Rick Wakeman
Journey to the Centre of the Earth: Live


4.5
superb

Review

by e210013 USER (112 Reviews)
November 30th, 2015 | 25 replies


Release Date: 1974 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Journey To The Centre Of The Earth is one of the best and most innovative projects of the 70’s. It represents one of the best marriages between the orchestral and the synthesized music.

“Journey To The Centre Of The Earth” is the debut live album of Rick Wakeman and was released in 1974. The line up on the album is Rick Wakeman, Gary Pickford-Hopkins, Ashley Holt, Roger Newell, Barney James, David Hemmings, the London Symphonic Orchestra conducted by David Measham and the English Chamber Choir.


This is his second solo work, if we don’t consider “Piano Vibrations” released in 1971, since his contributions on that album were limited to performing as a session musician. He didn’t compose any of its tracks. “Journey To The Centre Of The Earth” isn’t a common live album. It’s a new work with new material that never had been recorded and released in studio. It has live recordings from his second performance, of the two sold out concerts, in 18 January 1974 at the Royal Festival Hall, in London. Wakeman decided to hold a live recording of the album, due to its high cost. He couldn’t totally afford the production involving an orchestra and a choir with so many elements. The solution was to do it as a show paid. At the time, his record label A&M, English business, did not agree to pay all the production. So, it was necessary to convince A&M, American business, to do so. Fortunately, Wakeman was very well succeeded.

“Journey To The Centre Of The Earth” was performed with the help of the London Symphony Orchestra, the English Chamber Choir and a hand full of musicians for his band, which later became the English Rock Ensemble. Wakeman turns this classic Verne’s tale into an exciting and suspenseful instrumental narrative. The use of the Wakeman’s keyboards, are very well coupled, with the prestigious sound of the orchestra, creating to the album’s fairy tale, the climate needed, to the great audio success of the story and of the music on the album.

“Journey To The Centre Of The Earth” was based on the Jules Verne’s eponymous science fiction novel. “Journey To The Centre Of The Earth”, tells the story of professor Lidenbrock, his nephew Axel, and their guide Hans. They follow a passage to the centre of the Earth, which was originally discovered by Anne Saknussemm, an Icelandic alchemist. They lived many adventures, including encounter of prehistoric animals and the natural hazards. As the music is dotted by telling the story based on Jules Verne’s novel, Wakeman decided that it was needed to have a narrator in a prominent position in the recordings of the album, to understand the story better. The story is told by Hemmings, a very well known English actor of films, theatre and television, as well as film and television director and producer, at the time.

Recorded at the London’s Royal Festival Hall, the tale is broken into four parts. The first and second parts, “The Journey”/“Recollection”, take our adventures from the surface of the Earth to the lost world inside it, encountering various difficulties along the way. The music is great, at times peaceful and adventurous and in others with dark moody parts. It starts explosively in a very symphonic way, with the orchestra being the dominant force. The epic has many musical changes, soft passages sung by Pickford and Holt, frantic keyboard sections, aggressive rock & roll chords always supported by the correct narration of Hemmings with his very well educated English accent. The track ends symphonically as it begins. The third and fourth parts, “The Battle”/“The Forest” are much more complex. “The Battle” starts with some more narrative that describes the battle between two sea monsters, which leads to a rock based movement and it has also lyrics and a choir. Wakeman’s keyboards and Egan’s guitar create a perfect musical mixture of baroque, classical and heavy rock which places the listener in a ringside too see not only the big fight but also a huge storm, where Wakeman does his best, describing the winds with his Minimoog. “The Forest” situates us when the expedition reaches the centre of the earth. Musically, is extremely beautiful and again the voices of Pickford and Holt sound perfect. “The Forest” includes also an excerpt of “In The Hall Of The Mountain King” of Edvard Grieg.


Conclusion: “Journey To The Centre Of The Earth” is one of the most progressive crowning achievements, and is one of the best marriages between the orchestral and the synthesized music. However, the album received many negative reviews saying that it’s “a classical pastiche” and “brutal synthesizer overkill”. I can’t disagree more with that. I sincerely think that the only problem with it is that it’s a masterful album, but performed by a keyboardist, not by a guitarist. What strike me most on the album aren’t just the powerful interplay between music and the spoken words, but that Wakeman created a piece that was approachable in many levels. There is plenty in this work which would appeal to the classical music lovers, as much as it would appeal to the fans of the progressive rock. With only one simple piece, Wakeman brought down several musical barriers and opened up a world of discovery to those willing to undertake this journey. So, “Journey To The Centre Of The Earth” remains as one of the best and innovative projects of the 70’s.


Music was my first love.
John Miles (Rebel)



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user ratings (35)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
e210013
November 30th 2015


2256 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Your comments are very well received, as usual.

TheIntruder
November 30th 2015


409 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Very good job. Glad you're doing this review man. This is a classic album without any review till now. Continue your good job. Pos.

e210013
November 30th 2015


2256 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks man. I appreciate.

