Nolan & Wakeman Tales By Gaslight

Clive Nolan & Oliver Wakeman: Tales By Gaslight

by Geoff Ford

Something is stirring deep inside the prog archive….

If you listen carefully, very carefully, there is the unmistakeable sound of… granite… sliding over… granite…

Little feet scurry into a dusty corner and a spider takes sanctuary in the steely confines of his web. An eery mist rises from the opened vault and an icy chill fills the air…

A familiar voice echoes around the chamber reciting a verse of nonsensical rhyme…

Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:

All mimsy were the borogoves,

And the mome raths outgrabe

Why, ’tis but Rick Wakeman reciting Lewis Carroll’s poem Jabberwocky, part of the 3CD boxset collection Tales By Gaslight from Clive Nolan and Rick’s son Oliver Wakeman. The vaults have been opened to include remastered versions of their ‘future prog classics’ Jabberwocky and The Hound Of The Baskervilles along with a new disc Dark Fables to be released by Burning Shed on 23 April.

Clive Nolan (Pendragon, Arena) and Oliver Wakeman (Yes, Strawbs) first combined their considerable keyboard and compositional talents to create two rock opera/concept albums Jabberwocky, released in 1999, and The Hound of The Baskervilles in 2002. Jabberwocky was based on the famous Lewis Carroll poem while The Hound of The Baskervilles was inspired by the Sherlock Holmes novel penned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The project was always intended to be a trilogy of musical interpretations of literary classics, but an album inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was shelved because of a lack of record company funding.

The first two albums have been out of print for some time and this box set package also includes a third disc, featuring previously unreleased pieces that were intended to complete the trilogy. This disc, Dark Fables, contains over 30 minutes of music conceived for the abandoned Frankenstein album.

Nolan and Wakeman have also found pieces which were unused from The Hound of The Baskervilles. These include The Man Called Sherlock which was the original version of the Overture and 221B, inspired by Sherlock Holmes’ famous address.

Unusually for the time, the first two albums featured a host of guest performances, including narration by Wakeman’s father Rick and actor Robert Powell. Former Yes guitarist, the late Peter Banks, Magnum vocalist Bob Catley and singer Tracy Hitchings appeared on both albums. Ayreon mastermind Arjen Lucassen lent his talent to The Hound of the Baskervilles along with members from the bands IQ and Threshold. The unique artwork was created by Rodney Matthews for the original Jabberwocky release. Peter Pracownik was the creativity behind The Hound of The Baskervilles artwork 20 years ago and has returned to this trilogy by lending his talents to the new Dark Fables artwork.

In keeping with the spirit of the two previous albums, the new recordings feature the talents of, amongst others, Gordon Giltrap, Paul Manzi (Arena, Oliver Wakeman Band, Sweet) Andy Sears (Twelfth Night) and David Mark Pearce (Oliver Wakeman Band). Also included is an original reading of the Jabberwocky poem by Rick Wakeman.

Beware the Jabberwock, my son!”

Aged just sixteen, multi-instrumentalist Clive Nolan became the youngest musician (at that time) to gain an A.L.C.M. composition diploma from the London College of Music. At university he studied composition, orchestration, musical arrangement and conducting, gaining a BMus and MMus. He has played a prominent role in the development of progressive music, as a member of Pendragon since 1986 and as a member of Shadowland (1992 – present), Strangers on A Train (1993 – 1994) and by forming his own band Arena in 1995.

Clive Nolan, photo Malcolm Bernhard

Nolan’s interest in rock opera extends beyond his collaborations with Wakeman. In 2008 he wrote She, based upon the novel by Sir H Rider Haggard, and two musicals Alchemy and King’s Ransom. This year will also see the release of a new ‘Viking Inspired’ album Song of the Wildlands, as well as the new Arena album The Theory of Molecular Inheritance.

Oliver Wakeman is the eldest son of prog legend Rick, Wakeman and filled the keyboard role, once held by his father, with Yes from 2008 to 2011. His work with Yes includes the triple live album In The Present – Live From Lyon, Fly From Here and the From A Page box set featuring recordings from his time in the band and released in 2019. During his tenure with Yes, Wakeman also toured and recorded as a member of The Strawbs.

Oliver Wakeman, photo Dave Price

Wakeman’s debut album (1997) Heaven’s Isle was inspired by the island of Lundy, and he has since released a number of solo and Oliver Wakeman Band albums. He has also released several collaborations with renowned musicians, including Steve Howe, band mate to both Oliver and his father in Yes for The Three Ages of Magick album, as well as uniting with another guitar legend Gordon Giltrap for the award-winning Ravens & Lullabies album, both of which are set to be part of an upcoming box set.

The Tales By Gaslight box set, comprising 3CDs each with a 16-page booklet and 3 individual Art prints of the three covers, will be released by Burning Shed on 23 April. For more information please visit Oliver Wakeman (