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Fernando H. Canto <email@example.com> (18.01.2004)
Second-hand stores *rule*, man! Anyway, I got this record mostly out of curiousity. I wasn't expecting to hear the 8th Wonder of the World, but I was *very* pleasantly surprised. I can almost say I love this record. I like how Rick successfully balances the Prog complexity with the energetic grooves, and the meaty melodies with the super cool soloing. Plus, how can you go wrong with such fun cover art? I love the cover! Rick looks like a 14-year-old with his "I didn't do it" face in the middle of King Henry's court. Also, it took me weeks to realise the cover is a gatefold, and inside, there is a photograph of Rick surrounded by 7 instruments. Cool!A few observations: 1- The song order has nothing to do, indeed, with the chronological order of King Henry's wives. In the LP's back cover, they appear in their correct order, and they are, respectively: Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr. 2- The conceptuality of the album isn't so "clueless" as you suggest. In the liner notes, Rick writes: "This record is based on my musical interpretations of the characteristics of the wives of Henry VIII. Even though the style doesn't always have to do with their individual story, this is my conception of their characters in relation to the instruments." So there ya go. I might agree that Rick felt the need to attach his compositions to something 'relatable' instead of going Brian Eno and going, for example, '1/3', '3/2', etc. :-) 3- Steve Howe and Chris Squire appear on 'Catherine of Aragon', Bill Bruford appears on that one and on 'Anne Boleyn', and Alan White is heavily featured. Hmm... he wasn't playing on Yes by 1972, or was he? Well, that's mostly it. There's very little on the record that I dislike. I'm a fan of 'Anne de Cleves' (with Alan White's cool drum bashing on the middle) and 'Catherine Howard' (brainstormingly beautiful piano themes!). My least favourite is 'Jane Seymour', I guess - cool organ, but not very gripping. I'd give this a 12/15, in your overall scale. I tend to like instrumental albums, you know.
Mattias Lundberg <firstname.lastname@example.org> (11.02.2002)
I think this would have been better, performance-wise, as a studio album but I guess the nerve of the live event would have spoiled the whole idea to some extent. We've had this discussion before, George: recurring themes does not necessarily mean lack of ideas, and the home key recapitulation of ideas previously stated in 'foreign' keys is the basic structure of sonata form, employed by Wakeman from time to time. I think Wakeman manages to develop his ideas very well on this album. What i find hard to digest is the poor performance of the singer, which is rather flat at times. I've noticed that you tend to assume that 'classical' elements in prog rock are rip-offs of existing repertoire ("..too bad my knowledge of classical music is limited and I can't really do justice to all the stolen ideas and reinvented melodies."). This is rarely the case in prog music proper, and most of the time the music they come up with is very unidiomatically 'classical'; the essentially coarser 'rock' structures shine through at all times and that is the case also with Journey to the centre of the earth and indeed most of Wakeman's music, even though he - as mentioned above - sometimes utilizes sonata principles in his longer movements.
Richard Savill <email@example.com> (10.08.2002)
This album has always had that glaring weakness - and it's a biggy too - the vocals. Vocal harmonies etc. from good singers can make even bad songs good. Jagger has dozens and dozens of examples of this in his genre. Why didn't Wakeman hire a Greg Lake, Justin Hayward, or even Carly Simon to do some bits - like of his Return To TCOTE from 1999 (obviously he knew the vocals were poor on on the 70s effort)?Yet, the opening phrase is a memorable one; repeated here and there throughout the album. Overall, I think the 'Hans bach' part in the journey is the the most interesting. The 'Memories' song is very nice except for those singers - a good song that struggles from poor vocals. It could've raised this album's critical balance further to the good. Wakeman, like Emerson, tend to bore you with needless noodling on big studio projects. Bands that have the keyboard player as leader tend to be selfish toward the others' creativity. Wakeman's YES efforts were good because he couldn't have that limelight. Of course if he had his way on Tales from Topographic Oceans, it might not be so hotly debated amongst YES fans today. But that's another argument. Overall, thumbs up. One of his career highlights.
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Alexander Zaitsev <firstname.lastname@example.org> (04.06.2003)
The worst prog-rock album of all times. Period. Never judge classical music by this crap.And never show this crap to an orchestra conductor. And I mean it.
Neil Eddy <email@example.com> (12.08.2005)
I saw Lisztomania when it was released and it is truly truly exorable.I was dumb enough to take a sure thing date to see it and it cost me a certain afternoon delight - in fact she never dated me again.... These days if anyone mentions it I pretend I've never seen it.... Liszto-Who?
Bob Rowland <firstname.lastname@example.org> (08.02.2002)
I agree with your assessment of Wakeman being grandiose and self indulgent in most of his solo music, but that's about all I can give you. Aside from the aforementioned general faults, Myths and Legends and No Earthly Connection are two of my all time favorite albums. Both albums have melodies and themes that can send shivers through any listener, and earn respect and admiration from those with a trained ear. While musicians can see through Rick's bag of classical tricks and borrowings, you can't deny he can write some great music. And yes, No Earthly Connection does have a coherent and quite interesting story concept if you take the time to listen and understand the lyrics. But I don't really expect much from someone who calls Jon Anderson a moron. Lastly, you're right about one big thing: the guy singing really really sucks. He must have had some blackmail material on Rick to get the gig.
Ken Willis <email@example.com> (12.01.2001)
Just a couple of points (to keep it short):Montezuma's Run. I don't know what issue of the album you have there, but the original track title was "Montezuma's Revenge" (my stupid misprint - G.S.). The reason is as amusing as you find the track to be. It is a colloquialism, a euphemism for ... having the runs ... ie. diarrhoea !! Given the amazing speeds on the Bobsleigh Run it seems quite appropriate. On "Searching for Gold", the "rather nice female harmonies" to which you refer are, in fact, generated by the Choir of St Paul's Cathedral, which is comprised only of males, including young choristers of pre-puberty age. One other thing: I love your comment about not having to hear that "dork inflicting illness on our ears". That made me laugh out loud. Good stuff.
Ken Willis <firstname.lastname@example.org> (25.01.2001)
You wrote, in your review of "The Breathalyser" that it "ends with a brilliant blues parody - some guy whom I don't know." The guy in question is Mr Bill Oddy, famous in England as one third of the trio known as "The Goodies" (a TV comedy programme). He went on to become a well-known ornithologist, but I suspect the reason for his inclusion on the album is more comedic than ornithological!
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