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"Bruce's retrospective thought on Jabberwocky"


Jabberwocky - Oliver Wakeman & Clive Nolan - released 1999


Has it really been twenty years already?

Twenty years ago, a concept album came out of nowhere to become one of my most favorite of all time. 

There have been personal moments where while listening to the album has created a lasting memory of the finest kind. Shortly after release, hearing The Burgundy Rose for the first time, for instance – I was walking through the park and as the snow began to fall, the song began to play (on my cassette Walkman lol). What a lovely song it is, and it has remained so special to me as I recall that moment fondly to this day.

A couple of months later, as I was flying down to South America to meet (for the first time) my future wife, I played the entire album, looking through the window, watching the sun rise over the Amazon. Jabberwocky became associated with that very special time in my life. It seems appropriate as I was boldly embarking on a life changing adventure… in a way, much like the boy in the story…

This is simply put, an album that’s well written, well performed, and well recorded. The use of different musicians and singers throughout the album was a brilliant decision for this work. It adds depth, texture, character. Bringing together such a large “cast” comes with risks, compatibility being one. I’m glad to say that the “chemistry” between the players is so good, it adds an intangible quality to the overall work. So much positive energy is present, the musicians all worked in a way that only enhanced what was already a great musical idea.

I absolutely love the diversity on this album! From powerful and up tempo rockers, to warm and gentle ballads and everything in between. Jabberwocky is a timeless wonder, still sounding so fresh! I’ve never heard any of this live, in person, except once at a soundcheck before a Yes concert when Oliver played parts from the theme. That was so wonderful, and became a fond memory of that time in Boston a few years back.

Twenty years of pure enjoyment, and I look forward to the next twenty…

Thank you, Oliver and Clive!


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Bruce 20 years

"Musical Discoveries" Review


From the 'Musical Discoveries' web page. To view the original, click here.


Based on the Lewis Carroll (1832-1898) poem of the same name, Clive Nolan has teamed up with Oliver Wakeman to create the all-new progressive rock masterwork Jabberwocky (VGCD014). In development for three years prior to the Verglas Music(UK) release in January 1999, this stunning concept album features Clive Nolan and Oliver Wakeman's tremendous keyboard work with contributions by a vast array of artists including Peter Banks (Genesis) on drums, Ian Salmon (Shadowland, Janison Edge) on guitar and Tracy Hitchings' (Quasar, Gandalf, Strangers On A Train, Landmarq) vocals. Rick Wakeman narrates the piece and further vocals are provided by Bob Catley (The Boy), James Plumridge (The Jabberwock) and Paul Allison (The Tree). Images of the performers are provided at the conclusion of this review.

Oliver Wakeman, successful outside the business, returns to his music roots in this first major project with Clive Nolan (Arena, Pendragon, Strangers On A Train, Shadowland).

Indeed, Jabberwocky combines Wakeman's foundation, steeped in father Rick's epics (Journey To The Centre of the Earth, Six Wives Of Henry VIII, and The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable) with Nolan's dynamic soundtrack-oriented progressive rock style. With Rick narrating the poem's verses across the album's tracks, the individual songs interpret the story in a highly theatrical style perfectly performed by the four vocalists. It is interesting to note that the band Ambrosia used a narration of portions of Carroll's "Jabberwocky" within the song "Mama Frog" found on their self-titled album almost twenty-five years ago.

Nolan & Wakeman's Jabberwocky album is instrumentally very strong and quite symphonic throughout with amazing keyboard riffs in several of the tracks with "Shadows" being the most stunning instrumental example of their collaboration. However, as a 'concept' album written to tell the story in a musical style, it has very strong vocal performances by the three male vocalists and Tracy Hitchings. An extensive choir, including Dave Wagstaffe (Landmarq, Janison Edge) and Michelle Young, provides backing vocals and incidentals throughout the album. The instrumental parts, lead vocals and choir are perfectly arranged and orchestrated to develop the mood, setting the scene through musical animation, for each chapter of the story.

James Plumridge's excellent interpretation of The Jabberwock is similar to The Landlord in the musical Les Miserables at times, especially in the introduction to "Dangerous World," more closely aligning to The Phantom ("Dancing Water") at others. Bob Catley's emotive performance of The Boy is somewhat reminiscent of Meatloaf (The Intergalactic Touring Band) at times, moreso in the beginning of the album and the track "The Mission," while Paul Allison's sensitive interpretation of The Tree evokes memories of Moody Blues vocalist Justin Hayward. The choir also achieves a Moody Blues-like sound in "The Forest." Tracy Hitchings plays The Girl delivering unique emotionally-charged theatrical vocal performances throughout her parts of the album.

The lyrics of the album interpret Carroll's poem (from the 1872 Through The Looking Glass and What Alice Found There). The story involves a fantasy or even a dream where the Boy confronts the Jabberwock, an imaginary culmination of the Girl's fears and nightmares ("Dangerous World"). The Girl's faith ("Glimmer Of Light") and sage advice from the Tree ("Enlightenment") give the Boy the strength and courage ("Dancing Water," "The Burgundy Rose") to conquer the beast ("The Mission"). In the triumph of their victory ("Call To Arms"), the Boy and Girl join together as the album concludes ("Finale"). The music and the storyline are discussed further below.

