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Rick Wakeman - Return To The Centre Of The Earth CD (album) cover

RETURN TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH

Rick Wakeman

 

Symphonic Prog

3.46 | 110 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Gianthogweed
4 stars Very good album, but perhaps too much material for its own good. I have to admit, when I first got this album I was very impressed by it. It starts off really well. The narration by Patrick Stewart is wonderful sounding, if a bit over-written, and the music is epic and impressive. When I was hearing Ozzy singing "Buried Alive" backed by the London Symphony Orchestra and English Chamber Choir I couldn't help but chuckle a little to myself. Yes it's a little hokey, but I loved it anyway. It was just so well done. I could tell that Wakeman was type casting his lead vocal talents on this album, as this song is reminiscent of a Black Sabbath song.

Bonnie Tyler's song, "Is There Anybody There?" is just as impressive, and hearkens back to her earlier hit "Total Eclipse of the Heart", but this time with the orchestra and choir. Yes, it's a little cheesy, but in a good way, and I loved it.

The album reaches its climaxe with "The Dance of a Thousand Lights", easily the best song on the album. In fact, it's possibly my favorite Rick Wakeman song in general. It's instrumental, with Wakeman playing an impressively fast piano part. Probably the fastest I've ever heard him play. And it sounds beautiful. This is probably the only song that doesn't sound overblown, but even it comes close at times.

After this song, however, the album starts to get tired. Tony Mitchell's song, "Mr. Slow" is rather weak comparitively, and Trevor Rabin's "Never is a Long, Long Time" is reminiscent of some of his songs with Yes in the eighties and early nineties, but by this point the cheese factor is overshadowing the novelty of the album. But it does start to get a little better.

"The Kill" showcases Wakeman on synth with the choir taking lead vocals, unfortunately it's difficult to make out what they're singing. I think the album would have been better served with less choir, actually, as they seem to sound best when serving as atmosphere rather than lead vocals. Nevertheless the playing is impressive making this one of the better songs on the album.

Justin Hayward's song, "Still Waters Run Deep" is a pleasant mellow song, somewhat reminiscent of The Moody Blues. Then Katrina from Katrina in the Waves sings a more upbeat song, Ride of Your Life. I could tell Wakeman was going for another "Walking on Sunshine" catchy song, but doesn't quite get there. It's not a terrible song, but by this point you're wishing it would be over.

Floodflames is another instrumental, this one shorter and more to the point, and the concluding song reprises the opening number in good epic fashion, but goes on a few minutes too long, which pretty much sums up my impression of this album. It's just too much. The album would have been better served with less. 3.5 stars and I'll round it up because Dance of a Thousand Lights is so great.

Gianthogweed | 4/5 |

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