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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gets better with age not worse
To some people Rick Wakeman is flashy and self-indulgent. Well, that's why I love him. He's unique and nobody else sounds anything like him, which is partly why he will be remembered. The other part is that he wrote some damm good stuff, especially his first solo outing here.
There are six tracks which are supposed to interpret Henry 8's six wives. If you want them...
Published on Dec 28 2003 by Amanda Bartels

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars I guess it's okay
An entertaining and listenable sample of the marriage of rock and classical music . I used to love this record when I was a teenager in the 70's. Nowadays I belong to the ranks of those who are more inclined to listen to music really composed in the time of Henry VII and his six wives than Wakeman's impressions of their lives .
Published on Jan. 16 2000


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gets better with age not worse, Dec 28 2003
By 
Amanda Bartels (Eltham, Victoria Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Six Wives of Henry VIII (Audio CD)
To some people Rick Wakeman is flashy and self-indulgent. Well, that's why I love him. He's unique and nobody else sounds anything like him, which is partly why he will be remembered. The other part is that he wrote some damm good stuff, especially his first solo outing here.
There are six tracks which are supposed to interpret Henry 8's six wives. If you want them to, Rick. I don't go for this idea much, but it is brilliant music whosever musical portraits you want to put upon it, and it was certainly fantastic marketing in the early 70s - classically-influenced synthesizers with some old English history chucked in by a long-haired precocious prog rocker. Nice mix.
The six tracks are more than just keyboards for their own sakes - they are strong and complex compositions, well arranged with interesting timbral choices between the different instruments - lots of theme and variation, different moods such as jazzy pieces like Anne Boleyn and traditional organ arrangements like Jane Seymour (which is a little too Bach Toccata-like for me, but this was early in Rick's career when he was busting with classical influences.)
My favourite pieces are the three Catherines - the opening, Catherine of Aragon is mostly piano with some interesting rhythm changes (try keeping time to it). Catherine Howard is the one most people will know if they've ever been to a Wakeman or a Yes concert but this original version is very different from the one he plays these days with the Celtic jig added. I think his later versions are actually better, but it's still a good solid piece of music.
Anne of Cleves is the most unusual track - it almost sounds out of place amongst the more conventional compositions. It's the track that sounds most like a synthesizer exercise, but it's worth a listen (apart from the prominent split note near the beginning!) for the unusual time signatures (again) and the fantastic Hammond organ work and Bill Bruford's drumming together. Yes musicians abound on this album and it does have a slight Yes feel but it's definitely NOT a Yes album and definitely classic Wakeman.
I don't think time has worn this one out. If anything I enjoy listening to it more than I did in the past. I love listening to the old analogue sounds. I know nobody would be without digital keyboards these days but there is something about analogue sounds which can't be reproduced - they're more individual, less tinny and less predictable. I guess they were also a nightmare with going out of tune or not working but somehow that added to their individuality - you never knew what you were going to get, which did make for interesting live experiences.
Elton John said this album is in his top twenty of all time. Won't argue with him on that.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wakeman's Best - Aged? No. Exemplifying the 1970's - Yes., Nov. 29 2003
By 
Mark D Burgh "Music, Writing, Art, Film, Hist... (Fort Smith, AR United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Six Wives of Henry VIII (Audio CD)
Rick Wakeman has produced a lot of music in the last 35 years, but this second solo album of his still is his is among his best, if not his best. Based on the BBC television life of Henry VIII's caprious attempts to further both his family's hold on power and England's revolution against the Papacy, Wakeman's music really has little to do with the history, real or imagined. Still, this Album does capture some history - that of early analog synths and samplers, and of an era of musical freedom.
Conceptual failure notwithstanding, Wakeman produces six long tracks that have a cohesion that does hold up. Trained for a time at the RCM, Wakeman absored lessons on structure along with a lot of beer. The focus of each song is based on thematic material that Wakeman explores as any classical composer might do, but with the instrumentation and rythym of jazzish rock.
