Episodes YMP Classic Feed

What did they do next Part 4b – Rick Wakeman – 393

Produced by Jeffrey Crecelius, Wayne Hall, Preston Frazier, Bill Govier and VR Hoisington

Here we are, back with part 2 or (b) of our look at what Rick Wakeman did next after the first time he left Yes. SO we’ve been listening to The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table!

Also, we take the opportunity to congratulate Yes on listening to episodes of the YMP and following our advice on the new album 😉

Listen and let us know what you think!

  • Is this record just excessive?
  • How does Wakeman integrate such huge forces into something coherent?
  • Has it stood the test of time?

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Show notes and links:

Henry Potts’ superb Yes Where Are They Now Website

Mark’s 1975 1st UK pressing. .the first pressing had an embossed cover (mainly the seal):

Mark’s 1975 US White Label Promo pressing. The cover is different in that it has a matte finish to it…whereas the UK had a gloss cover with the embossed seal….no embossing on the promo copy. Also this promo copy has the song titles on the back cover…which weren’t on the UK…and the centre label is obviously a white label variation:

Here’s Mark’s 2016 re-recorded version. This is totally new in every way:

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  • Jeffrey Crecelius
  • Preston Frazier
  • VR Hoisington
  • Bill Govier and
  • Wayne Hall


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Theme music

The music I use is the last movement of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. This has been used as introduction music at many Yes concerts. My theme music is not take from a live concert – I put it together from the following two creative commons sources: thanvannispen and

7 replies on “What did they do next Part 4b – Rick Wakeman – 393”

Good episode and Kevin’s honesty is really refreshing. To answer what is I think is the key question raised by his review – I don’t think this music is deliberately comic but it is most certainly deliberate in its avoidance of seriousness.

For three or four years from 1969-1973 Wakeman was party to some unbelievable recordings both as a solo artist, a band member and a session man. His playing and his sheer inventiveness in blending rock with classical is second to none. I include the Keith Emersons, Rod Argents and Tony Banks of this world in that. They all pale by comparison. Nothing can take that status away from him. Proof of this is that not just all Yes keyboard players have and will continue to be measured against those records and tours but all progressive rock keyboard players. No wonder he keeps coming back to the band where his talents have been framed most brilliantly.

However I think that after Journey you are possibly looking at a classic case of a man so skilled and so aware of the history of western music that being seen to be serious about his craft in the context of something so ephemeral as pop music is too great a risk to take. Certainly a risk not worth taking when he can be very successful hedging his bets with some musical confectionary under the cover of a concept or a popular historical theme.

I don’t mean this unkindly. I know a lot of very highly skilled players who couldn’t quite make it in the classical realm who have ended up working in parody and pastiche . What they do have is a fantastic talent for imitation – which helps enormously in the world of advert music and tv music – but they have no real voice of their own. It’s a similar problem to the one that arises when classical players are put in a position where they are going to be asked to improvise. Superficially you would think the extra facility would make it easier but it doesn’t. They’ve grown up playing the music of a pantheon of composers that dates back to the 16th century. Who wouldn’t find that problematic?

So for me there is randomness to his work post Yessongs – random in style, in keyboard sounds, in choice of guest musicians, presentation, compositional quality – that suggests someone with no fixed creative direction and a fear of being deemed to be pretentious by the blokes down the pub. Some of his bands ARE the blokes from down the pub!

Tossing stuff off with enormous skill under the cover of his Clarksonesque tv persona is much safer commercial route than going out on the kind of limb that, for example, Kiss did so disastrously with Music From “The Elder”. Its a much better album than its reputation would suggest but its very seriousness of intent is what killed it for the critics.

Coming back to your Python references RW could very easily be working on the same level as that most prog of film makers and directors, Terry Gilliam who makes extraordinary films, some of which miss the mark by miles but when they hit the target they are films for the ages. Not sure any of Rick’s records since the golden era have taken those kind of chances or will be accorded that kind of cultural merit. Doesn’t mean some of them are not hugely enjoyable but as an almost lifelong fan I just feel there is more to be done and deeper musical waters to be explored.

Hi guys. Much of Rick’s early solo output was totally over the top as were his concerts and I think they totally fit his personality. But I think you are absolutely right – this record has to be set in the context of the music of the times. Just one year later Jeff Wayne started recording his musical version of The War of the Worlds – a high water mark for this type of concept album.

