Rick Wakeman's Criminal Record

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Rick Wakeman's Criminal Record
Criminal record lp.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedNovember 1977 (1977-11)
RecordedApril–June 1977
StudioMountain Studios
(Montreux, Switzerland)
ProducerRick Wakeman
Rick Wakeman chronology
White Rock
Rick Wakeman's Criminal Record
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic3/5 stars[1]

Rick Wakeman's Criminal Record is the seventh studio album by English keyboardist Rick Wakeman, released in November 1977 on A&M Records. The album was recorded in Montreux, Switzerland after Wakeman rejoined Yes in late 1976 as they were making Going for the One. With its concept loosely based on criminality, the album is an instrumental progressive rock record with the exception being "The Breathalyser", in which Bill Oddie provides vocals. Bassist Chris Squire and drummer Alan White of Yes also play on three tracks.

The album received some mixed reviews upon release, and reached No. 25 in the UK. In 2006, the album was remastered as a limited edition with 5,000 copies produced.


Wakeman did not start work on the album until recording for Going for the One was complete as he realised that making a band and a solo album simultaneously was not feasible.[2] With members of Yes and the production crew still in Montreux after the album had been done, Wakeman felt it was the right time to start work on a new solo album for A&M Records, to whom he was signed as a solo artist. Yes bassist Chris Squire asked Wakeman about the project during a visit in the White Horse pub in Montreux, and learned that the keyboardist intended to produce an album with its concept based on criminality and revealed its title.[2] At the time, Wakeman wished for the album to feature a band playing, but wanted to do "something completely different this time around" and pointed out that typically, the keyboard tracks got put down last after the group had played their parts, leaving the keyboards fighting for space around the pre-recorded music. Wakeman, however, wished for Criminal Record to be similar to his first, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1973), and be an album where the keyboards take precedent.[2]

With the concept settled upon, Wakeman proceeded to record the album at Mountain Studios with John Timperley as the engineer and mixer and Dave Richards as assistant engineer. Wakeman wished to put down his keyboard parts first, followed by bass guitar and drums. Squire and Yes drummer Alan White agreed to play the respective parts, and are featured on side one of the album: "Statue of Justice", "Crime of Passion", and "Chamber of Horrors". However, instead of giving Squire and White preconceived music or ideas on what to play, Wakeman told the pair to record what they wanted on top of the keyboards, thereby giving them complete control of what they played. He added: "I deliberately didn't go anywhere near the studio. [...] The first time I heard it was after about ten days, I can't even remember where I went. I didn't even stay in Switzerland!"[2] After Richards informed Wakeman of the completion of the bass and drum parts, Wakeman returned to the studio and enjoyed listening back to the songs transformed as it felt like he was listening to them for the first time. He remembered White called him "some gynaecological term" as the music continually varied in pace and he had refused to use a click track due to his distaste of them. Wakeman praised Squire in particular as he contributed some interesting ideas and parts that he had not thought of.[2] With the keyboard, bass, and drum parts down, Wakeman brought in Frank Ricotti to add timpani and tuned percussion, and comedian Bill Oddie of The Goodies fame to record a humorous, tongue in cheek lyric for "The Breathalyser", both in the course of a day.[3][2]

Looking back on the album, Wakeman recalled A&M Records "couldn't understand it" and continue to hold some dissatisfaction towards it.[4][2]


In 2006, Hip-O Select released a limited, numbered edition (5000 copies) compact disc, the first CD issue of the album ever available outside Japan. The album has subsequently been re-issued on CD by Real Gone Music.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Rick Wakeman.

Side one
1."Statue of Justice"6:20
2."Crime of Passion"5:46
3."Chamber of Horrors"6:40
Side two
1."Birdman of Alcatraz"4:12
2."The Breathalyser"3:51
3."Judas Iscariot"12:15

Chart performance[edit]