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Rick Wakeman: Journey To The Centre Of The Earth

Four-CD set of quintessential 70s prog symphonies.

Rick Wakeman Journey To The Centre Of The Earth album cover

If your initial reaction to Rick Wakeman’s 1974 opus based on Jules Verne’s science fiction novel was that there wasn’t enough of it, then you’ll love this version of events – and the legendary concert was nothing if not an event, with a Symphony Orchestra, the English Chamber Choir and actor David Hemmings, captured live at London’s Royal Festival Hall before 3,000 awestruck proggers. Well, now it’s four times the size and scope.

Remastered at Abbey Road and “supervised and approved” by Wakeman himself, Disc 1 comprises the original album, together with a previously unreleased bonus track, The Pearl And Dean Piano Concerto, the latter based on TV commercials of the time – the classically enhanced rendition of the Fairy Liquid ad is worth the price of admission alone.

Disc 2 is a performance of Journey from ’74, Disc 3 was recorded live in Buenos Aires in ’93, while Disc 4 is a DVD with a quad surround-sound mix. You also get updated Roger Dean artwork, a replica Japanese tour programme, new sleevenotes courtesy of Prog magazine editor Jerry Ewing, plus music whose symphonic ambition and grandiloquent synth wizardry, though inevitably an acquired taste, gives keyboard bombast a good name.

Paul Lester is the editor of Record Collector. He began freelancing for Melody Maker in the late 80s, and was later made Features Editor. He was a member of the team that launched Uncut Magazine, where he became Deputy Editor. In 2006 he went freelance again and has written for The Guardian, The Times, the Sunday Times, the Telegraph, Classic Rock, Q and the Jewish Chronicle. He has also written books on Oasis, Blur, Pulp, Bjork, The Verve, Gang Of Four, Wire, Lady Gaga, Robbie Williams, the Spice Girls, and Pink.