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on 15 October 2009
Rick Wakeman had truly hit his stride in his solo career by 1975 with two multi million selling records and various bank busting tours of various countries with the full scale band, orchestra and choir which had been huge successes, but which had thrown Wakeman to the brink of bankruptcy.
'The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and The Knights of The Round Table' is the last major work that Wakeman released in the 1970's. The fact that it's also his finest hour as a solo artist is therefore very fitting.
Highlights include gorgeous ballad 'Guinevere', the rocky 'Lancelot and the Black Knight' with a top vocal performance from Ashley Holt, and the swirling prog masterpiece and signature tune, 'Merlin The Magician'.
The orchestral arrangements work perfectly with the rock music and the choral passages add atmosphere and drama. The album isn't needlessly broken up with narration all over the place like 'Journey To The Centre Of The Earth', allowing the songs to flow freely together and Rick Wakeman himself gives some career best keyboard performances. 'The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and The Knights Of The Round Table' also provided Rick Wakeman with another worldwide multi million selling smash, and his legendary Wembley show on ice.
The whole album is so wonderfully overblown, it's simply irresistable. It's a big fat slice of prog rock indulgence that remains the pinnacle of Wakeman's 1970s heyday. Anyone wanting to know why progressive rock was both loved and hated by so many need look no further than this album. I can understand why people would recoil at this kind of music, but I'm not ashamed to say that I bloody love it.
Absolutely 100% top shelf stuff.
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I was probably too young to fully appreciate Rick Wakeman in his heyday. I was born in 1965, and so, when I became more conscious of the transformative powers of music, Rick Wakeman was on the lips of those already ‘past it’ (that is, two or three years older than me) rather on those of my contemporaries (though there were some who then mourned the passing of ‘Yes’).

So I have come to Mr Wakeman later in life. I heard some of his music by chance and thought it might be good to explore some more. I started with this CD, which was listed as the most-popularly ordered CD of his on Amazon. It dates to 1975 and lasts – as albums did in those days – a ‘mere’ forty-five minutes. There are no bonus tracks. There is also no lyric sheet. In fact, the sleevenotes are pretty bare, which is a bit disappointing.

As for the music itself, It’s pretty good stuff, with no duff tracks. Featuring rock group, keyboards, orchestra, choir, and some doses of whimsy in the form of a harpsichord, it rivals the likes of the music of the later ELO, Genesis, Alan Parsons Project, and Jeff Wayne that I did listen to when young. Certainly Wakeman’s prodigious talent is on display, with impressive compositions, impressive keyboard playing, and impressive production.

The music unfortunately sounds in places more like a musical than a concept album: so thank god for the solo in the middle of ‘Sir Lancelot’ as well as the lengthy instrumental that is ‘Merlin the Magician’ – but did we really need the completely inappropriate ‘Wild West’ saloon bar variation in its middle? Magic, it ain’t! But I did like Wakeman’s successful fusion of classical and rock music, such as in the reprise of the Arthur theme at the end of ‘The Last Battle.’

In conclusion, I am well-impressed. It’s not brilliant and it’s of its time, but it has inspired me to explore more of his work.
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on 28 December 2000
From the first inspirational narrative introduction by Terry Taplin, Rick Wakeman takes us on a rollercoaster ride through the mists of time to the legendary world of King Arthur. The haunting theme tune for Arthur through to the mastery and wzadry of Merlin, Wakeman's music paints the picture in glorious technicolour. The Chamber Choir provides the backdrop for the Lady of the Lake. The majestic orchestration of The Last Battle and the climatic finale of narrative make this one of the best of Wakeman's solo efforts. A true masterpiece and one that will go down in the annals of progressive rock as one of the best concept albums ever.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 29 April 2007
If you only buy one Rick Wakeman album this is the one to get. OK it sounds dated now, and some of the synthesizer sounds are frankly horrible, but in many ways its a classic album.

The melodies are its strongest point. There really are some lovely tunes on this album, and they given extra emphasis by some great orchestral arrangements such as on the opening track "Arthur". There is also superb choral backing by the English Chamber Choir, perhaps most notebly used on the short track 2 "Lady of the Lake". I had Journey to the Centre of the Earth on vinyl decades ago and there is no comparison. Arthur is superior in every way.

The weakest part of the album for me are tracks 6 "Sir Galahad" and 7 "The Last Battle". I was never keen on them when I used to listen to the album years ago and to me it sounds as though Rick ran out of ideas towards the end.

