Keyboard legend Rick Wakeman & THE ENGLISH ROCK ENSEMBLE will release "The Red Planet" on August 28. The album features eight newly composed pieces, specially for this project, and harks back to Wakeman's critically acclaimed debut album "The Six Wives Of Henry VIII", where there were six heavy keyboard pieces based around a central subject matter. It is a serious return to "Wakeman prog."
The first single from the album, "Ascraeus Mons", can be streamed below. The song was inspired by 2021 being the anniversary of man's first expeditions to Mars plus the fifty since, including many landings.
Wakeman states: "The incredible information discovered and of course some astonishing images. You just have to look at the photos online or in books to be inspired, the landscapes are fascinating and the volcanoes are huge …..bigger than anything on earth. It was the perfect subject for me to be inspired musically."
He explains further: "The main themes and ideas were all written on the piano, with photographs of Ascraeus Mons scattered around. I wanted the start of the album to be a statement and I always felt the church organ as an initial solo instrument said it all. This is certainly a track that screams out to be played live.... so I'd better get practicing!!"
Rick has blown the dust off his favorite analog keyboards and has used the same formula he devised when making his legendary albums "The Six Wives Of Henry VIII" and "Criminal Record".
Upon being asked about the expectations of his prog fans who are hoping he will have shoved the "prog fader" up to 11, Rick replied: "That could be a problem.... as it's already at 14!!!"
The first 1,000 units of vinyl come in 180-gram red double vinyl, signed and numbered, in a special "pop-up" album cover. The first 2,000 units of the CD edition are signed and numbered, in a special "pop-up" CD album cover. These collector's items are sure to sell out quickly. Fans are advised to pre-order to avoid disappointment.
THE ENGLISH ROCK ENSEMBLE (ERE) features:
Rick Wakeman - Keyboards
Dave Colquhoun - Guitars
Lee Pomeroy - Bass
Ash Soan - Drums
"The Red Planet" was produced by Rick Wakeman and Erik Jordan. It is the first release on the newly formed R&D MultiMedia, which is a transatlantic partnership between music business veteran and longtime Wakeman sidekick Rob Ayling and rock journalist and producer Doug Harr.
Professional musician, keyboard player, songwriter, broadcaster and raconteur, Wakeman's career started as a much-in-demand session player, who performed on recordings by David Bowie, Elton John, Lou Reed, Al Stewart and hundreds more artists. His big break came in 1971 when he joined YES, who went on to become the most successful prog rock band in the world, but Wakeman has also always gone his own way outside the framework of that group.
In the seventies, he achieved chart-topping success with solo albums such as "Journey To The Centre Of The Earth", "The Six Wives Of Henry VIII" and "The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table", which cumulatively sold over 10 million copies in North America alone.
He has written several film scores, amongst them two for director Ken Russell ("Lisztomania" and "Crimes Of Passion") and two "Harry Palmer" movies starring Michael Caine ("Bullet To Beijing" and "Midnight In St. Petersburg"), and in the U.K., has built up an impressive reputation as a witty guest and host on shows like "Grumpy Old Men", "Countdown", "Watchdog" and the comedy cabaret show "Live At Jongleurs". His wickedly irreverent acceptance speech when YES was inducted in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2017 nearly brought the house down.
That same year, he made British chart history when his "Piano Portraits" record became the first solo piano instrumental album to enter the U.K.'s Top 10 on release — a feat he then repeated with last year's "Piano Odyssey". Both records feature tunes that have a special connection with Rick's personal musical journey and his subsequent tours, in which he performs a selection of tracks accompanied by hilarious memories and anecdotes have been instant sellouts in the U.K.
The 2019 North American leg of the "Grumpy Old Rock Star" tour took place in September and October.