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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 | 464 ratings

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4 stars If prog is about dynosaurs making pompous end pretentious music with symphonic orchestra, choirs and fireworks, this is prog!. With the vinyl edition you immediately see the sword in the anvil and a seal made of wax with Rick Wakeman's name on. Then you open it and find a booklet with paintings and lyrics plus on the last page the names of the about 100 people who took part in it. Of course, behind the booklet the interior is occupied by a painting of the battle between Lancelot and the Black Knight.

Of course everything starts with Arthur and the famous sentence about "who pulleth out this sword..."immediately followed by the symphonic orchestra and Rick's piano and keyboards. For the kind of composition, before the main theme appears for the first time, one could expect to hear Roger Daltrey singing. The chords of this intro remind me of Tommy, but when Ashley Holt starts singing it's clearly Wakeman. The melodies are catchy and the symphonic arrangements fits well with the operatic voices of the two vocalists. It sounds very similar to Journey To The Centre Of Earth which is his first true concept album, but being both featuring operatic vocals and symphonic orchestra, how could they be much different?

For less than one minute a male choir sings "Lady Of The Lake". Nothing to do with Gnidrolog who dedicated her a full album. This is just a quick apparition.

About two minutes of piano intro reminding the Arthur's theme and the song about "Guinevere" starts. Without the classical arrangement it would be just a pop song, but don't forget that Wakeman has been capable of making excellent pop music like the piano part of Cat Stevens "Morning Has Broken".Guinevere is just a two minutes song, what is great is its long interlude in line with Journey.

Again, very operatic, the battle of "Sir Lancelot and the Black Knight" contains also the hardest and heaviest parts of the whole thing. There's also a jazzy keyboard solo in the middle of the track. This song has all the requirements to be called an 'epic' even if its lenght is inferior to 10 minutes.

The theme of "Lady Of The Lake" is reprised by the same choir, but this time it introduces "Merlin The Magician". An excellent piano intro seems to carry us into the Magician's laboratory, while the Arthur's main theme, slowed down in tempo, is back again. The real song starts after about 2:30 minutes.A very interesting thing is the rhythm of the guitar which leads to the most compulsive part. However this song is made of very different moments but all the transitions are well managed, including the one leading to the very fast ragtime interlude. Then the various themes which make this song reappear until the final ragtime closure.

The choir again starts "Sir Galahad". After this dark intro, despite the subject, the music is upbeat and quite "happy". It acquires a sense if you imagine a live performance, like a musical. In this sense the acapella singing which follows makes sense. From a musical perspective only this part of the song featirung the English Chamber Choir shows all the excellent composition skill of Rick Wakeman and is also the part more similar to Journey.

The last track has reminds to all the principal musical themes. It has to be sad..."Gone are the days of the Knights...". It features the full orchestra and the choirsbut there's room also for a jazzy keyboard solo which is one of the best album's things. However, this is mainly a coda, like the end titles of a movie. It could be considered "essential" because it's one of the clearer examples of how pretentious prog was, but we are speaking of an artist who had all the rights to be pretentious.

I don't hear the masterpiece,but it's surely an excellent album with some historical value.

octopus-4 | 4/5 |


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