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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 | 541 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

tarkus1980
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Rick Wakeman's first solo album (at least. the first one anybody cares about) is usually considered his best, but it's an album that I don't especially love. Don't get me wrong, I find it basically enjoyable, and some parts are great. Rick is of course, an absolutely phenomenal keyboardist (if one of often dubious taste), and it's interesting to hear him essentially have a whole album to himself. The thing is, though, I can't quite call this album that much more than interesting, and even then it's only from a "scientific" perspective at times. To put it another way, a Rick Wakeman solo passage can be absolutely stunning and breathtaking - but only in small quantities, maybe five minutes at a time. After all, melodies are not the point of this album - it's arrangments and the way Rick attacks his keyboards.

Naturally, some passages are fairly entertaining. The opening track, "Catherine of Aragon," has all of the 'classic Yes' members playing on it (except Anderson, of course), and was even briefly displayed on Yessongs. It actually has a very interesting main theme, simultaneously complex and somewhat catchy. It is truly quite enthralling the way Rick winds his way through passages of varying speed, mood and intensity, making them flow almost seamlessly into one another. Plus, his pallette of keys on the track is highly diversified, so there are plenty of interesting tones to be found. There's even some nice, plesant humming/chanting on the part of some backing vocalists, and they help further establish the number as a minor classic.

The rest of the album, though, seems impressive when on but doesn't have much in the way of staying power. There are good moments and aspects, of course; "Anne of Cleves" has those ominous scales, "Catherine Howard" stands out by being almost totally piano- based, "Jane Seymour" has some really ominous passages, and the other two have their charms. And yet, they're not especially memorable, and they definitely don't leave any sort of lasting impression in mood or atmosphere or anything like that.

In small stretches, with individual tracks striking my fancy from time to time, this stuff can be friggin' awesome, and for that reason it's able to get as high of a grade as it does. On the whole, though, I'll pass.

tarkus1980 | 3/5 |

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