Rick Wakeman is making a return to full-scale progressive rock in 2020, with his new album, The Red Planet, scheduled for release on April 3.
The former Yes keyboardist joked about the idea of pushing the "prog fader" up to 11 when speaking of the album: "That could be a problem, as it's already at 14!" he said.
Fans will be treated to eight new compositions on The Red Planet, which Wakeman produced alongside Erik Jordan, and it will feature a blend of analogue and modern keyboards. His backing band — which revives the name 'the English Rock Ensemble' used on several earlier Wakeman records — includes guitarist Dave Colquhoun, drummer Ash Soan and bassist Lee Pomeroy. Pomeroy recently toured in 2019 with Wakeman as part of Yes ARW alongside Jon Anderson and Trevor Rabin.
The Red Planet is available to pre-order in multiple formats, including download, CD, vinyl and deluxe editions with a bonus DVD. The first 1,000 vinyl copies will be signed and numbered, available on 180-gram double-red LPs and bundled in special 'pop-up' packaging. Wakeman is also offering higher-end packages, including a $3,250 USD (approx. $5,000 NZD) order that also includes an 'Admiral Associate Producer Credit'.
The new album will be Wakeman's first rock-oriented solo project since 2003's Out There. Over the last few years, he has focused on piano-based LPs, offering up 2017's Piano Portraits, 2018's Piano Odyssey and 2019's Christmas Portraits.
Wakeman formed a new version of Yes with Anderson and Rabin back in 2016, staging multiple tours including a 50th anniversary tour wrapping in 2018. In August 2019, Wakeman continued to tease the possibility of recorded material from the trio, saying they have "a couple things" they consider "good enough" but refused to "release stuff for the sake of releasing it."
He also noted that the band has "come to the end of the road" and will likely split after a final tour in 2020. "I think we'll thoroughly enjoy another [tour], and then I think we can sort of proudly close the lid on it, very happy in our belief that we've done it proud," he said.