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Rick Wakeman - Return To The Centre Of The Earth CD (album) cover

RETURN TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH

Rick Wakeman

Symphonic Prog


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loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars After much debate, financial and health jeopardies Rick WAKEMAN has finally revisited the Centre Of The Earth. Joined with the London Symphony Orchestra, Justin Hayward (MOODY BLUES), Trevor Rabin (YES), Ozzy OSBOURNE and 80's pop sensation Bonnie Tyler Wakeman takes us on perhaps the most magical journey of all time. The entire album is kindly pitted by the soft and distinctive voice of Patrick Stewart (Star Trek's Cap't. Jean Luc Picard). "Return To The Centre Of The Earth" is of course also heavily impacted by the magical piano touch of Rick WAKEMAN who is at his best. WAKEMAN used the $ 3 Million working budget of this masterpiece to draw on the vocal support of the English Chamber Choir and the London Symphony Orchestra to magnify sonic impact. Rick also surrounded himself with a strong compliment of young talented musicians to work with on this 77 minute epic journey. This is absolute perfect music which has many different moods and atmospheres and is guaranteed to take the listener into a different world. "Return To The Centre..." offers picture perfect sound (no holes barred on this recording) and was recorded using today's most dynamic recording machines, recorded for a pure digital experience. This is an absolute essential recording and works like pure magic for me... brilliant all the way through.

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Send comments to loserboy (BETA) | Report this review (#27380)
Posted Monday, March 15, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars A distant relative of a great album

As is apparent from the title, this was intended by Wakeman to be a belated follow up to "Journey to the centre of the earth". The story this time was written by Wakeman himself, "inspired" by Jules Verne.

"Return to the Centre of the earth" bears only passing resemblance to the original album though. This time we are presented with a studio recording, featuring a large number of separate songs performed by guest vocalists. Every alternate track is in the form of a narration by Patrick Stewart ("Captain Picard" in Star Trek, The Next Generation) backed by different orchestrations. While on "Journey.." the narration was brief, on "Return..", it gets to the stage where it can seem like you are listening to a talking book. This is apparently recognised in the accompanying booklet, which suggests that to omit the narration, programme your player to play the even numbered tracks only!

The guest vocalists are BIG names such as Ozzy Osbourne (Black Sabbath), Justin Hayward (Moody Blues), and Trevor Rabin (Yes, who also contributes guitar solo), and they certainly perform their tasks well. Instrumentally, other than Wakeman, there's a full band, choir and orchestra.

Despite the solid line up and major investment by the record company, including a fine Roger Dean cover illustration, the album falls a bit flat. Comparisons with "Journey.." are inevitable, given that album's classic status, Rick burdened "Return.." with a lot to live up to.

While all the right ingredients are here, the grand orchestration, an imaginative (if somewhat derivative) story, and superb production, the compositions are generally weak and in need of inspiration. The album lacks the feel of a complete piece, coming across more as a collection of recitals by the numerous guests. While Wakeman contributes some of his distinctive keyboard work, his role here is more that of catalyst and co-ordinator.

Please don't think this is a bad album, it isn't, but it is a poor relation of its magnificent, and similarly named predecessor.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#27382)
Posted Saturday, May 08, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Back in 1974 Rick released the massively successful Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, an album which boosted his solo career several hundred steps up the ladder of success. Ever since that time Rick has wanted to do a sequel album but time, money and technology have never been favourable to the idea - until now. The new album, Return To The Centre Of The Earth was released in March on the EMI Classics label with a huge press campaign and entered the national album charts at number 34 in it's first week. Three years of writing, planning and recording together with a Ł2 million budget have resulted in Rick calling this 'without question the most important and exciting musical journey that I have been involved with since the original Journey.' The contributions of the London Symphony Orchestra and the English Chamber Choir bring the album it's underlying classical feel whilst the contributions from many top contemporary vocalists add a rock edge, all of which is perfectly blended together by Wakeman's astoundingly diverse talent. Incidentally those vocalists include Justin Hayward, Bonnie Tyler, Katrina Leskanich and Rick's long-time friend Ozzy Osbourne, who takes the lead for Buried Alive, it's difficult to imagine any other vocalist handling this particular song so well, despite it's unusual time signature. With narration from Star Trek's Patrick Stewart carrying the story along Return...is a compelling listen.

