Amazing Journey (Siréne-058)
Boston Garden, Boston, MA, – October 5th, 1974
Disc 1 (42:43): Introduction, Horizon, Symphony #1 in D Opus 13 by Rachmoninov, selections from The Six Wives of Henry VIII: Catherine Parr, Catherine Howard, Ann Bolyen, Something Completely Different.
Disc 2 (50:26): Journey To The Centre Of The Earth: The Journey, Recollection, The Battle, The Forest, Pearl & Dean Piano Concerto.
The National Philharmonic Orchestra & Choir Of America
Conductor: David Measham
Narrator: Terry Taplin
Amazing Journey is the latest release by the progressive rock specialist label Sirene. Documenting the October 5th show in Boston in support of Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, this is the longest and most complete tape available. This release is almost ten minutes longer than other sources. The sound quality is excellent and well balanced with both the electric rock instruments and the National Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir of America clearly heard on the tape. This is probably one of the best vintage Rick Wakeman tapes in circulation.
This show comes from his triumphant first US tour after his first departure from Yes. The weight of the first half of the show rests upon the Henry VIII album, excerpts of which he had been played on stage for almost two years at this point. The crowd reacts especially to “Catherine Howard”, perhaps the most recognizable piece. But the greatest delivery is reserved for “Ann Boylen”. The combination of grand piano, lightening fast syths and ever shifting and always interesting key changes make this one of the best songs Wakeman has written. Its performance on this release leaves the Boston crowd (and me) mesmerized.
The second half is anchored by the Journey suite with the dramatic narration of Terry Taplin. This again is a great interpretation of the material. Wakeman throws in some light hearted material as well to offset the intensity of the rest. The “Something Completely Different” track that closes the first disc is announced by Wakeman as something dug up from the old archives of Lawrence Welk.
It begins as a slow, bombastic piece that quickly seques into the 1920’s “The Charleston Rag”. It’s typical Monty Python-type British silliness. The encore, “Pearl & Dean Piano Concerto” is a medley of well known television commercials in symphonic style. The jingles are a bit before my time, but the crowd definitely recognizes them and roars with approval.
I’m impressed that Sirene has released this on a silver disc. The guys at that label are obviously big Wakeman fans and this tape definitely deserves a classy release like this. Collectors have not been able to come to a definite conclusion about the venue. Sirene have listed the Boston Gardens, but others claim this show occurred at the Music Hall. Before “Catherine Parr” Wakeman says the last time he was in Boston he played the Gardens but that doesn’t really solve the issue. Be that as it may I would definitely recommend Amazing Journey.