Recorded while Rick Wakeman was fronting (as instrumentalist) the English Rock Ensemble, this two-CD set presents a previously unreleased BBC Radio One In Concert performance from June 17, 1976 at London's Hammersmith Odeon on the first disc, and the entirety of a concert (only partially broadcast at the time) for BBC television's Old Grey Whistle Test program on April 27, 1976.
If you're looking for a live document of Wakeman's English Rock Ensemble period, this is a good one.
The sound is very good on both sets, and the material includes selections dating back to his 1973 debut The Six Wives of Henry VIII, though it's heaviest on songs from his then-current release No Earthly Connection. The flaws have more to do with the excesses of progressive rock than anything else, as the material sometimes lurches ludicrously from quasi-classical music to near-heavy-metal, though Wakeman's playing (and to some degree, the rest of the band's) is unfailingly virtuosic. More problematically, it's hard to believe that, given his level of success at the time, Wakeman couldn't find a better singer than Ashley Holt, whose vocals are symptomatic of stentorian art rock-hard rock bellowing at their worst. The problem's amplified (at least on the vocal selections), too, by lyrics that are even more pretentious than usual for this genre, No Earthly Connection having been a song cycle-musical autobiography of sorts combining death, reincarnation, extraterrestrial life, evolution, and the like. You can't fault the packaging, however, with nearly two hours of music and informative liner notes with quotes from Wakeman and bassist Roger Newell.
|Music Reincarnate, Pt. 3: The Spaceman / Rick Wakeman||Rick Wakeman||3:41|
|Catherine Howard / Rick Wakeman||Rick Wakeman||10:02|
|Sir Lancelot and the Black Knight / Rick Wakeman||Rick Wakeman||5:15|
|Arthur / Rick Wakeman||Rick Wakeman||7:22|
|Music Reincarnate, Pt. 4: The Realisation / Rick Wakeman||Rick Wakeman||4:37|
|The Forest / Rick Wakeman||Rick Wakeman||6:55|
|Catherine Parr / Rick Wakeman||Rick Wakeman||8:22|
|The Prisoner / Rick Wakeman||Rick Wakeman||6:59|
|Merlin the Magician / Rick Wakeman||Rick Wakeman||8:12|