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

photo: Simon FowlerEvery artist with a career that spans more than thirty years should at least have one highlight in his or her life. That highlight can be anything at all, but of course it's always nice when it's a release that can be regarded as the absolute best that particular artist has ever produced. With a solo output of nearly fifty different releases (!) it is with great pleasure for me to tell you that Rick Wakeman has released his all-time masterpiece in the form of Return To The Centre Of The Earth!

When the original vinyl album, Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, was recorded live more than 25 years ago, the story took us to the centre of the earth by means of a tunnel in the crater of Sneffels Yokul. This time we take another tunnel in that same volcano to encounter a totally different "journey." Instead of the 38 minutes of the vinyl "forefather," this all digital CD runs in excess of 76 minutes, taking you from one highlight to the another. With the help of the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Snell, the English Chamber Choir conducted by Guy Protheroe, a superb talented young backing band, and numerous guest singers, this new album puts Rick Wakeman back on the map in capital and bold letters!

What is nice about this album is that the 22 tracks have been edited in such a way that you can programme the CD to either hear the story alone, the music alone, or the entire project. The odd numbered tracks contain the fantastic deep voice of actor Patrick Stewart, best known for his work on Star Trek: The Next Generation. So who better than Patrick to create that necessary sci-fi feel based on the great Jules Verne saga? The even numbered tracks contain the actual songs, six of which have been sung by guest singers. Whilst some of you might find the combination of singers rather weird, I can guarantee you that it works perfectly well.

Longtime friend Ozzy Osbourne lends his distinctive voice to "Buried Alive," whilst back again is the glorious sound of the Moog synthesizer that we have missed for so long.

In "Is Anybody Out There?" the sandpaper voice of Bonnie Tyler goes really deep, backed once again by the outstanding choir. Having already worked with Jim Steinman in the past (whose "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" sold more than one million copies in the US alone!), it is not the first time Bonnie lends her unique voice to this kind of music. Newcomer Tony Mitchell sings by far the most commercial song on this album, "Mr. Slow." Backed by a very modern percussive sound, the melody is very catchy and should be a strong contender to get lots of radio airplay. The same applies to the uptempo "Never Is A Long, Long Time' for which ex-Yes guitarist Trevor Rabin has been called in. Rick has always felt very strong about Trevor and I guess it won't be too wrong to suggest that we will might see (and hear!) a joint album between them! Apart from recording an ace vocal output, Trevor also plays a fab guitar solo, whilst the orchestra puts a lot of power into the song.

Next on the list is Moody Blues singer Justin Hayward. Whilst his Days Of Future Passed album has been regarded as probably the very first prog album, his longtime friendship with Rick, together with the unique colour of his voice, was the main reason why he'd been asked to collaborate. "Still Waters Run Deep" has a slight folk-like feel and floats nicely, backed again by heavenly violins and choir. Pure rock 'n roll is reserved for Katrina Leskanich better known as the singer from Katrina and the Waves. Having won the Eurovision song contest Katrina is used to being a winner. Even if "Ride Of Your Life' is probably the longest track she has ever done, she does it with enormous input and splendor.

If there is one song on the album which perfectly entertains both the classic purists and the rock audience it will be the all instrumental "The Dance Of A Thousand Lights" in which Rick delivers that whirlwind on the piano he alone is capable of! Another all instrumental is "The Kill" in which all our attention goes towards the Bach trumpet.

I cried when I heard this album for the first time! Cried because I have known Rick for so long and know he has always been capable of delivering this kind of masterpiece. Unfortunately the world runs on money not on talent, so for the last twenty years or so Rick has been unable to create the work he ?s really capable of producing. With Return To The Centre Of The Earth he has clearly made his mark. Not only is it a return to the centre of the earth but also the return of the "real" Rick Wakeman we have all loved for so many years.

Knowing that the first Journey sold a mere 12 million copies, this one should at least sell twice as much! Above all it proves once again that progressive rock is now definitely back and I trust this album to be the locomotive for the well-deserved revival of the genre. In the name of all progressive rock lovers in the world, all the musicians who have taken Rick as their prime example and all the new prog acts all over the world: thanks Rick for giving us the injection we have been waiting for for so long. Thanks for being back. We all love you!

Thanks also to Richard C Lyttelton, President of EMI Classics, who believed in Rick's talent and enabled him to record this masterpiece with no limits whatsoever. If it wasn't for him then the only man who would ever have heard Return To The Centre Of The Earth would have been Rick Wakeman himself, in his mind! Now go out and buy that album, the interlocking key to go from the rock room to the classical room and back again. Buy one for yourself and one to give as a present to your best friends. They will love you forever!

[Hear, hear! I second that! -ed.]

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: January 1st 2000
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website: www.rwcc.com
Hits: 798
Language: english


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