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KEYS TO ASCENSION

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

4.09 | 453 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars The revealing science of Yes

The Keys To Ascension releases are notorious for their weird editing and release history. This first Keys To Ascension release came in 1996 and was a single CD album featuring seven live tracks and two new studio recordings. This was followed by Keys To Ascension II the year after. The latter too featured a mixture of live tracks and studio tracks. All of these live tracks were recorded during three shows at San Lois Obispo, CA, USA, and (like the studio tracks scattered over these two separate releases) featured the classic line-up of Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Rick Wakeman, Steve Howe, and Alan White. In the year 2000 a DVD video from these shows was released featuring the same live tracks (but omitting the studio tracks), and in 2001 came Keystudio--a single disc holding only the studio tracks from both Keys To Ascension albums (plus some extra minutes of music added). Notoriously, none of these releases feature the correct order of the tracks as they were played on the night(s). The DVD had annoying fade-outs between the tracks and equally annoying visual effects added on top of the live footage. To add insult to injury, the otherwise beautiful Roger Dean artwork was weirdly (dis)coloured. (In 2010 was released a set which featured both of the original Keys To Ascension albums as well as the DVD with the original artwork restored to proper colours. Since I don't own this new release I cannot comment on whether the DVD is identical to the separately available DVD that I have, but the audio-discs are available for streaming on Spotify. Sadly, the opportunity to restore the songs to the correct running order was not taken advantage of.)

I usually never rate the same material twice and since I have already rated the DVD version (as well as the Keystudio album), why do I bother to rate these discs as well? Well, the answer is that I gave the DVD a low rating (two stars) mostly due to its technical defects, not because of the music (and Keystudio is only the studio songs). True, not all of these performances are among the band's best, but these live recordings do deserve a higher rating than I was able to award the DVD. The live version of The Revealing Science Of God is particularly noteworthy and is simply fantastic. This, my favourite track from the Tales From Topographic Oceans album, is rarely played live and the present live version is the best I've heard. Onward and America are also not among the most frequently played and make for interesting choices. Awaken too is magnificent. Keys To Ascension I sits very well alongside other strong Yes live albums

SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |

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