And you're right Intruder. It's about time to have a review of this classic album.



smaugman
November 30th 2015


4957 Comments


damn, you seem to get a lot of shadow negs

e210013
November 30th 2015


2256 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@smaugman

I don't get your point.

Rawmeeth38
November 30th 2015


1326 Comments


Nice review, gonna consider checking this. Got me interested. But I also have No Earthly Connection on vinyl just collecting dust at this point. Really gotta get around to that.

e210013
November 30th 2015


2256 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@Rawmeeth38

Thanks man. Do you must do that. No Earthly Connection is another excellent album of Rick. And you mustn't forget The Six Wives Of Henry VIII of course.



smaugman
November 30th 2015


4957 Comments


a shadow neg is someone pressing the "not well written" without leaving a reason to do so

e210013
November 30th 2015


2256 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Ok. It's your opinion. And so, it's up to you to decide if you like or not. I respect it. We are in a free website and in a free world, I hope.

Jethro42
November 30th 2015


15676 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is surely one of the most ambitious work Wakeman ever did, but it's not as musically perfect as The Six Wives, and I enjoy more The Myths and Legends as well. If Journey to the Center of the Earth had less room for spoken words and would present more music, my rating could be better.

And in case you wouldn't know, smaugman is not your ghost negger. He just explains you what a shadow negger is.

Good review!

Digging: The Claypool Lennon Delirium - Monolith of Phobos

e210013
November 30th 2015


2256 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks Jethro.

I agree with you. This is surely one of the most ambitious Wakeman's works and it isn't musically as perfect as The Six Wives. However, I enjoy more this one than The Myths and Legends. But probably you are right. The Journey could be better without so many words. But Rick thought that they were needed to understand the story. I think that it was probably a huge dilemma to him to decide what to do in that time.

"And in case you wouldn't know, smaugman is not your ghost negger. He just explains you what a shadow negger is."

What is a "ghost negger" and a "shadow negger"?

Sorry, but as you know, English isn't my first language and I never heard that expression before.

Jethro42
November 30th 2015


15676 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

As smaugman told you, a shadow neg (or a ghost neg, and ''neg'' is for ''negative'') is someone who is pressing the ''not well written'' button without leaving a reason to do so. So, that's why you get ''4 out of 5 thought this review was well written'' as seen under your review summary.

As for Myths and Legends, I like everything of it save the vocals that are rather average in my opinion.

TwigTW
November 30th 2015


3709 Comments


Surprised there was no review. I've always thought that this, along with The Six Wives of Henry VIII, was considered a prog classic . . . Good idea to record it live. It sounds great.

Digging: Rhiannon Giddens - there is no Other

TwigTW
November 30th 2015


3709 Comments


...Although it is off-key in a couple of places.

e210013
December 1st 2015


2256 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks Jethro for your explanation. I've already understood that he had gave me a neg. However, when you told me - "And in case you wouldn't know, smaugman is not your ghost negger. He just explains you what a shadow negger is." - I got confused because I thought that there was a difference between a "ghost negger" and a "shadow negger". Now I can see that it's the same thing.

Once more thanks,man.

Myths and Legends is really a great album and I also like of all its songs. However, it isn't, in my opinion, so well balanced as The Six Wives or Journey are. My favourite tracks on that album are Sir Lancelot And The Blacks Night and Merlin The Magician. They're authentic pearls and they’re some of the best compositions of Rick.

e210013
December 1st 2015


2256 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@Thanks Twig.

Yeah, I was also very surprised when some time ago I had seen that there was no review of it. And of course I think the same as you. The Six Wives and The Journey are really two great prog classic albums. And yes, for me, all the album sounds great despite the spoken words that many dislike a little bit. However, The Six Wives is in my humble opinion a better album, a true masterpiece.

smaugman
December 1st 2015


4957 Comments


I didn't neg it, I pos'd it ; )

e210013
December 1st 2015


2256 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Oh, I'm sorry, man. I didn't understand what you wrote before. When you wrote - damn, you seem to get a lot of shadow negs- I understood that was giving me a neg. Now I can see that you was only doing a comment about those who giving me a neg in the shadows. English isn't my first language, man.

Once more, I'm sorry for my mistake and I'm very glad by you explain me that. Probably you are like me. I dislike that someone give me a neg in the shadows. Sincerely, I think we have the right to know the real motif.

And thanks man, for your pos.

smaugman
December 1st 2015


4957 Comments


where are you from?

e210013
December 1st 2015


2256 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm portuguese, dude. If you don't remember, we've talked before when you made your reviews of Duke, Living In The Past and Scheherazade and Other Stories. I even sent you a shoutbox about my reviews of Illusion and Renaissance of Renaissance, because the Renaissance MkI and Mk II line ups. However, you never said me nothing about them.

So, I'm glad to see you comment my reviews.



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