Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

“Swan Lager”: Prog Rock Reggae

Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman‘s beery take on Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” became the A-side of a 45 released by A&M in 1979:

Swan Lager

Rick Wakeman (1979)


Swan Lager” also served as side two’s closing track for 1979 double LP, RhapsodiesCash Box would post a review in its June 23, 1979 edition that is largely praiseful and only just a wee bit insulting —

Anyone who can re-arrange Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” and re-name it “Swan Lager” has got to be either a hopeless buffoon or a major genius … Rick Wakeman is both and hence the charm of this, his latest release.  A four-sided effort, Wakeman plows into a variety of styles ranging from Gershwin to honky tonk.  A veritable never-a-dull-moment album which fully illustrates that keyboard expertise can be both dynamic and fun simultaneously.  For AOR to MOR formats.

How interesting to see one of the leading exponents of progressive “art rock” flirt with reggae rhythms on a track that Billboard, in its June 30 1979 edition, would identify in its list of recommended LPs as one of the album’s best cuts.  It would appear, unfortunately, that this attempt at classically-infused reggae failed to chart.

Bowie producer, Tony Visconti – knob twiddler

Rick Wakeman 45


Link to companion piece

Yancey Special:  Prog Reggae II

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