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


Rick Wakeman


Symphonic Prog

3.75 | 415 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Telling tales

Impressed as I was with "Six Wives", when this album was released I was initially hesitant to buy it. One album full of solo Wakeman keyboards was unquestionably impressive and worthwhile, but, I thought, quite enough to fulfil my desire for his solo output. When I saw the LP sleeve however, and read of the elaborate performance it contained, it was immediately apparent that this was not by any means, more of the same.

In a slightly strange move, the album was recorded live, nominally preventing Wakeman from inserting studio effects, and leaving it vulnerable to the odd bum note and missed cue (although as Wakeman admits on the sleeve, he did address this to some extent during mixing). I don't believe the work has ever been recorded in the studio in this form, something Wakeman should consider addressing (in the way ELP did with "Pictures at an exhibition" perhaps).

Unlike "Six wives", "Journey.." includes a full orchestra, vocals, and a complete rock combo. The vocals are shared between Ashley Holt and Gary Pickford-Hopkins. There is also brief narration of the Jules Verne story between the tracks, by David Hemmings.

Wakeman's keyboards, while dominant as would be expected, are very much a part of the big picture, with both orchestra and vocalists being afforded plenty of space to enhance the overall sound. The music is pompous and imaginative, complimenting the story perfectly. It is interesting that towards the end, perhaps in a momentary lapse of inspiration, Wakeman calls on the classics in the form of Greig's "Hall of the mountain king" to provide the build up to the finale.

An excellent album, which sounds as good today as it did upon release.

A good way to obtain the album is on the "Voyage (best of Wakeman)" collection, which includes the original album, remastered, in full.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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