The instrumentals in the "Overture" begin after Rick Wakeman narrates the first verse of the "Jabberwocky" poem. With bold percussion, symphonic keyboard work and guitar, the album opens in full splendour to support the initial vocal performance by Bob Catley expressing his need to overcome his fears and be with his true love. The stunning female choir comes in singing in Latin ("When will my love come home to me") to compliment the symphonic instrumentals during the bridge. The final vocal verse is performed with synthesized woodwind voices concluding the instrumental work. Rick narrates the second verse of the poem as the track concludes.

With the scene now set, fierce keyboards introduce the rocking "Coming To Town," also sung by Bob Catley supported by the choir, before a short and sweet verse is sung by Tracy Hitchings. A keyboard solo precedes the final verses of the song. The Jabberwock makes his first appearance in "Dangerous World," seducing the Boy in both opening and closing verses, sounding much like the cunning Landlord from Les Miserables. In contrast to the sinister intentions of the Jabberwock, Tracy Hitchings as the Girl, continues in the second passage, singing a lovely ballad about her nightmares and her feelings for her protector, the Boy. The narration of the poem's third verse leads into "The Forest." The song is a majestic march-like instrumental with Latin vocal harmonies to express the danger that lies ahead ("Make haste slowly, give up hope those who enter") provided by of the male choir.

"A Glimmer Of Light" is a short, yet stunning, emotionally-drenched solo ballad sung by Tracy Hitchings. Musically mating perfectly with "Dangerous World," the sensitive "Glimmer Of Light" is one of the highlights of the album. The Boy is given inspiration through the Girl's belief that they could conquer all. The narration of the poem's fourth verse concludes the track. The keyboard riff-filled instrumental track "Shadows" follows; it summarises the instrumental and vocal themes thus far and is a perfect overature to what could be called a second act with introductions to the music that follows. It could equally be a scene where the boy and girl are haunted by things that leap out from the dark or are chased through the forest by the Jabberwock.

The Boy and Girl encounter The Tree; Paul Allison leads the song with a tremendous, at times multi-tracked, solo in "Enlightenment" supported by keyboard and guitar themes introduced earlier in "Shadows." The Tree encourages the Boy to confront his fears without hesitation and to have faith in himself to conquer the Jabberwock. The Boy sings a short verse accepting the Tree's advice. A powerful guitar-led instrumental bridges to the concluding verse of the song as Rick summarises the danger ahead.

In the buildup to the confrontation, Bob Catley sings a heartfelt solo, as the Boy gathers his strength in "Dancing Water." The Jabberwock's lure builds in an almost "Phantom"-like vocal passage in contrast to Tracy Hitchings' short verses where the Girl warns of impending danger. The song concludes with all three singing their differing views in opposition. The final bits of strength and courage are gathered in the vocals of "The Burgundy Rose," where keyboard passages underscore the confident mood expressed in this sensitive Bob Catley / Tracy Hitchings duet.

In "The Mission" the Boy sets out to destroy the Jabberwock. With vocals led by Catley and supported by Hitchings, dynamic keyboard work and soaring electric guitars build the excitement delivered by the song. The highly instrumental "Call To Arms" reaches a climax when the fight against the Jabberwock takes place. The fifth verse of the poem is begun and as the tension builds with the choir's vocal repetition of an Italian phrase (written on the top of the gateway to hell within Danté's Inferno -- "Through me you enter the suffering city, through me you enter the never ending pain") the Jabberwock is slain. As the poem's fifth verse is completed, the Boy and Girl join together having overcome their ordeal. They revel in their triumph over the beast in a last, albeit brief, duet. Rick's narration of the poem's final verse leads to the orchestrally lush instrumental "Finale."

While there have been many interpretations of Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky, this is the first musical work to do the story justice. Here the artists have created an instrumentally rich, theatrically symphonic work, with sensitive lyrics and outstanding vocal performances to guide us through their interpretation, musically animating the magical world within Carroll's poem. A stage performance with this album as its soundtrack would make an outstanding modern production. A true masterwork, Nolan & Wakeman's Jabberwocky is an outstanding album in all respects. Bravo!

© Russell W Elliot 1998

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"Musical Discoveries" Review

"New Horizons" Review


Used with the kind permission of New Horizons, from their extensive on-line music resource. To view the original, click here.

"Released in January 1999 'Jabberwocky' is the first collaboration between Clive Nolan and Oliver Wakeman. The album contains twelve tracks which are woven together with narration by Oliver's dad, Rick, who reads the Lewis Carroll poem. As a whole they tell a story which, although loosely based on the poem, goes far beyond the original work - the imagery, however, probably owes more to the film of the same name than it does to Lewis Carroll! 

