist Facebook Page
Hits: 1343
Language: english

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» Reader Comments:

Wakeman, Rick: Red Planet
Posted by Molly Whipple on 2021-07-02 15:39:12
My Score:

This album is everything I want in an album. It rocks. It has forward momentum. Keyboards obviously, but also excellent guitar passages and thumping bass. My favorite album of 2020. Turn out the lights and let this run for an hour of pure bliss.

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