This live performance presented by the King Biscuit Flower Hour is an above average production of Wakeman's best-loved tunes. King Biscuit appropriately keeps the concert full-length, without any splicing, so that the songs are enjoyed exactly as they were during the staging. Wakeman electrifies San Francisco's Winterland Theater with stunning versions of "Lancelot and the Black Night" and "Merlin the Magician," two of this album's finest cuts. Particular attention is given to "The Forest," a track rarely played live from Wakeman, but placed fittingly in the middle of the eight selections here. Recorded in 1975 at the height of progressive rock's glory days, Wakeman's attentiveness and passion can be felt from the opening keyboard surge. His accompanying musicians play a large part as well, with some expert guitar work from Jeffrey Crampton and spectacular vocal execution via Ashley Holt. The grandiose but stylish percussion work from John Hudson doesn't go unnoticed either, adding vividness to Wakeman's electronics, especially in the opening "Journey to the Center of the Earth." The liner notes are surprisingly informative for a live album, offering a brief but entertaining biography of Rick Wakeman's solo progression up to that point. Taken from the early stages of Wakeman's career, this album captures him in his freshest period, at a time when his flamboyant playing style was most respected.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Mike DeGagne