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1 selections as Proggnosis Best of 1973 Release

The Six Wives of Henry the VIII

a Studio release
Rick Wakeman

Release Year: 1973

Date Label Catalog # Comments
1973 LP
This second Solo CD of Rick Wakeman tells the story of the six wives of Henry The Eight in six songs.
Added To Proggnosis Database on: 2/14/2002 12:00:00 AM
Entry Last Updated on: 11/20/2016 4:21:00 PM by: DBSilver
  1. Catherine of Aragon (3:45)
  2. Anne of Cleves (7:50)
  3. Catherine Howard (6:36)
  4. Jane Seymour (4:44)
  5. Anne Boleyn (Incl "The day thou gavest Lord is ended") (6:31)
  6. Catherine Parr (7:06)

Rick Wakeman


Bill Bruford: Drums

Barry DeSouza: Drums

Alan White: Drums

Dave Cousins: Banjo

Mike Egan: Guitar

Steve Howe: Guitar

Dave Lambert: Guitar

Charles Cronk: Bass

Les Hurdle: Bass

Chris Squire: Bass

Dave Wintour: Bass

Dave Winter: Bass

Ray Cooper: Percussion

Frank Riccotti: Percussion

Laura Lee: Vocals

Sylvia McNeill: Vocals

Judith Powell: Vocals

Barry St. John: Vocals

Liza Strike: Vocals

Reviewed by Jean on 06 Apr 2005

The Six Wives of Henry the VIII is one of the greatest prog albums of the early 70's. It belongs to the same period as “Fragile” (Yes), Trilogy (ELP) and “Thick as a Brick” (Jethro Tull).

At that time (1972) Rick Wakeman had been introduced as the young keyboard wizard whose contribution to the sound of YES was at least as important as Steve Howe’s who joined the band a year earlier. Fragile and Close to the Edge came out 1972 and then, the next year came The Six Wives.

It was predictable that the album would have classical influences but the result was still more than anyone unexpected. The prog-scene was familiar with more or less straightforward prog-versions of classical compositions (excluding ELP) but Wakeman went further.

Naturally it's easy to find many classical influences in his music. The most obvious one is "Jane Seymour" - with Bach-like church organs and the main tune of Catherine Parr sounds very much like Edvard Griegs "In the Hall of the Mountain King".

But fortunately enough Wakeman’s “originals” make this album a classic. The opening, "Catherine of Aragon" is a stunning proof of Wakeman’s abilities in composing and musicianship with his impressive arsenal of keyboards. The music flows like a river in rapids, restlessly, to be calmed down in 3:44 time and leaving a feeling of pure amazement: now this is what the mixture of prog and classical music can really be !

Anne of Cleves is as close as Wakeman did ever go towards improvisational jazz and remains an interesting side-path in his long career. There are also weaker moments: Catherine Howard is a strange mixture of too many styles.

But the jewel of the album is "Anne Boleyn". The composition has the kind of a structure that really keeps you in it's grip and contains also some best solos Wakeman has ever played on a record. At very early stage of his career Wakeman unfortunately created a style to his solos which became a trademark - and even a bad habit. But the solo part of Anne Boleyn is something else.

This is the most progressive composition of the album and there lies the strength of it. Funny enough the song ends with the only melody quoted to be not from Wakeman’s brains. "The Day Thou Gavest Lord Hath Ended" by E.J. Hopkins ends the composition and really takes it’s place as an inseparable part of the tune.

All the Yes-members play in the record (excluding Anderson) but Wakeman was wise enought to use other musicians as well to make it clear who is in charge here.

After "Six Wives" Wakeman went on to get himself occupied with dinosaurs, knights, symphony orchestras and some serious beer drinking - some times even simultaneously. The mannerism in his music grew more and more with some exceptions (for example "Criminal Record", 1977) but this debut album remains his best work in any measures.

Reviewed by Eric on 06 Jul 2005

A novel concept concerning the love life and loves of one of the most notorious figures in British history. On the other hand this type of album is the very reason critics outside the progressive underground tend to dismiss the genre as pretentious, even back in the day. Oh well.
You don't really have to like Yes or Wakeman to get into this, but then again, here he let’s loose in a way that was rarely heard on any Yes album at this point, and there’s no question he is/was one of the finest keyboardists progressive rock has ever seen, and this album is a fine example. I like Wakeman. If he wasn’t Boozin’ or eating Curry during a concert, he was irritating Jon Anderson and blowing Yes off at the most inopportune times. The ‘bad boy’ of prog if there ever was one.
Good stuff and recommended.

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