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Yes - Tales from Topographic Oceans CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.92 | 2777 ratings

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4 stars The Archetype!

While even members of Yes have said they went too pretentious on this album, one can't help but marvel at the model they set up here. A double-album of four side-long compositions that fit together as one statement. I don't think the problem here (to the extent there IS a problem) was the model, nor even the pretentiousness or bombast of the music, but instead merely that they did not give themselves quite enough time to finesse their writing before recording and releasing this. Many bands at the time were under huge pressure from their record companies to get product out the door, and with 'Close to the Edge' scoring big, Yes was under pressure to do even bigger. So, they wrote quickly, padded the long pieces with some filler (especially side 3, which they all admit), while Jon Anderson turned to footnotes for lyrical inspiration, all with an eye to one-upping Close to the Edge. Anderson's lyrics here become further detached from any clear meanings, while for many the music here seemed endless. But unlike the critics, I was amazed at the possibilities presented by this record, and still today see it as a real (flawed) gem. Not the very best Yes music, and certainly not their best lyrics, but still a very important milestone in music, and for Yes. There is a lot of great music on this album, and even though a number of filler sections are less musical, the whole thing fits together very well and each piece/side retains its integrity. The album begins on side 1 by building up over chanting of Anderson's poetry, and blossoms across many themes and good songs in their own right, climaxing with "Ritaul/Nous Sommes Du Soleil" on side 4, which they played (and continued to play) well into the 2000s (as evidenced on the Songs from Tsongas live album). There are too many great musical moments here to describe them all. Saying this, the music is fragmented enough, with enough filler, that it doesn't quite make it to five stars, even though I would say it is "essential" for any serious musical collection. It certainly deserves much recognition for the ambitious model it contributes, and for which it is mostly (almost) successful. Overall, I rate this 8.5 out of 10 on my 10-point scale.

Walkscore | 4/5 |


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