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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 | 472 ratings

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5 stars On "Six Wives" (1973), Wakeman experimented with his plethora of keyboards, playing around with different sounds and textures, and creating fabulous compositions using those sounds and textures. On "Journey to the Centre of the Earth" (1974), he made his first attempt to meld rock, orchestra and chorus in a storytelling genre, and was generally successful, though the effort was ultimately "immature." With "Myths and Legends," Wakeman hits the perfect blending of rock, orchestra and chorus, creating an amazing album that will send chills up your spine. / The album opens with a deep voice speaking the famous inscription on the stone that held the legendary sword, Excalibur: "Whosoever pulleth this sword from this stone and anvil is the trueborn king of all Britain." It then launches into the main theme - a majestic and perfect medieval motif - which segues directly into the first song, "Arthur," which tells of the quest to find a new king. Following this is "Lady of the Lake," the first of three short acappella vocal vingnettes, full of beautiful medieval harmonies. This brings us to "Guinevere," which tells of Arthur's wife's precarious situation - being loved by, and in love with, both Arthur and Lancelot. It also contains the first of many excellent Wakeman solos, during a beautiful, mellow jam. We then come to the centerpiece of the album, "Sir Lancelot and the Black Knight," which may not only be the most perfect single blending of rock, orchestra and chorus ever written, but among the best, most exciting prog-rock compositions ever written. Opening with a "restatement" of the main theme, it launches quickly into successive single measures of 7/8, 8/8, 9/8 and 10/8, settling into 7/8. After a couple of verses, it moves into an extended jam which contains some of Wakeman's most spine-tingling solos. I could listen to this single piece over and over and never tire of it. We then have the second of the brief acappella vocal vignettes, introducing us to the next composition, "Merlin the Magician," a multi-section instrumental. The second section, a 5/4 jam, contains more of Wakeman's most compelling solo work. The third section is repeated twice, the first time using multi-layered keyboards (including one that sounds like a banjo!), the second time arranged for orchestra. We then have the third and final acappella vignette, introducing us to our next character, "Sir Galahad," which segues into the final composition, "The Last Battle." Opening with a great double entendre - "Gone are the days of the knights" - it tells of the end of the Round Table, and Arthur's death, and features another mellow jam containing yet more marvelous Wakeman solo work, and ends with a masterfully orchestrated final statement of the main theme. / If a masterpiece is a work which is compositionally, musically, vocally and lyrically perfect, in which not a single note is out of place or misused, and which features exceptional production qualities, then "Myths and Legends" is an unequivocal masterpiece. So much so, in my opinion, that I have included it in my "desert island discs (DIDs)"; i.e., one of the ten albums I would choose to take to a desert island if I was confined to only ten albums. In any event, "Myths and Legends" is a must-have for any serious prog collection.
maani | 5/5 |


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