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


Rick Wakeman


Symphonic Prog

4.07 | 640 ratings

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5 stars There are other more successful records that Rick Wakeman made, both with Yes (Close To The Edge and Tales Of Topographic Oceans) and as a solo artiste (the subsequent Journey To The Centre Of the Earth), but it is this, his "proper" debut album that is the greatest evidence in support of his "keyboard wizard" status.

Using a battery of state of the art keyboards (well this was recorded between February and October 1972!) Wakeman created a record that is very often spectacular, and has no slack to speak of. It stands alongside Gryphon's Red Queen To Gryphon Three as my favourite instrumental prog album. although like that other classic, I have to be in the mood for it.

He's got a few friends along ... the opener Catherine Of Argaon has Yesmates Howe, Squire and Bruford on it (although it is actually one of the more sedate pieces here!) and a few of his former bandmates from the Strawbs also make an appearance. But there is no doubting who is the star of this show, as Rick stamps his mark with some of his finest playing on some of his finest ever compositions.

A pedantic feller like myself may find fault with Wakeman having changed the running order of the wives (he's got it first, fourth, fifth, third, second and sixth), and Wakeman's interpretation of the characters can be challenged ... does Anne Of Cleves deserve the longest and one of the most vibrant songs?

But the moments of sheer brilliance are abundant, not least the (ahem) majestic opening to Cathrine Howard, the lengthy synth solo that begins halfway through Anne Boleyn and the exuberant runs that power Catherine Parr (almost enough to get this old progger dancing), and yes, most of the pulsating Anne Of Cleves. The sombre Jane Seymour (Wakeman went to St. Giles, Cripplegate to record the organ) and the afore-mentioned Catherine Of Aragon may not be quite as strong, but they also have their part to play in making this album a masterclass in keyboard-based progressive rock.

If you're only ever going to get one Rick Wakeman solo record, please make it this one. ... 91% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 5/5 |


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