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Rick Wakeman - The Six Wives of Henry VIII CD (album) cover


Rick Wakeman


Symphonic Prog

4.09 | 834 ratings

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4 stars RICK WAKEMAN began work on his first solo album, "The Six Wives of Henry VIII", prior to the release of YES' "Close to the Edge". This all-instrumental album purports to be, as the artist himself states, "my interpretations of the musical chracteristics of "the wives of Henry VIII". It's an interesting goal -- one worthy of the progressive rock genre it fits into -- with the keyboardist conjuring various personalities through sentiment, devoutness and drama. Despite the presence of several YES bandmates (including ALAN WHITE, who had yet to appear on a YES album), "Six Wives" doesn't recall the work of YES in any direct sense. WAKEMAN, though a pioneer of the synthesizer and mellotron, is well attuned to the keyboard's history, and his melange of sounds both old and new is unique. Having revealed himself to be something of a history buff, WAKEMAN is also outed as an Anglophile, not just in his choice of subject matter but in his decidedly structured approach to songwriting. The music is steeped in English idioms, from the staid religious passages (going so far as to emulate a church organ on "Jane Seymour") to the rural quality of his melodies (which achieves a lovely effect on "Catherine Howard"). Perhaps most impressive is WAKEMAN's ability to fuse different sections together using a variety of sounds, without making the music feel unnatural or forced. "Catherine of Aragon" and "Catherine Parr", for example, cover a wide range of emotions and actions in a relatively short span of time, yet WAKEMAN avoids overwhelming his listeners by creating respiteful passages in between the more active sections.

"The Six Wives of Henry VIII" is regarded by many as WAKEMAN's best solo album. His animated arrangements and sympathetic storytelling, tinctured with a sense of humor and a flair for the dramatic, should please both realists and escapists.

daveconn | 4/5 |


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