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Send comments to Andy Long (BETA) | Report this review (#27384)
Posted Monday, January 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
1 stars This has got to be the worst work to come out from anyone in the Yes gang. It's the most cheesy, un-inspired, boring, trashy and banal collection I've ever heard. Just take any song from the pop radio and put some Moog solos on it and voila - you have an idea what this sounds like. Celine Dion would be perfect on this album, there are some tracks that would fit her style just fine. Even Ozzy Osbourne sings on one track (seriously), with his most obtuse vocal mannerisms. Yuck.... not if they paid you.

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Send comments to EMinkovitch (BETA) | Report this review (#27385)
Posted Monday, January 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
Zitro
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars An overrated album with mediocre songwriting, but great sound quality and keyboard sounds. I find it a very disappointing follow up to Journey to the center of the Earth, and most of the imagery on that one is replaced with pop songs that don't flow with the album.

Narration sound quality : 7/10 : While the keyboards may sound cheesy sometimes, they really follow the words of the narration and are well done.

The Return Overture : 8/10 : If only the rest of the album sounded this good! This has the quality and feel of Journey and is excellent overall. The vocal chorus harmonies are splendid and beautiful, and the moog solo screams prog rock!

Buried Alive : 7/10 : well, this is a pretty good hard rocker with ozzie on vocals.

In anybody there : 4/10 : overlong pop song that doesn't do much for me.

Dance of a Thousand Lights : 8.5/10 : This is more like it! A great instrumental work that reminds the listener to his glory days. It is dominated by a fast and delicate electric piano.

Mr Slow : 3/10 : slow and boring ... fortunately, it is not long.

Never is a Long long time: 5.5/10 : this song is blessed by Ex-yes guitarist Trevor. IT contains good guitar work and vocals.

The Kill : 2/10 : This song is poor, I do not know what Wakeman was thinking.

Still Waters Run Deep : 4/10 : not too memorable, why are pop songs in this album?

Ride of Your life : 4/10 : another overlong pop song.

Floodflames : 7.5/10 : too short ... but this is a very good instrumental work with a great moog solo.

End of the Return : 9/10 : Brilliant finisher that sounds like the opener. One of the main reasons to buy the album.

So overall, I find this album a disappointing follow up to the brilliant concept album 'journey to the center of the earth'. This one has a mediocre story with poor lyrics. It has a terrible flows with everchanging pop vocalists, and is not as rewarding as Journey.

My Grade : D+

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Send comments to Zitro (BETA) | Report this review (#41599)
Posted Thursday, August 04, 2005 | Review Permalink
Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars When I heard the first news of this album being recorded I was impatient, curious and afraid that "Return to the Centre of the Earth" would be a re-creation of the excellent "Journey of the Earth" with explicit musical references and nothing new, but at the same time I was really pleased to know that RICK WAKEMAN was trying to return to his roots.

I bought the first copy that reached Lima (A friend who owned a store called me the night when he received the album) and my first pleasant surprise was finding that Patrick Stewart was the narrator because his perfect English and calmed voice gives credibility to any project, a first point for Rick.

Surely had some doubts when I read the names of Ozzy Osbourne and Bonnie Tyler in the credits but when I listened "The Return Overture" all my doubts faded, the London Symphony Orchestra and the English Chamber Choir are simply perfect for the composition, the music was completely original but at the same time kept the pompous and wonderfully overblown spirit of the original album and in the moment I heard the first Moog performance I knew Rick was back to stay.

But there are some new things, this time he proved he could make an Orchestra and a choir Rock hard as in "Buried Alive" without affecting the atmosphere of the prequel.

Absolutely no review would be complete without mentioning the impressive keyboard performance in "Dance of the Thousand Lights" an incredible gem where Rick manages to keep the London Symphony Orchestra in the background to enhance the excellent melody without hiding his performance.

