Uncle G’s FUN Music Reviews
Spotlight: Rick Wakeman and The English Rock Ensemble – The Red Planet (2020 R&D Multimedia)
Authored By Gary “Uncle G” Brown
Rick Wakeman, at present time, is at the top of his game. Properly trained in the classics, during childhood. A master pianist, and keyboardist. Considered nowadays as one of the best players, in the music world. Discovered rock music; thanks, Ashley Holt. Done outstanding session work, as a teenager. Gained a reputation. Then one day, Yes. Here came the rest; fame, booze, heart attacks, and losing millions of dollars. All this and more by the man’s mid-twenties.
Add to that in a recent interview, Rick told others that he was homeless, back in the 1980s. Sleeping in a park. My jaw almost hit the fake wooden floor that is now beneath my feet, here in Las Vegas, where I have been living for over a year now. OMG! Really? I saw this man with the progressive rock band Yes, play Madison Square Garden, twice in the 1970s. Respectively, the ‘Going for The One’ and ‘Tormato’ tours. Sold out (over 20,000 seats) performances. Yes, would camp out in New York City for several days at a time playing the ‘Garden’ many (usually 3) nights in a row. Homeless? I wonder if it was around the time that ‘Owner Of A Lonely Heart’ was released? Can you imagine awaking from sleeping on a park bench, hearing Jon Anderson on a passerby’s radio sing;
“You always live your life. Never thinking of the future.”
Note: Yes, an attempt at humor, and rather dark. Those lyrics in real life, personally had nothing to do with, Rick. I felt I needed to say that. Now back to our program.
And like a phoenix, risen to even newer heights. Successful not only as a seasoned musician but as a professional jokester, as well. Rick’s very funny acceptance speech into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, brought the house down. And even raised a few eyebrows.
The demographic that people would like me to reach with this ‘review’ of Rick’s newest endeavor is the 40 – 60 age bracket. Stereotypical perhaps in that it assumes that whoever reads this, has the money necessary to purchase the new product I am devoting this article to, which BTW is called: Rick Wakeman and The English Rock Ensemble – The Red Planet (2020). A new studio, rock instrumental album. Made during the COVID-19 pandemic. A four-piece band that will become forever synonymous, with staying at home, and together yet apart, creating one of the best modern-day progressive rock, keyboard-heavy instrumental albums of its day. The main reason why when reading this, and then after sharing with your LIKE minded friends, that you search high and low for the necessary funds to purchase; Rick Wakeman and The English Rock Ensemble – The Red Planet – digital (very economic) – CD and album (still affordable) in which contains a pop-up display and also this being super cool because I am a collector…the first however many…maybe a thousand…comes with Mister Wakeman’s autograph (pre-signed and not personalized). If into music as much as I, a treasured keepsake.
“Uncle G” DISCUSSES…Rick Wakeman and The English Rock Ensemble – The Red Planet (2020)
First off, may I introduce the band…
Rick Wakeman – keyboards
Dave Colquhoun – guitars
Lee Pomeroy – bass
Ash Soan – drums
These gentlemen together, kick major ass! If together in the military, they would be labeled a; cohesive unit. Add those behind the scenes…
Richard Christopher Wakeman – production
Erik Jordan – production, and mixing
Toby Wood – mixing
Simon Heyworth – mastering
Bill Sellar – remastering
Martin Robert Cook – cool artwork
Eight songs recorded in the style of Rick’s early classic albums; The Six Wives of Henry the VIII – Journey to the Centre of the Earth – Rick Wakeman’s Criminal Record – and Rock n’ Roll Prophet.
And so we are all on the same page, and especially since I’m hoping to sell this story and get paid per word, here are the names of the tracks that make up…Rick Wakeman and The English Rock Ensemble – The Red Planet.
Note: All compositions were written by; Rick Wakeman.
01.) “Ascraeus Mons” (5:53)
02.) “Tharsis Tholus” (6:17)
03.) “Arsia Mons” (6:10)
04.) “Olympus Mons” (5:20)
05.) “The North Plain” (6:53)
06.) “Pavonis Mons” (7:14)
07.) “South Pole” (7:35)
08). “Valles Marineris” (10:02)
Do you enjoy hearing Rick’s, Six Wives? Feel oddly satisfied with the sounds of Rick rocking out with a church organ, and a heavenly sounding choir. Then you, like myself, will be amazed by how ‘The Red Planet’ starts off; Ascraeus Mons. A great choice to begin the album with. I also understand that ‘Ascraeus Mons’ will be the albums’ first single. Guaranteed to get people’s attention.
