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THE LADDER

Yes

Symphonic Prog


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Yes The Ladder  album cover
3.27 | 639 ratings | 78 reviews | 10% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Studio Album, released in 1999

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Homeworld (The Ladder) (9:33)
2. It Will Be A Good Day (The River) (4:53)
3. Lightning Strikes (4:34)
4. Can I? (1:32)
5. Face to Face (5:03)
6. If Only You Knew (5:42)
7. To Be Alive (Hep Yadda) (5:07)
8. Finally (6:01)
9. The Messenger (5:13)
10. New Language (9:19)
11. Nine Voices (Longwalker)(3:20)

Total Time: 60:17

Lyrics

Search YES The Ladder lyrics

Music tabs (tablatures)

Search YES The Ladder tabs

Line-up / Musicians

- Jon Anderson / vocals
- Chris Squire / bass, harmonica, vocals
- Billy Sherwood / guitars, keyboards, vocals
- Alan White / drums, percussion, vocals
- Steve Howe / guitars, steel, mandolin, banjo, vocals
- Igor Khoroshev / keyboards and vocals

Releases information

Beyond Music (63985-78046-2)

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YES The Ladder ratings distribution


3.27
(639 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(10%)
10%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(33%)
33%
Good, but non-essential (39%)
39%
Collectors/fans only (14%)
14%
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)
4%

YES The Ladder reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Guillermo
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars In late September 1999, YES came to my country to play for the second time, but this time, with few publicity (I knew 2 weeks before the concert that YES was going to play again here, and due to job`s reasons, I only bought my tickets one day before the concert). In 1998, YES played 3 concerts in my country, and the publicity and tickets were available 2 months before the concert. I bought then my tickets one and a half months before the concert. In 1999, I went to see YES, and as I didn`t have the new album "The Ladder" (which I bought a week later), I hear the new songs, and one song particularly stayed in my mind: "It will be a good day", the main reason to buy this album. This is the best song from this album. But in general, the album is good. With YES having then a keyboard player like Igor Khoroshev, who is really a very good keyboard player, this album is better than "Open Your Eyes". The songs of this album were composed by the band as a whole. Even Khoroshev, who never was an official member of the band (I don`t know why), is listed as composer with the members of YES. This album has a lot of influence from Jon Anderson`s "World Music" style in songs like "Lightning strikes", "Can I?" (a "world music" remake of "We have heaven"), and "Nine Voices". There are some "World instruments" performed by Randy Raine-Reusch. "Lighting strikes" has a horn section ("The Marguerita Horns") in this "Afro-Cuban" influenced song. It is mostly a Progressive album. But one song is "very pop": the ballad "If only you knew" (dedicated by Anderson to his new wife). Khoroshev sounds like Wakeman sometimes, but YES gained a lot with his keyboard playing, being him a competent keyboardist. "It will be a good day" has very good keyboards atmospheres and good guitars too.

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Send comments to Guillermo (BETA) | Report this review (#13986) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Yes really tried hard at this one, even using Roger Dean to do the excellent cover.'Homeworld' and ' It will be a Good Day' stand out as the best of a mediocre lot. I battle to enjoy this album from beginning to end, kinda lose interest midway through which to me is what qualifies it as only a 3 star. I preferred 1994's Talk to The Ladder, it had more muscle. I think Yes's days of masterpieces are over but what is so refreshing about them is their never say die attitude. Sure they are milking their brand for all it is worth but when you see these ancient rockers perform on stage to this day you can see why they have survived for so long.Long live Yes and that cosmic energy never fade.

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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#13988) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I was very happy the first time listening to "Homeworld (The Ladder)" (9:33). Not that it's a nice music but with this creation, I think YES has demonstrated that they still can create wonderful composition as what they did in the seventies. Yes, this track has the same quality as "Roundabout", "Southside of The Sky", "And You and I" or "Perpetual Change". It's wonderfully crafted combining catchy melody (vocal line), excellent harmonies and tight composition structured with various styles from melancholic to hard driving rhythm and mellow at the end of the track. This track by itself is a true masterpiece - it's like a classic Yes song recorded with new composition and new recording technology. Awesome. The other excellent tracks are "The Messengers" and "New Language". Unfortunately, other tracks are just good ones, nothing excellent. So I conclude this album with 3.5 stars rating. Keep on proggin' ..!

