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Rick Wakeman

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Rick Wakeman Journey To The Centre Of The Earth album cover
3.82 | 118 ratings | 8 reviews | 31% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2012

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Preface (1:10)
-The Journey
2. The Journey Overture (2:25)
3. Journey's Dawn (3:39)
4. Crystals (0:34)
5. The Gothic Cathedral (1:07)
6. A Quest For Water (1:18)
7. The Hansbach (2:55)
- ...
8. Fervent Prayer (0:41)
9. The Recollection (2:32)
10. Lost & Found (0:44)
11. Echoes (3:49)
-The Battle
12. Miles (0:18)
13. The Reunion (2:42)
14. A New Vista (0:50)
15. A World Within A World (2:14)
16. The Raft (1:07)
17. The Battle (5:55)
-The Elements
18. Cumulus Clouds (0:38)
19. The Storm (2:02)
-The Discovery
20. The Cemetery (1:28)
21. Quaternary Man (4:50)
22. Mastodons (0:54)
-The Forest
23. The Forest (2:31)
24. Ages Of Man (1:56)
25. The Tunnel (1:53)
- ...
26. Hall Of The Mountain King (0:53)
27. Mount Etna (3:17)

Total time 54:22

Line-up / Musicians

- Rick Wakeman / keyboards, additional choir arrangements, co-producer

- Hayley Sanderson / vocals
- Ashley Holt / vocals
- Dave Colquhoun / guitars
- Lee Pomeroy / bass
- Tony Fernandez / drums
- Orion Symphony Orchestra
- Danny Beckerman / original orchestrations
- Wil Malone / original orchestrations
- Ann Manly / additional orchestrations
- English Chamber Choir
- Guy Protheroe / additional orchestrations, choir conductor
- Peter Egan / narrator

Releases information

An extended version of "Journey To The Centre Of The Earth", re-recorded in 2012.

ArtWork: Roger Dean (Only on 2014 commercial edition cover)

CD Classic Rock ‎- CRP13-11-12 (2012, Europe) Included in a fan pack distributed with the magazine.
CD Music Fusion ‎- MFWN1CD (2014, UK) Repackaged for the 40th anniv. of original album.

Thanks to tendst for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy RICK WAKEMAN Journey To The Centre Of The Earth Music

RICK WAKEMAN Journey To The Centre Of The Earth ratings distribution

(118 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(31%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (21%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

RICK WAKEMAN Journey To The Centre Of The Earth reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Fitzcarraldo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars In 1975 I gave away my copy of the original 1974 LP of "Journey To The Centre Of The Earth" and never bothered to replace it, as I found the music too 'commercial' for my taste and parts of the performance sub par. Actually, listening to the 1974 album again now on YouTube, it is certainly no masterpiece and I find it corny and cheesy in places. To make matters worse, some of the singing was poor, especially ASHLEY HOLT's strained and often out-of-tune vocals. Furthermore, I'm not a huge fan of live albums (the 1974 release was a recording of a concert in the Royal Festival Hall) as I find the occasional imperfections and crowd noise rather irritating. There are exceptions, of course, but generally I prefer a studio-recorded album (even if a group puts a track down live in the studio, it's usually better than a concert recording).

So why did I fork out my hard-earned cash now for this 2012 reboot by RICK WAKEMAN? Curiosity, mainly. I wanted to see if he had improved on the 1974 original. I was also interested to hear if the singing would be better than the, at times, dire singing on the original (I had hoped, in vain as it turns out, that ASHLEY HOLT would not be singing on the 2012 album). Furthermore, the prospect of hearing the parts of the work not included in the 1974 performance was also a factor. And, finally, I was interested to hear a polished studio recording of the work rather than a recording of a live performance.

So, what is the new release like, then?

