Wakeman, Rick - Return To The Centre Of The Earth

Year of Release: 1999
Label: EMI Classics
Catalog Number: 7243 5 56763 2 0
Format: CD
Total Time: 76:51:00

Rick Wakeman's soon to be released Return To The Centre Of The Earth is a beautiful balance between narration - as spoken by the pleasant voice of Patrick Stewart - and music. Others that lend their (singing) voices to this disc are Ozzy Osbourne, Bonnie Tyler, Justin Hayward, Katrina Leskanich (of Katrina and the Waves fame), Trevor Rabin (late of Yes). The only name unfamiliar to me is Tony Mitchell (of the band Kiss of the Gypsy).

Instrumentally, Wakeman is joined by Fraser Thorneycroft-Smith on guitar, Phil Williams on bass, Simon Hanson on drums, and both the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Snell and the English Chamber Choir conducted by Guy Protheroe.

Without revealing any of the story details, this album is a follow up to his earlier - much earlier, 25 years earlier - release Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, a musical telling of the Jules Verne. In this, Return, he does just that - returns to the centre of the Earth.

Before I set off exploring this wonderful disk, I should admit something up front - though I am familiar with who Rick Wakeman is, his past associations (Yes mainly), I haven't really heard much of his work - aside from that in Yes. I do have have a couple past solo discs - The Myths & Legends Of King Arthur & The Knights Of The Round Table and Softsword. If you aren't familiar with Wakeman, the brief bio of highlights is: a prolific solo artist; a member of both Yes (off an on throughout their career) and the Strawbs (briefly).

I'd like to say if you are into harder edged prog, you might not get into this, but the truth is that if you can appreciate accomplished playing, then you will like this. Listening to Wakeman "tinkle the ivories" on a track such as "The Dance Of A Thousand Lights" is magic. In fact, musically this is just wonderful and worth getting for that alone. The arrangments are rich, lush, dramatic, vivid - you can see the story unfold.

Also, and especially in the all too brief "Floodflames," you can easily tell who such proggers as Marillion's Mark Kelly were influenced by.

Mitchell has a pleasant voice, but sings with a light touch and compared to the rough vocals of Osbourne and Tyler, seem underpowered. That said, I don't think Osbourne's vocal style quite fits here. There is the expectation of harder edge material, and even with the drama needed for "Buried Alive," it would be inappropriate.

Another picky thing: the lyrics, or at least most of the lyrics, to "Never Is A Long Long Time" seem lifted from a series of cliched ideas. I do like Rabin's vocals here, and next to Leskanich, he fares best with the material. "Ride Of Your Life," Leskanich's turn in the spotlight has the same verve and energy as her work with Katrina and the Waves. Though it does run dangerously close to pop because of it.

The English Chamber Choir are, perhaps, the most suited to this production singing-wise - their voices are angelic with an undercurrent of darkness.

I've been a long time Moody Blues fan, but Hayward seems off his game here, a bit off key and flat at times. And yet, there is a melancoliness to his vocals that comes through, and his voice seems well matched to the material.

Patrick Stewart is just perfect - his voice has the right tenor, the right timbre. I really could listen to him read the phone book - I'd be gripped by the drama he could instill in it.

I don't care what your particular brand of progressive is, you needs must go out and get this disk. Listening to it is an adventure that you find you need to repeat to catch every nuance.

A Vision (2:34) / The Return Overture (2:39) / Mother Earth (3:48) / Buried Alive (6:01) / The Enigma (1:18) / Is Anybody There? (6:35) / The Ravine (0:49) / The Dance Of A Thousand Lights (5:41) / The Shepherd (2:01) / Mr. Slow (3:47) / Bridge Of Time (1:12) / Never Is A Long, Long Time (5:19) / Tales From The Lidenbrook Sea (2:57) / The Kill (5:23) / Timeless History (1:10) / Still Waters Run Deep (5:21) / Time Within Time (2:39) / Ride Of Your Life (6:01) / Floating (1:59) / Floodflames (2:00) / The Volcano (2:10) / The End Of The Return (5:23)

Rick Wakeman - keyboards
Fraser Thorneycroft-Smith - guitar
Phil Williams - bass guitar
Simon Hanson - drums
London Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Snell
English Chamber Choir conducted by Guy Protheroe
Ozzy Osbourne, Bonnie Tyler, Tony Mitchell, Justin Hayward, and Katrina Leskanich - vocals
Trevor Rabin - vocals, guitar (12)