Take Jane Seymour (not Dr. Quinn) for example. The piece starts out with a church organ playing a Bachish modal theme. A harpischord answers the organ in counterpoint, and them finally a Minimoog enters, doubling the organ's new thematic material, now in an ominous minor theme. Occasional drums add tension to the piece, but the organ keeps returning to the main theme and its variations.
My favorite is the jazzy "Anne Boleyn," which comes closest to portraying the alluring and doomed second wife of Henry. Wakeman again establishes a flowing theme, works it out on the piano, then contrasts with a new theme on rock instrumentations. A quiet interlude with acoustic guitars, basses, and background vocals accompany's Wakemans' restatement. The piece builds back to the the rockish part, then moves into a minor key movement, introducing a newer faster theme and electronic instruments.
This simply good composing, arraging and playing, and to me it hasn't aged as fast or as badly as people claim. Not as bad as I have aged, anyway.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Better than expected, Jan. 29 2002
By 
kireviewer (Sunnyvale, Ca United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Six Wives of Henry VIII (Audio CD)
Yes, (including Rick Wakeman) and Emerson, Lake and Palmer killed progressive rock in the late seventies with overblown and pompous excesses. The success of progressive/art rock went to their heads and the began producing self indulgent, pretentious arty rock. The backlash was immediate and progressive rock died almost over night. Tastes moved to corporate rock (Eagles, Foriegner, Van Halen) and Disco, until Punk, New Wave and Electronica moved in to inject new life into rock. The progressive groups either fell apart or tried to go main stream with horrible results.
This album came out when Yes was at it's peak in popularity and musically. Each of the members of Yes put out solo albums with various degrees of success. (Chris Squire's was the best by far). Since Yes was so popular, each of the solo efforts sold well and got radio play.
I didn't listen to this album for a long time, because I equated with the later, more pretentious works by both Yes and Rick Wakeman. Wakeman reaally got out of hand with Journey to the Center of the Earth and the Myths and Legends of King Aurthur ("Those were the days of the knights").
So, when my daughter had to do a report on Henry VIII, I pulled out the album and gave it a listen. I was expecting to hate it. Especially after remembering the excerpts played on Yessongs (which don't do this album justice). But I was really surprised. There is a lot of interesting and energetic music on this album. It is highly keyboard oriented but just isn't synthesizer exercises. There are a lot of great piano parts and some nice interplay between piano and synthesizer. There are some great backing musician parts, especially on drums and guitars.
This album is only 36 minutes, which is short by CD standards. But, it is one of the reasons the album is so good. It is not stretched out with a lot of boring interludes.
Two Dick Wakeman stories (I read them, but I don't know if they are true). He said that the reason he quit Yes the first time was because the rest of the group was vegetarians and he could never eat what he wanted and he never felt full (as opposed to being full of it). Also, one time, Yes was playing on a triple bill. Procol Harem's instruments didn't arrive. Gentle Giant was going to lend Procol Harem their instruments. Wakeman would allow it because he said it was bad kharma.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Wakeman is the sum of others' talents, Aug. 23 1998
This review is from: Six Wives of Henry VIII (Audio CD)
Rick Wakeman shines best when two elements are present: (a) he surrounds himself with other top-flight instrumentalists, and (b) he avoids lyrics. "Six Wives" is the perfect example. The focus is purely on the music: lyrical piano lines, rich organ fills, exciting changes of tempo, and a percussive and bass beat that drives it all forward. Wakeman brought in the perfect people to accompany him on these tracks -- Bruford and White on percussion, Dave Lambert and Charles Cronk on guitar, and Chris Squire on bass, among others. All of these instrumentalists add their own individuality to the music, and the sum of the parts equals a wonderful whole. No track has lyrics, aside from some choral background humming; subsequent Wakeman recordings ("Journey to the Center of the Earth", "King Arthur") are marred by intrusive, simplistic songs that over-ride any chance for the music to shine through.