I can't say I've changed my mind about the music itself: it's as commercial-sounding and corny as on the original album. In fact, some of the added parts sound even more commercial, that feeling reinforced in places by the vocals of HALEY SANDERSON. Yes, a female vocalist participates this time, singing the parts originally performed by GARY PICKFORD-HOPKINS as well as singing the newly-added songs. Don't get me wrong, she has a lovely voice, but RICK WAKEMAN's mainstream melodies coupled with her vibrato singing style at times are more middle-of-the-road or pop than progressive rock ('Journey's Dawn' and especially 'Echoes' are pure ANDREW LLOYD WEBER to me, for example). Mind you, I would rather listen to her than ASHLEY HOLT. To be fair, his singing on this studio album is much better than on the recording pressed onto the 1974 LP, but I do wish RICK WAKEMAN had used someone else.

DAVID HEMMINGS, the narrator on the 1974 album, died in 2003. His distinctive voice was one of the better things on that album, but PETER EGAN, another British actor, does a credible job on this reboot as he also has a clear, pleasant voice with some gravitas. He could perhaps have injected a little more awe into the narration, but it's fine.

I have to say that the studio recording is good; the music sounds crisp and well-played. The orchestration is also good, and the synthesizer sounds are there too. The booklet containing the CD just lists RICK WAKEMAN's instruments as 'keyboards', without specifying the makes and models. My guess is that most -- perhaps all -- were digital rather than the analogue keyboards he played in 1974. Whatever they were, they sound good to this synthesizer fan. Overall, then, I prefer this reboot to the original live recording. I suppose my musical tastes have mellowed over the years as well, so the more-commercial sound does not grate as much as it did back in 1974.

The accompanying 130-page Classic Rock special and replica of the 1974 tour programme make interesting reading. Classic Rock magazine are to be commended for releasing this CD and associated 'album fanpack', and I very much hope it is a commercial success and brings the music to a new audience, not just to the old guard.

By the way, there are a few short pauses (track changes?) when I play the Audio CD on my Audio CD player in the lounge, but it plays seamlessly in the optical drive on my laptop so I assume the problem lies with my stand-alone CD player rather than the Audio CD.

I'll be hanging on to the album this time, but I can't say "Journey To The Centre Of The Earth" is essential or even particularly important to own if you are a fan of progressive rock. Unless, that is, you collect also for a historical perspective, in which case it is as much a piece of the 1970s as 'Close To The Edge', albeit nowhere near as good. But it is quite fun and, let's face it, you can hum or whistle along to this stuff. My rating for the original 1974 album was 2 stars (Collectors/fans only) but I'm going to give this 2012 rehash 3 stars (Good, but not essential). Actually, were such a thing possible, I might even be tempted to bump that up to 3.5 stars to take into account its historical interest.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars in a big picture this new full-fledge version is a masterpiece work as it tells the whole story with excellent music composition and orchestration. However, it has a very low point on the use of female vocal that really disrupts everything. Fortunately not every vocal line uses female.

My view on original recorded live version (1974)

This album is a BIG thing for me personally. The first time I knew this album was the first period I was introduced to progressive rock world by my brother, Henky, who then was the radio broadcaster for Geronimo radio station based in Yogya, Central Java. That was the time of my "right-placed childhood" (ugh .. what is it? It's an antithesis of Marillion "mis"placed childhood as I was so fortunate that I had a great big brother who forced me to prog ). He just gave me a "naked" cassette with no title at all, sent to me in Madiun, a small town in East Java. I remember that the recording quality was very poor. And at that time I never heard any kind of music with a lot of narration like this album. But the cassette really BLEW me!!! I played it everyday almost 2 or 3 times and not knowing who the artist/band was. I finally realized the artist behind the cassette after I catch a compilation of songs produced by Prambors radio (Jakarta) in which an edited version of "Journey" was listed and yeah RICK WAKEMAN mannnnn!!! Wow .. no wonder! By that time I only knew RW through his involvement in YESsongs and Fragile.

