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


Rick Wakeman


Symphonic Prog

4.09 | 834 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars Of the several hundred CDs that I own this one stands out from the rest for one reason:

***** The Rodney Dangerfield of Prog *****

This is BY FAR the finest solo project by any of the Prog keyboard masters. Emerson, Moraz, Rudess, Jobson or [insert the name here] have NOT created a masterpiece as cohesive and as powerful as "The Six Wives Of Henry VIII"; not even close!

I won't go into a song-by-song breakdown since that's already been done. Suffice to say that this is an ESSENTIAL masterpiece of progressive symphonic rock: FIVE STARS

Wakeman is a MASTER of symphonic prog and if I were introducing someone to the genre I would use this album as the perfect introduction. On "Six Wives" Wakeman's ever-present piano soars and weaves through chordal and melodic passages with masterful fluidity reminiscent of Chopin's and Mendelssohn's most popular works. The classical lines are offset by Moog runs and solos to give the album the prog edge. Although the production is dated by that 70s sound, the music is by no means "dated". The music is as fresh as the day it was released. But you won't hear any metal guitars on this one; which is probably what turns some off(more on that below).

Astonishingly, after all of that praise, "Six Wives" could very well be the poster album that epitomizes the lack of respect for keyboardists and keyboard-driven prog. Some will acknowledge that "Six Wives" is a great recording, one of the best in the prog catalog, the crowning moment in Wakeman's career, an impeccable album, yada, yada, yada.....but...when it's time to rate the record, these same folks give it 2 or 3 stars! What gives?

I believe it's safe to say that MOST progressive music fans like their music to contain "some" keyboards. Even the heavy head-bangers won't mind a little bit of pads here and there to color their metal assault . Yet, when the music is keyboard-driven and the dominant instruments are pianos and synths, the masses go into shock!

Case in point: If you compare "Brain Salad Surgery" to, say, "Moving Pictures", there is NO WAY that the latter should be rated higher on PA's top 100 list than the former. The only reason for the disparity is that the Rush record contains walls of heavy, yet simple, guitar lines, catchy riffs, catchy drum rolls and a very modern production that makes the whole better than the parts. Basically, "Moving Pictures" is a mainstream record with all of the ingredients in place to make it very popular to the masses. "Brain Salad Surgery", on the other hand, is considered pompous, overly complex, unnecessarily tedious and longer than it needed to be.

Ironically, "complex", "tedious" and "long" songs are some of the qualities that attracted us to "prog" in the first place!

"The Six Wives Of Henry VIII", sadly, falls into a similar category as "Brain Salad Surgery". A masterful album, but one played by a KEYBOARDIST and not a GUITARIST. For that reason, and for that reason alone, you won't find "Six Wives" near the top half of PA's 100.

wbiphoto | 5/5 |


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