"At its simplest level, this is a love story which follows the character of the Boy (ex-Magnum vocalist Bob Catley) on his quest for the grail ... sorry, Girl (Tracy Hitchings from Landmarq ). His adversary is the Jabberwocky (James Plummridge) and the witness to the story is the tree (Paul Allison). However, the story goes far deeper than this and contains many analogies that go well beyond the scope of this review but, be assured, it is worthwhile reading the lyrics in full rather than just listening to the album as a series of songs - you may be surprised at what you find. As a starter for ten, there is a quote from Dante's Inferno ... 

"The album opens with 'The Overture' - Rick Wakeman recites the first verse of the poem to a backdrop that sounds like a swirling wind - from this musical opening we are left in no doubt that this is a very grandiose work with our two keyboard maestros, Clive and Oliver, giving it their best from the word go. Keyboard sounds build up, layer on layer, before Bob Catley starts singing, his vocals are ideally suited to this work, and he really gets into the part. 

"Throughout, Tracy Hitching's voice is superb but the track 'Glimmer of Light' stands out as one of the real gems on this album. A great song that could easily be taken out of the context of the album and still be appealing (if you like this, check out 'Strangers on a Train'). 

"'Enlightenment', featuring Paul Allison, is another great song - underpinned with a piano track, the song builds up and up with Paul's vocals and some superb guitar work leading up to a spine-tingling piece of singing, by Bob Catley, after which we get some really amazing guitar work with harmonies, flying off in many different directions, before the final chorus subsides to a tinkling finish with similarities to Magnum's 'Storytellers Night'. 

"The instrumental track, 'Shadows', is also worthy of mention with its excellent piano work and swirling, over the top, keyboards. The sleeve notes do not specify who plays which keyboard parts - quite rightly so, but I have my suspicions!

"My personal favourite has to go to 'Dancing Water' which bring together the characters of the Boy, the Girl and a really creepy Jabberwocky. Each takes a turn singing their own part, culminating in the three different themes being sung together - it is impossible to convey, in words, the full effect - I can only say that it is brilliantly put together.

"In addition to those mentioned above, the album also features solid performances by Peter Banks (Yes); Tony Fernandez (long time drummer with Rick Wakeman); Peter Gee (Pendragon); Ian Salmon (Shadowland and Jannison Edge) and Jon Jeary. I am fully aware that an all-star line-up does not guarantee quality and, also, that concept albums are not everyone's cup of tea, but the format works very well in this instance and the final result is well crafted. 

"As a work the album, admittedly, has its faults - there will be some who find an uncanny resemblance to Rick Wakeman's own work on some of this album (bear witness to track two), but this is not surprising and should not deter from the fact that Clive and Oliver have produced a classic work here that should be ranked, up there, as one of the greats."

Simon, 23/5/99

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"New Horizons" Review

"The Cry" Review


Taken from the the web site of "The Cry", home of the "Arena" mailing list. To view the original, click here.

Clive Nolan & Oliver Wakeman


Both names should ring a bell for anyone who's into symphonic rock. Clive Nolan has proven himself to be one of the most important characters in the progressive scene during the 1990's, with successful bands like Arena, Shadowland, Strangers On A Train, Pendragon etcetera. Oliver Wakeman of course faces the challenge of proving he's more than 'just' the son of Rick Wakeman.

This project is based on the Lewis Carroll poem “Jabberwocky”, (from the 1871 novel “Through The Looking-Glass And What Alice Found There”) acknowledged as the world's finest so called nonsense poems. To spice up the story Nolan/Wakeman added a kind of love story between'The Boy' and'The Girl'.

The Boy, played by Bob Catley (highly praised as the singer of Magnum, now going solo with the album “The Tower”) understands that he's the chosen one to save a town from the cruel beast known as Jabberwocky. Catley has still got that powerful voice that made Magnum special, and the role of the brave hearted boy suits him perfectly.

The Girl, portrayed by Tracy Hitchings (Landmarq among others), Nolan's long time companion in Strangers On A Train, has a really pure and innocent voice, which fits perfectly here. She shows us that she's got the ability to enchant us both with heartwarming ballads and more powerful parts.

‘The Jabberwock' himself gets his voice from a certain James Plumridge, perhaps best known to fans of Arena as the band's former tour manager! But he belongs on the stage, not behind it. He has the challenging role as the vicious beast, perhaps the most intriguing character of the set, and he interprets his part in the most personal way.

The last of the lead singers, and the one with the smallest part – he appears only in one song – is Paul Allison (formerly in Sleepwalker) who portrays'The Tree'. His strong, but yet clean voice is perfect for this part, Nolan/Wakeman really succeeded in choosing the cast.

The Narrator, guiding us through the whole story, is Rick Wakeman, nonetheless. He reads the poem as the music goes, and gives the piece a special edge.

The list of musicians appearing on the album is by no means less impressive. Behind the drum kit we find the skilled Tony Fernandez, who has been playing in Rick Wakeman's band for many years. Needless to say, he delivers the goods! A brilliant drummer, does lots of cool stuff without necessary stealing attention from the songs or the singers. The drum sound is also absolutely excellent.

