This was 80 cents when I got it. After reading about it, I was not going to pass this up. Plus I had much fun with the other post I did so long ago on Rick Wakeman. I actually saw Yes (perhaps Wakeman’s most famous work) in 1991 on the Union tour. They had the two camps of Yes (Wakeman, Howe, and Bruford vs Rabin, White, and Kaye) with Anderson and Squire being the only constants. Both sides did play a number of tunes together. It was a pretty good event but it was also my first and last trip to Cynthia Mitchell Woods Pavilion. I made a vow not to go back for reasons that now seem foreign to me. I believe everything about getting there, going there, and leaving there was a hassle.
This is my second post on Yes keyboardist Rock Wakeman. The first post was on his concept album on King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. It was a good album but I could not get over the fact that Wakeman performed the album in concert with ice skating. Not a very rock and roll thing to do…. or is it the most rock and roll thing to do?
More on that story with this post complete with video
This was Wakeman’s first solo album, released in 1973, after his initial success joining Yes. While on tour with the group in the USA, Wakeman had read a book on Anne Boleyn. This prompted him to write a piece of music for each of King Henry VIII’s six wives, as the title of the album probably indicated. For his work, Wakeman got members of Yes as well as his previous band, The Strawbs to contribute. For example, the first track , “Catherine of Aragon” features Yes’ Howe, Squire, and Bruford. Pretty good instrumental album that does not feel limited to the confines of progressive rock. The album also sold well at the time and was overall successful both financially and commercially.
The sample I used for this album is “Anne of Cleves”, Henry VIII’s fourth wife. Born in Dusseldorf in 1515,, Anne married the King in January of 1540. She did not enjoy the finer arts that the King found entertaining such as books and music. She was also not much of a looker. The King himself complained of her “sagging breasts” and “bad body odor”. Before the marriage, Henry VIII felt that he had been misled about her appearance. Despite buyer’s remorse and after trying to back out, the pair were wed although they did not consummate the marriage on the wedding night.
Eventually, the King got an annulment on the grounds of non-consummation six months later. He would marry his fifth wife, Catherine Howard the same day. Thomas Cromwell, the King’s chief minister who urged him to marry Anne, was executed. For her part, Anne got the best deal of any of Henry VIII’s wives. First off, she got to live. That is always a plus and more than three of his wives can say. Secondly, she got to live well as the “King’s Sister”. She lived the rest of her life in comfortable obscurity and even got to see Howard executed as well as Henry VIII in the ground for 10 years before her death in 1557.
The accompanying song is pretty good as well. Overall, I liked this album and could have gone a number of ways with it. Plus there were shorter tracks on here which I usually favor for samples (this song is 7:30). However, I picked “Anne of Cleves” for one reason:. At the 3:35 mark, Wakeman lifts a line straight from “El Cumbanchero” which I posted last week. When I heard that line, I knew this was the song I was going to post. Why Wakeman choose to incorporate a Latin tune into his interpretation of the musical characteristics of the German born Anne of Cleves, I do not know but I do know I like it.
Good album. Satisfactory.