A musician like Rick Wakeman doesn't need an introduction. However I'll have to mention that as a solo artist he made excellent albums in the seventies, such as The Six Wives Of Henry VIII (1973), Journey To The Centre Of The Earth (1974), The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table (1975) and No Earthly Connection (1976). The last one was made together with his own live band the English Rock Ensemble. Many years later, in 2003, he released Out There. (see review). An album that features a new version of The English Rock Ensemble. In many ways it brought back the fabulous music Rick managed to compose in the seventies. It was obvious that Mr. Wakeman went on the road to promote this strong album. Recordings of this tour were released for the first time in 2012. Two years later a remastered reissue was released, because In The Nick Of Time was unavailable for some years. This time it is featuring an illustrated booklet with additional liner notes.
The title In The Nick Of Time certainly has a deeper meaning. It refers to the fact that the lead singer on Out There stepped out just before the tour was about to commence. It seemed that at the time Damian Wilson had some serious throat problems and was afraid his voice couldn't handle being on the road for such a long time and singing every day. Unfortunately he left it too long to tell Rick about this and therefore he had to be replaced at the last minute. An old friend in the name of Ashley Holt was able to step in "in the nick of time".
It was certainly not an easy job to replace Wilson. Back then he was already one of the best singers on the globe. But it has be said, Holt managed singing the original vocal lines of the Out There album very well. The two best songs from that album are included on this release; the title track and Cathedral Of The Sky. Some of the other material on this release must have sounded very familiar to Ashley, because songs such as Catherine Parr and No Earthly Connection were done by Rick when he was with him in his backing band in the seventies. Anybody who knows the live works of Wakeman knows that a lot of improvised stuff can be heard throughout his entire concert. Well, on this CD it can be heard as well. Lots of extra solos on the synthesizers (for example on Catherine Parr and Wurm) and electric guitars (for example on Wurm) are included on In The Nick Of Time. As a lover of real live albums I certainly enjoyed this a lot!
Over all this is a very strong live album with a band that was in great shape at the time. Rick Wakeman on the keyboards sounds as strong as always. Vocalist Ashley Holt almost sings as strong as the first time he accompanied Rick on stage. Drummer Tony Fernandez is another musician who played with Rick on stage. Never failing playing the right rhythms and beats. Guitarist Ant Glynne certainly knows how to play a good riff and to improvise. Finally, what can I say about Lee Pomeroy? At the time Rick called him one of the best bass players he had worked with. And history reveals he was right all the way, because he played with Steve Hackett, Paul McCartney and Headspace. The last band included on vocals ... Damian Wilson.
Certainly a must have for all fans of Rick Wakeman and those who enjoy keyboard orientated progressive rock! I am glad they reissued this fine live album!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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