When considering the "strict" period of neo-prog (i.e., the 1980s), The Wake is definitely a classic. Together with Marillion's first LPs, it helped define what neo-progressive was and generated dozens of sound-alike albums by as many bands in the U.K. and worldwide. While IQ would top The Wake with the 1997 two-CD set Subterranea (stronger compositions, stronger musicianship), the former remains the band's true classic, a must-have for anyone remotely interested in progressive rock from the 1980s. The third album by the band, it took a more pop approach than Tales From the Lush Attic; there was no 20-minute epic track and songs were rather simple in terms of structure. "The Thousand Days," the title track, and "Corners" had single potential, especially the first of these, a stirring rock number. With its electronic drum track and medium-tempo feel, "Corners" is the weakest track of the set. These shorter songs are balanced out by strong longer tracks like "The Magic Roundabout," "Headlong," and mostly "Widow's Peak." On the latter two, IQ gets very close to Peter Gabriel-era Genesis, mostly thanks to Peter Nicholls' theatrical and emotional vocals. The rest of the band still feels "young" somehow. There are hesitations and questionable musical decisions (the first keyboard solo in "Headlong" is half-baked). But the emotion and grandeur are there, and all these elements, together with years of experience as musicians, would later coalesce for the recording of Subterranea. Since its release in 1985, The Wake has been reissued in various forms and with varying bonus tracks. The last commonly found edition is on Giant Electric Pea (a label managed by IQ's Martin Orford); to the seven original tracks this release adds the B-side "Dans le Parc du Chateau Noir" (also available on J'Ai Pollette D'Arnu) and demo versions of "The Thousand Days" and "The Magic Roundabout."
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AllMusic Review by François Couture