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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 | 561 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Phil
4 stars Rick's first solo effort and considered his best by many. Entirely instrumental and with a higher quality of composition and arrangement and backed by better accompanying musicians than on some subsequent ventures. He shows off his prodigous keyboard talents imaginatively, and without the bombastic approach of some of his peers (OK by that I mean Keith Emerson) - at least, for this album. Despite the orchestras used on subsequent albums, this for me has the most "classical" feel to it - almost like a small chamber orchestra in its style.

"Catherine of Aragon" starts the album and is a re-arrangement of what would have appeared on Fragile as Rick's solo outing, but for issues between A&M, then Ricks' record company, and Yes' Atlantic. A strident tune marches in on piano to herald the start of the album; a break leads to an atmospheric moog solo which is then followed by a heavenly choir backing Rick as he returns to piano and re-states the opening bars. "Anne of Cleves" is basically a long Hammond solo with a jazzy feel; on percussion, Alan White and Ray Cooper of Elton John fame help drive it along. I always felt this was a much underrated number. "Catherine Howard" has a similar structure to the first track but with a dream-like tune that recurrs. Dave Cousins contributes a break on electric banjo (!?) - sounds naff but its effective. "Jane Seymour" sees Rick using church organ throughout on what is the most melancholy number. "Anne Boleyn" is probably the best track and features one of the best moog solo's he's done - not the fastest, but very rhythmic and tuneful. "Catherine Parr" finishes the album with a recurring Hammond ditty which alternates with quieter passages.

If you like this album but are not so keen on Rick's more lavish outings, then try "Criminal Record" or "White Rock".

Phil | 4/5 |

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