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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

4.09 | 834 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Divorced, beheaded died; divorced, beheaded, survived

Wakeman's first solo outing (excepting the little known "Piano vibrations") was an ambitions concept album with six tracks, each being inspired by one King Henry VIII wives. Wakeman himself has said that the tracks are not intended to describe their subjects as such, but to reflect his interpretation of their characters.

As the entire album is instrumental, only Rick really knows how the music actually relates to the characters it depicts. In truth from the listener's perspective, it could just as easily have been "The six best breakfast cereals made by Kelloggs" or "The last six victims of Jack the Ripper". There's nothing in the music which explicitly suggests beheadings, divorces, etc.(!)

Wakeman's relatively new found fame as Yes' keyboard wizard meant that the album had a ready and willing audience, anxious to acquire anything with a connection to the said band. I do not intend to imply by this that the album did not warrant the success it gained, but had it been record by an unknown keyboard virtuoso, it would probably have been considered eccentric and indulgent, achieving only a fraction of the sales it actually gained.

Rick used the services of most of the members of Yes, plus the some of his previous band The Strawbs, along with numerous others throughout the album. For obvious reasons, keyboards feature predominantly, but there is a great variety of sounds, from classical piano, to (at the time unheard) synthesiser creations. There are many fine, strong melodies, including references to classical pieces and to hymns. A couple of the tracks tend to wander slightly, especially when accompanied by the occasional weaker theme.

The best are "Anne Boleyn", a lovely softer track featuring the piano, and "Jane Seymour" with its memorable soaring moog section.

The original LP was well packaged, and included an informative gatefold sleeve. Many of Wakeman subsequent albums followed the formula established with the is album, but this was the first, and stands as an excellent first effort.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |

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