Providing some of the guitar- and bass parts is Ian Salmon, known from Shadowland and Janison Edge, and the fretless bass is handled by Pete Gee from Pendragon. Peter Banks, the original guitarist in Yes, also contributes to this wonderful piece of music and Jon Jeary from Threshold gives us the acoustic guitar parts.

But the center of attention goes to Nolan and Wakeman. Both of them being outstanding keyboard players you can expect a lot of wonderful melodies, tasteful sounds and small details stuffed into the twelve songs. What first and foremost strikes me about “Jabberwocky” is the quality of the songs. Here you'll find pure symphonic rock parts mixed with classical music, basic rock and what almost feels like a soundtrack. I'm sure that it's safe to say this is a very original album. I have at least never heard anything like it.

The album starts with the “Overture”, which pretty much follows the classical path the first minutes, it builds towards something – we get the feeling something's about to happen. Then Bob Catley appears and spreads the goosebumps – that man has a got one magnificent voice! It's a beautiful song where he's torn between his decisions when he realises his fate. “Coming To Town” follows, and that's a more rock based song, the one closest to 'ordinary' music. There we get to meet The Girl, Tracy Hitchings, otherwise it's pretty much dominated by Catley. In “Dangerous World” both The Girl and The Jabberwock talks to The Boy. The Jabberwock with a sarcastic and malicious tone and The Girl with love. The Jabberwock is brilliantly accompanied by a heavy waltz which gives the whole picture a theatrical touch.

“The Forest” is a grand choral piece with the choir chanting, and the following number is a pure love song from The Girl to The Boy. “Glimmer Of Light” starts out lightly, and towards the end a soft keyboard melody nestles against us, very beautiful indeed! And when we thought we were safe, the classical piece “Shadows” appears! It's instrumental, and I know for a fact that this piece comes mostly from Nolan. This weird and wonderful song is one of the highlights on “Jabberwocky”, and it's very varied, both in time and atmosphere. Nolan mixes waltz and fantastic piano playing with furious orchestra parts in the most brilliant way – this man knows classical music. A very tasteful orchestration with some wonderful sounds. This is a soundtrack of a fairytale!

In “Enlightenment” The Tree speaks to The Boy. The Boy still has doubts, afraid of what is coming. Paul Allison, in the shape of The Tree encourages him to be brave, accompanied first only by a piano melody and soft strings, and when the drums are added, it turns out to be a really excellent song. The guitar solo is marvelous, melodic and beautiful. The Boy leaves The Tree with a lighter heart.

“Dancing Water” is one of the other highlights, where The Boy, The Jabberwock and The Girl all share the song. It starts out with only a soft keyboard layer, with Catley's absolutely incredible vocals leading us towards the ever so malicious Jabberwocky. This song is the closest we get to a musical, mostly thanks to James Plumridge who is very convincing as The Jabberwock. In the end, all of the vocalists sing their parts together – a total climax!

In the soft and beautiful “The Burgundy Rose” The Boy starts to realise what he's got to do, and that he's brave enough. With strength in his voice he sings “No, I don't feel small and insignificant” and continues with “The Mission”. “The Mission” is a mid tempo song with a great keyboard solo. This is it, The Boy must fight The Jabberwock, because he's “Too close! Too close to run away now”.

The Choir chants yet again, and in the background of “Call To Arms” we hear the fight. The Narrator tells us about what's happening, and as we all know: “He left it dead, and with his head he went galumphing back”. Triumph! The Boy and The Girl sings together for the first time, “You're mine!”. The “Finale” is an even more grandiose version of the “Overture” – there's victory in the air!

I'm not exaggerating when I say that this will be one of the most important releases in the symphonic area in the nineties. A “War Of The Worlds”, a “Journey To The Centre Of The Earth”. Interestingly enough, all three are inspired by books.

The cover alone is reason enough to buy the album. The famous and very talented Rodney Matthews (did a lot of wonderful covers for Magnum) has painted the picture of The Boy, The Tree and The Jabberwock, and the whole picture can be seen inside of the booklet. It needs to be released as a double LP, it's only fair to get a fold out cover of this one!

In my opinion, this is a necessary CD to own if you're into any kind of good quality music. Don't label this as “progressive rock”, or “symphonic rock”, because there's much more to it. It's not meant to be labelled. It's meant to be enjoyed!

Anastasia Swano
Visit Anastasia's site :

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"The Cry" Review

"The Cage" Review


Used with the kind permission of "The Cage", the "Arena" fan club. To view the original, click here.



The Jabberwocky is a project by Clive Nolan and Oliver Wakeman, son of ex-Yes keyboard player Rick Wakeman, who's also featured on the album. Rick Wakeman provides the narration before and between the songs.

