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Rick Wakeman

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Rick Wakeman Return To The Centre Of The Earth album cover
3.54 | 170 ratings | 9 reviews | 14% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1999

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. A Vision (2:34)
2. The Return Overture (2:39)
3. Mother Earth (3:48)
a) The Shadow of June
b) The Gallery
c) The Avenue of Prismed Light
d) The Earthquake
4. Buried Alive (6:01)
5. The Enigma (1:18)
6. Is Anybody There? (6:35)
7. The Ravine (0:49)
8. The Dance of a Thousand Lights (5:41)
9. The Shepherd (2:01)
10. Mr. Slow (3:47)
11. Bridge of Time (1:12)
12. Never is a Long, Long Time (5:19)
13. Tales from the Lidenbrook Sea (2:57)
a) River of Hope
b) Hunter and Hunted
c) Fight for Life
14. The Kill (5:23)
15. Timeless History (1:10)
16. Still Waters Run Deep (5:21)
17. Time Within Time (2:39)
a) The Ebbing Tide
b) The Electric Storm
18. Ride of Your Life (6:01)
19. Floating (1:59)
a) Globes of Fire
b) Cascades of Fear
20. Floodflames (2:00)
21. The Volcano (2:10)
a) Tongues of Fire
b) The Blue Mountains
22. The End of the Return (5:23)

Total Time: 76:51

This recording is a sequel to 1974 "Journey to the Centre of the Earth" album.

Line-up / Musicians

- Rick Wakeman / piano & electric pianos, Mini-Moog, synths (Korg, Roland, Kurzweil, Technics), arranger & producer

- Ozzy Osbourne / vocals (4)
- Bonnie Tyler / vocals (6)
- Tony Mitchell / vocals (10)
- Justin Hayward / vocals (16)
- Katrina Leskanich / vocals (18)
- Trevor Rabin / vocals & guitar solo (12)
- Fraser Thorneycroft-Smith / guitars
- Phil Williams / bass guitar
- Simon Hanson / drums
- London Symphony Orchestra
- David Snell / orchestra conductor
- English Chamber Choir
- Guy Protheroe / choir conductor
- Patrick Stewart / narration

Releases information

ArtWork: Roger Dean with Martyn Dean (design)

CD EMI Classics ‎- 5 56763 2 (1999, Europe)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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RICK WAKEMAN Return To The Centre Of The Earth ratings distribution

(170 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(14%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(46%)
Good, but non-essential (28%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

RICK WAKEMAN Return To The Centre Of The Earth reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by loserboy
4 stars After much debate, financial and health jeopardies Rick WAKEMAN has finally revisited the Centre Of The Earth. Joined with the London Symphony Orchestra, Justin Hayward (MOODY BLUES), Trevor Rabin (YES), Ozzy OSBOURNE and 80's pop sensation Bonnie Tyler Wakeman takes us on perhaps the most magical journey of all time. The entire album is kindly pitted by the soft and distinctive voice of Patrick Stewart (Star Trek's Cap't. Jean Luc Picard). "Return To The Centre Of The Earth" is of course also heavily impacted by the magical piano touch of Rick WAKEMAN who is at his best. WAKEMAN used the $ 3 Million working budget of this masterpiece to draw on the vocal support of the English Chamber Choir and the London Symphony Orchestra to magnify sonic impact. Rick also surrounded himself with a strong compliment of young talented musicians to work with on this 77 minute epic journey. This is absolute perfect music which has many different moods and atmospheres and is guaranteed to take the listener into a different world. "Return To The Centre..." offers picture perfect sound (no holes barred on this recording) and was recorded using today's most dynamic recording machines, recorded for a pure digital experience. This is an absolute essential recording and works like pure magic for me... brilliant all the way through.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars A distant relative of a great album

As is apparent from the title, this was intended by Wakeman to be a belated follow up to "Journey to the centre of the earth". The story this time was written by Wakeman himself, "inspired" by Jules Verne.

"Return to the Centre of the earth" bears only passing resemblance to the original album though. This time we are presented with a studio recording, featuring a large number of separate songs performed by guest vocalists. Every alternate track is in the form of a narration by Patrick Stewart ("Captain Picard" in Star Trek, The Next Generation) backed by different orchestrations. While on "Journey.." the narration was brief, on "Return..", it gets to the stage where it can seem like you are listening to a talking book. This is apparently recognised in the accompanying booklet, which suggests that to omit the narration, programme your player to play the even numbered tracks only!

The guest vocalists are BIG names such as Ozzy Osbourne (Black Sabbath), Justin Hayward (Moody Blues), and Trevor Rabin (Yes, who also contributes guitar solo), and they certainly perform their tasks well. Instrumentally, other than Wakeman, there's a full band, choir and orchestra.

Despite the solid line up and major investment by the record company, including a fine Roger Dean cover illustration, the album falls a bit flat. Comparisons with "Journey.." are inevitable, given that album's classic status, Rick burdened "Return.." with a lot to live up to.