Monty Python on Ice
I have to agree with Kevin on this one. Much as the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy summed up Earth as “mostly harmless,” I’d have to sum up Kevin’s review with a quote “It’s all a bit daft.” That’s how I feel about it too.

I listened to King Arthur in preparation for this episode. I hadn’t heard it since the 70s. I could barely get past the first few minutes of it. My first thoughts were of Monty Python too. I remember liking this album OK back then, though it was never one I went back and listened too much. Kevin has already expressed pretty much how I feel about it, so there’s no point in repeating it.

I don’t think RW’s early records have stood the test of time. I really liked Six Wives when it came out in 1973. I remember liking Journey to the Center of the Earth (1974) also. I don’t have as much recollection of King Arthur (1975) so I must not have listened to it very much. I have to agree with Ian that there is a randomness to RW’s post-Yessongs work (and I’ll add) punctuated by moments of brilliance.

Six Wives was a novelty, and I mean that in the best sense. It was something new and fresh. To have such a big hit with an instrumental record was unheard of. I first heard about it from the excerpts on Yessongs and then went out and bought the record. It seemed – to my impressionable teenage self- very new and original. Only later did I realize that a lot of the melodies are based on old English folk music.

Two Cents
Yes, I think we all agree they need a new studio album. I was disappointed with the recent Yes 50 Live release. I’ve only listened to it once, but it all seems a bit anemic to me. I saw this line up last year and was impressed. I enjoyed the show. I like Jon Davison’s voice better live that I do on recordings. But Yes 50 Live and Topographic Drama left me cold.

So, glad to hear that they might record a new studio album and have it out in a year or so. Good news. I feel like the current line up has to show what they can do. Alan White should retire. There, I said it. They need to inject some energy into their music.

We all seem to pretty much agree that Heaven and Earth was pretty weak. For me the weakest part of it is the songwriting; lyrics and music. If they can get some good material and record it well, we might have something to celebrate. I sure hope so. I have to be honest: I am starting to loose interest.

I really like this line up and if there was a ten year wait between studio albums I could live with that. I’ll wait for quality no problem at all. Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel fans (among many others) know all about these extended creative pauses .

In terms of the last decade of Yes related creativity, we’ve already had Fly From Here, Squackett, Nexus and Skyscraper Souls (all pretty fabulous to my ears) and for the fans who liked one or more of Open, Heaven & Earth, Invention of Knowledge and Living Tree (which for me is in the same general ballpark of new age-y soft rock as Heaven & Earth) then the riches are even greater. Add the Anderson/Ponty record (which is at least demonstrably different from a regular Yes live record) then we’ve been pretty blessed. So I think the optics would be very different if some or all of the last five live albums had been Marillion style fan club products rather than proper releases.

Regardless, the creativity is still there in abundance no question but to get a new Yes record that you can stand next to say Magnification, let alone the main sequence, then I suspect that they all need to be in the same room at the same time for an extended period and make music the old fashioned way, not winging bits in remotely. Is a label going to invest in the band and crew to be holed up somewhere like Real World for a month or two? With everything else they have going on can the individual band members make the time to do that? Those seem to be the questions to me more than anything to do with waning abilities.

I agree they should do it right this time. Although I like Heaven and Earth, I think one of it is sufficient.
What about the drums? I want Alan to be part of the composition process, but can he hit hard enough? Big drums are part of the Yes sound. I suppose in a studio setting with lots of time. But I wonder whether Jay should be involved too.

Here’s a question – is it possible to envisage a Yes album that doesn’t have anyone at all playing kit on it? Could that be the creative jump start that takes them somewhere genuinely new?

I’ve hugely enjoyed your series of episodes on Rick’s music. Great bloke, great musician but for me a pretty mediocre composer.
Many years ago, I had a clear out of LPs. The only RW records I kept were Six Wives and Criminal Record. The rest I deemed not worth keeping. I don’t remember any of the music even though I went to a gig on the King Arthur tour which was huge fun. I also taped a live recording from Radio 1 of a different gig from that tour. The best thing about No Earthly Connection was the album artwork with the roll up mirror which was interesting.
Mark’s comment about learning British history cracked me up. Apart from the six wives, Journey was based on a fantasy novel by French writer Jules Verne and King Arthur was a complete myth. No history there either.
I think you’ve both nailed it when you cite Rick’s shows as being the quintessence of prog gone mad.

Keep up the good work

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