Rick Wakeman
The Myths and Legends of King Arthur...


4.5
superb

Review

by e210013 USER (121 Reviews)
October 15th, 2018 | 12 replies


Release Date: 1975 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Another controversial album, Wakeman’s “Tales From Topographic Oceans”. Still it’s another great album, one of his best.

“The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table” is the second studio album of Rick Wakeman and was released in 1975. The line up on the album is Rick Wakeman, Gary Pickford-Hopkins, Ashley Holt, Geoffrey Crampton, Roger Newell, Barney James and John Hodgson. The album had also the musical contributions from the New World Orchestra and the English Chamber Choir.


As his previous studio album “The Six Wives Of Henry VIII”, this is also another risky and one of the most ambitious projects ever. This is another conceptual album, but this time it’s based on the legends of King Arthur and The Round Table. Once more he chooses the history of his country, England. But, if in the first time the characters were real persons who lived in the sixteenth century, this time the characters were mythical and supposedly lived in the twelfth century. Many of the characters that existed in the Arthurian legendary myth are present on the album, such as King Arthur, Lady Of The Lake, Guinevere, Sir Lancelot, The Black Night, Merlin The Magician, Sir Galahad and of course Excalibur, the famous and legendary sword of King Arthur, the mythical King of the Knights of the round table.

The most interesting and curious fact about this work, is that much of this album was written while Wakeman, at 25 years old, was recovering from his first of three minor heart attacks at Wexham Park Hospital. Imagine that even after a cardiologist advised him to stop playing and retire to rest, he ignored it, and wrote the final musical piece of the album “The Last Battle”, on the same night. Now, it’s interesting to think that thankfully he didn’t fulfil that order of his doctor. But it’s also a known fact that it almost bankrupted him and it was the main reason why he later re-joined Yes.

Just as happened with his previous album “Journey To The Centre Of The Earth”, it included a symphonic orchestra with choir, a narrator and a rock band in addition to Wakeman’s tons of keyboards. But, this time, the album was recorded in the studio and was made up of “shorter” tracks in contrast with what has happened with the previous album. Technically, the album is perhaps better performed than “Journey To The Centre Of The Earth” was. But, perhaps we can also say that it may lack to it some of the charm and amusement that we can feel all over that album. However, it still is an excellent album with many great songs about the legendary Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. I really wonder if it was Monty Pythons’ movie that inspired Wakeman to do an album with this kind of concept.

About the tracks, “Arthur” is a mighty symphonic progressive track with a strong melody. It’s the most consensual, accessible and known track. It’s a beautiful melodic track where the music flows well, with a great mix of keyboards, orchestration and a choral section. “Lady Of The Lake” is a brief and pretty piece with a nice piano melody. It’s a kind of an introduction to the next track. “Guinevere” is almost a pop-tune in a symphonic progressive rock dressing. It’s another accessible track with a strong and pretty melody, good acoustic guitar, keyboard and excellent choral work. “Sir Lancelot And The Black Night” is a more dramatic and rocking track. This is a powerful and energetic track that creates an imaginary world. It’s full of variations, has a fantastic keyboard work and has one of the best solos ever written by Wakeman. This is a track with great orchestral arrangements, energetic choirs and a nice rhythm section. It’s an incredible track that reminds me the ambience of the great rock operas. “Merlin The Magician” is an instrumental track with soft and atmospheric piano-parts relieved by harder moog-parts. It’s also a song full of musical changes. “Sir Galahad” begins with the reprise of “Lady Of The Lake”. It has nice melody, beautiful choirs, good vocals, great keyboards and an excellent orchestral arrangement. This track is a kind of a link to the next one. Still be another great track it isn’t as good as the two previous ones. “The Last Battle” is an epic with themes from the other tracks of the album. We can say this track resumes the music on the all album with excerpts of some of the other previous tracks.

Just only one more thing! The very expensive live performance of the album featured actors and skaters. By the way, the original fold-out cover with the booklet included is a real beauty for any medieval and romantic fan, like I am.


Conclusion: This is another controversial album. It’s a kind of “Tales From Topographic Oceans” of Wakeman. This is very interesting because he was the Yes’ member who criticized that album as a bombastic and megalomaniac project. I’ve no problems with bombastic and megalomaniac projects, if they’re great. Despite “The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table” be not a masterpiece, nevertheless it’s very close to it. It has some tracks like “Sir Lancelot And The Black Night” and “Merlin The Magician” that are authentic pearls and represent some of the best musical compositions of Wakeman. This is another excellent album of him in his best music phase, the 70’s.


Music was my first love.
John Miles (Rebel)



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user ratings (43)
3.7
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other reviews of this album
Divaman (4.5)
"Whoso pulleth out this sword from this stone and anvil is the true-born king of all Britain."...


