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Yes - The Ladder  CD (album) cover

THE LADDER

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

3.27 | 672 ratings

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Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Prog Specialist
2 stars Back in 1999 a good friend who had bought "THE LADDER" told me this was the definitive resurrection of the band that we loved so dearly back in the glorious 70's so without asking anybody or listening a sample (a mistake I never did again), went to the store and got it, but after a couple listens I rediscovered that the last YES masterpiece was "Relayer".

Would be unfair to say the album is bas because for most bands THE LADDER would have been a great achievement, but sadly for them, we always expect much more from YES than a revamp version of ABWH without the name that the "W" stands for, good but anodyne.

From the start with "Homeworld" we notice that they are really trying to get back in the path of the 70's but too much time has passed, Anderson sounds acuter and cheesier than ever, Koroshev is not Wakeman and Howe does nothing spectacular as we are used to, seems that they did enough to release a respectable album, but the muse of inspiration was probably on vacations when they recorded this album.

"It will be a Good Day" puts me in a problem, not bad but what the hell are they trying to do, nice keyboard sections despite it's evident that Igor tries desperately to sound like Wakeman but without complete success. I don't know what to say about this anodyne song, not Rock, not Pop, not Prog but the three at the same time, lets say that the album would have not been affected if this track was never recorded.

Now Lightning Strikes" is pure cheese, simply horrendous from the mambo intro, except a couple of Howe decent sections avoid this aberration and also the next track "Can I?" in which Jon Anderson manages to erase from my head the pleasant memories I kept from "We Have Heaven", it's a double crime, a bad song that ruins a good one from an old album.

"Face to Face" is the first really good track of the album, vibrant, interesting the guitar duet by Howe and Sherwood complement perfectly Jon's voice and for the first time in the album we can listen the two facets of Chris Squire, excellent backing vocalist and better bassist, by far the best song of the album at this point.

"If Only You Knew" sounds more like one of the weakest ABWH tracks but much more poppy and boring than the usual, nothing really transcendental or even remotely interesting, somebody should have told this guys that his stuff is OK for bands as BOSTON but not for YES, the same comment goes for "To be Alive (Hep Yadda)" easy forgettable tunes.

"Finally" starts strong and promising but the whole track sounds as a long intro that never captures an essential sound, absolutely reminiscent of 90125, specially the infamous "Owner of a Lonely Heart", please tell Anderson that Rabin is no longer with them.

What the hell did YES tried to do with "The Messenger", this is not a tribute to Bob Marley, despite I don't like Reggae too much, at least he was original, but this hybrid leads nowhere, a couple of good mandolin sections by Howe and nice chorus are the only things that save this bad track. When I listened the first chords of "New Language" I thought, "Hey, this guys are returning to the roots" and it's true in some extent because despite the fact that they are much heavier than in the 70's this song starts strong until the break around the second minute when we have to realize the intro was only a mirage in a huge desert, disappointing because they had the idea but they weren't able to use the more than 9:00 minutes they had.

The album ends weaker than it started with this acoustic babbling by Jon Anderson and Howe, except for some guitar or maybe mandolin nice moments better avoid it, takes you nowhere.

Because this album is better than the Rabin era stuff, the good "Face to Face" and the excellent screen saver that comes with the album, won't give one star, but even two stars is a bit too much if we guide us by the YES standards, being that there's no chance for 1.5 stars, I would give them one more than in BIG GENERATOR, but lets realize that YES should forget about creating new albums and must keep giving us the excellent concerts with the old stuff until they retire.

Unless you're a hardcore YES fan, better avoid it.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 2/5 |

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