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Yes - The Ladder  CD (album) cover

THE LADDER

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

3.27 | 689 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars A new classic (track)

This was seen as something of a return to form by the band, after the Rabin era Yes and the Billy Sherwood dominated "Open your eyes". The lead track "Homeworld" was included in full on a cover mounted CD from the (better than average) "Classic Rock" magazine, prior to the album's release. Since this was a 9 1/2 minute track with all the hallmarks of the Yes of old, it was an encouraging sign that they were reverting to their prog roots. Even before the album starts though the omens are good, with the eye immediately being attracted to the Roger Dean sleeve illustration, similar to that of Uriah Heep's "Sea of light".

Unusually, the line up consists of six people. Anderson, Howe, Squire and White are joined by Billy Sherwood on guitar and vocals, and fan-become-band-member Igor Khoroshev replacing sometimes member Rick Wakeman. Song-writing credits are democratically shared by all six, although Anderson claims full responsibility for the lyrics (of which there are many) throughout. Much of the credit for the album must however go to producer Bruce Fairbairn who encouraged the band to simply " Make the best Yes album you can".

"Homeworld" In fact turns out to be the best of the bunch, but there are other highlights. I know it's little more than a slushy love song to his wife, but "If only you knew" is a fine Anderson dominated ballad, along the lines of "Time and a word". It has a strong infectious melody, some fine keyboards work by Igor and strong backing vocals especially by Squire.

Steve Howe seems particularly inspired on guitar for this album, his contribution to "It will be a good" day for example significantly lifting an otherwise average track. For another track approaching the length of "Homeworld", we have to wait for the penultimate song "New language". This has a retro Yes feel, with an introductory keyboard run followed by Anderson's sparsely backed vocals. Time changes and Yes trademarks abound, but the song lacks character, Anderson's lyric "I make it up as I go along" being perhaps a little too close to the truth.

There are some lapses of judgement along the way. "Lightning strikes", "To be alive" and "Finally" would have been far more at home on the previous album, and "Can I" is simply a reworking of "We have heaven".

Overall though, there is enough in the way of classy if not classic Yes material here to please most fans of the band. "Homeworld" has gone on to become something of a live favourite, most unusual for anything recorded by the band in the last 20 years. The album is thus recommended for that track alone.

The version I have also includes a digital preview of an at the time new game also called "Homeworld", which featured the music of Yes. The theme of the game has distinct Roger Dean overtones, but who would ever have though it. Yes and computer games, whatever next!

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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