I admire on the high quality standard of this recorded live album. It's so fascinating music that has always made my adrenalin EXPLODED when I listen to this album! I mean it, my friend. No joke at all for a man as great as Mr. Wakeman! He's the greatest keyboard player I have ever known in my life. Needless to say that the overall composition of this album is definitely, absolutely top class! By that time I was not aware any inclusion of orchestra in rock music composition (later I knew DEEP PURPLE's Concerto for Groups and Orchestra and JON LORD's Windows).

About this 2012 version

Thanks to Amazon UK who delivered my fanpack copy faster than I expected. The first impression about this is off course the package which is really excellent especially the Classic Rock magz that describe the whole story about this seminal work from Rick Wakeman. Having read the story I realized that Journey was supposed to be the first solo album by Wakeman. But due to lucrative investment cost he then recorded the Six Wives first until it reached commercial success and used the proceeding to finance the recorded live version in 1974.

On the content of the CD itself I am pleased to hear the introductory narration by Peter Egan as the original narrator died in 2003. It's OK with this new one even though the powerful word of " the Hansbach!" is different in energy than the original version (sounded much more dynamic than the current one). The overture is really beautiful it is now recorded in digital era, the sound production is quite clear. I am really disappointed when the female voice starts to enter the music - it's really the lowest point of this version. It's nt that I don't like female voice but she does not sing charismatically so the music tends to be mellow like typical pop song.

The high point of this new version is when the album reaches The Battle - Cumulus Clouds - The Story - The Cemetary. For those who love this album I guarantee that you would like this new version better when it comes to The Battle. Oh man ... I love the dynamics of this piece as it starts wonderfully with Rick's inventive keyboard work. For some reason, I find this new version is much more compelling than the 1974 version. The keyboard solo is much more dynamic and it makes me really hooked with this piece. I keep repeating this piece when it reaches The Battle. I love the parts where it reaches SAVE ME ... SAVE ME well as PRAISE GOD ...PRAISE GOD! Oh maaaaannn ....this is really a real progrock music! Yeah! Not only that, there is an addition 1 minute piece at the end of The Battle and its transition piece. It's sooooo wonderful I tell you! The narration part in Cumulus Clouds is really beautiful. The Story demonstrates great keyboard solo by Rick and it fits beautifully with The Battle. It then flows to The Cemetery (narration) nicely.

This is for sure an excellent addition to any prog music collection. Keep on proggin' ..!!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Zitro
4 stars A very strong effort that modernizes the music, develops it, addresses some of the original's failings while introducing new flaws that prevents this from getting 5 stars from me.

Chances are, if you are a member of this site, you may be familiar with Wakeman putting 'Journey to the Center of the Earth' to music. He did not have the resources nor support to record this idea in a studio. Having it recorded live was risky but still a good decision as this is the album that brought him fame outside of Yes. The album is exciting, passionate, classically beautiful. The album is also poorly mixed, the performance from the orchestra is not too great, Wakeman plays the synthesizer too often, and he brought mediocre singers who were off-key at times.

Enter a remake nearly 40 years later that tries well to address these flaws. The sound quality is crystal clear, it is properly mixed, boasts a more professional orchestra, has a more restrained Wakeman with a more varied palette of keyboard tones, and even introduces two songs. So why not 5 stars?

_The narration, while having superior background music, can't stand up to the original: David Hemmins was simply more exciting to listen to.

_The music is too perfect and loses some of its dynamics and excitement. Not to the extent of being soulless, but think of how inspired young Wakeman was when recording live a 40 minute long composition surrounded by an orchestra! Similarly, some of the flaws from the original had their charm (more on that later) Is it just me? My father feels the same way.

_Synthesizers. I know I also considered them a strength earlier in the review, but they sometimes sound a bit sterile and just adequate. Remember the fiery synthesizer in the beginning of "The Battle" and "The Storm"? The 'liquid' synthesizer in Hansbach? Well ... they're gone.

Given lack of many reviews, I'm going to compare this album with the original in detail

* Preface - Overture: I would remove the spoken word intro and head straight to the music. I forgive it as when the music starts, it is as majestic as it could ever get with the improved orchestra. Rick Wakeman restrained his playing but kept the original synthesizer sounds in important parts of the overture.

