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Rick Wakeman - African Bach CD (album) cover


Rick Wakeman


Symphonic Prog

2.51 | 21 ratings

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Symphonic Team
3 stars A small oasis in a Sahara of mediocre albums

Rick Wakeman's discography is so vast that it is difficult even for the most ardent fan to navigate between the many stinkers and the few hidden gems. This 1991 album is, in my opinion, one of the few hidden gems. It is certainly not a masterpiece of progressive music or even remotely close to one, but it surely was (at the time of its release) one of Rick's most consistent and well written rock albums since the release of the concept album 1984 that was released in 1981 - ten years before this one!

All the lead vocals here are by Ashley Holt, a long standing and lojal Wakeman collaborator and principle vocalist on many of Wakeman's best (and best known) albums. Having Holt on board again, and making him the sole vocalist instead of having several different ones, gives African Bach a degree of consistency that most of his 80's and 90's albums simply lack. There are a lot of female backing vocals, but Holt is the sole lead vocalist.

Because of Holt's distinctive voice and Wakeman's always great keyboard playing (however, don't expect his typical Moog solos here) and writing, some parts remind slightly of No Earthly Connection or Journey To The Centre Of The Earth.

The 80's sounding drums and production, as well as the too limited presence of electric guitar, are the main problems here. But when there is a keyboard or guitar solo it really lifts the music up several levels. All the songs are well written and catchy, even if they do tend to sound a bit too similar to each other after a while.

From a marketing perspective, this album was a catastrophe. That is why very few people know this album. This is too bad, since African Bach is something like an oasis in a vast African desert of mediocre albums (why did he make so many?). Not until the new millennium would Rick again make an album that brought him close to the glories of the early to mid 70's. But while African Bach does not achieve this, it is still quite enjoyable nonetheless.

Good, but hardly essential by any means.

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |


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