So it didn’t turn out to be quite so “lazy” today with a few hours spent around the house. Fortunately, all the “dirty” stuff is done and now I can begin relaxing (especially since the girls are still out) by cleaning some recent acquisitions to the ‘ol record collection at the dining room table and officially begin the weekend of records with this ‘The Six Wives of Henry III‘ album by Rick Wakeman.
Tot only did this album help pave the way for progressive rock, but it also introduced the unbridled energy and overall effectiveness of the synthesizer as a bona fide instrument.
‘Six Wives‘ gave Wakeman his chance to break away from the other instrumental complexities that made up Yes and allowed him to prove what a driving force the keyboard could truly be, especially in full album form.
More than just synthesized wandering, Wakeman astoundingly conjures up a separate musical persona by way of an instrumental ode to each of Henry VIII’s wives through his dazzling use of the Mellotron, Moog, and Hammond C-3 organ. For example, Wakeman’s fiery runs and fortissimo thwarting of the synthesizer throughout ‘Anne Boleyn‘ is a tribute to her feisty temper and valiant courage that she maintained while standing up to her husband. With ‘Jane Seymour‘, on the other hand, Wakeman’s playing is somewhat subdued and gentle, which coincides with her legendary meekness and frailty, as well as her willingness to cater to Henry VIII.
Wakeman’s masterful use of his synthesizers is instrumentally stunning, as is his talent of magically shaping the notes to represent behavioral idiosyncrasies of his characters. Yes bassist Chris Squire lends a hand on ‘Catherine of Aragon‘, while guitarist Steve Howe and drummer Bill Bruford appear on a few tracks as well, as does former Strawbs member Dave Cousins, playing the electric banjo of all fucking things!
‘The Six Wives of Henry VIII‘ unleashes the unyielding power of the keyboard as a dominant instrument, but also displays Wakeman at the beginning of an extremely resplendent career as a solo musician.
And, holy shit!
Was I ever wrong about this record!
This record is the total shit and among some of the best Prog I have ever heard.