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Rick Wakeman

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Rick Wakeman 1973 The Six Wives Of Henry VIII (A&M SP 4361)

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ITEM# SR-AMSP4361
Ratings: C=VG+; LP=VG+

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Artist:

Rick Wakeman

Title:

The Six Wives Of Henry VIII

Released: 1973
Label: A&M
Catalog: SP 4361
Genre: Rock / Progressive Rock
NOTE: Features performances by Bill Bruford, Alan White, Chris Squire and Steve Howe
T R A C K L I S T:
01 Catherine Of Aragon
02 Anne Of Cleves
03 Catherine Howard
04 Jane Seymour
05 Anne Boleyn "The Day Thou Gavest Lord Hath Ended"
06 Catherine Parr
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Album Review

by Mike DeGagne [allmusic.com]

Not only did this album help pave the way for progressive rock, but it also introduced the unbridled energy and overall effectiveness of the synthesizer as a bona fide instrument. Six Wives gave Wakeman his chance to break away from the other instrumental complexities that made up Yes and allowed him to prove what a driving force the keyboard could truly be, especially in full album form. More than just synthesized wandering, Wakeman astoundingly conjures up a separate musical persona by way of an instrumental ode to each of Henry VIII's wives through his dazzling use of the Mellotron, Moog, and Hammond C-3 organ. For example, Wakeman's fiery runs and fortissimo thwarting of the synthesizer throughout "Anne Boleyn" is a tribute to her feisty temper and valiant courage that she maintained while standing up to her husband. With "Jane Seymour," on the other hand, Wakeman's playing is somewhat subdued and gentle, which coincides with her legendary meekness and frailty, as well as her willingness to cater to Henry VIII. Wakeman's masterful use of his synthesizers is instrumentally stunning, as is his talent of magically shaping the notes to represent behavioral idiosyncrasies of his characters. Yes bassist Chris Squire lends a hand on "Catherine of Aragon," while guitarist Steve Howe and drummer Bill Bruford appear on a few tracks as well, as does former Strawbs member Dave Cousins, playing the electric banjo. The Six Wives of Henry VIII unleashes the unyielding power of the keyboard as a dominant instrument, but also displays Wakeman at the beginning of an extremely resplendent career as a solo musician.


Rick Wakeman - Journey To The Centre Of The Earth [A&M SP-3621] (1974)

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ITEM# SR-AMSP3621
Ratings: C=VG- LP=VG-

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Artist:

Rick Wakeman

Title:

Journey To The Centre Of The Earth

Released: 1974
Label: A&M
Catalog: SP-3621
Genre: Progressive Rock
NOTE: Includes 8 page insert
T R A C K L I S T:
01 The Journey
02 Recollection
03 The Battle
04 The Forest
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Album Review

Mike DeGagne [allmusic.com]

Journey to the Centre of the Earth is one of progressive rock's crowning achievements. With the help of the London Symphony Orchestra and the English Chamber Choir, Rick Wakeman turns this classic Jules Verne tale into an exciting and suspenseful instrumental narrative. The story is told by David Hemmings in between the use of Wakeman's keyboards, especially the powerful Hammond organ and the innovative Moog synthesizer, and when coupled with the prestigious sound of the orchestra, creates the album's fairy tale-like climate. Recorded at London's Royal Festival Hall, the tale of a group of explorers who wander into the fantastic living world that exists in the Earth's core is told musically through Wakeman's synthesized theatrics and enriched by the haunting vocals of a chamber choir. Broken into four parts, the album's most riveting segment, entitled "The Battle," involves Wakeman's most furious synthesized attack, churning and swirling the keyboards into a mass instrumental hysteria. With both "The Journey" and "The Forest," it's the effective use of the strings and percussion section of the London Symphony Orchestra that causes the elements of fantasy and myth to emerge from the album's depths. The gorgeous voice of Ashley Holt is effectively prominent, and some interesting guitar work via Mike Egan arises occasionally but meritoriously amidst the keyboard fervor. The whole of Journey to the Centre of the Earth still stands as one of the most interesting conglomerations of orchestral and synthesized music, and it is truly one of Wakeman's most flamboyant projects.


Rick Wakeman - The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table [A&M SP-4515] (1975)

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ITEM# SR-AMSP4515
Ratings: C=VG; LP=VG+

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Artist:

Rick Wakeman

Title:

The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table

Released: 1975
Label: A&M
Catalog: SP-4515
Genre: Progressive Rock
T R A C K L I S T:
01 Arthur
02 Lady Of The Lake
03 Guinevere
04 Sir Lancelot And The Black Knight
05 Merlin The Magician
06 Sir Galahad
07 The Last Battle
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Album Review

Mike DeGagne [allmusic.com]

