Artist/ Band: Clive Nolan & Oliver Wakeman
Title: The Hound of the Baskervilles
Label: Verglas Music
Year of Release: 2002
Offical Artist/ Band Link

The Review:

Released in 2002, "The Hound of the Baskervilles" is the second teaming of keyboardists Clive Nolan & Oliver Wakeman. Clive will be well known to fans of modern progressive rock through his work with Pendragon, Arena, Shadowland and Caamora. Oliver, the son of legendary Yes-man Rick Wakeman, has played stints with two of Dad's old bands Yes & The Strawbs in recent years, as well as being a solo recording artist in his own right.

The duo's first collaboration was 1999's "Jabberwocky", a concept album based on the Lewis Caroll poem of the same name, and featuring an impressive line-up of past an present prog-rock players. This follow-up continues very much in that same tradition. To give those of you who have not heard these albums a point of reference, Nolan & Wakeman's style is most easily comparable to the concept albums of Oliver's father, Rick Wakeman (think "Journey to the Center of the Earth" and "Myths & Legends of King Arthur"), or possibly Jeff Wayne's rock version of "War of the Worlds". Like those early prog classics, Nolan & Wakeman's works are always built around a storyline and mix progressive/classical themes with powerful vocals & spoken narration. This time the 'concept' is based around Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's most famous Sherlock Holmes novel, "The Hound of the Baskervilles". Many of the all-stars from "Jabberwocky" return, joined by some new collaborators. Returning are Peter Banks (ex-Yes, Flash), Karl Groom (Shadowland), John Jowitt (Jadis, IQ), Peter Gee (Pendragon), and Tony Fernandez (Rick Wakeman's English Rock Ensemble.) Newcomers include Arjen Lucassen (Areyon) and Eva Albering (Quidam). Another first-timer to the Nolan/Wakeman camp is acclaimed British actor Robert Powell, best known for the title role in "Jesus of Nazareth", who performs spoken narration written, like all the Holmes books, from the point of view of Holmes' sidekick, Dr. Watson. Also, in keeping with the 'story' format, six different vocalists portray the characters within the story; with Bob Catley (Magnum) as Sir Henry Baskerville, Paul Allison as Stapleton, Tracy Hitchings (Landmarq) as Beryl, Ashley Holt (Rick Wakeman's English Rock Ensemble) as Dr. Mortimer, Michelle Young as Laura Lyons, and Ian Moon Gould as Seldon. Catley and Hitchings are particularly good in their roles in my opinion - but I'm perhaps a bit biased since Tracy is my favorite female vocalist, bar none. Standout tracks include "Shadows of Fate" (a dark, slow-boiling rocker with soulful, raspy vocals from Catley), "At Home in the Mire" (an energetic, brisk-tempoed piece sung by Paul Allison, and highlighted by some nimble Hammond organ playing, as well as some tasty arpeggiated guitar rhythms courtesy of Karl Groom), and, perhaps best of all, "The Argument", an almost-classical/operactic piece that sets three interweaving vocal lines (from Catley, Hitchings, and Allison) against a backdrop of piano & orchestral synth sounds. This neo-classical feel is similar in spirit to the band Strangers On A Train (an earlier collaboration between Clive Nolan & Tracy Hitchings) - but with the intensity level kicked up a few notches. "Waiting" is another track that makes great use of interweaving vocal lines from the different "characters", albiet in a more rocking setting. Tracks like "Overture", "Three Broken Threads", and "Chasing the Hound" will offer a musical feast for lovers of prog keyboards, with Nolan & Wakeman trading blistering solos and neo-classical melodies back & forth with great feel and precision.

All in all, a highly recommended album, particularly for for fans of conceptual albums and keyboard dominated rock & prog. But be aware - the album is now out-of-print and snatches prices of $45.00 and up on E-Bay and Amazon's used shops.

Reviewed by Jeff Matheus on May 4th, 2011

Tracks:

01. Overture
02. The Curse of the Baskervilles
03. Three Broken Threads
04. Shadows of Fate
05. At Home in the Mire
06. Run for your Life
07. Picture of a Lady
08. The Argument
09. The Second Light
10. Seldon
11. Death on the Moor
12. By Your Side
13. Waiting
14. Chasing the Hound

Copyright 1998-2011, ProgNaut.com, All Rights Reserved.