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5.0 out of 5 stars the best solo album rick wakeman ever conceived., Aug. 4 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Six Wives of Henry VIII (Audio CD)
i am probably going to stick my foot in it but reviews are simply opinions and my opinion is this is the best solo effort by mr. wakeman...ever. i feel that his best work was with yes and not as a solo artist. it takes more than facility at a keyboard to create a cohesive and interesting composition. like so many artists both historically and currently popular, mastery of an instrument does not automatically give rise to compositional talent. i have listened to and followed his career since the strawbs and i hold to my opening remarks. i also feel that yes has done equally well with the various keyboard players that have been a part of their history. i am not of the camp that believes rick wakeman is part of their "classic" lineup since they are still creating superb sounds and performing stellar concerts. in closing, i find it interesting that the album in review has several members of yes as guest artists.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Just Nearly 5 Stars, Oct. 12 2000
By 
Bill R. Moore (New York, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Six Wives of Henry VIII (Audio CD)
If you are a big fan of keyboard-drenched songs, then this cd is close to heaven. Wakeman's playing is masterful, as always, and the songs themselves are masterfully arranged and produced. This is one of the rare older cds that you can pick up that has excellent sound quality. But Wakeman is not the only star on this album, however. The other instruments (guitar, bass, etc.) all stand out at times, and in particular the drumming is excellent. All the songs are good. I can't cite any ones in particular as being the best, I always find it hard to differentiate between tracks on instrumental albums. I always tend to regard the album as one long song. I know that's not what the artist intended, but that's the way I view it nonetheless. Put that way, The Six Wives of Henry VIII is one damn good song.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The well tempered keyboard, Feb. 27 1999
By 
N. Karter (NJ) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Six Wives of Henry VIII (Audio CD)
Rick Wakeman is one the first and most talented keyboard players who were part of the "progressive" or "classical" rock movement. As with most keyboard players of this genre, Rick was classically trained having attended the Royal Acadamy of Music. Six Wives showcases his overflowing keyboard talents on a number of instruments including the paino, organ, synthesizer and harpsicord. There are six segments, each of which conatin complex passages that shift between delicate piano to rock tempo electronic keyboards. In particular, Rick's piano playing is Mozart influenced, showing both speed and sensitivity (Get the Piano Album for more of his piano).
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5.0 out of 5 stars A melodic keyboard showcase that's not to be missed, June 25 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Six Wives of Henry VIII (Audio CD)
Rick Wakeman, keyboardist for bands such as Yes and David Bowie, makes his solo career debut with this astonishing, melodic instrumental masterpiece. The album, contains six tracks (one for each wife). Wakeman's work with Yes was impressive, but gives only a taste of Henry's magic. Each of the six tracks, while not historically accurate, show a blending of sythesizer technology with classical and instrumental themes in a purely progressive rock setting. Fans of Yes and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer are sure to especially love Henry. As well, Henry serves as a great stepping stone to introduce rock listeners to the world of classical and instrumental music.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Virtuoso performance from master contemporary keyboardist, Feb. 13 1999
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This review is from: Six Wives of Henry VIII (Audio CD)
I bought this record when it was first released in 1973 (not the 60s, as other reviews here would suggest) at the tender age of 14. Now, at the ripe age of 40, "Six Wives" remains one of my favorite albums of music. Only the overlong "Anne of Cleves" cut mars an otherwise great collection of progressive rock compositions. To call them "songs" does the music an injustice -- these are complex and entertaining works that invite listening over and over again. I've since purchased five copies of this record, and now that I've got it on CD, I hope it will last a while! Very highly recommended!
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Definitive Wakeman Album, Nov. 30 2000
This review is from: Six Wives of Henry VIII (Audio CD)
Put simply, this album is THE album from Mr Wakeman. I love virtually everything he has ever done, but his first three albums are still his best three albums, and "6 Wives" is the best of them all. It has not aged in nearly 30 years and can still be listened to almost as if for the first time. When it was first released it broke barriers of inventiveness and originality, both in terms of genre and of sound. Rick's playing sounds good on any keyboard, but with this album you are taken through the best of all the keyboards available back in 1973 (and, frankly, they are still the best). A masterpiece.
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