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4.3 out of 5 stars
Six Wives Of Henry Viii
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Showing 1-5 of 5 reviews(4 star)show all reviews
on January 29, 2002
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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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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on October 12, 2000
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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on June 10, 1999
This is pleasant album of instrumentals from one of the keyboard stars of the early seventies. For would-be keyboard stars of the late nineties and beyond I recommend PENTATONIC SCALES FOR THE JAZZ-ROCK KEYBOARDIST by Jeff Burns.
Also recommended: PENTATONIC SCALES FOR THE JAZZ-ROCK KEYBOARDIST by Jeff Burns.
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on June 16, 2015
almost as good as the original album
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