Rick Wakeman - Piano Portraits album review

Wakeman rolls out the ebony and ivory evergreens

Rick Wakeman Piano Portraits album cover

You can trust Louder Our experienced team has worked for some of the biggest brands in music. From testing headphones to reviewing albums, our experts aim to create reviews you can trust. Find out more about how we review.

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.

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.