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#44423) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, August 27, 2005

Review by Man Overboard
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Rick Wakeman wasn't around for this record. Make a small note of that, and then forget it. This takes NOTHING away from the masterpiece that is The Ladder.

If you're one of the many who believe Yes had their strongest ideas and focus with albums like Close To The Edge and Fragile, and then started to lose it around Tales From Topographic Oceans, never fear. The Ladder is their strongest, most focused effort since the early 70's, and for once, hindsight IS 20/20. Memorable, creative, powerful melodies? Check. Uplifting, spiritual, creative lyrics with a hint of cheese? You got it. Amazing harmonies from capable voices with character? Wow, that's here too! And those long-missed explorative song structures? Those too are back, only the noodling of past experiments is gone; every note, every solo, every single measure has more purpose than ever before. This is a Yes that's learned from its past mistakes. You won't mistake this for Union, that's for sure. The only thing missing is the lineup being 100% identical to the Fragile recordings. It's a shame that many will dismiss them on this merit, but I suppose that is the hard truth of being a prog band in this time of cynical fans.

Khoroshev is a keyboard wizard who never overplays, always keeps it tasteful, but knows when to pull out the "Wakeman special" that Wakeman himself hasn't been capable of conjuring in decades. Sherwood's second guitar is augmentive, never overbearing, adding subtle new layers and textures to the music. White's no Bruford, but if you felt he did the band justice on Yessongs, then you'll find much to love about his percussion here. As for the rest of the band? Anderson's voice hasn't deteriorated an iota, Howe hasn't played so energetically and creatively outside of his solo projects in ages, and Squire's Rickenbacker is no less of a monster, emitting the most creative basslines of his post-CttE career. And every musician contributes to the vocal harmonies, giving them the life and character that's been long missing.

Don't overlook this album. Some might find it hard to swallow, but this is as good as Yes gets, on par with the groundbreaking 70's material in an era where those words are considered blasphemy. 5 stars, no apologies.

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Send comments to Man Overboard (BETA) | Report this review (#46632) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Review by chessman
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Oh dear! Here we go again. Another Yes album that is, in some quarters, lauded to be 'the greatest thing' since their heyday. Unfortunately, this is another bland disappointment. As usual with Yes, the lyrics are nonsensical happy chappy things that simply come across as old hat now. The playing is competent, but unfortunately, the songs are not. Very modern, and certainly not worthy of being remotely compared with their 'classic' period, which began with 'Fragile' and ended with 'Going For The One'. The opener 'Homeworld' is tolerable, and the last track, 'Nine Voices' is actually quite enjoyable, easily my favourite on the album. But classic Yes this isn't. This is the updated cabaret version of the band. Too many musicians involved too. Believe me, if you are a Yes fan and looking for an album worthy to be in any way associated with their above mentioned 'classic' period, the only album they have released since 'Going For The One' that is a gallant effort in that direction is the excellent 'Keystudio', but people who already own the 'Keys To Ascension' albums will find those tracks their. This one isn't their worst, but it's far from being anywhere close to their best. Collectors only.

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Send comments to chessman (BETA) | Report this review (#46635) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Review by Eetu Pellonpää
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This album didn't appeal to me, expect that it's covers by Roger Dean are marvelous. The players perform wonderfully, but the songs lack that kind of spirit or direction which I would appreciate. Compared to the early 70's day albums, I feel that they have lost their ability to create good compositions. But I guess the listener has to be able to consume feminine new-age pop rock to like this. Maybe my lack of this ability is my own loss? The good reviews of this album prove luckily, that there are listeners who enjoyed this album too. You just have to identify your own tastes, and I suggest a listening before buying!

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Send comments to Eetu Pellonpää (BETA) | Report this review (#50349) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, October 07, 2005

Review by NJprogfan
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This one by YES is a hit or miss type of album. The hits, ('Homeworld', 'Face To Face', 'New Language') are outweighed by the misses, (the rest of the tracks). Being the most progressive songs "Homeworld" and "New Language" will at times bring back fond memories of past glories. They may not achive or stand next to the classics from the 70's, but for YES and their fans, they at least gave it a go. My favorite track tho is 'Face To Face", bringing back memories of the 80's with a super-catchy chorus and a straight ahead rock vibe that could have been a single. May not have been a hit, ala "Owner of A Lonely Heart" being that it wasn't dancey enough, but it hit the right chords with me :-). What bothers me most is when Pope Jon takes the podium and pontificates lyrically. "Finally" and "The Messenger" make me cringe and stab the forward button eagerly. Jon bugs the heck out of me when he tries to be current, ugh! "If Only You Knew" is a decent ballad, and "Lightning Strikes" rocks harmlessly, neither hurt nor help the album. Overall, a fine album, good for fans of YES, but not essential at all for non-fans, or as a first taste.