While all the right ingredients are here, the grand orchestration, an imaginative (if somewhat derivative) story, and superb production, the compositions are generally weak and in need of inspiration. The album lacks the feel of a complete piece, coming across more as a collection of recitals by the numerous guests. While Wakeman contributes some of his distinctive keyboard work, his role here is more that of catalyst and co-ordinator.

Please don't think this is a bad album, it isn't, but it is a poor relation of its magnificent, and similarly named predecessor.

Review by Zitro
2 stars An overrated album with mediocre songwriting, but great sound quality and keyboard sounds. I find it a very disappointing follow up to Journey to the center of the Earth, and most of the imagery on that one is replaced with pop songs that don't flow with the album.

Narration sound quality : 7/10 : While the keyboards may sound cheesy sometimes, they really follow the words of the narration and are well done.

The Return Overture : 8/10 : If only the rest of the album sounded this good! This has the quality and feel of Journey and is excellent overall. The vocal chorus harmonies are splendid and beautiful, and the moog solo screams prog rock!

Buried Alive : 7/10 : well, this is a pretty good hard rocker with ozzie on vocals.

In anybody there : 4/10 : overlong pop song that doesn't do much for me.

Dance of a Thousand Lights : 8.5/10 : This is more like it! A great instrumental work that reminds the listener to his glory days. It is dominated by a fast and delicate electric piano.

Mr Slow : 3/10 : slow and boring ... fortunately, it is not long.

Never is a Long long time: 5.5/10 : this song is blessed by Ex-yes guitarist Trevor. IT contains good guitar work and vocals.

The Kill : 2/10 : This song is poor, I do not know what Wakeman was thinking.

Still Waters Run Deep : 4/10 : not too memorable, why are pop songs in this album?

Ride of Your life : 4/10 : another overlong pop song.

Floodflames : 7.5/10 : too short ... but this is a very good instrumental work with a great moog solo.

End of the Return : 9/10 : Brilliant finisher that sounds like the opener. One of the main reasons to buy the album.

So overall, I find this album a disappointing follow up to the brilliant concept album 'journey to the center of the earth'. This one has a mediocre story with poor lyrics. It has a terrible flows with everchanging pop vocalists, and is not as rewarding as Journey.

My Grade : D+

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars When I heard the first news of this album being recorded I was impatient, curious and afraid that "Return to the Centre of the Earth" would be a re-creation of the excellent "Journey of the Earth" with explicit musical references and nothing new, but at the same time I was really pleased to know that RICK WAKEMAN was trying to return to his roots.

I bought the first copy that reached Lima (A friend who owned a store called me the night when he received the album) and my first pleasant surprise was finding that Patrick Stewart was the narrator because his perfect English and calmed voice gives credibility to any project, a first point for Rick.

Surely had some doubts when I read the names of Ozzy Osbourne and Bonnie Tyler in the credits but when I listened "The Return Overture" all my doubts faded, the London Symphony Orchestra and the English Chamber Choir are simply perfect for the composition, the music was completely original but at the same time kept the pompous and wonderfully overblown spirit of the original album and in the moment I heard the first Moog performance I knew Rick was back to stay.

But there are some new things, this time he proved he could make an Orchestra and a choir Rock hard as in "Buried Alive" without affecting the atmosphere of the prequel.

Absolutely no review would be complete without mentioning the impressive keyboard performance in "Dance of the Thousand Lights" an incredible gem where Rick manages to keep the London Symphony Orchestra in the background to enhance the excellent melody without hiding his performance.

Of course the album is not perfect, "Return to the Centre of the Earth" has some flawed songs as the poppy "Still Watters Run Deep" only saved by the beautiful chorus, but over all the album is excellent.

But Rick reserves the best for the end, a brilliant reprise of the opening even more elaborate than the Overture that leaves a taste of honey in the lips of the fan.

If it wasn't for a couple of bellow the average tracks and the excess of narration the album would deserve 5 stars specially because he didn't insisted with Ashley Holt's terrible vocals, but despite the excellent moments there's something missing that doesn't allow me to rate it with more than 4 very solid stars.

An excellent addition for any Prog collection and a must have for every Wakeman fan.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars Rick Wakeman, in this sequel to "Journey To The Centre Of The Earth", makes the album that the original should have been. He hired a top notch narrator (Patrick Stewart), and singers that were up to the task of the material (Ozzy Osbourne, Justin Heyward and Bonnie Tyler). And Wakeman's maturity shows in the much more exciting orchestral arrangements.

What strikes me most is how Wakeman easily moves the orchestra between traditional sounding pieces, and songs where the orchestra replaces a traditional rock band, playing riffs that guitars and synths would normally perform. Also, his singers follow the work perfectly.

Where the original alternated drab poppy pieces and pompous orhestration, this work flows through the story smoothly, both in the narrative and the music.


Review by VianaProghead
4 stars Review Nš 89

"Return To The Centre Of The Earth" is the fifty-sixth studio album of Rick Wakeman and was released in 1999. The line up on the album is Rick Wakeman, Justin Hayward, Katrina Leskanich, Tony Mitchell, Ozzy Osbourne, Trevor Rabin, Bonnie Tyler, Fraser Thornrycroft-Smith, Phil Williams, Simon Hanson, Patrick Stewart, the London Symphonic Orchestra conducted by David Snell and the English Chamber Choir conducted by Guy Protheroe.

