Rick Wakeman

Treasure Chest

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This is the big deal for fans of Rick Wakeman. Treasure Chest is an eight-CD box set, seven hours and 11 minutes in total duration, each disc a treasure by itself, all previously unreleased material, all exclusive to this set, and limited to 1,000 copies. The 13 by 14 by nine cm cardboard box and accompanying 16-page booklet are not phenomenal, but what Wakeman and acolytes Eric Jordan and Malcolm Welsh have unearthed will whet the appetite of any serious fan. The material covers all eras of the keyboardist's solo career, from 1972 to 2000, but Wakeman favored a thematic approach instead of a chronology. Most discs are devoted to a single subject or concert. "The Real Lisztomania" releases for the first time the soundtrack Wakeman actually proposed to A&M -- rejected and butchered into the official Lisztomania LP. Very humorous, it stands as a major highlight of the box set. "The Oscar Concert" chronicles a 2000 solo concert in which Wakeman, always an entertaining speaker, spent the evening presenting the tunes to a dog in the front row (oh, the music's good too). "The Missing Half" contains the first half of the concert where Journey to the Centre of the Earth was recorded. "Almost Classical" focuses on unreleased studio piano pieces and demos, plus the hilarious fake operetta "Barber of Wigan" sung by tenor Ramon Remedios. "The Mixture" and "Medium Rare" cull rare live performances and studio tracks -- a medley from No Earthly Connection performed in duet by Wakeman and singer Ashley Holt stands out. The latter disc also includes the keyboardist's soundtrack to the computer game Microcosm. "Journey to the Centre of the Earth" cleans up a popular bootleg taken from a Canadian broadcast of the epic, but the real treat here is the performance of three of the Six Wives of Henry VIII with a full choir (the sound quality is poor, but they're worth it nonetheless). The final disc, "Stories," is a collection of on-stage stories -- fan candy.