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Send comments to NJprogfan (BETA) | Report this review (#60979) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Review by Zitro
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Not a comeback to their classic era, but they released quite a good album here. This is not really progressive rock as most of the music is safe, predictable, and focus on poppish melodies. A nice album to hear when you are doing something else as background music, because if you are completely focused on the music, you won't be blown away. However, the world music influences is very important in the album's strength.

If you want to know, the classic line-up is almost here, except for Rick Wakeman. however, the russian keyboardist is pretty good. Everyone is playing pretty good, but they've done better. They are playing to their standard to create an average Yes album.

HomeWorld may fool you into thinking that this album is going to be excellent. This is the best song in the album and one of the best songs they've released after Tempus Fugit. It is a long song focused on catchy vocal melodies, and appropiate and accessible instrumentation. The instrumental section is a bit disappointing but the coda is excellent. First spacey, then classical, then finishes as a ballad.

The album keeps being solid with "It Will Be a Good Day" as a nice ballad with elegant guitar work, vocal harmonies, and every ingredient needed for a successful ballad. Not great, but a good piece. "Lighting Strikes" took me many listens to get used to, even if it is clearly a pop song. The reason is the world influences. It is a pretty catchy and fun track once you get used to it, and the introductory acoustic guitar is beautiful. Can I is another world music piece with vocal harmonies and references to the horrid "We Have Heaven". Fortunately, this is MUCH better than that Fragile torture. Face to Face is an anthemic rocker with a great guitar theme. You also probably can dance to it too. A very good song and the other highlight of the album.

Now, here comes the second half:

If Only You Know is an ok, but not great pop song. It is quite sugary in nature, so maybe that already makes it worse. To Be Alive is the best song of the 2nd half. The world influences hit again and the chorus is so much fun to sing along to: you will be surprised. Finally is quite a weak pompous pop song, I just don't like it and it is way too long. The Messenger is quite a catchy raggae-influenced track with a great bass line and the first song that I instantly liked on the first listen. New Language is the other long track of the album, but it is extremely disappointing when compared to Homeworld. It is a decent track with a good intro, ok melodies. The instrumental section is disappointing but I like how it starts with the guitar. Nine Voices is a good acoustic ballad that finishes the album in a strong note. The guitar playing is gorgeous and complicated.

While I seem to be mostly positive, this is not an essential album. It is nothing great. Almost everything is just "nice", a few greats "Homeworld, Face to Face, To Be Alive" is countered by weak songs "If Only You Know, Finally, New Language". If you are a big fan of yes and/or Jon Anderson's solo career, you should get it in my opinion.

My Grade: C+

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Send comments to Zitro (BETA) | Report this review (#80804) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, June 09, 2006

Review by 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)

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Send comments to Australian (BETA) | Report this review (#84738) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Review by ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars From the opening notes there is a sense this will be quite different from the studio albums the band had released over the previous twenty years. Recent new member Igor Khoroshev provides the most creative keyboard tracks for the band since way back when Wakeman was playing target practice with Tormato's album cover. This is not the 'traditional' Yes sound, but it's certainly a decent attempt at artistic rather than commercial expression, and at least "Homeworld (the Ladder)" is a pretty decent opening track. The building keyboard & guitar bridge in the middle actually caught me a bit off-guard the first time I heard them - it had been a while since Yes had done anything that made me sit up and really take notice. Bravo!

Howe's guitar and Alan White's drums border on sounding like the Police on "It Will Be a Good Day (the River)", perhaps a holdover from the similar "Wonderlove" from the Open Your Eyes album. This is another in a several-year string up poppish, upbeat tunes that are clearly heavily-influenced by Jon Anderson's inexplicable infatuation with Trevor Rabin's 80's style. This one is okay, nothing special but certainly not annoying.

