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Yes - The Ladder CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.27 | 905 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars 4 stars. This is an excellent addition to any prog collection. In fact, it is the best thing that Yes has released since Going for the One (unless you count the second disc of Keys to Ascension II.) Unlike KTAII, though, this album suffers from the fact that Yes is being pulled in many directions at once. There's the attempt to return to classic prog, there's the contemporary sound that Sherwood and Squire appear to be pushing, and there's the unabashed chasing after a commercial pop sound. None of these really wins out (thank God). They gel together well, for the most part, but it leads to a sort of sameness in sound in the heart of the album which keeps me from proclaiming this a masterpiece. Let's hit this one track by track.

Homeworld: A great song. Hearing it makes you think that this is what parts of Fragile would sound like if they were just now recording it. Khoroshev's style of playing isn't anything that Rick would do, but it DOES sound like something Keith Emerson might try. A brilliant opener.

It Will Be A Good Day: The pop sound makes it's debut, but on this track it's very tastefully done. Good vocals in the best of the Jon Anderson solo tradition.

Lightning Strikes/Can I?/Face To Face: I'm absolutely convinced that back in the '70's these three tracks would have been bundled together as a single epic, as they are so close in theme and sound. And it would have been a great epic, too. Lightning Strikes has some great guitar work and some of Jon's best lyrics. Can I? is a nod to We Have Heaven off Fragile with a world music sound. Face To Face wraps this up with some great keyboards.

If Only You Knew: A ballad with some good ensemble vocal work. It's ok, but not great. We've reached the heart of the album, where a certain mediocrity reigns.

To Be Alive: This is the song that I actively dislike. It sounds like the band has run out of creativity at this point, but they will start working their way back.

Finally: The first half of this is fairly uninspired, but the second has some spacey keyboards and Jon's best dreamy vocals featured to redeem it.

The Messenger: Since when has Yes ever put out songs like this??? You have to go WAY back to when Peter Banks was in the band to find something that even remotely sounds like this tribute to Bob Marley.

New Language: The obligatory epic (even though it doesn't quite make the ten minute mark. A good composition and everybody contributes their best to make it work. Again, Jon's lyrical work is outstanding.

Nine Voices: One of those short little "spiritual" pieces of Anderson's that Yes has been recording since the days of Big Generator. It's not the worst of them, but thankfully it's too short to wear out it's welcome.

To sum up, it's generally a great album, but there's some dross (especially in the middle) that keeps it from being a masterpiece.

ghost_of_morphy | 4/5 |


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