Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Rick Wakeman - The Six Wives of Henry VIII CD (album) cover


Rick Wakeman


Symphonic Prog

4.09 | 834 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Prog Reviewer
3 stars Yes is a truly great band, and by definition, much of its greatness is a product not of the talents of its individual members, but of the synergy among them. Not surprisingly, there are only a few gems among the dozens of solo albums by Yes members, and these standouts usually include more than one member of the group; Steve Howe's Turbulence and Chris Squire's Fish out of Water are the prime examples.

Keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman is no exception; despite the participation of Howe and Squire on one track and Yes drummers Bill Bruford and Alan White across the LP, The Six Wives of Henry VII is somewhat one-dimensional when compared to contemporary Yes music. Of course it's a keyboard-driven album, but that's not the problem. The problem is that Wakeman is trying to create an album that will appeal to Yes fans without directional or compositional input from the rest of the band; furthermore he produced the album himself, whereas the recent Yes albums had been produced by in conjunction with Eddie Offord. Add to this the fact that from its first seconds, Six Wives invites comparisons to the guitar-based work of Yes, and it's clear Wakeman had a tall order to fill.

Nonetheless the album was a commercial success, making the top 10 in the UK and earning a gold certification in the US. Artistically, it was superior to Yes's own 1973 album, Tales from Topographic Oceans - - indeed Six Wives is rated higher than Tales even on - - but it was not an artistic triumph.

It was, however, a decent album, and the best of the Wakeman solo albums I've heard (which admittedly account for under 10% of his 90+ albums). The strengths of Six Wives are in the performances and in the overall sound of the album, both of which are fabulous. The weakness is the compositions; Six Wives reminds me of a Def Leppard album insofar as there are three or four great motifs presented over the first five minutes, which are then reduced, reused, and recycled to comprise the rest of the record. Sufficiently clever recycling - - say, in inventive rearrangement or recapitulation - - can lend cohesion and consistency to an album. Unfortunately, that's not the kind of recycling I'm talking about here. Wakeman doesn't blatantly reuse melodies or chord sequences, but he employs a very limited palette of transitions and themes. Perhaps that's because of similarities inherent in his subject matter - - the titular Six Wives.** Whatever the reason, a monotony sets in far too soon for my taste.

It might be observed that it would've been pointless for Wakeman to produce a Yes album on his own, and I fully agree. In fact, I admire Wakeman's drive and resourcefulness in producing a solo album this early in his career,* and judged on its own merits, Six Wives is a pretty good debut. I do wish, though, that he had held on to his key motifs for a few months and submitted them to the other members of Yes when the group was composing Tales from Topographic Oceans.


*He had recorded one previous album, Piano Vibrations, as a soloist, but arguably it wasn't a "solo album." **Oh, who am I kidding?

patrickq | 3/5 |


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Share this RICK WAKEMAN review

Social review comments () BETA

Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.