Return to the Centre of the Earth is a studio album by the English keyboardist Rick Wakeman, released on 15 March 1999 on EMI Classics. The album is a sequel to his 1974 concept album Journey to the Centre of the Earth, itself based on the same-titled science fiction novel by Jules Verne. Wakeman wrote a new story of three unnamed travellers who attempt to follow the original journey two hundred years later, including the music which features guest performances from Ozzy Osbourne, Bonnie Tyler, Tony Mitchell, Trevor Rabin, Justin Hayward, and Katrina Leskanich. The story is narrated by Patrick Stewart. Upon release, the album reached number 34 on the UK Albums Chart.
Journey to the Centre of the Earth is one of progressive rock's crowning achievements. With the help of the London Symphony Orchestra and the English Chamber Choir, Rick Wakeman turns this classic Jules Verne tale into an exciting and suspenseful instrumental narrative. The story is told by David Hemmings in between the use of Wakeman's keyboards, especially the powerful Hammond organ and the innovative Moog synthesizer, and when coupled with the prestigious sound of the orchestra, creates the album's fairy tale-like climate. Recorded at London's Royal Festival Hall, the tale of a group of explorers who wander into the fantastic living world that exists in the Earth's core is told musically through Wakeman's synthesized theatrics and enriched by the haunting vocals of a chamber choir. Broken into four parts, the album's most riveting segment, entitled "The Battle," involves Wakeman's most furious synthesized attack, churning and swirling the keyboards into a mass instrumental hysteria.
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music.
Following my review to most known albums, could not ignore the master Rick Wakeman and this iconic and unforgettable live performance of one of his marvelous creations:
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