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Rick Wakeman: Access All Areas

A 1990 TV turn by the keyboard king.

The title might suggest you’ll get a real insight into the world of Rick Wakeman, but what this actually offers is a pared-down live performance from the man, on DVD and CD, that dates back to 1990.

It was part of a TV music series that also featured other prog-friendly bands such as Caravan, Fairport Convention, Asia and even Hatfield And The North (reviewed on the opposite page). What you get is a nicely paced run through the vast catalogue of Wakeman’s solo works, with the man himself right at the centre of the music, parading a nine-keyboard rig and his celebrated sense of humour. Three of his most acclaimed albums are represented here, with the music given a freshness by the band working around the keyboard wizard. From The Six Wives Of Henry VIII there’s Catherine Parr and Anne Boleyn. The latter has a percussive solo from Tony Fernandez, which is a cut above the normal drum solo bluster. Journey To The Centre Of The Earth gets a huge acknowledgement, with a near 20-minute selection of highlights that’s rather more than a medley. You can hear the way the whole concept had been developed by Wakeman since its birth 16 years earlier. It’s also a bridge to the way Journey… sounded when Wakeman performed it live in 2014. Closing it all is Merlin The Magician from The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table, which has a suitably portentous quality. There’s also Elizabethan Rock and Make Me A Woman from the Time Machine album, which are among the man’s best compositions. Ashley Holt provides vocal nuances when required, and the band as a whole are more than faceless backing musicians, adding the overall bounce and balance. A fun addition to the Wakeman canon.