“The Other Side Of Rick Wakeman” by Rick Wakeman

Artist: Rick Wakeman
Title: “The Other Side Of Rick Wakeman”
Label: Music Video Distributors
Release Date: 8/28/2007
Genre: Progressive/Classical/Comedy
Rating: 3.5/5

“How many keyboardists does it take to change a light bulb” or “why did the keyboardist cross the road” are some of the questions that you might find yourself asking as you watch this candid and intimate performance by legendary keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman. The video finds the Yes legend in front of a studio audience where he performs several compositions of his own along with some cover material on the Grand Piano. The aspect of this is interesting enough as Wakeman strips down the compositions to the bare essential roots with the end result being quite a pleasing experience. It’s very different indeed to hear and see Rick perform on the piano as opposed to the multiple levels of synthesizers he is most associated with from Yes and his other projects. The film begins with Rick doing his introductory stuff and giving some idea about what the whole evening would entail for the audience in attendance but here is where it gets all the more interesting. While he talks about the piece he also slips in some humorous tales and anecdotes about the song or the goings on that reflect the song as compared to his own life experiences. For example: He starts to talk about his past marriages and ex-wives before he sits to perform “The Henry Suite” and the audience response to this method is quite complimentary. His manner is pleasant and his sense of humor is quite interesting and more real since it reflects his own life and what was going on in his head to the best of his recollection.

Rick takes us on some very special recollections as he discusses his very first piano piece and performance from when he was aged five and also discusses working with the legendary David Bowie and Cat Stevens. He performs “Life On Mars” and “Morning Has Broken” from the two singers esteemed catalog and upon hearing these interpretations on piano alone I felt that it really brought a new level of appreciation as to how good these particular songs were. Wakeman also presents some classic Yes, Strawbs and the Beatles as well and under this presentation sound very fresh. Of course one expects the Yes music to sound fine on the solo piano, but hearing the Beatles in this fashion was quite the treat as I generally don’t like any other interpretations of their legendary material. As far as the stories go, well these were quite entertaining as they brought you into the musician’s mindset and offered up his personal view on a particular situation. His making the tales on the humorous side made the normally stoic legend seem like just one of the guys. Recently, Carl Palmer (ELP) did a similar live show with his band, as before each song he came up and spoke about it in a very candid and anecdotal manner. It changed the perception of the performance and added levels of warmth to the evenings show and after watching this DVD from Wakeman I found a lot of the same satisfactions hitting me.

While the film might be more for the Yes and Wakeman enthusiast, I do also feel that a casual Progressive Rock and even Humor fan would enjoy this based on the way it is delivered. There is not a boring segment on it and you will find as you watch that this is easy to enjoy from beginning to end. Truly this present the other side of the legendary performer and I think it brought a lot more to the table than even I had anticipated.

Comedic Intros: Rick Introduction, Rick’s Wives, The Sessions, The Lost Tapes, First Rehearsals for Yes, The X Factor, The Birds, Adam’s Rib, The Kami “Kazi”, Credits.

Track Listing:
1. See A Monkey On A Stick/A Glimpse Of Heaven
2. The Henry Suite
3. Life On Mars?
4. Morning Has Broken
5. And You And I
6. Gone But Not Forgotten
7. Wonderous Stories/The Meeting
8. Spur Of The Moment/After The Ball
9. Birdman Of Alcatraz
10. Guinevere/Merlin The Magician
11. Help/Eleanor Rigby

Official Website: www.rickwakeman.com

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