The Jabberwocky has been inspired by Lewis Carroll's novel Through The Looking Glass. In this novel, Alice is looking for the meaning of a certain poem, called Jabberwock. It's about a fierce creature in the woods, that threatens every being that trespasses its territory. Besides Nolan and the Wakeman's many other well-known names feature on the album. Peter Banks (also ex-Yes) is present on guitar, as well as Ian Salmon (Shadowland), Tony Fernandes (Rick Wakeman-band) plays drums and Peter Gee (Pendragon) and John Jeary (Threshold) handle the basses. The Boy is played by Bob Catley (Magnum) and The Girl is played by Tracy Hitchings (Landmarq). Former Arena tourmanager and Shakespeare-actor James Plumridge plays The Jabberwock. The beautiful cover has been designed by Rodney Matthews, who also took care of many of the Magnum artwork. What can you expect from this CD? Well, I won't spoil everything, but to me it's a wonderful combination of the 'moody' atmosphere of the Strangers On A Train-albums and the 'psychedelica' of the Wakeman-tradition. Both Clive Nolan and Oliver Wakeman are great keyboard-players. Add to that the brilliant vocals of both Bob Catley and Tracy Hitchings and you have the recipe for one hour of adventurous music. Jabberwocky combines the typical Wakeman-sound with the fine melodies from the famous Nolan-brand! Wakeman meets Strangers on a Train....

The wind blows through the trees when Rick Wakeman reads the first syllable of the Jabberwocky poem. The bombastic overture with layers of keyboards presents the main themes of the album in Overture. Bob Catley's raw voice contrasts in a great way with the mystical music. There's a clear resemblance in music to some of 'dad' Wakemans stuff, like Journey or King Arthur. You immediately recognise the typical way of playing keyboards. Towards the end of the Overture, classical instruments (oboe) accompany the second syllable of the poem. A very 'Wakemanian' solo follows, and the story starts...

The jazzy Coming to Town is probably the best song of the album. Bob Catley (The Boy) sings the faster parts and Tracy Hitchings (The Girl) is dreaming of him in the more romantic parts. The Jabberwock enters the stage in Dangerous World. The harpsichord sets the right medieval atmosphere for this dark creature. He challenges the boy to fight with him. The girl at the same time still sings of her love for him. Tracy really has a great voice for this kind of songs. This one could easily have been on a Strangers on a Train-album. At the end of the song, the Jabberwock returns again, threatening to kill the boy, but he is aware of that.

He enters the woods in The Forest, a song with a marching rhythm. Military drums and trumpets make clear that the battle is going to start. The choir encourages the boy. Despite the threatening sound of this track, the girl is still positive about the outcome. Again, Glimmer of Light is one of those dreamy Strangers-like tracks that suddenly changes into Shadows. A fast piano parts tells us that the battle is fierce, the track develops into an orchestral instrumental, with a very lively atmosphere. You can easily imagine the Jabberwock walking through the woods with his heavy body, chasing the boy. The Tree (Paul Allison) is the witness of this all. In Enlightenment he also encourages the boy. The first part of track is very melodic in the vein of one of the great A.L.Webber musicals. It changes at the point where the boy realises that his life will never be the same after his encounter with the Jabberwock. The second part of Enlightenment is much faster and has a typical Nolan-like beat, comparable to some Shadowland-songs.

In Dancing Water all characters gather. The Jabberwock bullies the boy, who still is hunting for him. The girl warns him not to be reckless. The finale of the song brings us all singers singing their own part, which gives a great climax. The boy settles down in Burgundy Rose, a beautiful ballad with great backing vocals and a lovely synth-solo. The Mission again has that typical Nolan-drive. You can feel, by the guitar and keyboard-solos, that the story is getting near the end. I get the feeling that the boy has become a professional soldier now. Orchestral sounds, tubular bells and the screaming people set the atmosphere for the Call To Arms. While the choir sings about the possible losses of war, Clive and Oliver 'fight' a great duel on keyboards. The boy and the girl sing together about their future. After Rick Wakeman has read the last syllable of the poem the record ends with the same theme as it started. Orchestra and trumpets join forces for a bombastic Finale. And that... is where the story ends. Jabberwocky is a very theatrical and mystical album, with several great singers and a large collection of skilled musicians. Symphonic music it is indeed.

Jan-Jaap de Haan

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"The Cage" Review

Progress Magazine Review

(Many thanks to Progressive Spiral for this review...)

Ever since Alice's adventures in Wonderland first appeared in 1866, generation after generation of readers and literary critics have wondered how could it be that a brilliant academic and deeply religious man like Lewis Carroll who lived a rather secluded life within the walls of Christ Church college at Oxford, nevertheless managed to invent incomparable adventures that touched millions of human beings, decade after decade. To this day no consensus has really emerged on what really made him tick and he largely remains an enigma; on the outside an austere Victorian man, very formal and precise in everything he did. And yet he possessed a soaring imagination which reached the most impenetrable parts of the human condition. Carroll knew how to touch people, how to move them and how to make them laugh. Along with the Bible and Shakespeare's works, his books are the most widely quoted in the Western world. They have been adapted for the stage, made into films, and reproduced several times on television. The world is full of poems, parodies, musical scores, ballets and even monuments dedicated to Alice.

