From the Vault...


Rick Wakeman
"Cost Of Living"

© Griffin Music Records

track listing
  • Twij
  • Pandamonia
  • Gone But Not Forgotten
  • One For The Road
  • Bedtime Stories
  • Happening Man
  • Shakespeare Run
  • Monkey Nuts
  • Elegy - Written In A Country Churchyard

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    Rick Wakeman
    "Cost Of Living"

    Rick Wakeman's 1983 release, Cost Of Living (reissued by Griffin Music in 1994) has an alternating movie format: One song as Classical, the other as Rock. Where his all-Classical and New Age music albums are basically masterpieces, the Rock tracks on this album are not Progresive Rock as the band he is known famous for, Yes. What kind of Rock? Hard Rock. Not Metal, just your more than average, harder Rock music.

    There is a total of 9 tracks on Cost Of Living. The Classical/New Age tracks can be classified as the odd-numbered tracks, where the remaining even-numbered tracks are of "Rock" to "Hard Rock."

    Let's start with the "best" of the album, the Classical/New Age... "Twij" is a short track, a little of one minute in length. It's a good Classical piece. "Gone But Not Forgotten" mixes nice Classical with New Age. "Bedtime Stories" is New Age, with a choir. "Shakespeare Run" is an upbeat insrumental, where in this case, it has an almost Ragtime sound, rather than Classical and/or New Age.

    Then there's the very interesting "Elegy - Written In A Country Churchyard." This one is more of a narration story with pleasant music in its background. The narration is provided by Robert Powell, an English television and film actor. His credits included the role in the 1977 movie Jesus of Nazareth and fictional secret agent Richard Hannay. Also, his roles in BBC One's medical drama, Holby City, and as David Briggs in the sitcom The Detectives, and as Toias "Toby" Wren in the science-fact drama Doomwatch. His distinctive voice was well known in advertisements and documentaries, as in World War II documentaries. As distinctive his voice is, it reminded me of the U.S. well-known actor, Patrick Stewart, from the Star Trek: Next Generation series. Even Vincent Price's distinctive voice is another similarity.

    "Elegy" is probably considered the most entertaining track. It is taken from a poem, by Thomas Gray. The poem was completed in the year 1750, and first published in 1751. The poem's origins are unknown, but was partly inspired by Gray's thoughts following the death of poet Richard West in 1742. More of an elegy in name, but not in form - it's style is similar to contemporary odes, but it embodies a mediation on death, and resembrance after death. The resembrance is either good or bad, as Robert Powell's narration reads in comfort, in pondering the lives of the obscure rustics buries in the courtyard. (For more info on this poem, Click here.)

    Now for the "Hard Rock" tunes: "Pandamonia" is more harder Rock, where "One For The Road" is basic Rock. "Happening Man" is more harder, and matches "Pandamonia" if both albums were on an album consisting of hard rock music. For Electric Light Orchestra fans, the comparison of ELO's "Fire On High" to "Monkey Nuts" is recognizable. Interesting research on this album -- it was categorized as a "Progessive Rock" album.

    All of the hard rock tunes mentioned in the previous paragraph feature vocals by Hereward Kaye. A producer and songwriter, he was first discovered by The Kinks' Ray Davies. Davies would produce Kaye's debut album in 1975, entitled Cafe Society. Kaye has been in the music business for 40 years, working with major names in the UK record industry and West End musical theatre. Currently, he works at Landing Light Studios, coaching and mentoring talent, and programming and production. (For more info on Hereward Kaye, Click here.)

    As a whole, Rick Wakeman's Cost Of Living is a fair album, and probably considered not one of his best. Wakeman's Notes on this album: Another nearly album. It has too much variation within the music for me to be really happy about it and again I ended up in a studio that I really didn't like that was picked up by the record companyfs at the time and I couldn't change. There's a mixture of great playing and some very poor playing as well. Most disappointing is the piano sound as the piano in the studio was cheap and nasty. There are a couple of classic tracks on the album though such as "Happening Man" which I would love to re-record one day.

    Having that said, it does make sense. The musical variations is Wakeman's Classical and New Age, and harder rock music, that truthfully, does not mix at the end of the album's listen. "Elegy" is considered the best and most interesting track. A full narration album from Wakeman would be interesting with this track, with Robert Powell, and maybe other distinctive speaking voices. The voices of Vincent Price, Orson Welles (both alive at the time of this album's release) and James Earl Jones would be great voices to hear, along with Powell. And another voice to add, would be Sean Connery. (The list goes on...)

    Then there's the songs sung by Hereward Kaye. Wakeman was never a lead vocalist, where most of his solo releases (and even with the band Yes) had a lead singer, other than Rick Wakeman himself. An entire of album with Kaye would have made the four Rock tracks from Cost Of Living more notable. None of the songs on this album were bad; they just didn't mix well as a whole.

    But Cost Of Living was another album in the magnificent solo career of Rick Wakeman. Sure, for many artists like Wakeman, who has released a huge collection of various albums, some are rated better than others. Wakeman will always be a distinctive and magnificent solo artist. His musical styles varied, for whenever he wanted to record. And like he mentioned in his notes on Cost Of Living, he himself, did not think it was one of his best. Taking the odd-numbered tracks, and play them continuously, then the even-numbered ones, you can hear that this music was giving it's own meanings. And in the end, Wakeman still puts out incredible music, yet on Cost Of Living it's Cost of the entire music of the album was really not as good as for its Living.

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