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Yes - The Ladder  CD (album) cover

THE LADDER

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

3.27 | 674 ratings

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ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer
3 stars If you except the studio parts from "Keys" that were quite nice, "Yes" did not produce a single great studio effort for twenty two years ("Going For The One). Since I was going to see them live for this tour (in February 2000), I decided to buy the album to get a bit acquainted with the material. I was of course very sceptic after the dreadful experience of "Open Your Eyes" in 1997.

The fact that Rick was no longer on the keys only added to my fear . As I mentioned in my review for "Open Your Eyes", Yes only produced crappy works while Rick wasn't there, so...

He is replaced by a very talented Russian keyboardist : Igor Khoroshev. He was already credited for the keyboard playing on three tracks from the previous album (I got this info via the "Yes" official website). He toured with "Yes" for a complete year (October 1997 through October 1998 - 164 concerts), so he was used to the other members of the band. The funny thing is that he was a "Yes" fan from the Wakeman era and knew almost the whole of their back catalogue when he joined them.

Sherwood is still the second guitar player along with Steve. The cover artwork is really nice and could have meant a true return to the roots.

And when you listen to the opener, you think that "Yes" is back. MyYes at least!

"Homeworld" has everything to satisfy a desperate YesFan : a lenghty track, great vocal harmonies, and here and there some nice guitar breaks (electric & accoustic). Good keys from Khoroshev as well.

"It Will Be a Good Day" is a symphonic rock / pop ballad with very good vocal harmonies again. Nothing from the other world, but good. Next song "Lightning Strikes" shows the tendancy of "The Ladder" to investigate in the world music. This latin-rock sound belong more to the Santana repertoire than to the "Yes" one. IMO. Very dynamic and not too bad after all.

The tribal "Can I" is very dispensable (luckilly it is the shortest track : 1'31"). The worse track on "The Ladder". Yes outputs then a quite rocking tune with "Face to Face" : great bass playing and good heart-beat drumming. The guitar breaks are also very well achieved. The melody of the song is pleasant. So far so good.

The melancholic "If Only You Knew" will not be remembered as a great YesSong : weak lyrics, very much "love" oriented (maybe to Jon's wife) : I quote "Everyone who looks at you, Sees the loving in your every move, You're the healing of the soul". During the concert, Jon will talk a lot about the love for his wife, kindness, heart, soul etc. Too much. One of the weakest tracks of the album.

I like "To Be Alive" although it is a bit naïve. But to me is sounds fresh and very optimistic. "Finally" sounds a bit too much to their FM / AOR period at least during its first half. Then, we get a beautiful melodic section with fantastic guitar and keys as well as a superb Jon (à la "Soon"). Strange combination though.

"Messenger" starts with a bluesy guitar part but then hesitates between AOR sounds and classic YesTune. Not a good combination I'm afraid. A nice vocal part in the last section saves it from being poor (thanks Jon).

The second lenghty track (over nine minutes) "New Language" starts violently (a bit in the style of "Heart Of The Sunrise"), then turns into a YesClassic with good vocals and a strong backing band : nice but vigorous acoustic guitar solo and great keys to finish. One of the best song. It should have close the album because "Nine Voices" is not very interesting.

With "The Ladder" Yes explores various types of music, which is not bad an experiment but might be confusing for the majority of their fans. It sounds as a very optimistic album, full of hope & love. Not enough keys IMO.

When I first heard it, I was really charmed. But the more I listen to it, the least I like it actually. It is still far much better than "Open" and alikes. Three stars.

ZowieZiggy | 3/5 |

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