Rick Wakeman, Piano Odyssey (Sony Classical) ***

FOR fun, check out some of the more bizarre versions of Bohemian Rhapsody. Panic! At the Disco, Hayseed Dixie, Ronald Reggae, The Muppets and even William Shatner have covered what his bandmates called "Freddie’s Thing". Wild, audacious, blasphemous, all utterly crazy cover versions have many descriptions, but never ever "boring", until now. As we all know, Rick Wakeman is a gloriously gifted pianist, lauded for his arrangements for Bowie and Cat Stevens as well as a solo career and his many years with Yes. He should have known better. Engaging the Orion Orchestra, the English Chamber Choir and even Brian May on lead guitar adds nothing to this colour-by-watercolour cover. Sadly, Piano Odyssey is a pale imitation of last year's Piano Portraits. Mostly this is down to his poorer choice of material. Did the world really need new versions of While My Guitar Gently Weeps, The Boxer or Strawberry Fields Forever? Fortunately, reworkings of Yes’s And You And I, Roundabout and Bowie’s Wide-Eyed Boy From Free Cloud save the day.

Ian Sime