"Lightning Strikes" is a live version with a pretty decent mix except for the drums which seem a bit flat, and there's a really weird tempo on the short middle instrumental that the band was clearly having fun with. I'm guessing from the crowd noise that this was more impressive if you were there to see it live. The odd almost-reggae tone is a change for the band, but the album is so pleasantly accessible that even this doesn't really turn me off.

The goofy "Can I?" is a short, inexplicable shout-out to "We Have Heaven" from the band's 1971 hit Fragile. I really have no idea why.

Howe's guitar is very interesting on "Face to Face" (I'm pretty sure this is a steel guitar). I love that twangy sound the thing makes, chugging along with a pretty up- tempo beat from White and Billy Sherwood filling in the gaps on electric guitar. Not sure what Anderson is babbling about, but this is another happy song and has some very decent keyboards and guitar to boot. Pretty good, if underdeveloped. Right before the end Anderson's vocal inflection gives the impression he's about to launch off into places unknown for a while, but I guess I only imagined this and the song dies out. Too bad.

"If Only You Knew" gives itself away from its title - sappy ballad, sappy keyboards, sappy guitar, sappy vocals, sappy sappy sappy. Get the picture? Oh well, this one will give Christopher Cross something to aspire to.

On "To Be Alive (Hep Yadda)" Howe pulls out what I think is his mandolin, and Chris Squire throws in just a little bit of harmonica over Khoroshev's string/flute-inspired keyboards. This is another pop tune, really could have been left off the album as far as I'm concerned, but again Khoroshev's keyboards are clean and well-played.

The band reaches back to the mid-80's for the sound on "Finally", but Anderson's vocals are surprisingly tough and this is a really tight rhythm with both Howe and Sherwood playing understated but driving guitars. I kind of like this tune, especially the downward tempo shift midway through that has the effect of seeming to extend this track far beyond its six minutes.

I'm not sure where Anderson got the idea he was a reggae singer - maybe he got sucked in to the UB40 sound along with the rest of us in the 80's. Who knows, but this is a Bob Marley tribute that is quite rich with Khoroshev adding string sounds to the two guitars, Squire doing his Stevie-Stevens-on-bass thing, and a few of them (not sure who) backing up Anderson on vocals. This is also not a very complex number, but it sure does a good job of sounding like it is. Here again an abrupt drop in tempo at the end makes the arrangement seem richer than it probably is.

With "New Language" the band finally returns to an old traditional of including one long, progressive, and heavily instrumental work. And the bonus is that this one is very heavy on keyboards, with Khoroshev setting kind of a bouncy tone and Howe coming in behind Anderson's vocals to briefly put out a little funk before Khoroshev wanders off to do some of the spacey stuff. This track clocks in at a bit over nine minutes, but it seems shorter. Maybe it's the rather driving beat, unusual for an extended Yes track. Howe and Squire rule on this track, but I have to say that Khoroshev is surprisingly lively and his timing is impeccable. This ain't "Close to the Edge", but it's a fairly decent throwback to around that time at least.

The closing "Nine Voices (Longwalker)" is a rather weak acoustic-and-vocals bit about Africa or something - not sure, I've always had trouble following Anderson's lyrics and this one didn't seem all that important to try and decipher. White does some cowbell or something in an attempt to give this an African feel I suppose. It doesn't work. This is another that could have been left off.

So this is a much better album than anything since at least Drama, and the second in a row that the band shows a buildup in intensity and creativity. A respectable though not stellar album. Three stars.

peace

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Send comments to ClemofNazareth (BETA) | Report this review (#90565) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Review by 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!

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#97292) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, November 06, 2006

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Prog Specialist
2 stars Back in 1999 a good friend who had bought "THE LADDER" told me this was the definitive resurrection of the band that we loved so dearly back in the glorious 70's so without asking anybody or listening a sample (a mistake I never did again), went to the store and got it, but after a couple listens I rediscovered that the last YES masterpiece was "Relayer".

Would be unfair to say the album is bas because for most bands THE LADDER would have been a great achievement, but sadly for them, we always expect much more from YES than a revamp version of ABWH without the name that the "W" stands for, good but anodyne.

From the start with "Homeworld" we notice that they are really trying to get back in the path of the 70's but too much time has passed, Anderson sounds acuter and cheesier than ever, Koroshev is not Wakeman and Howe does nothing spectacular as we are used to, seems that they did enough to release a respectable album, but the muse of inspiration was probably on vacations when they recorded this album.