Rick Wakeman's third solo album is among his best, as he employs his vast array of keyboards to their full extent, musically describing the characters pertaining to the days of King Arthur's reign. With orchestra and choir included, although a little less prevalent than on Journey, he musically addresses the importance and distinguishing characteristics of each figure through the use of multiple synthesizers and accompanying instruments. "Lady of the Lake" is given a mystical, enchanted feel, perpetrated by a more subtle use of piano and synthesizer, while the battle of "Sir Lancelot and the Black Knight" is made up of a barrage of feuding keyboard runs and staccato riffs, musically recounting the intensity of the duel. But it's on "Merlin the Magician" where Wakeman truly shines, as the whimsy and peculiarity of this fabled figure is wonderfully conjured up through the frenzy of the synthesizer. As one of Wakeman's most famous pieces, it is here that his astounding musicianship is laid out for all to hear, a marvelous bisque of keyboard artistry. The album's entirety is a sensational execution of Wakeman's adroitness, and with vocals from Ashley Holt and Gary Pickford Hopkins, it still stands along with Journey to the Center of the Earth and The Six Wives of Henry VIII as one of his most astute pieces.


Rick Wakeman - No Earthly Connection (A&M SP-4583) (1976)

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ITEM# SR-AMSP4583
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Artist:

Rick Wakeman

Title:

No Earthly Connection

Released: 1976
Label: A&M
Catalog: SP-4583
Genre: Progressive Rock
T R A C K L I S T:

Music Reincarnate

01 Part 1 The Warning
02 Part 2 The Maker
03 Part 3 The Spaceman
04 Part 4 The Realisation
05 Part 5 The Reaper

06 The Prisoner
07 The Lost Cycle
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Album Review

by Stephen Raiteri [allmusic.com]

After the massive scale of the Journey to the Center of the Earth and Myths and Legends of King Arthur... projects, Wakeman was told by his record company (and his finances, and his health), "no more extravaganzas." So he produced this album with a stripped-down seven-piece band he called the English Rock Ensemble. It's notable that Wakeman, having broken with Yes over the obscurely metaphysical album Tales From Topographic Oceans, proceeded to make his own obscurely metaphysical album here. "All the music," according to the liner notes, "is based on a futuristic, autobiographical look at music, the part it plays in our pre-earth, human, and afterlife." The album deals with the fate of a man who has lost his "music soul." Musically, it's not up to his previous standards, though "The Prisoner" is appropriately melodramatic.


Rick Wakeman - White Rock [A&M SP-4614] (1977)

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ITEM# SR-AMSP4614
Ratings: C=VG- LP=VG

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Artist:

Rick Wakeman

Title:

White Rock

Released: 1977
Label: A&M
Catalog: SP-4614
Genre: Progressive Rock
T R A C K L I S T:
01 White Rock
02 Searching For Gold
03 The Loser
04 The Shoot
05 Lax'x
06 After The Ball
07 Montezuma's Revenge
08 Ice Run
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Album Review

Stephen Raiteri [allmusic.com]

This was the soundtrack to a motion picture documentary of the same name of the 1976 Innsbruck Winter Olympic Games. It features only Wakeman's huge assortment of keyboards and drummer Tony Fernandez, with a choir on two tracks. It's a fine album with many moods, from the rocking title track to the stately "After the Ball" to the sprightly "Montezuma's Revenge," Wakeman's arrangement of some Hungarian Gypsy music. His piano throughout is exquisite.


Rick Wakeman: Rick Wakeman's Criminal Record (1977)

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ITEM# SR-SP4660
Ratings: C=VG+; LP=NM-

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Artist:

Rick Wakeman

Title:

Rick Wakeman's Criminal Record

Released: 1977
Label: A&M
Catalog: SP-4660
Genre: Rock / Progressive Rock
NOTE: Small notch cut-out on bottom of cover.
T R A C K L I S T:
01 Statue Of Justice
02 Crime Of Passion
03 Chamber Of Horrors
04 Birdman Of Alcatraz
05 The Breathalyser
06 Judas Iscariot
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Album Review

by Mike DeGagne [allmusic.com]

Within the same year of re-joining Yes for 1977's Going for the One, Rick Wakeman released yet another solo instrumental concept album. Criminal Record, Wakeman's sixth album in five years, involves six tracks that instill Wakeman's keyboard wizardry to both fictional and historical accounts of punishment, villainy, and crime. With help from both Chris Squire and drummer Alan White, Wakeman managed to land the album within the U.K. Top 30 before the year's end, even though it fell well beyond the Top 100 on the U.S. album charts. Wakeman does a great job at sketching each theme with an appropriate dose of keyboard fire, with "Judas Iscariot" and "Crime of Passion" arising as two of the album's most potent tracks. Wakeman's employment of a Swiss Choir for "Judas" presents it with a wonderful pastoral feel, emphasizing the character's struggle between good and evil while toning different portions of the tracks with light and dark, as well as heavy and soft keyboard segments. Because there are only six cuts on the album, the concept in which Wakeman tackles never strays too far, and even in some of the less grandiose tracks like "Birdman of Alcatraz" or "Chamber of Horrors," there's a lingering sense of Wakeman's ideas hiding somewhere within his rock-infused keyboard styles. Although it may not be as musically dynamic or as instrumentally moving as his earlier concept pieces like Myths and Legends of King Arthur or Six Wives, he still manages to be both effective and entertaining throughout the length of the album, and, more importantly, his thematic intention is strongly held together without any vocal involvement.


