The concept piece, first seen on vinyl as a live recording in 1974, was expanded and rerecorded in 2012 as part of a fan-magazine release. That is the recording being released in various formats in June.
Wakeman just toured in Britain behind the project, accompanied by the New World Symphony Orchestra, the English Chamber Choir and the English Rock Ensemble.
Wakeman, best known for his stint in Yes, said: “The original score for the album had been lost for so many years, making any new performances impossible. but after it turned up without warning, we managed to restore it and add previously missing music that was not included in the original performances.
“It has taken another half decade to develop it into this tour.”
The June 23 releases include a £129.99 box set — that’s about $170 in the states. Goodies include new artwork by space-rock icon Roger Dean. “Limited to one pressing only.”
Apparently no longer available is a super-limited box set with psychedelic artwork signed by both Dean and Wakeman — at an eyebrow-raising £299.99, it was an investment item for well-heeled Boomers. Only 100 were made. (One wag dubbed it “Journey to the Centre of Your Wallet.”)
The regular 2014 reissues of “Journey to the Centre of the Earth” come in a double-LP set with gatefold cover, as well as a CD pack. Sorry, no 5.1 mix.
There are also reissues of Wakeman’s 1999 sequel album, “Return to the Centre of the Earth.” That effort was narrated by Patrick Stewart.
The project marks not only the 40th anniversary of Wakeman’s concept album, but the 150th anniversary of the Jules Verne science fiction novel (“Voyage au Centre de la Terre”).
The new “Journey” includes 20 minutes of new material cut from the original “due to time restrictions as well as material unearthed from the original score that had long been thought lost.” The narrator is Peter Egan (“Chariots of Fire”), who also did the tour.
The revival was set in motion in 2008, as Wakeman’s media kit tells it:
Wakeman took delivery of a box that arrived out of the blue from New Zealand. At the bottom, he found the original “Journey to the Centre of the Earth” score that had suffered some water damage. With the help of conductor Guy Protheroe, he repaired and revisited the documented compositions and put them in a form that enabled him to celebrate its anniversary in an appropriate manner.
“Journey to the Centre of the Earth” was the second of three concept albums done by Wakeman in the first decade of his solo career. The others were “The Six Wives of Henry VIII” (1973) and “The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table” (1975). Wakeman did several performances of “Six Wives” in 2009.
The vinyl and CD versions of the “Centre of the Earth” albums are available as imports via Amazon UK. The limited box set must be purchased from Rick Wakeman’s web site. Some copies of the 2012 fan-pack remain available on Amazon U.S.