It’s not too often that I’m totally taken off guard by an album title or cover photo. For whatever reason, coming across this one in a box of used vinyl had me doing a double take on both counts:
Rick Wakeman’s – The Six Wives of Henry VIII. First of all, I recognized Wakeman’s name as the keyboard player for the band Yes, but the title, The Six Wives of Henry VIII threw me for a loop. I had definitely never heard of this record before, was it a concept album? A band? A joke?
Then I paid attention to the cover art. There’s Wakeman, jeans and sneakers, casually walking in front of a portrait of… no, no a statue of… no! Madame Tussaud’s wax figures of Henry VIII and his Six Wives! It almost looks as though the photo was taken accidentally.
But, what was this record? A look at the back cover showed six songs, each named after one of the wives (although not chronologically). Inside the gatefold was a fantastic in-studio photo of Wakeman surrounded by the tools of his trade:
The musician list included other members of Yes, including Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Alan White and Bill Bruford.
What an odd record, I knew I would have to try it out! My copy was fairly scuffed up but had minimal surface noise in the lead in groove and between songs. It was about what I now expected, a very Yes-like progressive rock concept album about a Tudor King’s wives…