(All Album Reviews by Just Eric)
Raise your hand if you own a copy of Rick Wakeman’s Rhapsodies, me. I remember the progression like it was yesterday, VI Wives was freaking awesome, Journey was cool, if a little hokey, King Arthur loved the chorus, Lizst I must have been high for, but great bounce backs on No Earthly Connection, White Rock and Criminal Record. All in all, Rick had a good portfolio at that time and us diehards eagerly awaited his next release. Waaa waaaaa! Rhapsodies??? What the fuck was that? A collection of the cheesiest tunes ever captured on any medium. Sure, you could hum every melody after one listen, but more often than not, humming these melodies through one of those lost their voice from smoking devices was better than the original.
At this point I can understand your frustration. Reading a review of Jordan Rudess’ The Road Home only to be inundated by my diatribe about Rick and Rhapsodies. Well there is a connection, not an earthly one thank goodness! The Road Home is Rudess’ Rhapsodies. Not only that, he needed a cast of prog all-stars, including Nick D’Virglio, Neal Morse, Steven Wilson, Kip Winger, etc. and some of our favorite songs from prog years gone by, “Dance On A Volcano”, “Tarkus”, “Sound Chaser”, and more, to come up with this Muenster.
“The Road Home” is a perfect case of a great idea gone horribly awry. Who wouldn’t love to hear updated versions of these masterpieces as interpreted by some of today’s stars. Count me in! Steven Wilson and PT could probably crank out an awesome “Sound Chaser” loaded with their characteristic guitar heavy sound and Wilson’s droning vox, or how about Estradasphere tackling “Tarkus” with lead Shamisen, violin and trumpet! What we get here instead is our classics cheesed up with keyboard sounds that I can only relate to my local skating rink DJ from the 1970s.
I honestly wanted to enjoy this disc, even throwing it on during the ride home from Ameoba, but after hearing the god awful “Piano Medley” with butchered versions of “Soon”, “Supper’s Ready” and “I Talk To the Wind”, I had to hit eject and save the rest of the pain for when it came time to write this review.
My advice to Mr. Rudess, less cheese, less wall of sound, and if you are going to cover prog classics, be sure to put your unique stamp on it. For the listener I suggest a pass. Stick to the originals and cross your fingers for someone willing to take a couple of these tunes and make them their own.