Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

Journey to the Centre of the Earth – Rick Wakeman [#650]

Album cover

Rick Wakeman’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth is an album that has been in my library for many years. At a time when, most days, I would travel via bicycle wearing in-ear headphones and carrying a Sony Walkman in my pocket, a great deal of the music I owned would be transfered from CD or vinyl to cassette.

My regular trips to HMV, Our Price and Virgin Megastore often resulted in an internal debate on the pros and cons of buying the cassette format of an album or the CD format of an album. Quite often though, like in this case, I was unable to get the CD format because “it wasn’t popular but we could order it you in (for a premium)” and the cassette version was less than a fiver.

Journey to the Centre of the Earth is Wakeman’s attempt at creating a rock homage to Jules Verne’s novel of the same name. You might already be familiar with Verne’s literary masterpiece or you might be more familiar with Henry Levin’s 1959 cinematic version starring James Mason which was regularly shown on TV during school holidays until anything older than 30 years was banned by TV executives.

With narration by David “Barbarella” Hemmings, backing by the English Chamber Choir and London Symphony Orchestra, Wakeman really pulls off a great fusion of classical style music, modern rock and good old story telling. It’s really easy to see why it was panned by stuffy music critics on release but even easier to hear why it became a family favourite for many.

I really love this album. Say what you like about Rick Wakeman’s flamboyancy but Journey is a great album. I’m particularly fond of the first two movements especially how Wakeman managed to pop the words “Silurian epoch” into the lyrics without too much force. With a running time of just about 40 minutes, it makes a great accompaniment to a journey down the road…..

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