Thus the paradox remains for those who seek to find logical explanations, but a door into a magical world is open to those who willingly let the author lead them into it. Here, on this very door we meet Clive Nolan and Oliver Wakeman and their album based on'Jabberwocky', one of Carroll's earlier poems. The clearly nonsensical nature of the original text allows our dynamic keyboard duo ample room to expand it into a fully blown adventure which goes quite beyond Carroll's original intentions. In their capable hands it becomes a hard and tortuous journey where man has to stand up and fight against evil whilst learning how to cope with fear and indifference. But this isn't just another cloak and dagger story, richly coated in fantasy where the hero wins the day and lives happily thereafter. Here the issue of war is explored at length; the Boy, the central character in the story convincingly played by Bob Catley of Magnum fame, goes to battle longing for love and a better life elsewhere and is moved by the inescapable horror and wanton destruction.

Although it's described as a concept, the lyrics and the music in "Jabberwocky", flow elegantly and overall make it into a very cohesive production which could easily find its way on a theatre stage as a musical. In terms of style, the duo amply acknowledge Rick Wakeman's earlier contribution to concept album making. So there's plenty of magical, swirling synth solos and much of the romantic tradition that emerged from British musicians in the last 30 years, particularly in the opening and closing sequence of “Jabberwocky”. But if that tradition now lives within the musical abilities of Oliver Wakeman, it doesn't just get exposed as another period piece. Thanks to the heart-swelling passion of Nolan's playing and the wicked jazziness of Peter Banks, fret-master extraordinaire, tradition once again becomes pulsatingly alive. The vocal contributions of the aforementioned Catley as The Boy, Tracy Hitchings as the Girl, James Plumridge as The Jabberwock, and Paul Allison as The Tree and a very warmhearted performance by the choir all together constitute the vital ingredient of musical enjoyment. "Jabberwocky" as such truly deserves to be performed on stage in it's entirety.

Review by : Charles Imperatori

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Progress Magazine Review

Classic Rock Magazine Review


From the Feb/March issue...


A prog rock interpretation of Lewis Carroll's nonsensical poem? What a gloriously pretentious idea! However, credit must go to Arena man Nolan and Rick Wakeman's son Oliver for penning a set of fascinating, only occasionally indulgent set of songs. Hard Rain's Bob Catley and Tracy Hitchings of Landmarq are in stunning voice, and the instrumental sections are lavish in the extreme - original Yes guitarist Peter Banks must work hard to balance out Nolan and Wakeman's keyboard barrage.


Dave Ling

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Classic Rock Magazine Review

From the February 1999 issue of 'Wondrous Stories':


'Jabberwocky' was previewed by MH in WS 82 and I have to echo much of what he said at the time. This is a progressive rock concept of epic proportions that has been conceived by keyboard maestro's CN and OW. It is based on the nonsense poem by LC and they have turned this strange poem into an exciting and immensely rewarding work of art.

They have gathered together a wealth of talent to aid them and a listing of Bob Cately, Tracey Hitchings, James Plumridge, Paul Allison, Pete Gee, Ian Salmon, ex-Yes man Peter Banks, Jon Jeary, Tony Fernandez and a certain Rick wakeman (as the Narrator) sound's like a who's who of prog.

Catley, Hitchings, Plumridge and Allison give sterling performances on vocals with the contrasts between their vocal styles working remarkably well and I would suggest that Tracy Hitchings has never sounded better. Musically, the work is of the highest order with some truly outstanding keyboard and guitar moments combining to give a dramatic feel to this ambitious recording.


This is an early contender for album of the year and proves again, should proof be needed, that Clive Nolan (not discounting OW's input) is surely the king of prog. This will become a classic and you are highly recommended to order your copy now.

Praise is also due for the artwork of Rodney Matthews, which is very special indeed and should certainly draw the eye in the record stores.

Terry Craven

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Wondrous Stories

Hard Rain Website Review


(Thanks to this Hard Rain website for this one...)


A Review of The Jabberwocky by Bob Dixon.


Jabberwocky by Clive Nolan & Oliver Wakeman featuring Bob Catley as 'The Boy'.


Without Bob's involvement in this album I would probably need have heard of this offering from Clive Nolan and Oliver Wakeman.


My collection of vinyl and CDs contains many by Oliver's Dad, Rick whom I have seen many times since the release of 6 wives in 1971. CDs by Pendragon also feature in the collection so this alliance of Clive Nolan with Oliver Wakeman plus Bob's superb vocals excited me even before hearing it.


I am NOT disappointed.


As both Oliver and Clive are credited with keyboards i do not know who is responsible for what. However, the Wakeman 'twiddly bits' are wonderful. The Overture, The Forest, Shadows and Call To Arms all have clear influences of Journey to the Centre of the Earth and King Arthur by Rick.


Creditable performances are put in by Tracy Hitchings as The Girl, James Plumridge as The Jabberwock and Paul Allison as The Tree.


Clive and Oliver have also put together a very competant band. It is good to hear The Wop is still in the Wakeman family. He and Rick are like an old married couple. (Don't let Nina know!)