"It will be a Good Day" puts me in a problem, not bad but what the hell are they trying to do, nice keyboard sections despite it's evident that Igor tries desperately to sound like Wakeman but without complete success. I don't know what to say about this anodyne song, not Rock, not Pop, not Prog but the three at the same time, lets say that the album would have not been affected if this track was never recorded.

Now Lightning Strikes" is pure cheese, simply horrendous from the mambo intro, except a couple of Howe decent sections avoid this aberration and also the next track "Can I?" in which Jon Anderson manages to erase from my head the pleasant memories I kept from "We Have Heaven", it's a double crime, a bad song that ruins a good one from an old album.

"Face to Face" is the first really good track of the album, vibrant, interesting the guitar duet by Howe and Sherwood complement perfectly Jon's voice and for the first time in the album we can listen the two facets of Chris Squire, excellent backing vocalist and better bassist, by far the best song of the album at this point.

"If Only You Knew" sounds more like one of the weakest ABWH tracks but much more poppy and boring than the usual, nothing really transcendental or even remotely interesting, somebody should have told this guys that his stuff is OK for bands as BOSTON but not for YES, the same comment goes for "To be Alive (Hep Yadda)" easy forgettable tunes.

"Finally" starts strong and promising but the whole track sounds as a long intro that never captures an essential sound, absolutely reminiscent of 90125, specially the infamous "Owner of a Lonely Heart", please tell Anderson that Rabin is no longer with them.

What the hell did YES tried to do with "The Messenger", this is not a tribute to Bob Marley, despite I don't like Reggae too much, at least he was original, but this hybrid leads nowhere, a couple of good mandolin sections by Howe and nice chorus are the only things that save this bad track. When I listened the first chords of "New Language" I thought, "Hey, this guys are returning to the roots" and it's true in some extent because despite the fact that they are much heavier than in the 70's this song starts strong until the break around the second minute when we have to realize the intro was only a mirage in a huge desert, disappointing because they had the idea but they weren't able to use the more than 9:00 minutes they had.

The album ends weaker than it started with this acoustic babbling by Jon Anderson and Howe, except for some guitar or maybe mandolin nice moments better avoid it, takes you nowhere.

Because this album is better than the Rabin era stuff, the good "Face to Face" and the excellent screen saver that comes with the album, won't give one star, but even two stars is a bit too much if we guide us by the YES standards, being that there's no chance for 1.5 stars, I would give them one more than in BIG GENERATOR, but lets realize that YES should forget about creating new albums and must keep giving us the excellent concerts with the old stuff until they retire.

Unless you're a hardcore YES fan, better avoid it.

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Send comments to Ivan_Melgar_M (BETA) | Report this review (#100359) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, November 25, 2006

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars If you except the studio parts from "Keys" that were quite nice, "Yes" did not produce a single great studio effort for twenty two years ("Going For The One). Since I was going to see them live for this tour (in February 2000), I decided to buy the album to get a bit acquainted with the material. I was of course very sceptic after the dreadful experience of "Open Your Eyes" in 1997.

The fact that Rick was no longer on the keys only added to my fear . As I mentioned in my review for "Open Your Eyes", Yes only produced crappy works while Rick wasn't there, so...

He is replaced by a very talented Russian keyboardist : Igor Khoroshev. He was already credited for the keyboard playing on three tracks from the previous album (I got this info via the "Yes" official website). He toured with "Yes" for a complete year (October 1997 through October 1998 - 164 concerts), so he was used to the other members of the band. The funny thing is that he was a "Yes" fan from the Wakeman era and knew almost the whole of their back catalogue when he joined them.

Sherwood is still the second guitar player along with Steve. The cover artwork is really nice and could have meant a true return to the roots.

And when you listen to the opener, you think that "Yes" is back. MyYes at least!

"Homeworld" has everything to satisfy a desperate YesFan : a lenghty track, great vocal harmonies, and here and there some nice guitar breaks (electric & accoustic). Good keys from Khoroshev as well.

"It Will Be a Good Day" is a symphonic rock / pop ballad with very good vocal harmonies again. Nothing from the other world, but good. Next song "Lightning Strikes" shows the tendancy of "The Ladder" to investigate in the world music. This latin-rock sound belong more to the Santana repertoire than to the "Yes" one. IMO. Very dynamic and not too bad after all.

