Wakeman reworks rock epic Journey to Centre of Earth

Wed Nov 14, 2012 8:58am EST
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - The story behind the upcoming re-issue of Rick Wakeman's 1974 concept album "Journey to the Center of the Earth" sounds almost as unlikely as the Jules Verne tale that inspired it.

Progressive rock veteran Wakeman had presumed the original orchestration to his chart-topping disc was lost for good when his record company MAM, where the manuscripts had been stored in boxes, was brought to its knees in the early 1980s.

Although he could have re-orchestrated the work from the original album, recorded live at the Royal Festival Hall in London in 1974, Wakeman knew it would be far from perfect.

And the original score was 55 minutes long whereas the 1974 version had to be cut to closer to 40 due to the constraints of vinyl recordings at the time.

"In about 1983 or 1984 I had an enquiry to do Journey again in America," Wakeman recalled in a telephone interview.

"I thought 'great'. But MAM had gone, and nobody there had any idea what had happened to all the stuff of mine," the former Yes keyboardist told Reuters.

"Up until recently I would get phone calls to do it and I said 'no, I can't', there is no music any more. You just resign yourself to disappointment."

Everything changed about four years ago when a box of papers arrived at his doorstep - a fairly regular occurrence, he explained, for a man who had been married several times and had "stuff in storage all over the place".   Continued...

Rick Wakeman, keyboarder of the British rock group Yes performs at the Montreux Jazz Festival July 14, 2003. REUTERS/ARC-Jean-Bernard Sieber