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Rick Wakeman - Journey To The Centre Of The Earth: Super Deluxe Edition Album Re

Album Review

Four-disc reissue for a subterranean landmark.

It’s one of the pinnacles of prog: an unapologetic, bells-and-whistles concept classic which was so emblematic of its era that, when three or four journalists decided punk was Stalinist Year Zero, it drew a zealous bucketful of flak and was tossed in the bin marked “unfashionable”.

Yet now the decades have passed and Rick Wakeman’s 1974 multi-million seller can be appreciated again in all its florid majesty, madness and musicality. While those who still believe rock should never extend itself beyond Sham 69’s Hersham Boys may struggle to embrace it, anyone else should de-wax their ears and hear it for what it is: an achingly ambitious and multi-faceted symphonic work by a 25-year-old musician/composer reaching for the stars.

It’s safe to say Journey To The Centre Of The Earth will outlive Wakeman’s fart jokes. Back then, the keyboard wizard was obsessed with adapting Jules Verne’s novel, and moved heaven and earth to do so. He recorded his January ’74 Royal Festival Hall shows with The London Symphony Orchestra and actor David Hemmings narrating, but was aghast to find his UK label wasn’t interested. Fortunately, over in the States, Jerry Moss (the M in A&M) took to it, and the album went to No.1 in Blighty and No.3 in the US.

An ambitious work by a 25-year-old reaching for the stars.


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