Rick Wakeman

No Earthly Connection

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Released in 1976, just as prog rock's hold in the popular imagine was starting to slip, No Earthly Connection is, comparatively, a streamlined album by Rick Wakeman. It is not as elaborate and ambitious as its immediate predecessors -- which tackled Henry VII, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, and King Arthur & the Knights of the Round Table, respectively -- and only the length of a single vinyl album, with the first side devoted to the half-hour suite "Music Reincarnate" (it spills over to the second side in the original vinyl pressing) and the second splitting the difference between two songs, "The Prisoner" and "The Lost Cycle." Wakeman shows some slight hints of funk infatuation here -- "The Warning" works out its clavinet songs, with its second part buttressed by brass -- and the entirety of the "Music Reincarnate" side is a bit more forceful than expected in both its rhythms and attack. The other two songs have an element of breathing room -- even "The Lost Cycle," which begins with farting analog synths that never quite disappear over the course of the track -- but they're more distinguished by the flourishes Wakeman lays over the basic track, indications of how the keyboardist is so taken with his technique he thinks of it as nothing special, just something that deserves to be on ample display.

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