Rick Wakeman

Selections From Journey to the Center of the Earth (Instrumental)

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This CD, which was recorded in 1992, is astonishingly good at what it sets out to do, reinterpreting Wakeman's 1974 album as a purely electronic piece with no elements of a conventional rock band or singer. The original album, despite reaching the Top Ten in many countries, always seemed like an awkward hybrid of the two genres (and also suffered from the fact that no band that Wakeman put together was going to outdo Yes for excitement or virtuosity), whereas this stripped-down version is seamless. The sound is excellent -- it brings out a richness in tone from the various electronic keyboards employed, and it imparts a feeling of new age music, much more than the blazing intensity of '70s progressive rock, to a lot of the material. In addition to the Journey to the Center of the Earth work, he also provides new, stripped-down versions of songs such as "Catherine of Aragon" and "Merlin the Magician" from the albums surrounding that one, all particularly lush and lyrical. Ironically, Wakeman's music appears headed in the same direction as that of a slightly older and early keyboard idol on the art-rock scene of the late '60s and early '70s -- Michael Pinder of the Moody Blues, though without Pinder's pronounced humanitarian purposes.

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