Piano Vibrations (1971)
The Six Wives Of Henry VIII (1973)
Journey To The Centre Of The Earth (1974)
Lisztomania (1975)
The Myths & Legends Of King Arthur & The Knights Of The Round Table (1975)
No Earthly Connection (1976)
Rick Wakeman's Criminal Record (1977)
White Rock (1977)
Animal Showdown (1979)
Rhapsodies (1979)
I'm So Straight I'm A Weirdo (1980)
1984 (1981)
The Burning (OST) (1981)
Rock N Roll Prophet (1982)
Cost Of Living (1983)
G'ole! (1983)
Crimes Of Passion (OST) (1984)
Live At Hammersmith (1985)
Lytton's Diary (1985)
Silent Nights (1985)
Country Airs (1986)
The Family Album (1987)
The Gospels (1987)
20th Anniversary Limited Edition (1988)
A Suite Of Gods (1988)
Custer's Last Stand/Ocean City (1988)
Time Machine (1988)
Zodiaque (1988)
Black Knights At The Court Of Ferdinand IV (1989)
Sea Airs (1989)
Phantom Power (1990)
In The Beginning (1990)
Night Airs (1990)
Phantom Power (1990)
2000AD Into The Future (1991)
African Bach (1991)
Aspirant Sunrise (1991)
Aspirant Sunset (1991)
Aspirant Sunshadows (1991)
Rock N Roll Prophet Plus (1991)
Softsword (1991)
The Classical Connection (1991)
Best Works Collection (1992)
Country Airs (1992)
Classic Tracks (1993)
No Expense Spared (1993)
Prayers (1993)
The Classical Connection 2 (1993)
The Heritage Suite (1993)
Unleashing The Tethered One - The 1974 North American Tour (1993)
Wakeman With Wakeman (1993)
Light Up The Sky (1994)
Live On The Test (1994)
Lure Of The Wild (1994)
Rick Wakeman's Greatest Hits (1994)
The Stage Collection (1994)
Wakeman With Wakeman - The Official Bootleg (1994)
Wakeman With Wakeman Live (1994)
Almost Live In Europe (1995)
Cirque Surreal (1995)
Rick Wakeman In Concert (1995)
Rock & Pop Legends (1995)
Romance Of The Victorian Age (1995)
The Piano Album (1995)
The Private Collection (1995)
The Seven Wonders Of The World (1995)
Visions (1995)
Can You Hear Me? (1996)
Fields Of Green (1996)
Orisons (1996)
Tapestries (1996)
The New Gospels (1996)
The Word And Music (1996)
Vignettes (1996)
Voyage (1996)
Welcome A Star (1996)
Fields Of Green '97 (1997)
Simply Acoustic - The Music (1997)
Tribute (1997)
Master Series (1998)
Themes (1998)
Official Live Bootleg (1999)
Return To The Centre Of The Earth (1999)
Stella Bianca Alla Corte De Re Ferdinando (1999)
The Masters (1999)
The Natural World Trilogy (1999)
White Rock II (1999)
Christmas Variations (2000)
Chronicles Of Man (2000)
Morning Has Broken (2000)
Preludes To A Century (2000)
Recollections - The Very Best Of Rick Wakeman (2000)
Rick Wakeman The Legend Live In Concert 2000 (2000)
The Caped Collection (2000)
Classical Variations (2001/2002)
Simply Acoustic (2001)
Out Of The Blue (2001)
Two Sides Of Yes (2001/2002)
Treasure Chest Volume 1 - The Real Lizstomania (2002)
Treasure Chest Volume 2 - The Oscar Concert (2002)
Treasure Chest Volume 3 - The Missing Half (2002)
Treasure Chest Volume 4 - Almost Classical (2002)
Treasure Chest Volume 5 - The Mixture (2002)
Treasure Chest Volume 6 - Medium Rare (2002)
Treasure Chest Volume 7 - Journey To The Centre Of The Earth (2002)
Treasure Chest Volume 8 - Stories (2002)
Two Sides Of Yes - Volume II (2002)
Wakeman & Cousins -Hummingbird (2002)
Out There (2003)
Retro (2006)
Retro 2 (2007)
The Six Wives Of Henry VIII Live At Hampton Court Palace (2009)
Always With You (2010)
Past, Present, and Future (2010)
Anderson/Wakeman - The Living Tree (2010)
In The Nick Of Time-Live In 2003 (2012)

Journey To The Center Of The Earth Live In 1975 (2001/2002) (DVD)
Rick Wakeman The Legend Live In Concert 2000 (DVD) (2001/2002)
Rick Wakeman & The English Rock Ensemble - Live In Buenos Aires (DVD) (2001/2002)
Rick Wakeman & The English Rock Ensemble - Out There (DVD) (2004)
Journey To The Centre Of The Earth Live In 1975 - 30th Anniversary Edition (DVD) (2005)
Made In Cuba (DVD) (2005)
Amazing Grace (DVD) (2007)
The Other Side Of Rick Wakeman (DVD) (2007)
Video Vault Volume 1 - 1975 Live At Empire Pool, King Arthur On Ice (DVD) (2007)
Video Vault Volume 2 - Live At The Maltings 1976 (DVD) (2007)
Video Vault Volume 3 - Live 1980 Swedish Television Special (DVD) (2007)
Video Vault Volume 4 - 1984 Live At The Hammersmith Odeon 1981 (DVD) (2007)
Video Vault Volume 5 - Night Music (DVD) (2007)
Video Vault Volume 6 - Rarities Plus Interview (DVD) (2007)
The Six Wives Of Henry VIII Live At Hampton Court Palace (DVD/BR) (2009)
Classical Wakeman Volume 1 - Live In Lugano (2010)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: April 10th 1999
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.rwcc.com
Hits: 1077
Language: english


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