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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 | 542 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Australian
Prog Reviewer
4 stars "The Six Wives of Henry VII" is Rick Wakemans's most accomplished solo album in my opinion and it displays his skill at using synthesizers and electric keyboards, but it also shows us that he is very well educated in classical piano. Of course, we all prefer the synthesizer side of Rick Wakeman (don't we?) which is why his classical solo albums like country airs are so unpopular on this site. With "The Six Wives of Henry VII" he was able to display that side of his music and still keep the audience enthralled. "Six wives" reached high places around the world.

The concept of "The Six Wives of Henry VII" is blatantly obvious, but just in case you haven't picked it up all the song titles are names of Henry VII's wives, but they aren't in order in the track listing, so my sister tells me. The concept really isn't important in "The Six Wives of Henry VII" because, unlike albums like 'The Snow Goose' there is nothing really specific to convey with the music. If you don't follow, basically I'm saying that Rick Wakeman didn't really have much to go, on if you what I mean.

In January 2005 I saw Rick Wakeman live on his farewell concert to Australia and I was lucky enough to be in the front row and I had a pretty good view of what was up. Unfortunately, due to a budget cut there was no backing so basically it was just Rick Wakeman up on stage playing away on a keyboard or two. He played "Catherine of Aragon", "Anne of Cleaves", "Catherine Howard" and "Catherine Parr" before moving on to other classics like "King Arthur" and "Journey to the Centre of the Earth." It was good to see Rick draw a full crowd, something which I didn't expect to happen in Melbourne.

Each song on "The Six Wives of Henry VII" explores a new theme and one song will usually be based around one keyboard instrument wether it be organ, synthesizers and so. The backing for "The Six Wives of Henry VII" is probably the best in of any of Rick's works and he has a full band. One very interesting sections is the electric Banjo solo (played by David Cousins) on "Catherine Howard" which provides a delightful change of course for the music, for a short period of time. There are several notable guests on "The Six Wives of Henry VII" which include Bill Bruford, Alan White and Steve Howe.

The two songs that stand out the most to me are "Ann of Cleaves" and "Catherine Howard", both of which are very proggy in sound and characterize Rick Wakeman's classic prog style tremendously well. You should also be aware that there are no worded lyrics on "The Six Wives of Henry VII", though there are some background droning vocals on tracks 1 and 5. The keyboard work on the album isn't always domineering and not the entire album is about synthesizers, as I have already mentioned. The guitar work is kept mainly to rhythm here, and it doesn't usually stand out amid the other instruments. There are a few occasions when the synthesizers can get little weird but it isn't anything any real prog listener would take any heed of.

The CD booklet to "The Six Wives of Henry VII" although quite short includes a list of all the instruments Rick Wakeman used. On the list are such instruments as Hammond organs, Mini-Moogs, D-400 Mellotrons and many others. It also includes a short biography of each of The Six Wives of Henry VII. The front cover of "The Six Wives of Henry VII" is an interesting one; it is like Rick took a casual step back in time and appeared in a photo or painting. Being Rick Wakeman, he is able to do such things on a whim.

1. Catherine of Aragon (4/5) 2. Anne of Cleves (5/5) 3. Catherine Howard (5/5) 4. Jane Seymour (4/5) 5. Anne Boleyn 'the day thou gavest Lord is ended (4/5) 6. Catherine Parr (4/5) Total = 26 divided by 6 (number of songs) = 4.33 = 4 stars (almost five) Excellent addition to any prog music collection

If you are serious about prog then The Six Wives of Henry VII is the album for you, it is a fantastic progressive album and is, I dare say Rick's greatest album to date. "The Six Wives of Henry VII" is a true Symphonic gem and it is a very accessible album to both acquire and to listen to. There is some fantastic keyboard work on the album which would interest the keyboard-orientated prog fan.

Australian | 4/5 |

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