The Six Wives of Henry VIII: Live at Hampton Court Palaceby Rick Wakeman
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.
- Release Date:
- Eagle Records
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It never fails to amuse me the different types of reviews prog guys get when they do an album, I had heard about Six Wives for many years but never actually heard a note of it and I am so glad I finally purchased this. This is the record (I think) that is responsible for the 'monster musician' status that has always surrounded Rick Wakeman. As a Yes fan I have always appreciated his keyboard work but (I guess) never really 'got it' until now. This is a mainly instrumental album based around the keyboards (Steinway 9' Grand Piano, Hammond C3, RMI Electric Piano, Hapsichord, Mini-Moog, Mellotron, and any manner of cool analog keyboard with real tone abound), and I have to say this is a very interesting album full of cool tones playing that is exceptional from firey to mellow and every cool artsy measure in between. Even if you are not a keyboard player or even a fan of keyboard music this will not disappoint. Rick gets some help from Squire, Howe, White, Brufford, Egan, Lambert, Cronk, Hurdle & others. This is a prog rock gem.
I love this CD so much, the songs are so amazing and lifting. Good to have as background music or to calm down after a stressful day.
Owning the Original "Six Wives of Henry the VIII", e.g. vinyl Album, & now purchasing the 21st Century version, as a DVD, I date myself. The performance is excellent, as well as stimulating, precise and emotive, virtuoso, combining 'movement with emotion', a function regulated by the Cerebellar vermis. Having played keyboards since the mid Sixties, as well, I am somewhat qualified to comment on Wakeman and his performance. I purchased the first 'Yes' album, prior to their rise to fame in the late Sixties, on a whim, being a member of a "Record Club" and paid something like $1.98 or so for it. I still own this priceless piece of work and many others, a testament to my pack-rat-ness, which is now a virtue, and allows an occasional 'listen' in the original format with all of its' warmth and crackles. Should you decide to purchase this work of musical mastery on DVD, and while I cannot predict your reaction, it is likely you will be pleased, to say the least. He was a master then, and the appreciation for the combination for art and technical skill lives on. Spend your money and take your chances. I did then, and have yet to regret the original album purchases, both for 'Yes' and for 'Wakeman', speaking only as a classically trained Pianist, and Organist, and in the vernacular, a 'Keyboardist'; and did I mention an M.D. as my 'Day Job', GYN no less. Keep the Faith! Dr. J.
There's no question that this album is great all the way through, and this album features Rick Wakeman's Yes bandmates drummers Bill Bruford and Alan White, Chris Squire on bass, and Steve Howe on guitar, and this was only the beginning, first of all, he and his Yes bandmates, Jon Anderson, Bill Bruford, and Steve Howe formed Anderson-Bruford-Wakeman-Howe, but then joined forces with the other members of Yes Tony Kaye whom Rick Wakeman replaced in 1972, Alan White, Chris Squire, and Trevor Rabin for Yes' 1991 Union album. Once again, this album is a must for Yes and Rick Wakeman fans to enjoy.