The fact that punk came along and killed this sort of thing off as part of popular culture doesn't matter, it lives on in the recordings and who knows the next big thing might be the return of Progressive Rock! The great thing that punk did for us was give us the chance to find out that not only is Rick Wakeman a gifted keyboard player but he's also very funny. Go to his concerts and there's a struggling stand-up comedian trying to out.

Open your your ears and forget musical prejudices, about Punk and Progessive Rock, just enjoy the music.
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on 14 September 2014
The third solo release and possibly the last really good solo project Rick has done, my interest started to cool off after this one the first two solo projects were really outstanding but after this I lost interest. CD sounds really good but the vinyl cover art beats this hands down lucky I've got both so I play the cd's I can look at the vinyl cover art work.
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VINE VOICEon 13 June 2009
Rick Wakeman's output has been extensive, both as a solo artist and through his involvement with other projects, not least his stints as keyboard player for both Strawbs and Yes. His recorded output is hugely variable with some of the weaker work relying all too heavily on repetitive keyboard figurations and patterns. Some of the later acoustic piano material, for example, seems to regurgitate the accompanying style he utilised so successfully for Cat Stevens' recording of 'Morning Has Broken' (Teaser And The Firecat). Wakeman highlights include his work on From The Witchwood by Strawbs, Fragile by Yes, and this album, which brings the King Arthur legend to life in typically theatrical style.
The success of '...King Arthur...' lies in its strong, memorable themes and the way in which they bind the entire record together. The fanfare call of the main King Arthur theme immediately strikes up images of medieval England and the careful use of choral voices for the Lady of the Lake sequence creates a tangible but mystical atmosphere. Even the more conventional balladry of 'Guinnevere' has a sense of style that fits perfectly with its subject matter.
Wakeman has always needed strong inspiration to produce his best work. The myths and legends of King Arthur clearly provided real stimulus, just as the brilliant songwriting of Dave Cousins had on From The Witchwood. Whilst detractors might have some cause to accuse this album of being pretentious, it works so convincingly that it really does not matter.
The ideal starting point for anyone who is new to Wakeman's solo work and a great example of what a skilled musician he is.
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on 12 November 2008
Rick Wakeman was the first person to really get me into synthesisers. Mainly that fat Mini-Moog sound, but also his writing style and lightning keyboard chops also attracted me. I blame him for me becoming a keyboard technician for over 20 years...

Rick's work has often been labelled pretentious, particularly the concept album which I think is rather unfair, and I see no reason to give an album an all-over theme rather than a disconnected bunch of tracks. His first two albums were competent, but a little youthful, but with 'Arthur', he came into his own. The combination of rock band, awesome keyboards and a full orchestra and choir are something most modern artists would shy away from for the technical complexity, let alone the sheer expense. I guess it's not easy to take a whole British legend such as this and wrap it up neatly in 45mins, but Rick has a damn good try.

I am writing this as someone that hadn't heard this in nigh on 20 years, and after playing it tonight, I was truly blown away by the quality and skill of the writing, performance and production of this album, and felt I should pass this on to other, less enlightened folk :)

I just wish people would put away their preconceived ideas and listen to the work the way it was intended. Yes, it can be a bit obvious at times, yes the sounds can be a bit iffy, and yes, on occasions it rambles; but this was the whole point about progressive rock: It progresses. It's aim is to reach higher, better and stronger. Don't knock the guy for trying.

Someone on here championed punk and the Pistols for the demise of this style of pomp-rock. In some ways it was a catharsis, but what did it replace it with? 30 years on, I can still say I like this stuff, and would still buy it, which is more than can be said for most of the punk era.
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on 30 October 2015
You need to be a die-hard fan to get anything out of this. Seems very dated now but to me that's the appeal. If you remember Wakeman albums getting played at all those parties in the 70's (where you'd hide your newkie brown in the washing machine...) and before punk (quite rightly) ended the extravagance, this is right up your alley.
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on 20 November 2002
I listened to "Myths & Legends of King Arthur" on an old record player as a child and have been fascinated with the story ever since. I am now twenty years old and the music still evokes the same feelings. It's the kind of album you want to listen to all the way through without interruption. If you've never listened to this - I definitely recommend that you do.
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on 4 February 2001
As a child I listened to this album. My imagination was brought to life and I was captured by its magic. I am now 33 & 10 months old, and still every time I listen to the tracks it is as if I was listening to it all for the first time. I encourage anyone to listen to the album in its entirety. Everytime you hear it, something new will delight! After playing 2 cassettes to their death and being told I could not get a replacement...I am overjoyed to be able to yet again listen to it again, on CD! Your purchase will be its weight in gold. You will not be disappointed.
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