Written and produced by Rick Wakeman.
- Catherine of Aragon [3:44]
- Anne of Cleves [7:53]
- Catherine Howard [6:35]
- Jane Seymour [4:46]
- Anne Boleyn 'The Day Thou Gavest Lord Hath Ended' [6:32]
- Catherine Parr [7:06]
Rick Wakeman - keyboards
Les Hurdle - bass (1, 5)
Dave Winter - bass (2, 6)
Chris Squir - bass (1)
Chas Cronk - bass (3)
Mike Egan - guitar (1, 2, 5, 6)
Steve Howe - guitar (1)
Dave Lambert - guitar (3)
Alan White - drums (2, 4, 6)
Bill Bruford - drums (1, 5)
Barry de Souza - drums (3)
Frank Riccotti - percussion (2, 3, 6)
Ray Cooper - percussion (1, 5)
Dave Cousins - electric banjo (3)
Liza Strike - vocals (1, 5)
Barry St. John - vocals (1)
Judy Powell - vocals (1)
Laura Lee - vocals (5)
Sylvia McNeill - vocals (5)
It says in the fine print of Rick Wakeman's first solo album that the music is "based around [my] interpretations of the musical characteristics of the wives of Henry VIII." The idea for the album came from the book of the same name, which Yes' Wakeman purchased at a London airport. He writes that the music for each of Henry's wives came flowing inside his head as he read about them. A bit apocryphal perhaps, but apparently Wakeman found what he was looking for -- a theme through which he could expose his keyboard virtuosity. He over dubbed eight of them: Mini-Moog synthesizer, Mellotron with brass and string effects, a Steinway Grand piano, another Mellotron with voice effects, C-3 Hammond organ, RMI electric piano, Arp synthesizer and a Thomas Goff harpsichord.
Placing himself in the middle of these various keyboards, Wakeman created a synthesized orchestra. Along with a rhythm section often composed of Yes' Chris Squire on bass, Steve Howe on guitar and the group's recently acquired drummer Alan White, he used the electric piano to take the place of strings, the electric harpsichord to replace the sound of reeds, and the Arp to replace a contra bassoon.
With this album, Wakeman has made his bid for Keith Emerson's place as the master of keyboard electronics. Though falling a little short in technique, he has a brilliant feel for tasteful impressionistic composition. For example, "Catherine Of Aragon", at first sounds like ELP's "Tarkus", but evolves into a more melodic cut featuring some human choral work by Liza Strike, Barry St. John and Judy Powell.
The brightest spot on the album is "Catherine Howard", which contains at least four time changes and some amazing interplay between Mellotron, harpsichord, Moog and acoustic piano.
Henry VIII is an exceptionally interesting instrumental album. The production is superb, the mixing tasteful with hardly an uncomfortable studio effect. In fact, most of what we would normally think of as effects are the product of Wakeman's own playing which is just fine.
1973. Steve Apple / Rolling Stone
Wakeman's first solo album is also his least pretentious work and, in many respects, his most effective. Essentially a selection of six electronic tone paintings done on a multitude of synthesizers, Mellotrons, and other keyboard instruments, all of the material here is beautifully melodic and excitingly played and arranged, based on the lives and perceived personalities of Henry VII's six spouses. Some of the music comes off as trite 19th-century Romantic meanderings, but the running times are held in check, and besides, that seems to be exactly what Wakeman was aiming for. * * * *
1995. Bruce Eder / The All Music Guide to Rock
"Catherine of Aragon", under another title predating the six wives concept, was originally recorded with Squire/Howe/Bruford for Wakeman's solo spot on Fragile. However, licensing issues meant it could not be used and it was re-used here with further overdubs from Hurdle/Egan/Cooper.
Rick's first solo album is one of his best. Most of his albums are concept albums and it began here. Each song is a different take on his impression of each of King Henry's six wives. This instrumental album shows Wakeman at his best.
This was actually his second solo album.
His first was done between him leaving the Strawbs and joining Yes in 1971.
Released by A&M/Universal.
2004. John Sposato / USA