* Journey's Dawn: A female singer? She has a rich, warm voice and it surely makes the album sound more accessible and mainstream. Do you miss the terribly off-key vocal outro of the original? Beautiful, if modern, synthesizer solo upfront in the mix.

*Crystals - Gothic Cathedral - A Quest for Water: Lots of narration, I miss the original ('they called the stream - the HANSBACH!'. On the other hand, the orchestra in 'Cathedral' is more layered and utterly beautiful. Quest for Water sounds very renaissance.

*The Hansbach - Fervent Prayer: Nice retro synthesizers that sound better than the 'underwater- sounding' originals and with a rockier rhythm instead of just bass guitar. The original visual of the running stream gets lost. The orchestra-driven 2nd half with twinkling piano and the following narration track sounds far superior.

*The Recollection - Lost & Found: The reprise of Journey's Dawn was brought earlier and makes sense in my opinion. Ashley Holt's singing sounds on-key and quite acceptable! Amazing outro with choirs and retro synthesizers and more impeccable orchestra during the narration. Very beautiful. *Echoes: The first of the new songs. A quality pop song somewhat inspired by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Sandra sings mainstream melodies on the first minute with harmonically layered instrumentation. An uplifting chorus with loud strings and guitars follows and leads to an outstanding synthesizer solo. This is good.

*The Reunion: Great rocking tune! Guitar and drums dominate in a heavier fashion than the original. Solo dominates and sounds more hard rock/metal than the prog-rock shredding of the original. The incredibly badly mixed clavichord got replaced by a softer harpsichord playing as a rhythm to great female choral arrangements. I might personally prefer the choppier guitar solo of the original but this is a great remake.

*A New Vista - A World Within a World: modern keyboards with narration giving way to bombastic orchestration for a minute and then more restrained arrangenements.. Puts the original to shame.

*The Battle - Cumulus Clouds: Where's that fiery synthesizer? It leaves a void in the song. The song sure rocks hard, the orchestra riff doesn't sound sloppy now, the choirs are so dense. It's a matter of preference which version you prefer. You do get two nice synthesizer solos stretching out the song to nearly 6 minutes. The clavichord at the end got replaced by heavy strings. I do miss its heavily processed sound to it.

*The Storm: His 90s synthesizer is back and is rather out of place. A shame because the actual notes he plays would be so exciting with the retro synthesizers. I like the updated choirs and the guitar and the end, but this song is nevertheless a misfire because it fails to invoke visuals of a storm. It's just a cool jam. On the other hand, I love how 'The Cemetery' blends in violins with male choirs.

*Quaternary Man: My personal favorite of the new songs. With retro-sounding keyboards, Strawberry- Fields-Mellotron, and a simple percussion line (reminiscent of 'And You and I'), he created a rather hypnotic ambient soundscape. Sandra sings descending and ascending melodies in the verses and pre-choruses, respectively. The choruses make the orchestra sound catchy. Another pop song? Not necessarily with its extended instrumental section with guitar solos that sound like Yes' Steve Howe. The synthesizer solo is a bit too high-pitched for me. The latter minutes are great as they reintroduce Sandra and heavy use of choirs. Strawberry-Fields Mellotron end the song.

*The Cemetery - Mastodons: These are the narrative pieces in between Quaternary Man. I love how violins blend with male choirs in both pieces.

*The Forest: This song is actually rather listenable! I would prefer Sandra to sing the softer first half but Ashley captures the spirit of the original and sings a bit better. This is almost like a remastered version than a remake as I find it hard to tell differences other than sound quality.

*Ages of Man - The Tunnel - Hall of the Mountain King: Bassline of 'The Storm' comes back during this narration piece with mellotron embellishes. Wakeman sure listened to a lot of 'Strawberry Fields' during the time of the recording. The basis of 'Ages of Man' is developed in 'The Tunnel' and he plays one of his more energetic solos in the album. The 'porno-sounding' guitars are thankfully replaced by distorted metal chords. The Hall of the Mountain King starts well, has more 'strawberry fields mellotrons', and then lets the orchestra go nuts. Ends too soon and excludes the synthesizer playing on top. Shame as it had lots of potential if it went on for only 20 more seconds.

