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Yes - The Ladder CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.27 | 906 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars This album starts out on a high note and ends in similar fashion. On the downside, the material sandwiched in between is not nearly as interesting, as proggy, or just plain good as the bookends. Here are the highlights and lowlights for me:

The Ladder. I thought this was a well-crafted song the first time I heard it, and time has only strengthened this opinion. I like the restrained but consistent rhythm throughout, as this tune keeps driving forward without straining too hard or fighting for your attention. Jon Anderson sounds as good (or better) as ever in my opinion, and the lyrics keep my attention as many of his lyrics fail to do. Kudos to the dual keyboard section for nice arrangements and Wakeman-like (but not rip-off) flourishes. I especially enjoy the ending, as Anderson's voice powers ever higher and Squire's bass really begins to move, leading to a nice mellow finish and segue to the proceeding tune.

It Will Be a Good Day (The River). For some, this song may be sappy, slow and even boring, but I enjoy it each time I hear it, from the pastoral lyrics to the catchy (but not overly so) theme. Happy and optimistic without being cliche--not an easy feat.

Lightning Strikes. A pop tune that gets more irritating with every listen. When the liner has to credit "dance loops" in a Yes album, I know there is at least one song that I won't like, and this is it on this album.

Can I? I hope they enjoyed screwing around to come up with this song, because I sure don't enjoy listening to it. Even Jon Anderson has limits, and his aboriginal scatting above a droning didgeridoo and a remix of We Have Heaven appears to be that limit.

New Language/Nice Voices (Longwalker). I view these two songs as a mini-suite, and a good one at that. New Language begins quickly, showing that Yes can still rock when they choose, which moves into a bouncy melody and catchy chorus. This song then segues into the mellow Nice Voices: a mellow but thoughtful tune to close out the album, featuring nice interplay between Howe and Anderson.

All the other songs not listed are neither exceptionally good nor exceptionally bad, in addition to not being very proggy (in my opinion, at least). Overall, an enjoyable album, in which Anderson is featured the most, backed by solid (but un-virtuosic) keyboarding, with Howe and Squire seeming a bit too restrained, and White adding little besides a beat and relatively generic fills (though he never detracts from the music). Only the bookends will make my regular playlists, but I believe the album to be worth buying just for those tunes.

Flucktrot | 3/5 |


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