Rick Wakeman - The Six Wives of Henry VIII (A&M) 1973
1. "Catherine Of Aragon"
During the making of Yes' "Close to the Edge" in 1972, Wakeman also recorded his first solo album, an instrumental work entitled The Six Wives of Henry VIII. The album was finally released early in 1973. The album consisted of musical interpretations of the lives, interests, and personalities of the six royal spouses of Henry VIIII. Each song featured fabulous musical paintings painted with sythesizers, mellotons, and every other keyboard instrument you can think of. To be quite honest this album is one that I have to be in the right mood for, although I would list it as one of my favorite non-metal albums.
Rick Wakeman - Journey to the Center of the Earth (A&M) 1974
Yes' 1974 album, "Tales from Topographic Oceans," was ripped to shreds by critics at the time of itís release (despite the fact that it was a great album). Around the same time that Yes released "Tales from Topographic Oceans," Wakeman also released his new solo project "Journey to the Center of the Earth." Journey is another musical narration, this time adapted from the writings of Jules Verne. The album featured narration by David Hemmings, a full band, orchestral arrangements, and choral accompaniment. The album topped charts in both America and England. Like Wakeman's last solo album, this is mood music for me. It's usually a late night listen while surfin' the net or kicking back in bed. Bring's back fond memories of days gone by as well. (Damn I make myself sound so old!)
1. "Vision" (2:34)
Centre of the Earth 2 with the English Chamber, the London Symphony Orchestra, Patrick Stewart (narrator) and Rick Wakeman himself! Rick's 1999 release is one of the most artistic pieces of progressive rock I have heard in a while. The narration on the cd is cool because you can program just the odd number tracks to listen to the narrative only or the even for just the music. The narrative portion of the disc is a re-writting of the Verne story used in the original Journey. The music is classic Wakeman, albeit a bit simpler than the original. Still it's just as interesting a story. Biggest surprise is guest vocalist Ozzy Osbourne who does a fantastic job on "Buried Alive." Also making a guest appearance is ex-Yes guitarist Trevor Rabin, who does a great job singing on "Never is a Long, Long Time." The cover art is by infamous artist Roger Dean. Heard that EMI spent a truckload of money on this one. I'm not sure that this will ever be a commercial success, like the original, but it will appeal to older fans of Rick Wakeman, like myself.
Rick Wakeman - Live (EMI)
1. "Journey to
the Center of the Earth" (12:04)
This is actually a quality live album, but what is up with the cheap packaging? There are no liner notes to tell you where these songs were recorded, or even when they were recorded. All it has is a cheap one page insert. Oh well, what did I expect for $5.99 new?
Rick Wakeman - Cirque Surreal (Magnum) 1995
1. "Gnash" (5:03)
Rick Wakeman is an interesting musician. I never know what to expect from him. I certainly was unsure of what to expect with this soundtrack that was written to accompany performances of the Cirque Surreal. The music here is upbeat and happy, as a circus should be. The CD starts of with "Gnash", featuring the splendid vocals of Chrissie Hammond. Upon hearing this song I thought to myself, "cool, Wakeman is rockin' again." However, the entire CD is not as this song might lead one to believe. All of the tracks here are dominated by Wakeman's fantastic piano solos and most of the songs are instrumentals. Only "Gnash," "The Party," and "The Love That I Know" have vocals, all capably handled by Hammond. At times I was reminded of Disney's Mainstreet Electrical Parade music. This might sound a bit silly, but it actually was quite interesting. There are some points where the music seems a bit repetitous, but I am sure this was neccessary to conicide with the performers. I can't say I would rank this up with Wakeman's more well known works, but for what it is I found it to be pretty enjoyable.