CD Review – Nolan and Wakeman – Tales By Gaslight

When Oliver Wakeman and Clive Nolan released their first album together, a musical interpretation of Lewis Carroll’s famous nonsense poem Jabberwocky in 1999, no one else, at that time, was really attempting to achieve what they were doing, creating an album with a host of guest performers. It wasn’t totally unknown, but there were few others trying a similar undertaking then. There were certainly fewer musicians who were attempting to create progressive rock with touches of musical theatre, Victorian melodramatic theatre, and even touches of music hall. But isn’t that the essence of progressive rock – drawing in influences from a diverse range of styles. They furthered their approach for The Hound Of The Baskervilles in 2002, this time with narration to give the story line some direction. A splendid array of progressive musicians joined the pair in creating the albums, including Peter Banks, Peter Gee, Bob Catley, Tracy Hitchings, Ashley Holt, Oliver’s father Rick Wakeman reading the poem Jabberwocky, and the unmistakable narration of Robert Powell on The Hound Of The Baskervilles, and other musicians.

The resulting music was a lively, rich meld of flamboyant keyboards, powerful vocals, and the sort of soft ballads that are seemingly inevitable in musical theatre. Of the two albums, The Hound Of The Baskervilles is the more rock opera-like, helped by Robert Powell’s narration pushing the story-telling along. Both albums are great listens, full of extravagance, pomp and bombast. They do slip into being a bit too strident at times, but for all the seriousness and intent, both albums retain their sense of fun.

Clive Nolan

The Nolan and Wakeman project was always intended to be a trilogy of musical interpretations of literary classics, but an album inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was shelved because of a lack of record company funding. But work had been started on the album, some of which is included on a third disc here, featuring previously unreleased pieces that were intended to complete the trilogy. This third disc, Dark Fables, contains over thirty minutes of music slated for the abandoned Frankenstein album. It also includes some pieces that were initially intended for The Hound Of The Baskervilles. This disc also features contributions from a string of invited guests, including Gordon Giltrap, Paul Manzi, Andy Sears, and David Mark Pearce. The album is concluded by Rick Wakeman’s original reading of Jabberwocky. There is some interesting music on this disc, although it remains very much in the vein of the other two albums.

The Tales By Gaslight box set contains three CDs each with sixteen-page booklets including lyrics, previously unseen art work and many stories behind the creativity from both Wakeman and Nolan. The first 250 box sets will also include a 4th limited edition numbered art print of the box set cover signed by Clive Nolan and Oliver Wakeman. The CDs have been remastered.

Oliver Wakeman

Overall, then, this an excellent package featuring some fine contributions from the invited guests. But it is Clive and Oliver who remain centre stage and they are impressive here. It is not just the excellence of their keyboard skills, but the quality of the song writing and just the sheer extravagance of the projects themselves. Undertakings such as these could quite easily have blown up on them. That they did not is a sign of the strength of the music, the bravado of the projects, and the elan therein.

Jabberwocky

1. Overture (5:57) 

2. Coming To Town (2:55) 

3. Dangerous World (6:54) 

4. The Forest (4:22) 

5. A Glimmer Of Light (2:42) 

6. Shadows (4:19) 

7. Enlightenment (5:23) 

8. Dancing Water (4:12) 

9. The Burgundy Rose (3:55) 

10. The Mission (4:32) 

11. Call To Arms (6:37) 

12. Finale (1:50) 

Oliver Wakeman / keyboards

Clive Nolan / keyboards, co-producer 

With:

Ian Salmon / guitar

Peter Banks / guitar

Jon Jeary / acoustic guitar

Pete Gee / fretless bass

Tony Fernandez / drums

Bob Catley / vocals – “The Boy”

Tracy Hitchings / vocals – “The Girl”

James Plumridge / vocals – “The Jabberwock”

Paul Allison / vocals – “The Tree”

Rick Wakeman / voice – “The Narrator” 

The Choir (Michelle Young, Michelle Gulrajani, Suzanne Chenery, Tracy Hitchings, Sian Roberts, John Jowitt, Dave Wagstaffe, Donald Morrison, Ian Gould, John Mitchell, Tina Riley & Clive Nolan) / chorus vocals

The Hound Of The Baskervilles

1. Overture (5:57) 

2. The Curse Of The Baskervilles (6:14) 

3. Three Broken Threads (4:37) 

4. Shadows of Fate (7:01) 

5. A Home in The Mire (4:52) 

6. Run for your Life (4:52) 

7. Picture of a Lady (3:41) 

8. The Argument (4:48) 

9. Second Light (2:00) 

10. Seldon (4:57) 

11. Death on the Moor (6:13) 

12. By Your Side (3:32) 

13. Waiting (5:29) 

14. Chasing the Hound (4:34) 

Oliver Wakeman / keyboards, co-producer 

Clive Nolan / keyboards, backing vocals, co-producer 

With:

Michelle Young / vocals

Tracy Hitchings / vocals

Paul Allison / vocals

Ian Gould / vocals

Bob Catley / vocals

Ashley Holt / vocals

Paul Wrightson / backing vocals

Karl Groom / guitar, co-producer & mixing

Arjen Lucassen / guitar

Peter Banks/ guitar

Ewa Albering / flute

Jo Greenland / violin

Peter Gee / bass

John Jowitt / bass

Tony Fernandez / drums

Robert Powell / narrator

Dark Fables

1. 221B

2. The Man Called Sherlock

3. The Baker Street Irregulars

4. The Overture

5. I’d Give You Everything

6. The Mirror

7. Elizabeth

8. Why Do You Hate Me?

9. The Wedding Approaches

10. Time Passes

11. A Descent into Madness

12. The Jabberwocky (read by Rick Wakeman)

With:

Andy Sears / vocals

Paul Manzi / vocals

Gordon Giltrap / classical guitar

David Mrk Pearce / electric and acoustic guitars

Charlotte Dickerson / vocals

Karl Groom / acoustic guitar

Tim Nunes / violin

Adam Nunes / cello

Release date: 23rd April 2021                                                                                                           

Tales By Gaslight  OUT NOW  buy it here: 

https://burningshed.com/store/oliverwakeman

Watch the video for Coming To Town here: https://youtu.be/xPI9zTKprC0

And the teaser video here:  https://youtu.be/_5Bt2_xBdYI

https://www.oliverwakeman.co.uk/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/OliverWakeman/

Twitter @OliverWakeman

http://www.clivenolan.net/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/clive.nolan.7

Twitter – @operafanatica

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