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Rick Wakeman

The Six Wives of Henry VIII

Review by G. W. Hill
There are many who would consider this Rick Wakeman's strongest solo album. That argument has merit. I think the majority of them are pretty darned good, but this one really does stand tall among the bunch. There are some exceptional guest musicians on this album, too. Both Yes drummers are featured here - Bill Bruford on two songs and Alan White on three. Ray Cooper (from Elton John's band) provides some percussion on a couple tunes. Dave Cousins of the Strawbs provides electric banjo on one piece. Steve Howe plays guitar on the lead-off track. Chris Squire is the bass player on the same song. Those are just a few of the bigger names featured here. This song is packed with great musicians and great music. It should be noted that I reviewed the original vinyl release here.
Track by Track Review
Catherine of Aragon

Powerful keyboard textures open this. The cut grows out from there with some changes from more rocking to mellower stuff. There are some great melodies and non-lyrical vocals (Liza Strike), The piece does have some exceptional keyboard work for sure.

Anne of Cleves
Some freaky synthesizer opens this. The cut grows out from there into a killer fast paced prog groove. There are some exceptional sections built into this thing. I love some of the soloing in particular. This gets into some pretty crazy territory later. It's a real powerhouse.
Catherine Howard
The melodies on this are strong. It has a good balance between louder and softer stuff. This one is perhaps more like Yes than some of the rest. I really love some of the piano work on this. The cool little break down mid-track is classy, too.
Jane Seymour
There is some great prog rock keyboard based stuff built into this. It's an exceptional tune on an exceptional album. It's among the more purely melodic and straight ahead pieces here.
Anne Boleyn 'The Day Thou Gavest Lord Hath Ended
This just has some exceptional instrumental work and tones. It's one of my favorites here. Indeed, it's one of my favorites from Wakeman's solo career. It gets into some rather crazed territory later, too.
Catherine Parr
Coming in fast paced and pretty crazed, this one works through a lot of shifts and changes. It makes good use of the dynamic space between rocking and mellower. It also has some of the most purely classically oriented sounds. The synthesizer lines that rise up from the mid-track drop down are especially effective. It is definitely one of the most dynamic pieces here. The closing section is really strong, too.
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