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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

4.06 | 562 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Definitely an album worth having, even if it's not the masterpiece I thought it was.

The main problem with this album, for me, is that, at times, it feels like a long, extended solo to showcase Rick Wakeman's obvious keyboard abilities. And it's not that varied at that. Most of the time one's dazzled with endless downward-upward scales that appear to try to reach for the infinite. In the end, the melodic and thematic work seems to have been pushed aside in favor of a sheer display of skills. Call it pretentiousness if it's necessary for better understanding. The thing is that at times it is difficult to think of a memorable theme, tune or passage in the record that is not related to Wakeman's mighty fingers. It would've been great if we could've marveled more often about Wakeman's compositional skills, too.

Another little issue that I have with this album, although a very minor one, is that the music doesn't seem to match the characters of the six wives of Henry VIII at all. I know, this is an extra-musical matter but it would've enhanced the album if it would have had a more "programmatic" feel to it. Wakeman himself recognizes in the liner notes that his vision of each queen is related to the sound of the keyboards more than to the music itself, but it's weird that the most, say audacious of the wives have the more relaxed music. I think it would've served the work as a whole to have more connection between music and imagery.

But, of course, there are plenty of redeeming features in this record. For one, the splendid playing by Wakeman, who confirms he's one of the best keyboardists around. Also, there are brilliant moments, like the movement/song (they're not really sung) that draws straight influence from Johann Sebastian Bach's "Toccata y Fuga in D minor" for organ. The music is magical here, with hardly any intervention by the rest of the instruments, and only Wakeman's ethereal organ/synth to dazzle us and take us to another rock level.

All in all, a very good album that should be in every progressive-rock fan's collection, as a piece of great historical significance, as well as like an album of fantastic music. It's not perfect and it gets 3.5 stars from me, which force me to round up this time to a 4.

The T | 4/5 |

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