One of the best keyboard players in the world undoubtedly is Rick Wakeman. Most prog heads will know that he has two sons, Adam and Oliver, who are both excellent keyboard players too. Adam became well-known by working with his father and by doing lots of session work. Oliver made some name by playing with Yes and Gordon Giltrap. With the latter musician he recorded in 2013 the excellent album Ravens & Lullabies (see review). Furthermore Oliver collaborated with Clive Nolan (Arena, Pendragon, Shadowland ) with whom he recorded two albums: Jabberwocky (1999) and The Hound Of The Baskervilles (2002). These are both outstanding prog albums reminiscent of the early recordings by Wakeman senior.
I was never sure who was responsible for the sound on these Nolan-Wakeman albums, until I heard Oliver Wakeman's second solo album The 3 Ages Of Magick which he recorded together with Steve Howe (Yes, Asia). Then it became clear that Oliver must have had a major input on both records. This concept album, dealing with myths and l egends, already came out in 2001. It has always been difficult to obtain, but t hanks to Esoteric Recordings the album is now widely available again as an extended and remastered reissue of this more or less lost album. This new version includes three previously unreleased bonus tracks from the album sessions and liner notes by Oliver.
As far as I'm concerned The 3 Ages Of Magick only contains highlights. From the first seconds until the last dying notes, it's obvious that Oliver is the son of his famous father. His playing on the grand piano and the synthesizer solos remind me a lot of the ones of his father. However, he's not the only one who deserves all the credits, but also Steve Howe on acoustic and electric guitars. Both musicians got some help from Dave Wagstaffe (drums, ex-Landmarq, ex-Janison Edge), Tim Buchanan (bass), Tony Dixon (Ui llean pipes, whistles, flutes) and Jo Greenland (violin). All thirteen tracks have been tastefully recorded and with enough diversity. On The Whales Last Dance and Standing Stones we hear some Irish inf luences, but you can also enjoy beautiful piano playing on The Forgotten King for instance. The Storyteller and Time Between Times feature strong keyboard choir sounds, so there's enough to enjoy on this fine album.
Despite the fact that no singers can be heard on this fully instrumental album, the music remains adventurous and diverse. As I said before Oliver's playing reminds me a lot of his father's, but this doesn't mean that he simply copies him. He has plenty of other ideas and definitely a sound of his own. The three bonus tracks Hit'n Myth, The Fairie Ring and Dream Weaver have the same musical level as the original tracks, but that's quite logical since these pieces were written and recorded during the same period of time. Again these added tunes show that his style of playing is strongly related to his father's style.
The 3 Ages Of Magick contains great material for all devotees of substantial neo-progressive music and keyboard orientated stuff. It also shows why acts like Yes, Gordon Giltrap and Steve Howe wanted to work with Oliver Wakeman!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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