It’s possible that today Rick Wakeman’s celebrity risks overshadowing his musical virtuosity. Yet the Grumpy Old Man who waxes irascible on TV and radio (and in august prog magazines) remains first and foremost an astonishing keyboardist and composer, and this is a timely, beautifully recorded reminder of his copious musical talent.
In The Nick Of Time was captured on his 2003 tour of the UK accompanied by his New English Rock Ensemble, in support of their Out There album. Just the strident title track from that is here among these seven tracks, along with nimble-fingered opener Catherine Parr, the operatic No Earthly Connection and Dance Of A Thousand Lights.
Wakeman’s immaculate playing permeates the work and he’s matched by vocalist Ashley Holt (whose last-minute addition to the line-up gave the album its name); Lee ‘The Oracle’ Pomeroy’s bass is up to his usual impeccable standard (notably on slap-happy groove of closer Wurm), while guitarist Ant Glynne adds hefty chords and double-handed noodle as required.
Their leader’s typically amusing and expansive thoughts on prog, life and everything in the sleevenotes sweeten the deal.