*Mount Edna: Just outstanding, and he actually isn't afraid of using retro synthesizers here. That and the powerful orchestra make a very fitting finale.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars Recollection

A trend of recent years has been for bands to re-record some of their classic albums. A successful example of this is Camel's re-recording of The Snow Goose which actually improved on the original version. The present album is a re-recorded version of Rick Wakeman's Journey To The Centre Of The Earth (not to be confused with the 1999 album Return To The Centre Of The Earth which was a sequel, not a re-make like the present disc).

While the original 1974 album was recorded live, this 2012 album is the long overdue studio version. There are some differences and expansions here and there but it mostly stays true to the original arrangements. I would say that the original version is the better of these two, but I much prefer the rockier versions of Journey that Rick have performed live more recently with various incarnations of his "English Rock Ensemble". My #1 favourite Rick Wakeman release is the live disc Out Of The Blue which features a brilliant 17 minute version of Journey which loses the narration, the choirs, and the symphony orchestra, and features lead vocals by the great Damian Wilson. Other versions of the piece with similar length and structure are featured on other live releases such as the very good Made In Cuba DVD with original vocalist Ashley Holt. This 2012 studio version recreates the narration and is as overblown and bombastic as the 1974 version.

The original Journey To The Centre Of The Earth was never my favourite of the classic Rick Wakeman albums and this re-make has done nothing to change that. It is interesting to listen to this once, and it is not badly made, but it adds little of value to the original. 1999's Return To The Centre Of The Earth (featuring guest performances by Trevor Rabin, Ozzy Osbourne, and others) was a better tribute to the classic than this re-make is.

Primarily for fans and collectors.

Review by Dapper~Blueberries
5 stars In recent memory, Yes has been one of the more respected Prog bands, with some of the greatest albums I have heard like Close To The Edge, Fragile, and Tales From Topographic Oceans, heck even their pop stuff isn't half bad (not including Open Your Eyes obviously). They have some great musicians in the band too with some respectable careers of their own. Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Steve Howe, and of course the focal point of this review, Rick Wakeman.

Out of any member of Yes, Rick has the biggest discography, of 80 albums, not including compilations or live albums, that is more albums than the entire discography of all the members of Yes, which is approximately 63 albums. It is a discography that is very formidable with some amazing albums, some not so good albums, and some albums that seem otherworldly. One album that feels beyond this world is 'Journey To The Centre Of The Earth'. This album is actually a re-recording of a live show in 1974 by the same name, however this is considerably longer than that album, and for clarity's sake, I listened to the old live show to get a grasp on what was improved and what was lacking from this new version of this journey, and I did notice a few things, but we'll get to that later, for now let's talk about the album.

So I like to preferably listen to the full 54 minute song version of the album, usually seen in streaming services like Spotify and Amazon Music. This is so I can fully gather my thoughts on this album without making a track by track analysis, especially since with the sections sometimes being very short, sometimes being just a few seconds long. With that in mind, oh my god I love this giant suite. You can tell Rick was having a blast making this. From start to finish this is a blast to get through, with twists, turns, beauty, profoundness, and adventure.

The start of the song we get a short introductory sentence that starts to journey out, not with a bang, but with a couple of words to fully captivate the listener to see what is in store with this tale. After this introduction ends we get to a bang with an orchestral moment. Lots of violins, horns, very bombastic and classical. So far this starts the whole album off almost perfectly, almost since I am not a fan of classical music so when I first heard this I was fearing I might've started a listen with a classical album instead of a rock album, and was a bit turned off, though that doesn't persist when it shifts away to a new part of the journey.