The tribal "Can I" is very dispensable (luckilly it is the shortest track : 1'31"). The worse track on "The Ladder". Yes outputs then a quite rocking tune with "Face to Face" : great bass playing and good heart-beat drumming. The guitar breaks are also very well achieved. The melody of the song is pleasant. So far so good.

The melancholic "If Only You Knew" will not be remembered as a great YesSong : weak lyrics, very much "love" oriented (maybe to Jon's wife) : I quote "Everyone who looks at you, Sees the loving in your every move, You're the healing of the soul". During the concert, Jon will talk a lot about the love for his wife, kindness, heart, soul etc. Too much. One of the weakest tracks of the album.

I like "To Be Alive" although it is a bit naïve. But to me is sounds fresh and very optimistic. "Finally" sounds a bit too much to their FM / AOR period at least during its first half. Then, we get a beautiful melodic section with fantastic guitar and keys as well as a superb Jon (à la "Soon"). Strange combination though.

"Messenger" starts with a bluesy guitar part but then hesitates between AOR sounds and classic YesTune. Not a good combination I'm afraid. A nice vocal part in the last section saves it from being poor (thanks Jon).

The second lenghty track (over nine minutes) "New Language" starts violently (a bit in the style of "Heart Of The Sunrise"), then turns into a YesClassic with good vocals and a strong backing band : nice but vigorous acoustic guitar solo and great keys to finish. One of the best song. It should have close the album because "Nine Voices" is not very interesting.

With "The Ladder" Yes explores various types of music, which is not bad an experiment but might be confusing for the majority of their fans. It sounds as a very optimistic album, full of hope & love. Not enough keys IMO.

When I first heard it, I was really charmed. But the more I listen to it, the least I like it actually. It is still far much better than "Open" and alikes. Three stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#106659) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, January 08, 2007

Review by ghost_of_morphy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 4 stars. This is an excellent addition to any prog collection. In fact, it is the best thing that Yes has released since Going for the One (unless you count the second disc of Keys to Ascension II.) Unlike KTAII, though, this album suffers from the fact that Yes is being pulled in many directions at once. There's the attempt to return to classic prog, there's the contemporary sound that Sherwood and Squire appear to be pushing, and there's the unabashed chasing after a commercial pop sound. None of these really wins out (thank God). They gel together well, for the most part, but it leads to a sort of sameness in sound in the heart of the album which keeps me from proclaiming this a masterpiece. Let's hit this one track by track.

Homeworld: A great song. Hearing it makes you think that this is what parts of Fragile would sound like if they were just now recording it. Khoroshev's style of playing isn't anything that Rick would do, but it DOES sound like something Keith Emerson might try. A brilliant opener.

It Will Be A Good Day: The pop sound makes it's debut, but on this track it's very tastefully done. Good vocals in the best of the Jon Anderson solo tradition.

Lightning Strikes/Can I?/Face To Face: I'm absolutely convinced that back in the '70's these three tracks would have been bundled together as a single epic, as they are so close in theme and sound. And it would have been a great epic, too. Lightning Strikes has some great guitar work and some of Jon's best lyrics. Can I? is a nod to We Have Heaven off Fragile with a world music sound. Face To Face wraps this up with some great keyboards.

If Only You Knew: A ballad with some good ensemble vocal work. It's ok, but not great. We've reached the heart of the album, where a certain mediocrity reigns.

To Be Alive: This is the song that I actively dislike. It sounds like the band has run out of creativity at this point, but they will start working their way back.

Finally: The first half of this is fairly uninspired, but the second has some spacey keyboards and Jon's best dreamy vocals featured to redeem it.

The Messenger: Since when has Yes ever put out songs like this??? You have to go WAY back to when Peter Banks was in the band to find something that even remotely sounds like this tribute to Bob Marley.

New Language: The obligatory epic (even though it doesn't quite make the ten minute mark. A good composition and everybody contributes their best to make it work. Again, Jon's lyrical work is outstanding.

Nine Voices: One of those short little "spiritual" pieces of Anderson's that Yes has been recording since the days of Big Generator. It's not the worst of them, but thankfully it's too short to wear out it's welcome.

To sum up, it's generally a great album, but there's some dross (especially in the middle) that keeps it from being a masterpiece.

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Send comments to ghost_of_morphy (BETA) | Report this review (#124393) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, June 02, 2007

Review by febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
4 stars A RETURN TO THE ROOTS-SOMEHOW!!

