Sunday, May 18, 2014

It's Christmas In Cape Town

All right, here we are with Day Four of Taurus Prog Warrior Week, this time featuring one of the genre's most luminary participants. That's right, Rick Wakeman is 65 today! I wonder if Bill Bruford ever teased Rick for being exactly one day his junior.
Prog's Caped Crusader started out as a session musician, quitting the prestigious Royal College of Music to contribute some truly memorable keyboards to some huge songs. The piano on Cat Stevens' Morning Has Broken and the Mellotron parts of David Bowie's Space Oddity and Black Sabbath's Changes come from him. After a stint in folk-proggers The Strawbs, he joined Yes to replace Tony Kaye and complete the most legendary lineup of that band, contributing to Fragile, Close to the Edge and Tales from Topographic Oceans. Then he left -- dissatisfied with the esoteric content of TfTO -- and rejoined in 1977 for Going for the One and Tormato. All this with a prolific solo career happening alongside.
Today's post is a performance of Rick with his band The English Rock Ensemble, recorded for the BBC in 1976 on the No Earthly Connection tour. It's a pristine pre-FM reel and owing to that fact is indistinguishable from a real live record. Rick's between song announcements are often tremendously hilarious in this one... I LOL'd several times listening back to this.
Rick Wakeman & The English Rock Ensemble
Hammersmith Odeon
London, UK

01 BBC intro
02 The Journey
03 The Spaceman
04 Catherine Howard
05 Sir Lancelot and the Black Knight
06 Anne Boleyn
07 The Realization
08 BBC outro

01 BBC intro
02 King Arthur
03 The Forest
04 Catherine Parr
05 The Prisoner
06 Intro to Merlin
07 Merlin the Magician
08 Medley
09 BBC outro

Total time: 1:41:00

BBC Rock Hour pre-FM reel
That's four heavyweights in four days, wow... so much birthday Prog you'd almost want to blow out the candles in 17/8 time. Anyway, enjoy this show from one of the central figures of Progressive Rock, who like many lucky Baby Boomers (I'm paraphrasing Bruford here, when he's asked how he accomplished it all) had the good sense to have been born in 1949... and thusly were hitting their 20s right when the cultural, social and political shit was hitting the fan! --J.

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