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Yes - Keystudio CD (album) cover

KEYSTUDIO

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

3.55 | 435 ratings

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lazland
Prog Reviewer
2 stars Strictly speaking, this album was released in 1996 & 1997 as the studio parts for Keys to Ascension 1 & 2. Keystudio is merely the rather unnecessary release of the studio recordings the band made to complement the live pieces. It was, of course, the great coming together of the classic Yes lineup of Anderson, Howe, Squire, Wakeman, and White. All of us who had been fans for donkeys years slavered when we purchased the original Keys albums, and we were certainly rewarded with exceptional live performances of the classic tracks from the seventies. However, would the studio tracks pass muster?

I am sorry, but I think that a lot of the previous reviews of this album have suffered from the fact that it was this lineup recording the tracks, because to my ears, this really isn't a very good album at all. I listened to it today for the first time in some while, and I am of the opinion that if you hardly ever listen to an LP, then it really cannot be that good. It is not a patch on Talk and also pales into comparison with The Ladder which was to follow two albums later.

The band certainly made an effort to return to their grandiose roots. The shortest track on the album is Sign Language at 3.28 minutes. It is also, by the way, by far the best. The other tracks range from six minutes to the official epic 19.15 minutes.

The trouble with it is that a lot of the longer tracks sound as if they have been thrown together simply to make them lengthy epics, without any coherent theme or purpose.

I will discuss the tracks in the order they appeared on the Keys LPs.

Be The One starts the LP off nicely, with some lovely Howe acoustic guitar work. Howe is by far the best performing member of the band on this LP.

That, That Is is exceptionally long at 19.15 minutes and would appear to be about LA gangs, childhood abuse, and those sorts of typical Yes subjects...Not!! I find it a messy and incoherent attempt at relevance, and there is no melodic theme against Squire's strong bass backdrop. The lyrics meander. Even when at 16 minutes, the track gives a lovely Howe accompaniment to Squire's great bass line, the noodling by Wakeman somewhat spoils it - it feels far too jazzy.

Mind Drive clocks in at 18.39 minutes, and gets off to a fantastic start with Howe's beautiful acoustic lead and Wakeman's gentle backdrop. As the opening passage moves on, we are reminded of just what a fine bass player Squire is. The main section is led by Squire's dark, brooding bass guitar. It is four minutes until we hear Anderson, but the almost staccato delivery of the lyrics is very unsatisfactory. The Bring You sequence is lovely, but the remainder is all, again, a bit of a mess.

Foot Prints is another in excess of 19 minutes, and starts well. The references to the revolution put me in mind very much of Tormato, but the track again descends into what can only be described as a jazzy session piece, with absolutely no coherence again.

Bring me to the Power is a far gentler piece, better for it, and has a lovely Howe backdrop. However, Anderson again seems to ramble rather than sing in the flowing manner all classic fans of his and the band enjoy.

Children of Light has another very strong bassline, the piano at the start is very nice, but then Anderson starts again, and this time, it's almost as if he feels he has to turn into a rap vocalist in order to be relevant. It sounds horrible, and that is not an easy thing to write from such a big fan of his. However, the closing sequence of Howes slide guitar with Wakeman's gentle keyboard backing is ecsquisite.

The closer is Sign Language. The opening acoustic guitar and piano duet leads to a relaxing, fantastic keyboard composition by Wakeman, accompanied by a fine Howe solo. This track has what the others lack - it glides effortlessly from start to finish, feels and sounds like a whole piece, rather than a bunch of different sessions thrown together in the hope of making an epic as with the others.

The live albums easily get 4.5 stars. Unfortunately, I can only rate this album at 2/2.5 stars. Absolutely for diehard fans and collectors only.

lazland | 2/5 |

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