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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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4 stars Pompous, pretentious, overrated and egomaniac performance are some of the adjectives I heard over the years by people who describe this album, and they have some reason, but simply I don't care. Only Journey to the Centre of the Earth gives as the chance to listen a the best keyboardist of prog history playing with a competent band, The London Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Chamber Choir.

It's not a secret that Rick Wakeman has an over dimensioned ego, but he has all the right, the guy is a genius, nobody plays all kinds of keyboards with his skill and acts as a front man at the same time, you can love or hate him but everybody knows he's one of the most capable keyboardists ever born.

Simply imagine a 24 years old kid wearing a bright cape surrounded by almost 300 musicians at the stage (most of them twice his age) in a crowded Royal Albert Hall and he's the center of that small universe. Nobody gave him anything for free, he earned it with great courage.

The first track (The Journey/Recollection) starts explosive with an introduction by the complete orchestra and choir, he saves nothing for the end it's simply impressive, the epic follows with many changes, soft passages sung by the normally terrible voices of Gary Pickford and mainly Ashley Holt (who in this case sound adequate for the primitive atmosphere); frantic keyboard sections, aggressive rock & Roll chords and the correct narration by David Hemmings, who with his well educated English takes the responsibility of carrying the weight of the story. A great track that has everything.

The Battle/The Forest is a more complex track, starts with a narration that describes the battle of two sea monsters one with the head of the lizard and the teeth of a crocodile (ictiosaurus), the other a serpent with a turtle head (pleciosaurus), but this detailed description is pale in comparison with the magnificent music and the adequate voices (lyrics are maybe a bit cheesy). Rick's Keyboards and Mike Egan's guitar create a perfect mixture of baroque classical and heavy rock which places the listener in ringside to see not only the big fight but also a huge storm, where Wakeman does his best describing the winds with his Minimoog.

The second section of this track (The Forest) situates us in the moment when the expedition reaches the center of the earth (a plain followed by a forest). The music is extreme beautiful and again the odd voices of Pickford and Holt sound perfect for this track.

From this point, everything leads to the end of the journey, the ascension from the depth to the top of Mount Etna is perfectly pictured with a fragment of Grieg's Peer Gynt, more precisely "In the Hall of the Mountain King" which prepares for the consisting in a softer remembrance of the starting section.

Not as musically perfect as Six Wives of Henry the VIII or lyrical as Myths and Legends, but much stronger than both, this essential album is a demonstration of individual talent, enormous courage and solid arrangements, an absolutely essential musical piece.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 4/5 |


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