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Gordon Giltrap & Oliver Wakeman — Ravens & Lullabies
(Esoteric Recordings Antenna EANTCD 1013, 2013, CD)

Oliver Wakeman — Collaborations
(Burning Shed no#, 2014/2022, 3CD)

Oliver Wakeman with Steve Howe — The 3 Ages of Magick
(Resurgence RES144, 2001, CD)

Ravens & Lullabies Cover artCollaborations Cover artThe 3 Ages of Magick Cover art

This 3CD set presents recordings by Oliver Wakeman with two different collaborators: Steve Howe and Gordon Giltrap. Both are guitarists who are well known in their own rights and prominent musicians of Oliver’s father Rick’s generation. It should come as no surprise that this music is full of flashy keyboard parts and tasty guitar set in a lush, symphonic rock style. In 2001, The 3 Ages of Magick was released under the name “Oliver Wakeman with Steve Howe,” with Wakeman the sole composer and Howe providing supporting parts and name recognition. The album is firmly in the tradition of Rick Wakeman’s concept albums of the 70s without the vocal aspects. Fans of the style should find a lot to like here: dextrous piano arpeggios, nimble synthesizer lines, hummable melodies, and a solid but tasteful rock rhythm section. There are also quieter moments, as with the acoustic guitar and piano duet “The Forgotten King.” Several tracks feature the sounds of a choir (simulated, of course), further enhancing the recollection of his father’s work. There’s nothing ground-breaking or unexpected on offer, but it’s safe to say that anyone who likes The Six Wives of Henry VIII or the instrumental parts of King Arthur should be right at home here. Magick leans more on orchestral keyboard sounds than vintage instruments like Hammond organ and Mellotron, but there’s nothing that sounds cheesy or fake. There are musicians credited with violin, Uilleann pipes, whistle, and flute, but the rest is Wakeman.

Some time ago I wrote about Oliver Wakeman’s collaborations with Clive Nolan, and one of the musicians involved there was guitarist Gordon Giltrap. Giltrap, like Howe, has a career going back to the 60s and a reputation as a fine guitarist, especially on acoustic. His connection to Oliver Wakeman predates the Nolan collaboration, beginning with Ravens & Lullabies, a 2013 joint release included in this collection. The primary difference between this collaboration and the album with Howe is that Giltrap sings on many of the tracks. The album was credited to “Gordon Giltrap and Oliver Wakeman,” representing the more prominent role Giltrap plays compared to Howe on the earlier album. The album opens with “Moneyfacturing,” a poppish song about economic inequality. “Poppish” in the sense that it sounds like old-school prog-rockers doing their idea of a pop song — it’s got classic synthesizer sounds and some clever rhythmic turns that sound a little out of place for actual modern pop, but it’s a catchy tune. Other tracks are in the same vein, while there are also some more symphonic moments as well. Wakeman’s playing is much the same as on Magick, but Giltrap is much more part of the mix than Howe was. And there are lots of tasty finger-picked acoustic guitar passages.

The third CD finds Wakeman and Giltrap in a live context, playing music from Ravens & Lullabies as well as other material from previous albums by both musicians. They start the set as a duo doing music centered around acoustic guitar and keyboards, eventually adding Paul Manzi on bass and backing vocals. There are also solo moments for both guitar and keyboards. On the whole, it’s an intimate affair, though the music works admirably in the stripped-down setting. With three CDs chock full of symphonic, melodic music, Collaborations should be a sure winner for fans of the style.

by Jon Davis, Published 2022-07-15

[Regarding The 3 Ages of Magick]

The sons of Rick Wakeman are slowly beginning to follow in their father’s large footsteps as both acclaimed keyboardists and composers. The 3 Ages of Magick is oldest son Oliver’s second album of instrumental music with Steve Howe on board as executive producer and key contributor. Oliver has edged himself into the spotlight mostly focusing on joint compositions and charitable Devon based projects. Heavily influenced by classical composers such as Bach, this Wakeman is content to create symphonic instrumental themes with less pomp and more substance. Howe’s best guitar contributions are on both electric and acoustic guitar while his best solo parts are on “Mind over Matter” and “The Enchanter.” The use of choir vocal samples may be a bit heavy handed, but overall it doesn’t hinder the strong musicianship. Violinist Jo Greenland puts in unison accompaniment that also emphasizes the strong melodic content. While not as ham-fisted as many of his father’s works, this set of thirteen tracks carries the indelible stamp of a Korg keyboard based arrangements. Oliver’s leads are easily comparable to his father’s or even his brother, Adam; it begins to diverge on many solemn pieces such as “The Forgotten King.” Wakeman’s next project is a take on The Hound of the Baskervilles with Clive Nolan in a work that is certain to make a splash in 2002. On the whole, the Yes comparisons are both obvious and understated which could be very rewarding to fans of both artists.

by Jeff Melton, Published 2002-04-01

Filed under: Archives, 2013 releases, 2022 releases, 2014 recordings, 2001 releases

Related artist(s): Steve Hackett, Oliver Wakeman, Gordon Giltrap

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