Rick Wakeman’s 1974 opus Journey to the Centre of the Earth was a landmark effort from the Yes keyboardist. The orchestral rock adaptation of Jules Verne’s 1864 novel was narrated by actor David Hemmings (Blowup, Gladiator) and featured the London Symphony Orchestra, the English Chamber Choir, and a rock group later to be known as the English Rock Ensemble. Wakeman’s progressive sci-fi fusion went all the way to No. 1 in the U.K. (the first album by A&M Records to do so there) and No. 3 in the U.S., earning Grammy and Ivor Novello Award nominations as well as a Gold record.
25 years later, Wakeman returned to the sci-fi milieu for Return to the Centre of the Earth, ambitiously crafting a new story set 200 years after the original in which a new group of travelers attempt to follow the journey of the original tale. It was a star-studded affair, featuring Ozzy Osbourne, Bonnie Tyler, The Moody Blues’ Justin Hayward, Yes’ Trevor Rabin, Katrina and the Waves’ Katrina Leskanich, Tony Mitchell, and Patrick Stewart as the narrator. In all, approximately 300 people were involved with the making of the album including The London Symphony Orchestra and English Chamber Choir. Now – following in the footsteps of the 2016 box set of Journey – Return is receiving the Deluxe Edition treatment, with a 4-CD/1-DVD box out Friday in the U.K. and December 25 in North America. (Dates have been fluctuating for this title, and may well change again.)
The Deluxe Edition set includes:
- Return to the Centre of the Earth CD;
- Return to the Centre of the Earth – Live 2-CD set from Canadian performance where the narration is in French;
- CD of Radio Edits;
- DVD of new surround sound “UpMix” and enhanced stereo by Simon Heyworth, plus approximately 80 minutes unseen footage featuring Wakeman, Bonnie Tyler, and Justin Hayward;
- Signed and numbered certificate;
- Reproduction Press Pack;
- Reproduction Press Photo;
- Reproduction ticket to the album launch; and
- 2 x A3 Posters.
A Super Deluxe Edition, set for December 25 in the U.K. and January 1 in North America, has all the above plus the original album on two 180-gram vinyl LPs.
“I am immensely proud of Return to the Centre of the Earth, as when I look back, it appears to have been almost suicidal to have recorded and released it when prog was at such a low status. But thanks to Richard Lyttleton, the president of EMI Classics who believed so much in the music, it was recorded to the highest standard possible and I can honestly say that without him, the music would not exist today,” Wakeman comments on the new reissue.
Look for the box sets at the links below.
Rick Wakeman, Return to the Centre of the Earth (EMI Classics 7243 5 56763-2, 1999 – reissued 2020)
Original Album (program repeated on DVD in surround & stereo mixes; and on vinyl in Super Deluxe Edition)
- A Vision
- The Return Overture
- Mother Earth (The Shadow of June/The Gallery/The Avenue of Prismed Light/The Earthquake)
- Buried Alive
- The Enigma
- Is Anybody There?
- The Ravine
- The Dance of a Thousand Lights
- The Shepherd
- Mr. Slow
- Bridge of Time
- Never Is a Long, Long Time
- Tales from the Lidenbrook Sea (River of Hope/Hunter and Hunter/Fight for Life)
- The Kill
- Timeless History
- Still Waters Run Deep
- Time Within Time (The Ebbing Tide/The Electric Storm)
- Ride of Your Life
- Floating (Globes of Fear/Cascades of Fear)
- The Volcano (Tongues of Fire/The Blue Mountains)
- The End of the Return
Plus: disc of Radio Edits (track listing TBA)