The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table

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The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table
King Wakeman Album.jpg
Studio album by Rick Wakeman
Released April 1975
Recorded 16 October 1974–10 January 1975
Studio Morgan Studios, London, England
Genre Progressive rock
Length 44:57
Label A&M
Producer Rick Wakeman
Rick Wakeman chronology
Journey to the Centre of the Earth
(1974)
The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table
(1975)
Lisztomania
(1975)

The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table is the third solo album from the English keyboardist Rick Wakeman, released in April 1975 on A&M Records. His second concept album, it is based on the legend of King Arthur and various figures and events associated with him. After he suffered from a heart attack, Wakeman started to write the album during his recovery in hospital. Wakeman recorded with the New World Orchestra, the English Chamber Choir, and his five-piece band, the English Rock Ensemble.

King Arthur received mostly positive reviews, though some labelled it a symbol of progressive rock excess. It reached No. 2 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 21 on the US Billboard 200. It was certified Gold in the US, Brazil, Japan, and Australia. The album was promoted with a world tour in 1975 that included three shows at Wembley Arena that were performed on ice, the last time it was performed in its entirety until 2016. The album was reissued in 2015 with a simulated Quadrophonic mix, and re-recorded in 2016 with additional parts previously removed from the original score due to time constraints.

Recording[edit]

Much of the album was written while Wakeman, at 25 years old, recovered from his first of three minor heart attacks at Wexham Park Hospital. After a specialist advised him to stop playing and retire, he ignored it, and wrote "The Last Battle" on the same night.[1]

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[2]

Upon its release in April 1975, the album peaked at number 2 on the UK Albums Chart and number 21 on the Billboard 200 in the United States. King Arthur became Wakeman's third consecutive gold album to be certified by the Recording Industry Association of America, and was also certified gold in Brazil, Japan and Australia.[3] The album has sold 12 million copies in total.[4]

"Arthur" was used by the BBC for its election night coverage from 1979 to 1997, and 2005,[5] and used on Cuban television Channel 6 for years, without crediting or paying royalties.[6]

King Arthur on Ice[edit]

The tour in support of the album included a theatrical production of King Arthur on Ice, which sold out three performances at Wembley Arena in London, but ultimately lost money.[4][7] The production was ranked No. 79 on "100 Greatest Shocking Moments in Rock and Roll" by VH1.[8]

2016 re-recording[edit]

Following the 2012 re-recording of Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Wakeman was booked to perform King Arthur in its entirety at the O2 Arena in London as part of the Stone Free Festival on 19 June 2016, the first performance of the album in its entirety since 1975. The album was originally written as a double album, but certain arrangements had to be cut due to the time limitations of vinyl. A direct-to-fan PledgeMusic fund was launched on 9 February 2016 to help fund the re-recording of a new, 88-minute version of King Arthur recorded at Angel Studios with the English Chamber Choir, Wakeman's rock band the English Rock Ensemble, and conductor Guy Protheroe and Ann Manly producing the orchestral scores. Roger Dean was commissioned to design its artwork.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks and lyrics by Rick Wakeman.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Arthur"   7:26
2. "Lady of the Lake"   0:45
3. "Guinevere"   6:45
4. "Sir Lancelot and the Black Knight"   5:20
Side two
No. Title Length
1. "Merlin the Magician"   8:51
2. "Sir Galahad"   5:51
3. "The Last Battle"   9:41

2016 re-recording[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "The Choice of King"   0:10
2. "King Arthur"   7:30
3. "Morgan le Fay"   7:19
4. "Lady of the Lake"   0:47
5. "Arthur's Queen"   0:36
6. "Guinevere"   6:34
7. "Lancelot and The Black Knight"   5:54
8. "Princess Elaine"   6:39
9. "Camelot"   5:50
10. "The King of Merlins"   0:43
11. "A Wizards Potion"   0:35
12. "Merlin the Magician"   7:38
13. "The Chalice"   0:48
14. "The Holy Grail"   6:05
15. "The Best Knight"   0:42
16. "The Contest"   0:33
17. "Sir Galahad"   5:12
18. "Percival the Knight"   9:30
19. "Excalibur"   0:30
20. "The Last Battle"   9:51

Personnel[edit]

Musicians
  • Rick Wakeman – synthesisers, keyboards, grand piano
  • Gary Pickford-Hopkins – lead vocals
  • Ashley Holt – lead vocals
  • Geoffrey Crampton – lead and acoustic guitars
  • Roger Newell – bass guitar
  • Barney James – drums
  • John Hodgson – percussion
  • New World Orchestra
  • English Chamber Choir
Production
  • Terry Taplin – narrator
  • Guy Protheroe – choirmaster
  • Paul Tregurtha – engineer
  • Jeremy Stenham – assistant engineer
  • David Katz – orchestral co-ordination
  • Wil Malone – orchestral arrangement
  • David Measham – conductor

Personnel on the 2016 Re-recording[edit]

  • Rick Wakeman : Keyboards
  • Ashley Holt : Vocals
  • The English Chamber Choir : Choir
  • Tony Fernandez : Drums & percussions
  • Dave Colquhoun : Guitars & banjo
  • Hayley Sanderson : Vocals
  • The Orion Orchestra : Orchestra
  • Matt Pegg : Bass
  • Ian Lavender : Narration
  • The Nottingham Festival Male Voice Choir : Choir

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Myths & Legends of King Arthur & The Knights of the Round Table (1975)". Rick Wakeman's Communications Centre. Retrieved 2 March 2010. 
  2. ^ Allmusic review
  3. ^ Live on the Test (1994) liner notes.
  4. ^ a b John Bungey (20 December 2008). "Prog Rock Britannia celebrates the men in loon pants". The Times. Retrieved 2 March 2011. 
  5. ^ "WORKING TITLES: TV Cream's guide to the best (and worst) TV opening sequences". TV Cream. Retrieved 17 December 2009. 
  6. ^ http://www.arrebatus.com/revista/articulo.php?ID_Articulo=64
  7. ^ Jeb Wright (2009). "Henry at the Hampton: An Exclusive Interview with Rick Wakeman". Classic Rock Revisited. Archived from the original on 16 November 2009. Retrieved 17 December 2009. 
  8. ^ "100 Most Shocking Moments in Rock & Roll". Retrieved 17 December 2009.  Missing or empty |series= (help)