Tag Archives: Rick Wakeman

Weekly Vinyl – Six Wives

18 Sep

The Six Wives of Henry VIII
Rick Wakeman
(1973)
SONY DSC
My record collection is not in any order. I am not as fastidious or obsessive as John Cusacks’ character in the movie High Fidelity. So that being the case – choosing records at random from a random pile will sometimes give you similar things.
This album is an example of that. I selected Rick Wakeman’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Yes’ Fragile rather recently.
This is full blown pompous progressive rock here. It is overblown and grandiose. But it is clever and to the point. There are six tracks here – each dedicated/inspired by one of the wives of Henry VIII. None of the six tracks is too long to be overbearing – the longest clocks in at just under eight minutes. This makes the album very friendly and accessible with no arduous and painful noodling. The musical concepts are crisp and well developed. There is great variation in the themes and the music is lively.
Yes, the music has prog rock’s overblown pomposity but it works so well here that one just hears the great music.

Weekly Vinyl – Fragile

7 Aug

Fragile
Yes
(1971)
YFrag
This might have been the album that got me really into progressive rock. Perhaps it was – I’m not sure. One of the first things that I could play on the guitar was the beginningof the song “Roundabout” – a big hit from this album.
Being a neophyte guitarist and trying to learn that song completely almost destroyed me. Try doing the syncopated rhythm of Em – F#m – G and then all the other riffs and then singing in a different rhythm. I really appreciated the virtuosity of these musicians.
I continued to listen to YES through their glory years and a bit after. As for the guitar – I discovered Neil Young, punk and other more easily playable music. (For the record, I can still muddle through parts of “Roundabout” ant the Steve Howe track “Mood for a Day” on guitar. When pressed and in the mood that is…)
This is a fantastic album, with elements of rock, jazz, classical (“Cans and Brahms” – arranged by Rick Wakeman). The album was fusion at its finest and perhaps the pinnacle of progressive rock.

Must note that the bassist, Chris Squire, passed away at the end of June this year. He was the only musician that was with Yes through all its line-up changes. RIP

Weekly Vinyl – Journey to the Centre of the Earth

6 Feb

Journey to the Centre of the Earth
Rick Wakeman
(1974)
SONY DSC
This is the album that started punk rock.
What?
Let me explain … This album is so overblown and pompous that it staggers the mind. You have Rick Wakeman with multiple keyboards – playing excellently by the way – although you don’t really hear enough of him at times. The London Symphony Orchestra along with The English Chamber Choir are quite prominent here in the music.
This is Rick Wakeman’s musical adaptation of Jules Verne’s novel by the same name. I should point out that no adaptation of this book has ever ended well. The movies were a pale reflection of the book’s subject matter and plot.
Anyway – there is nothing really subtle here in this album. It is quite melodramatic. It is big. It is large. Where it does shine is when Rick Wakeman gets to play his keyboards out front of the rest of the music. Otherwise it is an example of progressive rock’s overreach.
I can see why a bunch of alienated youth in the UK headed to abandoned flats with guitars and simple tunes to start rocking out in a punk way.