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Rick Wakeman - The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table CD (album) cover


Rick Wakeman


Symphonic Prog

3.57 | 510 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars If 'Tales from Topographic Oceans' was pretentious and overblown, then Rick Wakeman is a hypocrite! In any case, I really like this album.

The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table has a long title, and it's concept is as obvious as the hit album 'Six Wives of Henry VIII', but things are taken further this time, with lyrics, narration, an orchestra and choir! Such a big project demands good production quality, which this doesn't have unfortunately; the drums and vocals are sometimes buried beneath layers of keyboards, but the music makes up for this.

'Arthur' kicks things off as a pseudo-title-track where he first becomes king, built on simple melodies and epic, movie-eqsue chord sequences which will reappear throughout the album as Arthur's personal themes. This cross-referencing aspect is something I would have liked to see on 'Six Wives' (but then, I guess those wives had nothing to do with each other so maybe that's why). 'Guinevere' is understandably softer, describing with some emotion the aspects of Arthur's dear wife. It is one of my favourites on the album actually, with great harmonies and a killer synth solo. Lancelot's battle with the infamous black knight introduces more epic medieval themes and also has a soft chorus and killer synth solo (they become a bit of a formula for this record). It's all very interesting though, probably more from a music point of view than the actual storyline, which everybody already knows.

Side two kicks off with the mysterious instrumental 'Merlin the Magician', a fan favourite that Wakeman occasionally still plays today. It's themes are perhaps drawn out for a bit too long, but the eccentric ragtime-style parts succeed in invoking thoughts of a crazy wizard... that is, a keyboard wizard! And then the album closes with Galahad's story seguing into the big finale, a battle no less between Arthur's knights and the Saxons. As an ending these songs are less impressive than the previous ones; I don't really feel caught up in the middle of an intense fight like I do on Lancelot's track. The sad closing words from the narrator are a nice touch though. Throughout the album, tracks are interspersed with short choral verses and a melancholy piano theme, which doesn't make too much sense but somehow aids the flow of the story (a lyric sheet would be helpful to include in this album!).

This monster of an album is perhaps less well-remembered than the one about the real king, but apart from some muddy production and a bit of thematic excess, it is just as good. Wakeman's versatile handling of the various keyboards is of course, the highlight.

thehallway | 4/5 |


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