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Yes - Tales From Topographic Oceans CD (album) cover

TALES FROM TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

3.88 | 1690 ratings

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jrfernan
5 stars This is my favorite Yes recording, and I have them ALL! And...one of the BEST prog-rock recordings of all-time. Certainly in my top ten...sometimes even ranking higher. But more on that later...

What baffles me the most about the low ratings for this album is that the VAST majority of these low ratings are probably coming from die-hard Yes fans! THAT, I cannot and will probably NEVER understand.

First of all, some of you are saying that this album is pretentious and that the lyrical content is absurd! Dah! When did Jon Anderson EVER write anything that wasn't pretentious or absurd???!!!

From the VERY FIRST Yes album we knew what we were getting. There was no doubt 30 years ago and there should be no doubt today as to what this band was and is all about. They were all about cosmic lyrics and long, drawn-out music. That's what attracted us to the band in the first place.

Please don't tell me that you found comfort in Jon's lyrics at ANY POINT in time during the bands prolific output. Or that you "connected" to anything that Jon ever had to say. Please! Don't tell me that! Because THAT would be the most pretentious of all things.

C'mon, people! Some of you die-hards are saying that Close to the Edge is Yes' magnum opus but forget(or blatantly overlook) that Jon penned the following lines:

"A seasoned witch could call you from the depths of your disgrace, And rearrange your liver to the solid mental grace, And achieve it all with music that came quickly from afar..."

And whom amongst us YesHeads doesn't feel a tiny bit embarrassed whenever we hear Jon say, in a melancholic tone........

"In her white lace You can clearly see the lady sadly looking. Saying that she'd take the blame For the crucifixion of her own domain..."

LOL!!!!!! What da! If those two examples above aren't the epitome of pretentiousness and absurdity, then please tell me what is?! Yet, some of you are acting as if though to be SURPRISED by the music and lyrics found in Tales! LOL!

I have always taken everything that Jon writes with a grain of salt and only look at his voice as dressing for the rest of the music. I couldn't care less what he is singing about, nor what Wakeman or anyone else has to say about Jon's philosophical viewpoints. All those things are superfluous

Anyway..............that being said...

This is my breakdown of TFTO(asterisks stand for star ratings:

1.The Revealing Science of God:.*****..This is simple a GREAT piece. One of the band's best work EVER and probably only second to the Close to the Edge suite, but not trailing by much. The melodic interplay by Jon's voice and the instruments is mesmerizing. By far my favorite piece in concert and one which the band seems to nail live each and every time.

2. The Remembering:.*****.This is a highly accessible song with some of Jon's best vocals. His voice is dead-on in tune and doesn't reach those screeching highs he often misfires on. Steve's acoustic work is sublime and comps Jon's vocals perfectly. The jam at the end is utterly exquisite offering the prog-rock connoisseur everything that is craved. Rocking drums, thumping bass, wicked keys and tasteful guitar. The more I listen to this piece the more I realize that it's one of the bands hidden treasures. Quite mellow actually and would serve as a perfect intro to someone who's never heard anything prog.

If the recording session would've ended with just the first two pieces I'd dare say that the resulting CD would be ranked right up there with CTTE and Fragile. But the band didn't stop there and gave us ONE more CD..

3. The Ancient: .****...Without a doubt this is the least accessible of all four pieces and by far the most experimental; and quite honestly I feel that this piece may be responsible for some of the more negative criticism., It weaves heavy drum-guitar interplay with some classical guitar and soft vocals. The changes from one theme to next are abrupt and do not flow nowhere near as smooth as the first two pieces. But let me put it this way: I'd bet if this piece had been done by King Crimson instead of Yes it would be considered by many as one of KC's best work. This is the kind of stuff that KC was doing but yet no one complained when Fripp was doing it? Why was it so bad when Yes did it? I know the answer to that question: because Yes raised the bar so high with the first two pieces by creating highly accessible, lyrically sweeping music that The Ancient pales in comparison.

4. Rtual.*****....This is the one that you want to crank up and let the bass hit your chest! A GREAT lyrically sweeping piece with the customary Howe slide guitar (he even throws in some well-known phrases from Close to the Edge). This one offers some of the most complex time changes of the entire album toward the beginning of the piece. Listen to Chris' bass during the first bridge and during the concluding jam...excellent! Steve's rhythm electric work on this one is superb. Jon's vocals are reminiscent of some of the earlier stuff from, say...Starship Trooper ." This is classic Yes and there's nothing about this one that should have surprised anyone. Top notch stuff.

Overall, I gave three pieces five stars and one of the pieces gets four stars. It may not be a perfect five, but considering how strong the five star material is I give this album an overall five star rating.

Again, I cannot understand why YesHeads don't like this album. Prog newbies or heavy metal proggers not liking it, or even hating it, I can clearly see. But YesHeads?! Sorry, but I will never understand that.

jrfernan | 5/5 |

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