Some things unfortunately just do not age well, and Rick Wakeman's overblown take on King Arthur and The Knights Of The Round Table is a painful example of that.
Flush from his success with the Journey To The Center of The Earth tour, Wakey decided to approach an equally grandiose subject. However, in his quest to do so, he got a little too full of himself, a few pints and no small amount of Broadway-style cheese-wiz that would probably embarrass Andrew Lloyd-Webber (as if that were actually possible). And as if that weren't execrable enough, he wanted to tour with an Ice-Capades production in addition to the orchestra and chorus (this however was short circuited, thankfully).
End result, some of the corniest, stoooopidest lyrics you ever heard in your life (they make "Hello Dolly" of "A Chorus Line" sound like Shakespeare by comparison) that permeate nearly all the tracks, save for the largely instrumental "Merlin The Magician" though this has cheese- whiz issues of its own, trying to jump to every musical style it can in the space of 7 or 8 minutes). The proceedings are not helped in any fashion by Ashley Holt's abysmal vocalizing (heck, William Shatner could out-sing him and at least be somewhat entertaining) and the rather pedestrian band (although the orchestra and choir do get to flex their muscles periodically) as Wakey lets forth Mini-Moog and piano assaults aplenty. There are odd musical moments though that actually threaten to get good and interesting but that is quickly dealt a mediaeval death blow when the Broadway/Stage impulses take over.
With the lone exception of Six Wives of Henry The VIII", Wakey has never been able to compose anything meaningfully deep or substantial, sounding more like Romantic / Post- Romantic period cliches strung together with other odd bits. He can play his keys like a fiend and contribute colorful passages in the confines of Yes, he can wear the coolest capes on the planet, but the boy CANNOT WRITE!
You want high-concept hijinks that are actually fun? May I suggest William Shatner's "The Transformed Man" (at least it was funny!). This thing however just takes itself waaaaaaaaaaayyy too seriously and tries to overcompensate with bombastic cheese whiz (I'm just glad he didn't attempt a collaboration with Elvis on a redux of "Hamlet").
Best used for extracting confessions from criminals or getting rid of unwanted party guests. Otherwise, steer clear.
(All Album Reviews by flutie479)
I spent many hours listening to King Arthur, through the telling, by Rick Wakeman. This was years before the Internet and I found myself mesmerized in daydreams to music like this. It allowed me to study the congruence between music, history, and the bridge joining the two.
It's weird for me to look back on it now and see how much I took for granted. At the time I didn't really appreciate the efforts involved necessary to gather an orchestra, choralists, and to put it all together, piece by piece, as was done so thoroughly by these undertakers.
I suppose, at some level, I knew that this wasn't the average knock 'em out, run-of-the-mill process, but rather it was something that was built.
The beauty of carefully considered epics such as this realized is that it grows from the inside out. It starts off with one person's kind of bare bones approach and can be played as such as solo material; yet, at the same time, it is aided greatly in layers with The English Rock Ensemble, live choirs and orchestra giving depths and details to depict how it spreads.
There's so much here that is smoothly executed that it's hard to get to the heart of its complexity.