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Yes - The Ladder CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.27 | 907 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars It will be a good album.

Following up the 1997 disaster Open Your Eyes and the excellent Keys To Ascension duo comes this album. The sporty Roger Dean album cover reminiscent of some of the classic work he did with the band, and the album just calls out to prog fans from the store shelves. Upon closer inspection however, a couple people might be taken aback. What by? - The line-up here is a little bit strange. Billy Sherwood has managed to stick around even if his presence didn't make Open Your Eyes the smash it had the (apparent) potential to become after the return of guitar god Steve Howe... and what's this? No Wakeman? No - On keyboards instead comes fan turned band member Igor Khoroshev. The rest of the classic members are there (spare Bruford, but White works as a classic member), but they're under the production of a guy named Bruce Fairbairn. So how will this album turn out?

Apparently the first words that Bruce said to the YesMen were, ''Just make the best yes album that you can, the rest will follow,'' and thats what they did. While a bit uneven at times, this disc is very good after all. Khoroshev proves that he can be an ample Wakeman replacement, even if his style is a bit different from Wakeman, and if he can't pull off the same kind of solos and doesn't add his word into the final product of music that comes out in the end like Wakeman's clearly did. Are these all complaints against the man? No, not at all, it's good to have someone else give directions, after all, Relayer was a classic done without him, was it not? As for the other temporary member, Sherwood, it seems that if he had a big say in the music direction of the last album here it's been toned down considerably. The rest of the members just do what they do best; Squire slays with killer bass lines, Howe hit's those wonderfully clean chords of his, White smashes the skins and Anderson still hits the high notes thirty years later. While Anderson may have written a bit too many lyrics for the album (aka - over insistent vocals), his voice still makes it forgivable (although, to those who don't like his voice this album may not sound to pleasing).

An original album in ever sense of the word, this is a style that really mixes the poppy Yes music from albums like Talk with more progressive music like what they'd done on an album like Keystudio. What emerges is a very upbeat album that is optimistic the entire way through. What's original about this is that this is really a sound that only Yes could capture, and they only ever did it on this one album.

The songs presented here are done so well. There's a few flashes of Yes brilliance but they're fairly widespread. However, most, if not all of the music here is very enjoyable with only a few tracks that the progressive elitists will get offended by. A couple of dance-y numbers such as the infectious Lightning Strikes and the jumpy Finally will not sit well with the prog-heads, but these tracks will be balanced out by a couple other moments of brilliance like the excellent Homeworld (The Ladder) and the truly original New Language. A couple of very pleasing tracks would include It Will Be A Good Day (The River) with it's lush melodies and To Be Alive (Hep Yadda) where Anderson's over insistent vocals actually make the song very easy on the ears. Face To Face is a great standout, it's upbeat tempo and well done instrumentation make it one of the best songs on the album. Can I?is likely the only track on the album which comes off as weak. Really, it's just an overextended remix of We Have Heaven trying to remind audiences of their 70s days.

Not a classic but definitely good, this album gets 3 stars. More for the Yes fans than any one else, some of the poppier material on here may upset some listeners while the longer and more progressive tracks should prove a great deal of solace. Recommended for Yes fans and anyone who doesn't mind that their music be upbeat and somewhat dance-able.

Queen By-Tor | 3/5 |


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