Even though the majority of the songs include vocals, Rick Wakeman's 1984 stands as one his most well-rounded albums, combining the dexterity and mastery of the keyboards with the richness and instrumental passion of violins, trombones, and flutes. But these instruments are only a handful that emerge throughout the 11 tracks on the album, which remains both vocally and musically true to its conceptual purpose of perpetrating George Orwell's classic tale. Wakeman implements French horns, harp, piccolos, tubas, and even marimbas to capture the essence of his pieces, all fusing quite harmoniously behind the powerful yet effective runs of piano and synthesizer. The music is dark and cold in all the right places, capturing the despair and hopelessness of such tracks as "The Proles" and "Robot Man." The opposite is played out on "Julia," where Chaka Khan and an accompanying choir along with the delicate sound of an acoustic piano aptly describe in musical form the warmth and promise of the female heroine. Tim Rice, who wrote the lyrics for the album, sings lead on "The Proles," while the song "No Name" is head-manned by Steve Harley of Cockney Rebel fame. Although Wakeman's keyboards aren't hoarding the spotlight, they still remain an integral part of the album's futuristic motif. Melded in with the percussion and woodwind instruments, his electric pianos and organs lead the way in most of the tracks, and rightfully take over in numbers like "1984" and "The Room." This album, as do his first three classics, reveals Wakeman's prominence as a keyboard maestro while equally displaying his proficiency at creating a well-rounded, tightly knit thematic piece.
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AllMusic Review by Mike DeGagne