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Wakeman, Rick: The Legend (DVD), Live in Buenos Aires (DVD)

The Legend (Live 2000)

Shot on his UK tour of the same year, Rick Wakeman 2000 offers up a different side of rock’s most famous keyboardist. Performing entirely solo throughout, the set is spiced up by interludes of stand up comedy, delivered with timed perfection by Wakeman himself. Now, to anyone who has followed Yes for any period of time, we know Rick has always been the most intentionally funny interview of the lot (sans Jon Anderson--I said intentionally funny). I always knew he could do it, and damned if he hasn’t, Wakeman’s a pretty good comic. For example:

“Have you ever been drunk on stage?”

“Well, it was the only way I could play Tales From Topographic Oceans!”


“I was actually trained to be a concert pianist--in fact, that’s what I would’ve done--until I found out what the money was. Stuff that, rock and roll, here I come.”

The ensuing story of how his band ended up playing 4 different songs at once, including physical moves & verbal repetition, is great stand up. Or, take the tale of how Wakeman ended up paying for a full church restoration, just to record the holy house organ for his 1st solo album. He’s got the one-liner down, too, with his description of Yes’ Jon Anderson (“He’s the only person I know who’s trying to save this planet by living on a totally different one”).

Oh, and there’s music. It’s really a treat; the set won me over straight away with a performance of one of my favorite Wakeman pieces: “Birdman of Alcatraz” from 1977’s Criminal Record. There’s a nice sampling of Wakeman’s extensive career, including Journey & Return to the Centre of the Earth, a near flawless rendition of “Jane Seymour” (check out the organ samples from the church he renovated), a Yes medley, a Beatles medley, and selections from another of my favorites, The Myths & Legends of King Arthur.

The packages in this classic series are a bonus, too, including a biography, a musical gallery, and an additional audio CD with an extra track. Highly recommended for vapid fans or for novices with nothing to do on a rainy night.

RW & The English Rock Ensemble Live From Buenos Aires

The polar opposite of The Legend, Live From Buenos Aires is prog rock bombast, the way it likely was in the mid-seventies. Backed by a five-piece band including son Adam Wakeman & long-time compatriot Tony Fernandez, Live From Buenos Aires serves up the full enchilada to prog tomes from The Six Wives of Henry the VIII, The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and Journey to the Centre of the Earth. With the exception of “The Visit,” "Buried Alive" and "1984," the tracks are all culled from 1972-76.

Not that there aren't modern embellishments: chip off the old block Adam gives papa Rick a run for his cape on several dueling solos (why isn't this guy the keyboardist in some hot new prog band?). Ant Glynne on guitar squeezes the most George Lynch you can milk from a Gibson SG without a whammy bar. Damien Wilson on vocals (of Jeronimo Road on Magna Carta's Tales From Yesterday) at times reaches the depths of the most banal, falsetto, Geoff Tate-imitating 80's hair band front man you've heard since leather & spandex ("Nine-teen-Eigh-ty-FOU-OU-OU-OU-URAHHH!" Jesus.) Let's just say that historically, I have issues with Wakeman's lead vocalists; hence my continued appreciation of his instrumental work.

Bad Geoff Tate aside, it's refreshing to see these lost classics given a breath of life after a decade or more on the shelf, but if you've only got $20 to spend, I'd lay my money out for The Legend a bit before Live in Buenos Aires.

Added: November 16th 2002
Reviewer: Steve Fleck
Related Link: Rick Wakeman Website
Hits: 4045
Language: english

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