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

THE SIX WIVES OF HENRY VIII

Rick Wakeman

 

Symphonic Prog

4.09 | 834 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is not only the finest prog keyboard album ever recorded, it can also be lauded as one of the best outright prog albums of all-time. There has never been a similarly exalting keyboard offering from anyone that even dares to approach the sheer genius proposed here. We all know the story, the young conservatory trained wiz kid who cut his teeth as a session musician with such pop luminaries as Cat Stevens and Elton John, while also playing for the Strawbs. And Yes, then there was Yes. The disc kicks off with the suave Catherine of Aragon, with some delightfully nimble piano work, some choppy Hammond, chirping synths and some fascinating choir work that explodes into a crescendo that blows the mind. Anne of Cleves gets a little funkier, rollicking organ, buzzing bass and some terrific drumming from Alan White. This is a more jamming like piece that has plenty of chopzilla for those who like technical bravura. Catherine Howard offers up a typical English piano etude, full of pastoral flourish, a highly melodic voyage and extremely expressive with the Strawbs crew on board (Lambert on guitar, Cousins on banjo and Cronk on bass), "skiffling" off into a very folky environment. A resounding piece of joyous symphonics, a tubular bell toll signals its appeal (sic!). The bitchy Jane Seymour displays that lush trait inherent with the person, full of sultry passion and fire, blasting that now famous booming church organ intro, harpsichord in tow and providing the platform for that monstrous "from the belly" Moog surge that gets me every time even 35 years later. The number of times I played that in my mind and on my lips, I cannot even count. Simply masterful, no way around it. Anne Boleyn gets briefly very melancholic, before veering off into some spirited piano finger work at breakneck speed, synths asunder with Les Hurdle's bass buzzing incredibly, aided by Bruford's magical drum work, splendid choir work. Then the Moog starts spitting fire and really shoots this piece into the upper reaches of Prog Heaven. The Hammond IIIC puts in its 2 cents worth, some more deft grand piano and an imposing piano/choral finale worthy of fame. Bass man Dave Winter propels "Catherine Parr" with vibrant glee, another Wakeman showcase this time tossing in some majestic mellotron blasts, more Mini-Moog twirls and some adventurous tubular bell percussion that would have made Oldfield proud. The multiple melody lines are memorable and exhilarating. What a recording. This was the first "rock" record my dad acknowledged as worthy of his "Classical" ears and that is some fierce recognition. An absolute icon of what prog keyboards are all about, Book 1, Chapter 1. In my top 20 all- time with no hint of discord. 5 wives.
tszirmay | 5/5 |

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