For almost 30 years, Wakeman has been slogging it out as one of the preeminent keyboardists in rock, notably as an off and on member of Yes. Along with ELP's Keith Emerson and Deep Purple's Jon Lord, Wakeman brought the keyboards to the frontline of the band. Emerson and Lord barely strayed away from the confines of their respective group situations, but Wakeman has continually forged ahead, composing full conceptual pieces in which his keyboard navigates makeshift ensembles of rock players around full blown orchestras and choirs. During the early 70's, Wakeman lodged these musical experimentations with classic allegory. With historical accuracy, he boldly released "The Six Wives Of Henry VIII" and "The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur and The Knights Of The Round Table".

But, perhaps his most well received album, however, was based and titled after the classic Jules Verne tale, "Journey To The Centre Of The Earth". As you can recall, "Journey To The Centre Of The Earth" is a conceptual album based on Verne's eponymous science fiction novel with the same name. "Journey To The Centre Of The Earth" tells us the story of professor Lidenbrock, his nephew Axel, and their guide Hans. As the music is dotted by telling the story based on Verne's novel, there was need to have a narrator in a prominent position. Wakeman performed "Journey To The Centre Of The Earth" with the London Symphony Orchestra, the English Chamber Choir and a hand full of musicians.

"Return To The Centre Of The Earth" apparently took three years to plan and tells the story of three explorers seeking the retrace the steps of Verne's intrepid voyager, professor Lidenbrock. He got into trouble trying to follow the path, after read the manuscript by Arne Saknussemm. These three guys, two centuries forward from that discovery, coming back to the path of the original expedition and embark on another fantastic adventure. As with "Journey To The Centre Of The Earth", the music is also endowed with a narrator in a very prominent position, by telling the story based on Verne's novel. Wakeman also performs "Return To The Centre Of The Earth" with the London Symphony Orchestra and the English Chamber Choir, beyond a handful of musicians and singers, "The Dream Team" as he called it.

Despite "Return To The Centre Of The Earth" be a sequel of "Journey To The Centre Of The Earth", it doesn't completely follow the same structure of it. This time we are in presence of a studio recording instead of a live album. It features a large number of separate songs performed by several guest vocalists. The original "Journey" took about thirty-six minutes and the "Return" take more than the twice of that. While on "Journey" the narration was brief, on "Return" the narration is present on the tracks to explain the adventure as if we were hearing a talking book.

"Return To The Centre Of The Earth" isn't an effort on Wakeman's part to become a classical composer. He is here with what he has been all along. Although, I will say that Wakeman's personal playing on "Return" is a bit less over the top than his 70's work. Some people will appreciate this, and others will be marginally disappointed. I found that the blending of all the elements here are different than what Wakeman achieved in the 70's, primarily because his playing is slightly less grandiose and less of a focal point. Maybe he blends it a bit better. There are plenty of grand flourishes and rising crescendos that are part of the symphonic rock oeuvre. The story is very cinematic and the music matches the excitement and drama much as you would expect from a movie score, only here there is no movie to distract you from the scenes your mind creates, as you hear the narration and listen to the music. But, I like it anyway a lot. I always had a soft spot for grandiose combinations of rock and symphony. Throw in a choir and things get even better.

Conclusion: "Return To The Centre Of The Earth", is a great achievement. Together with other gifted musicians, Rick has proven the world that good quality music will never die. EMI gave Rick the possibility to do this project. With a visualizing and breathtaking narration, this album takes you all the way to the "centre of the earth". Every song is very well balanced between the relaxed and heavy rock songs. The solos are pure ecstasy and Rick plays the good old Moog like no one. This album is a great blend between classical and rock music, the melodies are complex, the recording is of the best quality and the singers are all great. Let's all hope that he will from now on get more opportunities to do projects like these. If you don't own this album you're missing a big part of Rick's best working.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Latest members reviews

4 stars Very good album, but perhaps too much material for its own good. I have to admit, when I first got this album I was very impressed by it. It starts off really well. The narration by Patrick Stewart is wonderful sounding, if a bit over-written, and the music is epic and impressive. When I was ... (read more)

Report this review (#127994) | Posted by Gianthogweed | Monday, July 9, 2007 | Review Permanlink

1 stars This has got to be the worst work to come out from anyone in the Yes gang. It's the most cheesy, un-inspired, boring, trashy and banal collection I've ever heard. Just take any song from the pop radio and put some Moog solos on it and voila - you have an idea what this sounds like. Celine Dion ... (read more)

Report this review (#27385) | Posted by EMinkovitch | Monday, January 31, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Back in 1974 Rick released the massively successful Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, an album which boosted his solo career several hundred steps up the ladder of success. Ever since that time Rick has wanted to do a sequel album but time, money and technology have never been favourable to th ... (read more)

Report this review (#27384) | Posted by Andy Long | Monday, January 31, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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