Bob's performance? What would you expect from an old pro? I wonder what if Bob had sung instead of Ashley on Rick's 'Journey & Arthur'? - Dream on...

'Return to the Centre of the Earth' is due out soon and it would have been great to have heard Bob on that.

If 'The Tower was set for around 1986 (Storytellers) then this album is straight from 1975. Some might say music should progress but this visit to the past is valued here. I don't expect it to break any sales records for Verglas but there is a market out there. The artwork is by Rodney Matthews - no comment needed!!

Well done Clive and Oliver on an excellent release. On the strength of this I shall be checking out the back catalogue on Verglas.


Bob Dixon

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Hard Rain Website Review Customer Review, March 2, 2002


***** (5 Stars)


A modern day prog rock classic!


Imagine the grand ideas of '70's prog rock being brought to this day in a concept album. Rick Wakeman on narration, Peter Banks on guitar, excellent keyboards dominate the album - very entertaining.


Reviewer: A. Lesley


Many thanks to for this review. To view the original review, click here.

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Submitted review 1



"Jabberwocky" is the first collaboration between keyboard greats Clive Nolan (Pendragon, Shadowland, Strangers On A Train, Arena), and Oliver Wakeman (solo artist, and son of Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman). It is a concept album, based on Lewis Carroll's humorous poem of the same name. As you may have guessed, the album, for the most part, falls mainly in the progressive rock vein, with Nolan & Wakeman's keyboards being the main featured instruments. These two sound as if they were having a great deal of fun trading solos back and forth, and backing each other up when necessary.


The album is most easily comparable to the concept albums of Oliver's dad, Rick Wakeman. Like some of Rick's most well-respected albums, "Journey To the Center of the Earth" and "Myths & Legends of King Arthur" to name two, this album features a storyline with spoken narration, choral backing vocals, and music heavy on classical flourishes and orchestration (although, much to their credit, Clive and Oliver create their full-orchestra sound with just their keyboards and backing band!). There are also a few moments of good straight-forward rock, and they help to add a sense of variety to the album. The other musicians participating on "Jabberwocky" are a virtual "who's who" of the current (and past) progressive rock scene.


Lead vocals are provided mainly by the dynamic Tracy Hitchings (Landmarq, Strangers On A Train) and gravel-throated Bob Catley (Magnum), who sounds strikingly similar to Rick Wakeman's vocalist-pal Ashley Holt! The band includes guitarist Peter Banks (ex-Yes), drummer Tony Fernandez (Rick Wakeman) and bassist Peter Gee (Pendragon). Oliver's dad, Rick, even puts in an apperance as the spoken-word narrattor! All in all, this is a fine album, especially the tracks that heavily feature Ms. Hitchings, who just lights up these songs with her excellent vocal touches.


If you are a fan of rock concept pieces, or any of the musicians involved here, then this CD is well worth your money! 


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Submitted review 1

Submitted review 2


Clive Nolan & Oliver Wakeman - Jabberwocky.


Verglas VGCD014, 1999.


Interestingly, this concept album based around the Lewis Carroll novel was released around the same time as Rick Wakeman (Oliver Wakeman's father) released Return to the Centre of the Earth. One cannot help comparisons - both are full concept albums with a narrated story. Although Rick's production has several big name singers, on balance I think this is the better of the two by being much more prog-rock and less classical in sound.


Oliver has found some excellent singers to support the project, all from the 1990s prog-rock era - Bob Catley (Hard Rain/Magnum), Tracy Hitchings (Strangers on a Train), Peter Gee (Pendragon), Ian Salmon (Janison Edge, and now Arena), John Jeary (Threshold) and Peter Banks (Yes). To prove it is all friendly, Dad is on the narration. An excellent album, but unfortunately because Oliver's name isn't Rick, the album wasn't even widely stocked by record shops.


Rating: *** 

Best track for radio: The Burgundy Rose


Many thanks to the 'Rock The Boat' Web Site for this review. See the original here.

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Submitted review 2 Customer Review, February 22, 2002


**** (4 Stars)


Superb as usual


I owe their first work "Jabberwocky" and was eager to compare it with this latest one. And I wasn't disappointed. Go on, dear Nolan and Wakeman, you both are great!

Reviewer: Rasa from Vilnius, Lithuania, Europe


Many thanks to for this review. To view the original review, click here.

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Submitted review 3






This features Rick narrating, Tony Fernandez on drums, Bob Catley on vocals and Peter Banks on guitars among a number of other guest artists from the English progressive rock scene including the fantastic Tracy Hitchings. The artwork is by Rodney Matthews who Rick has collaborated with in the past and who did the cover art for 2000 A.D. Released in January 1999. This album is incredibly good. Verglas VGCD014

Graham Johnson

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Submitted review 4




Verglas Records / VGCD 014 - 1999. Produced by: Clive Nolan & Karl Groom

Collaboration between the King of prog Clive Nolan and Oliver Wakeman, the second eldest son of Rick Wakeman.Though both of them are keyboardists it comes as no surprise that the album is very keyboard dominated. The vocals that are handled by Bob Catley (Magnum, Hard Rain), Tracy Hitchings (Landmarq, Strangers On A Train), James Plumridge (musicals) and Paul Allison (ex. Sleepwalker) have melodies and arrangements like a musical and the whole project would easily suite any West End theatre in London. The (short) narration is handled by Rick Wakeman.


