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Journey To The Centre Of The Earth
Rick Wakeman

A&M 3621
Released: June 1974
Chart Peak: #3
Weeks Charted: 27
Certified Gold: 9/4/74

Rick WakemanIf keyboardist/composer Rick Wakeman had not decided to make such a lavish and expensive production of his latest venture, he might have come up with something that could make me forgive even his most clumsy and pretentious attempts with Yes. Unfortunately, Journey is not nearly so interesting an adaptation of Jules Verne's Scandinavian-volcano novel as the 1959 cinematic throwaway which featured Pat Boone and James Mason. The directors of the film had enough sense, as I remember, to discourage Boone from singing; Wakeman should have had as much here.
Rick Wakeman - Journey To The Centre Of The Earth
Original album advertising art.
Click image for larger view.
The principal flaws in his album -- the music of which often sounds engaging, like a Viking saga's B-movie soundtrack -- are the voices of David Hemmings, the narrator, and the English Chamber Choir, who serve as a semi-Wagnerian chorus. One of the best things about Yes has always been its excellent pop vocals, but the Chamber Choir sounds like an unrehearsed high school choral group. This reduces whatever interesting music might be present to a nerve-wracking series of interludes between the Choir's appearances and Hemmings's vain attmept to match Laurence Olivier's diction.

- Dave Marsh, Rolling Stone, 9/12/74.

Bonus Reviews!

From a solid "Yes," Rick Wakeman has wavered to a qualified "Maybe" in his new solo album, Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Even by bringing in such heavy sidemen as Jules Verne, the London Symphony Orchestra and David Hemmings -- as narrator -- Rick has managed to produce only a naïve attempt at a "classical-rock" cantata that would be great as the sound track of a Disney musical. It makes you wonder what sort of insecurity tempts a talented electronic musician to "legitimize" his sound by smothering it in pseudo-symphonic strings. The result is a mixed-métier mess of good crisp rock and sizzling synthesizer, splattered with silly orchestral caricatures of the 19th Century romanticism. Wakeman recently split Yes to pursue more of the same. A sad mistake, indeed, if this record is any indication of what's to follow.

- Playboy, 10/74.

Wakeman's chart-topping album (in England) paints a broader musical canvas than its predecessor, with orchestra, chorus, narrator, and rock band surrounding his dozen or so swirling keyboards instruments. The mass of sounds is nowhere near as neat or concise as Wakeman's first album, but it evidently satisfied people looking for a post-psychedelic thrill as well as the more majestic side of progressive rock, and in its own pretentious way, is very effective. * * * *

- Bruce Eder, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

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