Rick Wakeman: Rhapsodies (1979)

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ITEM# SR-SP6501
Ratings: C=NM; LP=NM

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Artist:

Rick Wakeman

Title:

Rhapsodies

Released: 1979
Label: A&M
Catalog: SP 6501
Genre: Rock / Progressive Rock
T R A C K L I S T:
01 Pedra De Gavea
02 Front Line
03 Bombay Duck
04 Animal Showdown
05 Big Ben
06 Rhapsody In Blue
07 Wooly Willy Tango
08 The Pulse
09 Swan Lager
10 March Of The Gladiators
11 Flacons De Neige
12 The Flasher
13 The Palais
14 Stand-By
15 Sea Horses
16 Half Holiday
17 Summertime
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Album Review

by Stephen Raiteri [allmusic.com]

Most of Wakeman's albums revolve around a concept; this double album's only concept is of a collection of "rhapsodies," which here seems to mean "enthusiastic and improvisational pieces." The album is instrumental except for the opener, "Pedra de Gavea," where the electronically treated vocals are presumably by Wakeman himself. Most of the pieces are concise for Wakeman, and very lively and bright, with engaging lead parts and well-chosen keyboard sounds (something Wakeman has not always managed). "Swan Lager" sets music by Tchaikovsky and Grieg to a reggae beat. Wakeman's version of George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" is actually a low point, but his version of Gershwin's "Summertime" is nicely done. This was Wakeman's last album for A&M Records.

Rick Wakeman's Biography

by Bruce Eder [allmusic.com]

Born in Perivale, Middlesex, England, Rick Wakeman's interest in music manifested itself very early, and from the age of seven on he studied classical piano. At the age of 14, he joined a local band, Atlantic Blues, the same year he left school to enroll in the Royal College of Music. He had his eye on a career as a concert pianist, but Wakeman was dismissed from the college after it became clear that he preferred playing in clubs to studying technique.

By his late teens, he was an established session man, playing on records by such diverse acts as Black Sabbath, Brotherhood of Man, and Edison Lighthouse. At the end of the '60s, his name also began appearing on the credits of albums by such artists as Al Stewart and David Bowie, and one set of sessions with a folk-rock band called the Strawbs led to his joining the group in 1970. After two albums with the Strawbs, Wakeman joined Yes, a post-psychedelic hard rock band that had attracted considerable attention with their first three albums. Wakeman played a key role in the final shape of the group's fourth record, Fragile, creating a fierce, swirling sound on an array of electric and acoustic pianos, synthesizers, and Mellotrons. Fragile was a hit, driven by the chart success of the single "Roundabout," and Wakeman was suddenly elevated to star status.

Yes' next album, Close to the Edge, expanded his audience and his appeal, for his instruments were heard almost continually on the record. During the making of Close to the Edge in 1972, Wakeman also recorded his first solo album, an instrumental work entitled The Six Wives of Henry VIII, which consisted of his musical interpretations of the lives and personalities of the said six royal spouses. Released early in 1973 on A&M Records, it performed respectably on the charts. Public reception of Yes' 1974 album, Tales From Topographic Oceans, was mixed, and the critics were merciless in their attacks upon the record. Wakeman exited the group before the album's supporting tour. His new solo album, Journey to the Center of the Earth, adapted from the writings of Jules Verne and featuring a rock band, narrator (David Hemmings), and full orchestral and choral accompaniment, was released to tremendous public response in both America and England, where it topped the charts. In 1975, his next album, The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, was given a grand-scale premiere at Wembley's Empire Pool, although it also cost Wakeman a fortune to stage the event on ice. During this same period, Wakeman began working on film scores with the music for Ken Russell's Lisztomania, which was a modest hit.

In 1977, Wakeman returned to Yes, with which he has continued recording and touring. His solo career continued on A&M into the end of the '70s, with Criminal Record and Rhapsodies, which were modestly successful. Wakeman's biggest media splash during this period, however, came through his alleged role in getting the Sex Pistols dropped by A&M Records soon after being signed. None of this bothered his fans, which rapidly expanded to encompass those he picked up through his work with lyricist Tim Rice on a musical adaptation of George Orwell's 1984, and his burgeoning film work, which included the music to movies about the 1976 Winter Olympics and the 1982 soccer World Cup competition. Additionally, he became a regular on Britain's Channel 4. Wakeman's audience and reputation survived the 1980s better than almost any progressive rock star of his era, as he continued releasing albums on his own label. He also remained associated with Yes into the '90s.
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