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Rick Wakeman - The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table CD (album) cover


Rick Wakeman


Symphonic Prog

3.57 | 470 ratings

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4 stars Review Nš 160

'The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table' is the second studio album of Rick Wakeman and was released in 1975. As his previous studio album 'The Six Wives Of Henry VIII', this is also another very ambitious and risky conceptual album, but this time it's based on the legends of King Arthur and The Round Table. Once more he chooses the history of his country England, but if in the first time the characters were real persons who lived in the sixteenth century, this time the characters were mythical and supposedly lived in the twelfth century. Many of the characters that existed in the Arthurian legendary myth are present on the album, such as King Arthur, Lady Of The Lake, Guinevere, Sir Lancelot, The Black Knight, Merlin The Magician, Sir Galahad and of course Excalibur, the famous and legendary sword of King Arthur, the king of the knights of the round table, the mythical king of England.

The most interesting and curious fact about this work, is that much of this album was written while Wakeman, at 25 years old, was recovering from his first of three minor heart attacks at Wexham Park Hospital. Imagine that even after a cardiologist advised him to stop playing and retire to rest, he ignored it and wrote the final musical piece of the album 'The Last Battle', on the same night. Now, it's interesting to think that thankfully he didn't fulfil that order of his doctor.

'The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table' has seven tracks and all the songs were written by Wakeman. The first track 'Arthur' is a solid opener for the album. This is probably the most consensual and accessible song on the album and is also probably the most known too. It's a very beautiful melodic song where the music flows perfectly well with excellent combination of keyboards, orchestration and choral section. This is one of my favourite songs on the album. The second track 'Lady Of The Lake' is a very brief but at the same time pretty choral piece of music with a nice piano melody which is a kind of an introduction to the next song. The third track 'Guinevere' is another very accessible song with a strong and pretty melody, good acoustic guitar rhythm, good keyboard work and an excellent choral work too. However and despite be a very good song this is my less favourite track on the album. The fourth track 'Sir Lancelot And The Black Knight' is, in my humble opinion and without any doubt, one of the highest moments on the album. This is a very powerful and energetic song that creates within us a kind of an imaginary world. It's a song full of variations with a fantastic keyboard work and contains one of the best solos ever written by Wakeman. This is also a song with great orchestral arrangements followed by fantastic and energetic choirs and also has a great rhythm section on the background. It's an incredible song that reminds me, very strongly, the ambience of the great rock operas. This represents Wakeman at his best. The fifth track 'Merlin The Magician' is also a song full of musical changes. This is an instrumental track, another highlight, and is also one of my favourite songs. It begins with the reprise from the second track 'Lady Of The Lake' and continues with a great and beautiful keyboard work, pretty piano melodies and a nice bass line. This is the song most diverse on the album with some transition musical pieces with several musical styles. This is a song with everything on it. It's at the same time beautiful, insane and genial. Once more we have Wakeman at his best with one of his best compositions ever. The sixth track 'Sir Galahad' is another very good song that also begins with the reprise of 'Lady Of The Lake' and that combines nice melody, beautiful choirs, good vocals, great keyboard work and an excellent orchestral arrangement, as is always usual on the all album. This song makes a kind of a link to the next track. Despite be another great track it isn't as good as the two previous ones. The seventh and last track 'The Last Battle' is clearly an epic track and where we can hear themes from the other songs of the album. We can consider that this track summarizes the music on the all album incorporating excerpts of the other previous tracks. This is also a great song and a perfect and logical way to finish this very special album.

Conclusion: I've no doubt in saying this is another very controversial album. We may be able to consider that this is a kind of 'Tales From Topographic Oceans' of Wakeman. This is very interesting and curious because he was the only member of Yes who criticized 'Tales From Topographic Oceans' as a bombastic and megalomaniac musical project, and that fact produced his first departure from the band. However, I've no problem with bombastic and megalomaniac musical projects, if they're great, which is the case of 'Tales From Topographic Oceans' one of my favourite albums of Yes. But, 'The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table' isn't a masterpiece as 'Tales From Topographic Oceans' or 'The Six Wives Of Henry VIII', but nevertheless, is an excellent album. It isn't as uniform, cohesive and balanced as they are, but it has some tracks like 'Sir Lancelot And The Black Night' and 'Merlin The Magician' that are authentic musical pearls and that represent some of the best musical compositions of Wakeman.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |


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