Saturday, April 27, 2013

Rick Wakeman – The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table

   Rick Wakeman as a musician, composer and songwriter is famous for his experiments with progressive rock forms, especially for combining rock bands with orchestral sound and extensively used electronic keyboard instruments. Born in 1949 artist is also remembered for his fruitful work with Yes group. He was one of most famous personalities of the band and played with Yes from 1971 to 1974 and from 1976 to 1980. The position of leading solo keyboardist in early seventies gave him the series of three solo albums he started to create in time of first period he was a member of Yes group and his solo success hastened the departure of the band.
   Wakeman gained an instant fame when January 23th, 1973 his first signed album The Six Wives of Henry VIII was released. The debut album has reached 7th position on UK chart, this was definitely the best time of concept albums. Next production Journey to the Centre of the Earth peaked in 1974 on 1st position in UK and 3rd in US and his third solo album The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table published next year reached 2nd position in UK, 21st in US, 6th in Norway and 18th in Australia. And these three albums are probably his best achievement as solo projects. Although the last of the three was recorded in time Wakeman was leaving Yes the whole cycle was linked to Yes as one of band members’ solo albums. It was also a great commercial success with 12 millions copies sold worldwide.

Rick Wakeman – The Myths and Legends of King Arthur... (1975)

   Recording his third solo project Rick Wakeman merged some qualities from previous solo albums. The idea of stylistic connection to English history with sounds and harmony was taken from The Six Wives of Henry VIII and some ideas connected to fantastic world of myths and legends were developed on base of motifs close to English folk and electronics in a way he was connecting electronics with symphonic orchestra in Journey to the Centre of the Earth album. Choirs are not quite English but they give some archaic basis for The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table while many fragments are lively and saltatory. This choir and plenty of orchestral instruments, some used only incidentally, others extensively, plus motivic repetition made this album sound a bit like some Mike Oldfield’s productions. Especially The Last Battle closing the program and longing for almost ten minutes makes such feeling.
   Although there were next big Rick Wakeman’s projects and soundtracks – Lisztomania in November the same 1975, No Earthly Connection in 1976 and Criminal Record in 1977 – The Myths and Legends of King Arthur… was last of three famous solo productions. The popularity of these three albums gave Wakeman the position of virtuoso of keyboard instruments and a fame of versatile composer. His later productions were not as much popular but always on highest professional and artistic level. With about 100 albums and more than 50 million copies sold, Wakeman’s solo career looks impressive. For later generations of one hit stars and celebrities known for being famous only this kind of excitement is probably too hard to understand.

No comments:

Post a Comment