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Yes - Keys to Ascension CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.05 | 535 ratings

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4 stars Keys to Ascension "Part One" has a live:studio ratio of about 3:1. The package was rather innovative for this fact alone, but helped by the presence of a) the classic line-up inc Wakeman, b) Roger Dean's brush strokes on the cover (albeit spoiled by some vulgar colour alterations) and c) refreshingly good music!

Refreshing why? Because it was probably the first above-average Yes release for over a decade. Some of the band's concert staples are here once again... do I need another version of 'Siberian Khatru' and 'Roundabout' though? Probably not. What's more significant is that 'RSoG' has lurked its way into the band's set for the first time since 1973, and sounds fantastic. Rick's keyboards sound like they are glowing with forgiveness as they navigate this epic piece of music. Paul Simon's 'America' and 'Onward', a Squire ballad from the Tormato album, are also well executed here and make for an interesting concert overall. However 'Awaken' suffers from a thin sound that never matches the studio version; this song only really worked on stage during the 8-man Union tour. What about the two studio tracks here?

Yes seemed to go back to their progressive days with these songs, and it would continue on 'Keys 2'. The magic is not all lost but there is certainly something going on that prevents this music from sounding as good as the 70's stuff. Perhaps it is Alan's drumming, which has only gotten harder and harder over the years. Or it maybe the less-than-impressive "modern" keyboard patches favoured by Rick in the 90's. The moog only makes some brief appearances unfortunately. Despite this, the music is quite cool in places, especially the cross-rhythms on 'That, That Is' which include 7/8 and 15/16. At times tribal, at times rocking, and at times brimming with cheesey synth pads, it really is quite variable. Jon's lyrics seem to deal with drug addicts as well, which just isn't right for him!

Some exciting music is to be found here, new and old. Elements of this collection however, are dull because they appear on every Yes live album. The studio tracks are not always to my taste but perfectly admirable for Yes at that time.

thehallway | 4/5 |


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