Other musicians featured are guitarists Pete Banks (ex. Yes), Ian Salmon (Shadowland) and Jon Jeary (Threshold). The rhythm section consists of Tony Fernandez (Rick Wakeman) on drums and Peter Gee (Pendragon) on bass. The album is not in typical Clive Nolan style, he and Oliver has created a bombastic and beautiful album with excellent keyboards and great vocal performances. The Jabberwocky is an album that paints pictures in your head. Highly recommended!

Many thanks to the Rivendell ProgPage for this review. See the original here.

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Submitted review 5


Very impressing album 

Browsing through the contents of the prog/rock section from a major record store I stumbled into Jabberwocky. First eyecatcher was the beautiful sleeve, second the cast. I knew collaboration from Nolan and Hitchings from Strangers on a Train and was very impressed by those two albums.Pete Banks and Rick Wakeman needed no further introduction, but how would his son Oliver profile himself? Well,very good I may say. The record gave me the feeling that his father had a great influence on the playing and writing style of his son.


Sometimes it reminded me at Rick's album Return to the centre of the earth, but that didn't bother me at all. Narrating must have been Rick's idea, but it's not that irritating present on this album. Musically it's divers and keeps the mind focused. I love to hear Tracy Hitchings sing,she has a very clear and sharp voice. Definitely a good prog/rock album to buy. The next project of Nolan and Wakeman will be the Hound of the Baskervilles and will be available in the latter part of this year. I rate 4 stars because it's their first album and i will give them room for improvement.

Peter Kistemaker from Helmond, Netherlands, 14 March, 2000. Submitted to

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Submitted review 6



What a true delight! By far the best new CD I have heard in many years! It has the nostalgia of the 70's progressive music, but a freshness that says it is a new phenomenon. It seems as if I can hear some references to Rick Wakeman's "No Earthly Connection", and some Genesis, Queen... I love the team approach here, with great guitars, drums, vocals, and of course fantastic keyboards!!
My favorite track for sure is "The Burgundy Rose"


I would love to see this staged as a live musical / theatrical production!!






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Submitted review 7


This new concept album based on the original poem by Lewis Carroll lives up to all the hype that its pre-release carried. Bob Catley as the "boy" has never sounded better - not even in his Magnum days - and he features on three or four tracks. Peter Banks' guitar features prominently, Tracy Hitchings duets with Catley and the rest as well as singing solo and backing. Her very distinctive vocals are easily recognised from her work with prog band "Landmarq".


Rick Wakeman narrates throughout and last but not least (and for all us synth fans) the two keyboard / synth players, Oliver Wakeman and Clive Nolan(Pendragon and Arena) play excellently - providing a strong framework which underpins the whole project admirably. The comparisons with other concept albums of this nature are obvious, "War of the Worlds" springs to mind, the subject matter is different but the overall project draws inspiration from Pendragon, Genesis and Marillion.


The verdict? A classy product, both in sound and presentation with beautiful artwork and glossy illustrated booklet complete with lyrics. Well recommended! - Midas, March '99

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Submitted review 8


"Concept, based upon the poem by Lewis Carrol; instrumental blue-print of father Wakeman's early works "King Arthur, Journey to..., Six Wives" with an ear-catching themesong; orchestration dominated by keyboards with a grand voicing of The Boy by Catley. Overall rating - 4.5 out of 5" -


CDelight, March '99

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Submitted review 9


"I got to hear your music for the first time on Jabberwocky, which is a true masterpiece. You and Clive really did an amazing job. Great to hear Bob's voice on that one..." - J.A. Sweden. September 20th , 1999.

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Submitted review 10


A music fan from Chile , March 1, 1999




1.- Great epic epopey back to reality, Clive & Oliver in a superb duet of keyboards "the wall" & "voyage to the center of the earth" sound in memories of immemorial years 


2.- oliver incredible in the synths & mellotrons something of "Six Wives of Henry the Eighth" in the air (likenesses than something more than genes did inherit Oliver) 


3.- clive excels with the clavichord, I figure than Oliver was be at the synthesisers 4 masterly Ian Salmon,Pete Gee & the guys of chorus


5,6,7 - I'm very sure clive was be at the piano, who more could to give him those airs pendragonistics (i'm not too sure, if was Oliver or rick the keyboard player in the synthesisers ;)


8.- Bob Catley could be the vocalist of other new group, his registration of voice is the adequate, (only i hope than clive not it takes so much at serious and form your new group (n+1) ;).


9.- not bad


10.- superb Ian Salmon's rifts 


11.- back to the duet of keyboards, if only was singed Bob in the chorus, but... only a question, at the end the Jabberwocky was murder or not ? 


12.- good

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Submitted review 10
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