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


Rick Wakeman


Symphonic Prog

3.73 | 343 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Pompous, pretentious, egotistical....

Yep, Journey to the Center of the Earth is all of that. So is progressive rock in general. Nobody would call The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, for example, an understated and self-effacing excursion into humility. Yet The Lamb is one of those huge monuments of progressive rock jutting out of the landscape. And Journey to the Center of the Earth is another, a seminal album for all fans of progressive rock.

I'm not going to argue that it is perfect, of course. Vocal performances are frankly odd (and Rick's insistence on keeping Mr. Holt for a few more albums is quite perplexing.) The quality of the recording is not that great, especially on the first side. Sometimes the combination of rock ensemble and choir doesn't quite gel (like in parts of the Battle.) At times the narration seems to go on longer than necessary. And there are a few places where you wish that Rick would either go ahead and launch into a full blown solo or keep his hands off the keys entirely.

All of that said, the real beauty behind this lies in the concept and composition of this gorgeous piece of programmatic music. Yes, it's pompous and bombastic, but it also works and serves to illuminate a singular story which is just pompous and bombastic. Or if you prefer, epic. There is nothing else in progressive rock that comes as close to being so monumental and so successful as a composition, despite it's flaws.

Is it Rick's best work? Well, it's hard to judge this against the rest of Rick's solo work, as Rick wrote this large, to encompass orchestra, choir, and rock ensemble. Musically speaking, Six Wives accomplishes morre in a more cleveer manner. But few albums capture the spirit of progressiive rock as well and on as large a scale as Journey to the Center of the Earth.

ghost_of_morphy | 5/5 |


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