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Rick Wakeman - Piano Portraits album review

Wakeman rolls out the ebony and ivory evergreens

Eschewing the orchestras, choirs and ice skaters with which he’s often associated, the madly prolific Wakeman tinkles out a solo piano album of songs and pieces that possess personal resonance for him.

The response to his live-on-radio rendition of Life On Mars? earlier this year was the catalyst. There are fresh yet faithful takes on pop classics he played on – Space Oddity, Morning Has Broken, Wonderous Stories – and earnest, straight-faced pomp like Debussy’s Clair De Lune and I Vow To Thee My Country. Toss in a couple of Beatles numbers, Stairway To Heaven and I’m Not In Love and this is the Wakeman Unplugged album that elevators everywhere were craving.

It’s all very pretty, with the side of him that loves toilet humour kept safely locked away. The man has lost none of his fluency or dexterity: he rarely plays one note when 15 will do.

One wonders how many rock fans are also enamoured of the similar creative stylings of Bobby Crush or Richard Clayderman, but perhaps these wedding-cake refashionings of Eleanor Rigby or Summertime will lull them into a reflective mood. Less patient listeners may simply be struck with an inexplicable urge to order a curry.