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Yes - Tales From Topographic Oceans CD (album) cover

TALES FROM TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

3.87 | 1617 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

infandous
5 stars I had the great fortune to purchase and listen to the album (in 1994) before anyone told me it was supposed to be a self indulgent, overreaching load of bollocks :-) Actually, one friend did suggest that he was hesitant to listen to it because he was afraid Yes had gone too far with that one. But other than that, I didn't know it was supposed to be controversial and that even Yes fans had trouble liking it.

I wasn't sure what to make of it the first few listens, but one day while I was canvassing neighborhoods for a citizens group I did work for at the time, I couldn't get the melody from one of the tracks out of my head ("What happened, to this song, we once knew so well?"....etc.). It quickly became my favorite Yes album of them all. Relayer supplanted it for a couple of months, but it was quickly back in rotation.

For me, it's just an amazing piece of work. Great melodies in abundance, but not always repeated like they would do on earlier albums. Incredible atmospheres that seemed to always fit the theme of the piece. Howe's guitar playing is consistently great. Despite his unhappiness with the album, Wakeman plays some of his most beautiful atmospheric synth parts ever. Even the lyrics I feel are beautiful (I actually began to think that Anderson was really a Christian because of a lot of those lyrics........despite the whole album being based on a book by a Yogi). It's bascially more of an experience than an album. It's the rare album for me where the phrase "musical journey" actually applies and isn't just a cliche.

But really, it's an emotional response that defines my love of the album. Something I can't easily put into words. It was the perfect album at the perfect time for me. I hardly ever listen to it now, as I listened to it so consistently for at least 5 years (and broke it out a few times a year for the next 5). When I reflect, 15 years after hearing it for the first time, I am sympathetic to a lot of the criticisms. It could have been a great single album of 4 10 minute tracks. The rest of the band could have held Steve and Jon back a bit, injected their own ideas more. But none of that happened, thankfully. But I can understand people not liking it nowadays (back then, I couldn't imagine why I seemed to be the only one of all my friends who loved the album so passionately).

Anyway, it will always be one of my favorite albums and I will always give Yes credit for ignoring the expectations of their fans and the press and just doing whatever the hell they wanted. It does seem like a love it or hate it type album and I'm sure that is why. Personally, I like it more than Close To The Edge and Fragile, as complete albums (though there are individual tracks I prefer over any of the tracks on Tales......Heart of the Sunrise and Siberian Khatru specifically).

Despite my reservations all these years later, I'm going to give it 5 stars. It should certainly be in every prog fans collection, as no Yes collection is complete without it. It had such an effect on me back then I just can't give it less, and it's still a great album today.

infandous | 5/5 |

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