Rick Wakeman - Starship Trooper album review

Less than stellar odds’n’sods collection from Rick Wakeman.

Rick Wakeman Starship Trooper album cover

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When is a Rick Wakeman album not a Rick Wakeman album? The answer, according to Rick in posts online, is when it’s Starship Trooper. A collection that gathers together a number of session tracks the Moog maestro has performed on over the years, the album features a weapons-grade cast (including Billy Sherwood, Nik Turner, Huw Lloyd-Langton, Carmine Appice, Tony Levin, Steve Howe, Nektar, Tony Kaye and, of course, William Shatner) but a lack of accurate ammunition.

While the performances are ultimately flawless, the compilation itself is flimsy — largely assembled from various tribute albums put out by Purple Pyramid and its parent label Cleopatra — and some of the choices are baffling. Examples include a version of The Who’s Love Reign O’er Me that’s basically the same as the one on the Who Are You tribute album but with Joe Elliott’s vocals removed, and a cover of Yes’ Starship Trooper which is abruptly truncated as the climactic guitar solo starts. There are no real howlers (apart from a messy, sub-Brian Wilson instrumental take on Light My Fire that sounds like it was mixed in a barrel), but it’s difficult to build up any affection for an album where so little love and attention to detail has been applied to its creation.

On Prog’s copy there was even an audio drop-out during Nik Turner’s Random Acts (Revisited) which you’d assume was a one-off were it not for the number of people reporting the same flaw online. The lackadaisical nature of the project is summed up by the poorly edited, factually inaccurate sleeve notes, which claim — among other things — that Wakeman and Anderson departed Yes after Drama. They offer a perfunctory career overview, but don’t tell you a single damn thing about the music on the accompanying CD. Cheap but not cheerful.

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 36 years in music industry, online for 23. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.