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Rick Wakeman - The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table CD (album) cover

THE MYTHS AND LEGENDS OF KING ARTHUR AND THE KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE

Rick Wakeman

 

Symphonic Prog

3.58 | 356 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

fuxi
Prog Reviewer
3 stars As a concept album, ARTHUR is irredeemably flawed. The original A-side consists of just three-songs-and-a-bit. The first and longest song is devoted to the story of Arthur pulling the sword "from the stone and anvil", the second proper song is a love song adressed to Queen Guinevere (with an wonderfully cheesy minimoog solo), and the third is the evocation of a battle. After that, most of the B-side is devoted to King Arthur's downfall. In contrast to JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH, it just doesn't make for a proper story. All you get is bits and snippets from an unwritten epic. "Like Richard Wagner performed on ice" was how the critics described it, when Rick actually had his show performed on ice. And that's just how it feels.

The music, too, will probably sound horrible to you... "Incredibly bombastic. Everything people hate about prog" etc. I wish I could write a proper dismissal, in objective and coolly musicological terms, but my problem is that I simply ADORED this album when I first heard it in 1975, and I'm finding it impossible to betray my younger self. Every time I play this music I secretly enjoy it. But why did it so carry me away when I first discovered it? Well, I guess I was looking for the perfect marriage between classical music and rock, and I must have been so wet behind the ears, in ARTHUR I thought I'd actually discovered, erm, the Holy Grail!

For who could have resisted these rousing tunes, performed by a glorious combination of symphony orchestra and rock band, together with Rick's grand piano, tinkling harpsichords and screaming synths? The opening piece sounds terribly majestic - no wonder the BBC used it as theme-tune during the British elections a few years ago. "Sir Lancelot and the Black Knight" has one of the most exciting moog solos Rick ever did, played on that same screaming (double-tracked) siren-like instrument that he uses towards the end of the first side of TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS. "Merlin the Magician" is sheer (instrumental) fun on moogs, honky-tonks and more - one of Rick's all time classics, invariably included in compilations of his work. And finally, I don't usually enjoy the way Rick uses choirs, but in "The Last Battle" their ah-ah-ah-ing sounds truly tragical, while brass and string sections seem to sweep across the silver screen, and the narrator keeps telling us in a mournful voice what Sir Hector, Sir Bors and Sir Bleoboris were up to, in those dark days after Arthur's death... All this invariably brings tears to my eyes.

I can't predict if you will love or hate this album. It's a curiosity; but admirers of symphonic prog really shouldn't miss it.

fuxi | 3/5 |

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