SP-3229 The Six Wives of Henry VIII
Produced by Rick Wakeman
Released on February 1973
UK CHART POSITION #7 . . . US CHART POSITION #20
Find it at GEMM
SP-3229 cover  

Rick Wakeman began work on his first solo album, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, prior to the release of Yes’ Close to the Edge. This all-instrumental album purports to be, as the artist himself states, “my interpretations of the musical chracteristics of the wives of Henry VIII.” It’s an interesting goal -- one worthy of the progressive rock genre it fits into -- with the keyboardist conjuring various personalities through sentiment, devoutness and drama. Despite the presence of several Yes bandmates (including Alan White, who had yet to appear on a Yes album), Six Wives doesn’t recall the work of Yes in any direct sense. Wakeman, though a pioneer of the synthesizer and mellotron, is well attuned to the keyboard’s history, and his melange of sounds both old and new is unique. Having revealed himself to be something of a history buff, Wakeman is also outed as an Anglophile, not just in his choice of subject matter but in his decidedly structured approach to songwriting. The music is steeped in English idioms, from the staid religious passages (going so far as to emulate a church organ on “Jane Seymour”) to the rural quality of his melodies (which achieves a lovely effect on “Catherine Howard”). Perhaps most impressive is Wakeman’s ability to fuse different sections together using a variety of sounds, without making the music feel unnatural or forced. “Catherine of Aragon” and “Catherine Parr,” for example, cover a wide range of emotions and actions in a relatively short span of time, yet Wakeman avoids overwhelming his listeners by creating respiteful passages in between the more active sections. The Six Wives of Henry VIII is regarded by many as Wakeman’s best solo album. His animated arrangements and sympathetic storytelling, tinctured with a sense of humor and a flair for the dramatic, should please both realists and escapists.

SP-3229 back cover
SP-3229 back cover

TRACK LISTING

  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 'THE DAY THOU GAVEST LORD HATH ENDED'    (E.J. Hopkins/Rick Wakeman)    6:31
  6. CATHERINE PARR    7:00

    All songs written by Rick Wakeman unless noted

CREDITS

RICK WAKEMAN -- keyboards
MIKE EGAN -- guitar
FRANK RICOTTI -- percussion
ALAN WHITE -- drums
Bill Bruford -- drums (1,5)
Ray Cooper -- percussion (1,5)
Dave Cousins -- electric banjo (3)
Chas Cronk -- bass (3)
Barry de Souza -- drums (3)
Steve Howe -- guitar (1)
Les Hurdle -- bass (1,5)
Dave Lambert -- guitar (3)
Laura Lee -- vocals (5)
Sylvia McNeill -- vocals (5)
Judy Powell -- vocals (1)
Barry St. John -- vocals (1)
Chris Squire -- bass (1)
Liza Strike -- vocals (1,5)
Dave Winter -- bass (2,6)
Dave Henshall (sic) -- mixing (2)
Ken Scott -- engineer, mixing
Paul Tregurtha -- engineer, mixing

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK February 1973 A&M LP/CS AMLH 64631 gatefold cover
US/CAN February 1973 A&M LP/LPQ/CS/8T SP/QU5/8T-4361 gatefold cover
GER 1973? A&M LP 86560 gatefold cover
UK May 1981 A&M 2CS   repackaged w. THE MYTHS AND
LEGENDS OF KING ARTHUR
US August 1989 A&M LP/CD/CS SP-3229 elpee not gatefold
  1999 Polygram Int'l CD 393 229  
    A&M 3CD 540 277 repackaged w. JOURNEY + KING ARTHUR

 

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