Rick Wakemans The Red Planet - a return to a prog god's halcyon days

Ground control to Major Rick, as Rick Wakeman launches himself towards The Red Planet

Rick Wakeman - The Red Planet
(Image: © Madfish)

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What a clever Rick, releasing his new album just as a flotilla of rockets is launched at the Red Planet with the collective aim of proving whether there is, or was, life on Mars, opening up a wealth of soundtrack and other marketing possibilities.

And if they do find frozen water under the surface, or even a microbe or two, no one is better placed to perform the album on ice.

The instrumental album’s style deliberately harks back to prog’s – and Wakeman’s – halcyon days of the early 70s, and he relishes the chance to slip back into his old habits with the added spice of the sampled keyboard sounds that are now available to him, starting with a thunderous church organ on Ascraeus Mons

The English Rock Ensemble are no mere backing band, either; just check out Lee Pomeroy’s bass at the start of Valles Marineri.

Hugh Fielder has been writing about music for 47 years. Actually 58 if you include the essay he wrote about the Rolling Stones in exchange for taking time off school to see them at the Ipswich Gaumont in 1964. He was news editor of Sounds magazine from 1975 to 1992 and editor of Tower Records Top magazine from 1992 to 2001. Since then he has been freelance. He has interviewed the great, the good and the not so good and written books about some of them. His favourite possession is a piece of columnar basalt he brought back from Iceland.