My guess is that when Rick was discussing the making of The Red Planet, that when he described parts to be extra ‘proggy’, that he was referring to track two; Tharsis Tholus. A lesson in what progressive rock is, and what progressive rock should be. Some parts within ‘Tharsis Tholus’ remind me a little like, Bob James. He’s another wonderful piano/keyboard player. There is more than one. Bob James is more jazz-oriented. I strongly recommend looking him up if not familiar.
Prog-rock is simply making music that is out of the norm. It doesn’t even have to technically, rock (per se). I’ll argue that The Beatles were more ‘prog’ than The Rolling Stones. Art Rock. Theatrical Rock. What were, the Doors? Rush? I’m old enough to remember when being labeled a prog band, was a fucking kiss of death. True. After all that great 70s stuff came out, hatred was soon to follow. People even criticized the mighty Led Zeppelin. Young musicians wanting to make a name for themselves, by shitting all over those who opened doors, before them. The late 1970s and the 1980s. Progressive music in the 1990s thanks to bands like Spock’s Beard and Dream Theater, regenerated interest. A slow and steady build-up in mainstream popularity since. The younger folk are even still interested. Don’t count them out.
Throughout this new offering, Rick’s playing on the Red Planet, as well as the rest of the band’s performance, is…mind-blowing. I declare ‘The Red Planet’ to be a solid, instrumental modern-day rock album. Exhibits all the characteristics of early Rick Wakeman albums that continue to sell millions to this day.
Rejoice fans of Rick Wakeman. Be you a female who is older and wise, or a teenage boy still in high school, who frequently experiences inappropriate erections in class. If I may take a moment to address the issue…Young Man, accept your fate. When mature, one morning IT is up and watching you comb your hair, and the next it’s more into observing you put on your socks. No real words of comfort here. From a males perspective, it’s nice not having to sit down and piss all the time. A confession. I’m an old boy scout and picked up a liking when camping, to ‘going’ outdoors; pissing on trees. I feel like I’m one with nature. Be careful of the flow. Don’t wanna stand or have to walk in the puddle. Anyway, your friends and worse, your enemies, will continue to make FUN. It is what IT is. I’d rather have a penis than a vagina. No real advancements in this awkward situation since I was in, high school. Happens to all the guys. I had this pretty redhead who sat in front of me in English class that motivated more…you know all too well. Perhaps wear baggier clothing?
Rick Wakeman and The English Rock Ensemble – The Red Planet can be described as, and you can quote me; rockin’ keyboard-oriented music with a talented rhythm section and masterful guitarist. Skilled production, solid compositions, and outstanding presentation.
Get a load of this. It’s true…the youngins sometimes do make FUN of me when I say shit like that. The first thing they do is research me. How old am I? Any photos? Where’s the nudes? God bless their souls for even managing to read, yet comprehend, exactly what it is that I author. Comparing what they have just read to the sounds of whatever electronic music is currently pounding away at all those popular light and sound shows that attract the under 30 years olds? And feeling the same way I did when back in the 1970s when comparing the sounds of Yes to the Mike Douglas Studio Orchestra. An interesting tale, Rick promoted ‘Journey’ on this show; was AWEsome! Seriously, on The Mike Douglas Show. It did have its cool moments. Rick even had some blow-up monsters on the stage, along with him and the band. Wow! A ninty-minute chat show, that aired in the middle of the afternoon, here in the States. The long time running family-oriented program really catered to an older audience. Yet, they rocked out like teenagers that day!
“Uncle G” RATES…Rick Wakeman and The English Rock Ensemble – The Red Planet (2020)
This could very well be the best album to come out since the Chinese Virus, took hold of the world. As far as Rick’s catalog, it’s up to the individual listeners as to where to rank this, as far as favorites go.
If a fan already before, you will love this.
If a lover of a concept musical album about the planet Mars, you will love this.
If looking to put something on in the background while you have sex, if not under 3 minutes and looking to go extra rounds, you will love this.
If just wanting music to embrace and cuddle you as you tune out the rest of the world…Rick has other albums that you may want to consider. There is over a hundred different titles in his song catalog. Something more mellow…off the top of my head; Piano Portraits (2017) – I do strongly recommend.
Using a one to five-star rating system whereas one star means its music more than likely composed for a trip to Uranus, to five stars which means it’s a must-have on any space voyage, “Uncle G” rates Rick Wakeman and The English Rock Ensemble – The Red Planet…5 stars! All-day long! From the first moment I played the whole album, I was mesmerized with what came out of my speakers.
On Rick’s official YouTube station, there is an eleven-part behind the scenes videos that should not be missed. And after that, Rick has a magic trick that he wants you to see. A funny little bonus video. You should be able to find all that and more here —
Promotion: Glass Onyon PR (William James) – www.glassonyonpr.com
Gonzo Multimedia – The Red Planet Page: