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Yes - The Ladder  CD (album) cover

THE LADDER

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

3.27 | 688 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Australian
Prog Reviewer
4 stars In terms of style, "The Ladder" is a one off album. The band had never before, and probably never will create anything so like the music enclosed in this disc. Songs like "Homeworld" are defiantly a one-time thing. Even stranger still is the band line-up, as Billy Sherwood and Igor Korshez are both in the band at this time, along with the "classic" line up, excluding Wakeman of course. I think that it's this odd, yet versatile band line-up that allowed for much flexibility within the band. Steve Howe's guitar sounds so free, and fresh in this album with the addition of Billy Sherwood which allows for a dedicated rhythm guitarist.

Some of Igor's keyboard solos and passages sound really fresh and different for Yes, his keyboarding in "Homeworld" and "new Languages" is something to be envied. "The Ladder" takes a less serious approach to progressive music and the album has a couple of chessy sections, found most evidently on "Lightning Strikes." The album is also one of the few Yes albums in which the chords progressions are prominent and easily heard, some are so.good and simple.

The album opens with "Homeworld" which is easily the best song since the 70's in my opinion. To me its nine minutes of pure bliss. Surprisingly it owes almost nothing to the "classic" Yes sound and the song has a new vibe. Steve Howe's guitar is the highlight on this song and his many solos are truly inspirational. You also can't go past Igor Khoroshev, whose keyboarding is also amazing. The song was written for a PC games called Homeworld, which is about an alien race trying to return to their homewolrd, Higgara from which they were exiled by their enemies the Tiidan. It is a fascinating and epic story and the song documents the concept vaguely, yet well. The closing section is really emotional, listen for yourself.

Next is "It Will Be a Good Day", which is kind of a follow on from "Homeworld" in terms of sound. The song is reminiscent of the mystical side of Yes and features absolutely classic Jon Anderson-Esq lyrics, as they are for basically the entire album. The song builds in grandeur until the chorus harmony vocals near the end of the song. The guitar work is pivotal in this song and severs its purpose very well. A Great song indeed.

"Lightning Strikes" has kinda' earned the album a bad name, yes the song is very cheesy but one must look beyond that. The song opens with a small ensemble of woodwinds before a very.chessy song begins. "Lightning Strikes" is one happy song and is great for when you're in a mellow mood as the song is very jazzy and enjoyable.

I've said it once and I'll say it again, "Can I" is this album's version of "We Have Heaven" only this time the sing reminds me distinctly of Australian Aboriginal tribal music. The music includes the use of the didgeridoo and percussive sticks as well as the unique Aboriginal vocal-style. To top off my theory Jon Anderson even sings "We Have Heaven" throughout the song, what more do you want?

The next song, "Face to Face" is has a similar mood and rhythm to "Lightning Strikes", although "Face to Face" defiantly a better song. The song is a very good example of happy Yes music. After a couple of listens it is very difficult to recall any part of the song other than "We began at the vert first spring, and the promise will come as the promise is made", the rest goes in one ear, and out the other. A very good song once you listen to it many, many times.

"If Only You Knew" is basically a Yes love song, with some good instrumentation and vocal harmonies. As the song progresses, more progressive-style sections spring-up and blot out any impurities the song may have. There is one good guitar solo at the very end of the song which may not seem so great at first, but it grows on one.

"To Be Alive (Hep Yadda)" begins with the twang of a sitar accompanied by what sounds to be a synthesized flute as well as the good 'ol band backing. The lyrics once again touch the mystical side of Yes and arouse some strong emotions which one can find hard to communicate. Some of the subtle sounds, like the synthesized flute-thing can potentially make all the difference the song. There is a lot of repetition in some of the vocals, but that can be overlooked, and the guitar solo at the end makes up for this small con.

"Finally" swings into action at the very beginning of the song which is rare for "The Ladder." The band has put out a very unique piece of music in this song, make no mistake there are guitar solos all round here (1 or 2) and some of the instrumentation is great. There is a quiet section around the 3:30 minute mark in which the song winds down to the beautiful drone of strings with lush synths in the background. There is a very good guitar tune which reminds me of "Turn of the Century" from the 1977 album "Gong for the One." The song winds down completely with a classical guitar solo which caps of a really great song.

"The Messenger" to me is similar to that of "Keysudios" stuff as it carries similar messages in the lyrical sense. Also the instrumentation and mood is very similar and the vocal harmonies are as strong here as ever. One of the more enjoyable songs from "The Ladder", and that's saying a lot. Again there is some great guitar and synthesizers present in this song.

"New Language" is the song in which all the members of Yes at the current time display their skills on each person's respective instrument. Steve Howe, Billy Sherwood and Igor Khoroshev have a ball of a time with each having a great solo or two. The song is just tem-minutes of breath tacking instrumentalism and vocals, this is Yes at their very best you must check this out.

To cap off the album comes "Nine Voices" which is a plea for attention from deprived Africans. The song is mainly acoustic and there the rhythm guitar complements the vocals very well. There is very limited other instrumentation other than acoustic guitar, but there is some percussion and other feint outlines of instruments. "Nine Voices" is a splendid way to end the album.

1.Homeworld (The Ladder) (5/5) 2.It Will Be A Good Day (The River) (5/5) 3.Lightning Strikes (3/5) 4.Can I? (3/5) 5.Face To Face (3.5/5) 6.If Only You Knew (3.5/5) 7.To Be Alive (Hep Yadda) (4/5) 8.Finally (5/5) 9.The Messenger (5/5) 10.New Language (5/5) 11.Nine Voices (4/5) Total = 46 divided by 11 number of songs = 4.181 = 4 stars Excellent addition to any prog music collection

As we all know one very important thing about music is the album art-work, and here it is amazing! "The Ladder's" album art is truly amazing and lives up to the greatness of Roger Dean. "The Ladder" was able to chart in both the US and UK reaching number 99 and 36 respectively which is very good in my opinion. A great all round album, there is something for everyone here, except you metal-heads!! I'd recommend "The Ladder" to all Yes fans and then to everyone else.

(Edited Review)

Australian | 4/5 |

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