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Rick Wakeman - The Six Wives of Henry VIII CD (album) cover


Rick Wakeman


Symphonic Prog

4.09 | 834 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars This is an album born of its time. Listening to it again as I write this review, I am struck by how much I still enjoy the music and themes, at least 30 years after buying it, but one thing strikes me above all else.

In 1973, even with a damned lucky break when half the country tuned into The Old Grey Whistle Test, having been let down by ITV pulling a controversial film, featuring the blond maestro performing parts of this, his debut solo album, the world seemed curiously receptive to an album based upon the six wives of England's most colourful, and perhaps controversial, King which featured absolutely no lyrics whatsoever, and, in reality, did not even seem to be easy to decipher the characters of said wives from the score itself.

Put it another way. If a musician, no matter how brilliant, were to attempt a similar feat in 2014, the album would die a commercial death, and be consigned to the dustbin of history. Actually, it probably would never be funded in the first place by any modern record company. Even then, A&M thought it would bomb.

Wakeman was assisted by his new mates in Yes, and his old ones in The Strawbs, in making this, and the performances are uniformly excellent, and the music really rather moving in places. I still shiver when I hear Catherine Howard, and the gorgeous prayer, The Day Thou Gavest Lord Hath Ended, in Anne Boleyn, easily the mist tragic of old Henry's Queens. The end track Catherine Parr rollocks along at a fair old pace, and, yes, the modern live performances, either solo at Hampton Court, or during Yes gigs, are far better produced and modern, but for its day, this album was right at the cutting edge of musical technology and thinking. It is a testament to its genius that it still holds up extremely well now, 41 years after its initial release.

Quite excellent, and a must buy for all you youthful keyboard aficionados to see where it all really kicked off.

lazland | 4/5 |


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