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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 | 455 ratings

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5 stars Who so pulleth out this sword from the Stone and anvil, is the true born King of all Britain

If you ask 10 Prog fans which is the best RICK WAKEMAN album, probably 8 will answer that Six Wives of Henry the VIII deserves that honor, well I disagree with this opinion despite the quality of the music in Rick's debut, mostly because the atmosphere created by the "Cape Crusader" in Myths & Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table is simply perfect to describe the saga of the child king who took the sword from the anvil.

The fact is that Rick took care of each detail to make the album credible, even the vocals are perfect, because the controversial duo formed by Ashley Holt and Gary Pckford -Hopkins who struggled with the vocal parts of Journey to the Centre of the Earth are perfect for a medieval legend being that they sound a traveling troubadours taking the story from town to town, but lets talk about the songs:

Arthur opens the album with all the pomp and grandiosity required to describe the moment when Arthur became king by his own hand, and even when Rick uses diverse synths ad organs, reserves a special place for the harpsichord to enhance the effect. The powerful voices of Holt and Pickford are simply perfect for the occasion narrating (more than singing) the beginning of the saga.

But the real magic is in the tasteful combination of electronic and acoustic keyboards, because WAKEMAN jumps from harpsichord to Moog without affecting the atmosphere, it's obvious for me that Rick graduated as a genius in this album and Arthur is the perfect introduction to the record.

Lady of the Lake consists of a Gregorian Chant passage followed by a piano melody, this same theme is repeated several times in the album (with slight variations) to introduce the listener to important characters as Merlin and Sir Galahad. Again Wakeman does his best effort to keep the atmosphere intact and succeeds.

Guinevere is the best known song of the album being that it's easier for commercial radios to sell a beautiful and romantic melody to the mainstream listeners then the most elaborate sections, but this doesn't mean that it's simple at all, because Rick adds wonderful choirs, fantastic Moog and piano sections which combined with the strong drumming of Barney James blend the medieval era with contemporary music.

Sir Lancelot and the Black Knight is an impressive epic track in which the duel is described with accuracy not only by the vocals but also by the breathtaking interplay between keyboards and rhythm section. It's interesting to notice that in one point the Lancelot theme mixes with the Arthur melody creating an effect of blending of the two characters as one.

Merlin starts with the Gregorian intro used for Lady of the Lake but his time the melody at the end of the introduction is performed using harpsichord and grand piano, and then starts one of the most elaborate and ever changing pieces of the album. In first place we can listen a mysterious melodic passage with soft choirs but without advice morphs into a some sort of epic battle between Moog and bass. After several and radical changes, the track ends with a Charleston section almost as a comedy relief for the listener after so much intensity. This is what Prog is about.

Again the Gregorian intro is used for Sir Galahad and again the melody suffers slight changes ending with a nostalgic melody that describes the character of the most humble of the knights, again its' interesting to notice that the Arthur melody is blended in several parts, being that Galahad is seen by many as the continuation of the King, because he also took a sword from a stone in a river. A great and descriptive song.

The album ends with my favorite song The Last Battle, a track that has everything a fan of the genre loves, from breathtaking sections, brilliant keyboard solos and radical changes just to end in a nostalgic and incredibly beautiful narration of the end of King Arthur and the discovery of his tomb. Love it from start to end.

Sadly I read people saying that his album is pompous as a derogatory comment, others claim that "The Myths & Legends is hated by Punks (something logical from people who follow a genre based in simple music), but for me it's a perfect masterpiece. Please guys, we love Prog, it's meant to be pompous, if I hated pomp, I would be listening soft mainstream ballads.

If it wasn't for Arthur on Ice (Something for what Rick can't be blamed, because he was forced to accept or cancel the concert), would receive more praises, because in my opinion Myths & Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table is the quintessential legendary - conceptual album and deserves no less than 5 solid stars.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 5/5 |


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