The song takes a turn to a more acoustic Prog sound with acoustics and flutes, but with a bit of Rick's electronic piano playing to tie things together. Not only that but towards the end it starts to get a bit poppy, but it doesn't go to a new wave or an unsustainable pop sound, it feels in place and it feels indulgent in itself, which I really like. Furthermore, after a few more monologues and orchestral bits and pieces, we get a bombastic guitar, drum, and electronic piano session with lots of verbose playing that leads to a new section of orchestration and narrative driven monologues. This is what I feel like is the album's biggest strong points, how it is able to smoothly blend the eclectic Prog rock with symphonic orchestra plus the more pop like approach with some of these sections, it's melting with a beauty and grace that I love, and this perfectly shows why progressive rock is so good on how it can blend many styles and make it work.

I don't wanna spoil too much of the album so I'll skip a few bits and pieces, but I do wanna talk about two more parts on this album that being the section coined as The Battle and the two ending sections of In The Hall Of The Mountain King and Mount Etna. Let's start with The Battle, which is my favorite section of this suite. I am always a sucker for more punchy, weird-like sections in my suites like with Supper's Ready's Willow Farm or Tarkus' Mass. It blends the more eclectic Prog rock with the orchestration super well to where it gives a sense of epicness, but also mixes with the wobbly sounding piano Rick plays with, it gives a sort of odd ball feeling with the song and Rick's singing fits this track perfectly, especially with his more older voice, giving the track an older and more grander feel. Now let's talk about Mountain King and Mount Etna, so Mountain King, personally is not that special but within the context of all that happened with this suite, it gives a whole flurry of meaning and awesomeness, and it leads to that grand closer most Prog epics have. However it's not grand in a sense where it's a part that goes beyond, but it rather builds upon itself with Orchestration that leads into the magnificent part of the song where the beauty of Rick's playing mashes together with the symphonics to create a compact and masterful work of art that gushes with beauty, to where I cannot begin to describe it, and after such a long stretch of music, it just adds onto that. I cannot recommend this entire suite to any Prog fan enough, it's just so amazing that the 54 minute run time makes it all the more worthwhile.

But now we have a question, obviously, how does this fare against the old 1974 version? Is it better or worse? Well, this may be my young mind talking and my whole first listening bias talking but this is way better than the original live composition. The 1974 version definitely gets the job done, and I love the more olden and almost rustic feel this version has compared to the slicker and modern version, but this feels more complete and just brimming with more flare and transcendent sounds to where it's way better in my mind compared to the old 1974 version, though I do see why people would prefer the old version more whether it's for its older sound or it's more nostalgic reasons, whatever it is I can definitely see the appeal of the OG album.

So, overall this album and this suite as a whole is so good. It's a masterpiece of Progressive Rock music and I'd totally recommend this to any Prog fan, whether they like classic Prog or modern Prog, whatever, it's brimming with some amazing symphonies, amazing music, and above all one of the best closings to an epic I have heard in the past few weeks. Do not be afraid of its run time, you'll not be disappointed.

Latest members reviews

3 stars oh my lord!!!! female vocal? came on...... by any doubt the album is not to bad , the new parts quite interesting... but the female vocal ? It has nothing to do with the music ! Problably i have listen for too much time the original album, one of my Rick's favorite, with all of his probl ... (read more)

Report this review (#1324821) | Posted by lampug | Tuesday, December 16, 2014 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Rick Wakeman's 2012 re-recording of his 1974 masterpiece was always going to be a hard sell to me. When the 1974 album was released, I lay awake in bed with a transistor radio beside my pillow to listen to my local rock radio station's midnight broadcast. The following year, when Rick Wakeman tou ... (read more)

Report this review (#904931) | Posted by Ajay | Saturday, February 2, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The original Journey to the centre of the earth is undoubtely one of the best progressive albums of all time. But I remember that Wakeman admitted that in those agitated years he didn't had the time and money to record with a full symphonic orchestra, so he opted to record the album live, sacrifi ... (read more)

Report this review (#880614) | Posted by fmatah | Sunday, December 23, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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