Comments:Add a Comment 
e210013
October 15th 2018


2558 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Following my path with Wakeman and after "The Six Wives Of Henry VIII", my next natural choice should must be his second album "Journey To The Centre Of The Earth". But as I reviewed already that album, some time ago, his third album,“The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table”, will be the subject of my review this time. After "The Six Wives Of Henry VIII", my favourite album of Wakeman, “The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table” is with "Journey To The Centre Of The Earth" one of my next favourite albums of him.

Divaman
October 15th 2018


4285 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

As you know, this is my favorite Wakeman album. We agree on a lot about it. But one area we disagree is the comparison with "Tales of Topographic Oceans". I don't think the problem I had with that album was pretentiousness so much as accessibility. Yes, I can see where "Myths and Legends" is considered by some to be pretentious and bombastic. (I'm sure the punk movement hated it.) But musically and thematically, it's very accessible for a Western audience.



As it happens, I'm listening to "Tales" right now as I write this. And this is a very different animal. Thematically, it is quite obscure, especially to Western audiences. And musically, while it is quite beautiful in parts, there are also parts that are very stop-and-start. (And of course, it's made up of much longer pieces, each one encompassing a full album side.)



Anyway, in spite of my disagreement on this one point, as always, nice job on the review. It's always enjoyable to read your takes on these albums that we both love so much.

Digging: Melanie Martinez - K-12

e210013
October 15th 2018


2558 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I didn't say that I consider the album pretentious. What I said is that it was a controversial album because many considered that it was. What I say is that it was a a bit a bombastic project in the same vein of "Journey", with an orchestra and a chamber choir, and a bit expensive too, due to that. But of course, formaly, it's a very different animal from "Tales". The tracks are much more short and hermetic, both on music and lyrics (after all we are talking about Jon's lyrics). Anyway, you know I love both albums and bombastic and hermetic albums in general.

Thanks, Diva. It's always a pleasure to cross my ideas and feelings about music with you.

e210013
October 15th 2018


2558 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

By the way, Jethro is missing, till now. I'm curious to read what he will write. If I'm not wrong, as happen with you this is also his favourite Wakeman's album, I think.

Divaman
October 15th 2018


4285 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Think you're right about that. I still get a tingle when I listen to "The Last Battle". It's a beautiful and heroic theme.

Jethro42
October 15th 2018


15959 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Compared to most of his works, I think it's rare Wakeman goes solo on here, and when he does, it's to prepare and support the vocal lines, and he only gives more colors and embellishes the song structures that are very sympho-prog oriented.

Usually, in the Wakeman's discog, everything else takes the back seat, but now he really gives rooms to the other musicians, especially to the singer. It's not an exceptional voice, but it's adequate enough. Only Wakeman's playing makes the vocals sound proggy instead of poppish. I think that the vocals here are reminiscent to those found on Tony Banks' solo album Curious Feeling. I also think there are similarities in the approach; Melodic keyboards are suiting the vocal lines in both albums, and if memory serves well, Wakeman and Banks use similar keyboards in a similar way, and they don't overuse it.

Also, the guest orchestra and the choir are welcome on here. It gives more meat to the album. Like you said, it's close to a masterpiece, and yes, it's my Wakeman's fave. Songs are all pleasant. My fave part is on ''Merlin'' when Wakeman's moog accompanies the punchy bass line...You guys know ;)

Good work on the review, e21, bro.





e210013
October 16th 2018


2558 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"Usually, in the Wakeman's discog, everything else takes the back seat, but now he really gives rooms to the other musicians."

You're absolutely right my friend. Curiously, he did the same on his album "No Earthly Connection", an album that somehow followed the same formula of this one. But we are going to have opportunity to talk about that album too, since it will be the suject of my next review, to close the reviews about Wakeman, for now.

About the reminiscences you found on "Curious Feeling", I never thought that. But, maybe you're right my friend. I need to check that album again to see that. In reality, I don't listen to that album for centuries, despite I'm a great fan of that album.

Thanks, my friend.

TwigTW
October 23rd 2018


3821 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I played this every day last week (and then again today). I'm really enjoying it. I should go back and listen to your review of The Six Wives of Henry VIII, but I'm enjoying this one too much to move on!

Jethro42
October 23rd 2018


15959 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Glad you dig it Twig!...Album progs hard and is often classical oriented. It could have been Excalibur's soundtrack easily.

e210013
October 23rd 2018


2558 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I can see why, Twig. "The Myths And Legends" is an amazing album, like "The Six Wives". I prefer the second one but Jethro prefer the first one. I think it's only a matter of personal taste. Besides, both albums plus "Journey" are my favourite albums of him.

Thanks for the comment and pos. It's always a pleasure to see you commenting on my reviews.

TwigTW
October 24th 2018


3821 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I agree. This does sound like a soundtrack Jethro. I wonder if there ever was a plan to turn it into a stage production, or a movie?





e, I'll listen to them both today and see which one I like the best. It's gonna be hard to beat this one!

e210013
October 24th 2018


2558 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Ok, pal. Tell me something later, if you want.

About a plan of stage production or a movie, I think not. I never read nothing about it, so far, as I can remember. Maybe it has been in Rick's idea but I think he never did nothing about it.



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