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Yes - Tales From Topographic Oceans CD (album) cover

TALES FROM TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

3.88 | 1772 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

stefro
Prog Reviewer
2 stars The album that was meant to cap Yes' illustrious career so far, 'Tales From Topographic Oceans' was a mammoth double-sided concept piece based on the lengthy Hindu scripture's 'Autobiography Of A Yogi' by Paramahansa Yogananda and written mainly by the band's creative nucleus of Jon Anderson(vocals) and Steve Howe(guitar). The success of previous album 'Close To The Edge' had temporarily placed Yes at the top of the 1970's rock pyramid, garnering them huge commercial, critical and live arena success throughout Europe and America and unlocking the door to virtually unlimited resources when it came to writing and recording their next album, therefore giving the duo the excuse to go for the grand move. Whilst on tour in the US, Anderson and Howe had held secretive candlelit writing sessions in their hotel rooms, slowly piecing together the themes and musical structures that would form the basis of what was supposed to be their magnus opus. The problem, however, was that, seemingly unbeknown to the ambitious twosome, they had already produced their magnus opus in the shape of 'Close To The Edge', a fact that hadn't gone unnoticed by original drummer Bill Bruford. Bruford, a smart, witty and canny operator with a public school background had realised pretty quickly after the 'Close To The Edge' recording sessions had been completed that there was zero chance of Yes, or for that matter any other band, creating an album as good ever again. In a move that seemed strange at the time but now seems utterly brilliant, Bruford quit Yes and joined up with Robert Fripp's King Crimson just in time to drum on their seminal 1974 album 'Red'. His replacement in Yes was former John Lennon Band drummer Alan White, a talented sticksman who had been playing professionally since he was sixteen, and White's first, hugely-daunting task with his new progressive rock employers was to play on the hugely over-extended Anderson-Howe brainchild that Bruford had seemed so keen to get away from. Indeed, 'Tales From Topographic Oceans' would split the band, leaving bassist Chris Squire feeling alienated and under-used and and angering keyboard-wizard Rick Wakeman so much that in aftermath of the subsequent tour he quit to concentrate on his solo work. For the fans and critics, however, feelings were mixed. The album reached the no.1 pot in the UK album charts and pre-sold over two million copies before it had even been released, and the tour was also a complete sell-out, both in Europe and in the USA. The critics, however, weren't so kind. For the first time since their 1969 debut, Yes were receiving seriously negative reviews. Accusations of over-indulgence and ego-centric behaviour were thrown at the group, especially Anderson & Howe, and over the years 'Tales From Topographic Oceans' has, for some, come to represent everything that is bad about progressive rock. The album is far too long, made up as it is of four pieces, each of which hover around the twenty minute mark, and the group could have easily condensed much of the material into a much more streamlined single-disc album that would have dispensed with many of the slow and labourer sections that hinder the music. Only the album-opener 'The Revealing Science Of God' finds Yes in anything resembling top form, and the rest of 'Tales From Topographic Oceans' remains mind-numbingly dull. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010
stefro | 2/5 |

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