Of course the album is not perfect, "Return to the Centre of the Earth" has some flawed songs as the poppy "Still Watters Run Deep" only saved by the beautiful chorus, but over all the album is excellent.

But Rick reserves the best for the end, a brilliant reprise of the opening even more elaborate than the Overture that leaves a taste of honey in the lips of the fan.

If it wasn't for a couple of bellow the average tracks and the excess of narration the album would deserve 5 stars specially because he didn't insisted with Ashley Holt's terrible vocals, but despite the excellent moments there's something missing that doesn't allow me to rate it with more than 4 very solid stars.

An excellent addition for any Prog collection and a must have for every Wakeman fan.

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Send comments to Ivan_Melgar_M (BETA) | Report this review (#100184)
Posted Friday, November 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Very good album, but perhaps too much material for its own good. I have to admit, when I first got this album I was very impressed by it. It starts off really well. The narration by Patrick Stewart is wonderful sounding, if a bit over-written, and the music is epic and impressive. When I was hearing Ozzy singing "Buried Alive" backed by the London Symphony Orchestra and English Chamber Choir I couldn't help but chuckle a little to myself. Yes it's a little hokey, but I loved it anyway. It was just so well done. I could tell that Wakeman was type casting his lead vocal talents on this album, as this song is reminiscent of a Black Sabbath song.

Bonnie Tyler's song, "Is There Anybody There?" is just as impressive, and hearkens back to her earlier hit "Total Eclipse of the Heart", but this time with the orchestra and choir. Yes, it's a little cheesy, but in a good way, and I loved it.

The album reaches its climaxe with "The Dance of a Thousand Lights", easily the best song on the album. In fact, it's possibly my favorite Rick Wakeman song in general. It's instrumental, with Wakeman playing an impressively fast piano part. Probably the fastest I've ever heard him play. And it sounds beautiful. This is probably the only song that doesn't sound overblown, but even it comes close at times.

After this song, however, the album starts to get tired. Tony Mitchell's song, "Mr. Slow" is rather weak comparitively, and Trevor Rabin's "Never is a Long, Long Time" is reminiscent of some of his songs with Yes in the eighties and early nineties, but by this point the cheese factor is overshadowing the novelty of the album. But it does start to get a little better.

"The Kill" showcases Wakeman on synth with the choir taking lead vocals, unfortunately it's difficult to make out what they're singing. I think the album would have been better served with less choir, actually, as they seem to sound best when serving as atmosphere rather than lead vocals. Nevertheless the playing is impressive making this one of the better songs on the album.

Justin Hayward's song, "Still Waters Run Deep" is a pleasant mellow song, somewhat reminiscent of The Moody Blues. Then Katrina from Katrina in the Waves sings a more upbeat song, Ride of Your Life. I could tell Wakeman was going for another "Walking on Sunshine" catchy song, but doesn't quite get there. It's not a terrible song, but by this point you're wishing it would be over.

Floodflames is another instrumental, this one shorter and more to the point, and the concluding song reprises the opening number in good epic fashion, but goes on a few minutes too long, which pretty much sums up my impression of this album. It's just too much. The album would have been better served with less. 3.5 stars and I'll round it up because Dance of a Thousand Lights is so great.

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Send comments to Gianthogweed (BETA) | Report this review (#127994)
Posted Monday, July 09, 2007 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
4 stars Rick Wakeman, in this sequel to "Journey To The Centre Of The Earth", makes the album that the original should have been. He hired a top notch narrator (Patrick Stewart), and singers that were up to the task of the material (Ozzy Osbourne, Justin Heyward and Bonnie Tyler). And Wakeman's maturity shows in the much more exciting orchestral arrangements.

What strikes me most is how Wakeman easily moves the orchestra between traditional sounding pieces, and songs where the orchestra replaces a traditional rock band, playing riffs that guitars and synths would normally perform. Also, his singers follow the work perfectly.

Where the original alternated drab poppy pieces and pompous orhestration, this work flows through the story smoothly, both in the narrative and the music.

Excellent.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#566305)
Posted Friday, November 11, 2011 | Review Permalink

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