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Yes - The Ladder  CD (album) cover

THE LADDER

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

3.28 | 699 ratings

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The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This is an album that is really difficult for me to rate.

My problem lies in the fact that I don't know where "The Ladder" stands in the whole catalogue of YES' albums. Keeping in mind that I haven't heard the four albums that were released between the awful "90125" and the one I'm reviewing right now, the jump in quality is quite big (even if that's not much of an accomplishment considering how terrible the earlier record is). There are 16 years separating one from the other, which doesn't help me to have a proper perspective of the placement of "The Ladder" among the works of the legendary English band.

For that reason, I should show more leniency towards this album, as I don't know what happened in between it and "90125". Also, there's no doubt the record shows signs that YES was trying to get back on the prog track. Songs are longer in average, with more solos, more instrumental passages, a few sections of interesting harmonies and other musical elements, and there's even one really good song with "Homeworld (The Ladder)", which almost achieves the status of a minor classic.

On the other hand, "The Ladder" is a really boring album to sit through. Old YES' discs used to last about 40 minutes in average. But with the arrival of new technology, times could be expanded. Now YES give us an album with one hour of music, where only about 15 minutes are truly enjoyable. The rest is just filler material. Disguised as experimental tricks Squire and band mates recorded a lot of tropical-African-Caribbean-sounding passages, which give the disc a distinct disposable-music flavor, and most of the songs are completely forgettable, with no hooks, no great melodies, no decent choruses, no amazing sections of musical wizardry. In general, 15 good minutes out of a 40-minute album is the sign of a mediocre record; 15 good minutes in a 60-minute album announce a plain bad effort.

So where does "The Ladder" stand among its peers? Obviously, nowhere near any album previous to "Tormato", even inferior to "The Yes Album" (the love for which I still don't fully understand). "Tormato" is better than "The Ladder", and much more so is the tremendously- underrated "Drama". But "90125" is an inferior recording, and from what I've learned, so will probably be "Big Generator", "Union" and "Open your Eyes" (I reserve any guesses about "Talk"). Thus, a 2.5 rating would be the right one. As I don't have that option, I'll round off this time, as I feel the need to express the superiority of other 3-star albums over this mediocre, immediately-forgettable record.

The T | 2/5 |

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