YES was quite prolific in the second part of the 90s as they come back with a new CD in 1999 ''THE LADDER''. So what do expect this time? the same line up than on ''OPEN YOUR EYES'' is back, not great news, but now they have added a great keyboradist, the Russisn IGOR KHOROSHEV who fits very well on the stool of RICK WAKEMAN. On the other side, ROGER DEAN artwork is back and that might be a good sign!! but i guess we can't have both again together, DEAN cover design and the classic logo.

The band was told by their producer to release the best YESmusic they can, and actually they did, or at least tried.This CD was an excellent surprise for me, the compositions are far better than the studio songs on KTA 2. No more AOR songs, only YESmusic with some twists like the,,,,,,,carribean ''lightning strikes'', kind of a Led ZEP ''D'YER MARKER'' to YES. The best song is of course the first track, the 10mn long ''Homeworld'' a true YESepic well in the tradition of the glorious 70s masterpieces. They still can compose great stuff when they want.Maybe at their advanced age, they realize they won't hit again the top 40. This is time to please the real old YESfans.Hopefully!!

Not everything is perfect,like ''face to face'' of course not, but i think we are as YESfans too much demanding and it's time for us to enjoy the recent releases the way they are, very decent albums from one of our favorite band. Nothing can be compared to CTTE anyway, so let's try to have a good time with ''If only you knew'' or ''New language'' .d the

Overall a very pleasnt album from beginning to end; JON ANDERSON is just being JON ANDERSON not trying overdoing himself, Billy SHERWOOD is not too much in the front and the new keyboardist is very, very good! RICK who??

This is YES in 1999; 1972 was long time ago!! Enjoy now!!!!

4 stars for a very good album,

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Send comments to febus (BETA) | Report this review (#127265) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, July 01, 2007

Review by progaardvark
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I wasn't sure I wanted to purchase The Ladder after listening to the awful Open Your Eyes, but I couldn't help myself and did. Sometimes loyalty can be rewarding, sometimes painful. The Ladder leans more towards being rewarding. In fact, when I first heard this I thought Yes was on their way to another masterpiece. Now some years later I have to wonder what was going on in my brain that month I was enthralled with this release. My guess is that it didn't age well.

Wakeman of course left the group after the Keys to Ascension CDs. On The Ladder, Russian keyboard wizard Igor Khoroshev took his place in the group. Billy Sherwood was still with the group, but took more of a limited role (which was probably a good thing since many thought he ruined the group in much the same way Trevor Rabin did), making this Yes lineup a sextet.

So, why hasn't it aged well? In recent listens I'd have to say because the group was once again attempting to gain radio exposure or maybe making long extended songs like Mind Drive or Close to the Edge was too much for these old rockers. The Ladder really has the feel of a 21st century Tormato, which means the group has once again lapsed into a lack of inspiration. Not that everything is bad. Some of these songs are refreshing. It's just that there isn't enough of them to excel this album to a higher rating. Another mixed bag. The Ladder is probably worthwhile for Yes fans, but for other listeners, this band has many better albums worth your attention than this one. Three stars. Good, somewhat boring, totally non-essential.

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Posted Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Review by Flucktrot
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This album starts out on a high note and ends in similar fashion. On the downside, the material sandwiched in between is not nearly as interesting, as proggy, or just plain good as the bookends. Here are the highlights and lowlights for me:

The Ladder. I thought this was a well-crafted song the first time I heard it, and time has only strengthened this opinion. I like the restrained but consistent rhythm throughout, as this tune keeps driving forward without straining too hard or fighting for your attention. Jon Anderson sounds as good (or better) as ever in my opinion, and the lyrics keep my attention as many of his lyrics fail to do. Kudos to the dual keyboard section for nice arrangements and Wakeman-like (but not rip-off) flourishes. I especially enjoy the ending, as Anderson's voice powers ever higher and Squire's bass really begins to move, leading to a nice mellow finish and segue to the proceeding tune.

It Will Be a Good Day (The River). For some, this song may be sappy, slow and even boring, but I enjoy it each time I hear it, from the pastoral lyrics to the catchy (but not overly so) theme. Happy and optimistic without being cliche--not an easy feat.

Lightning Strikes. A pop tune that gets more irritating with every listen. When the liner has to credit "dance loops" in a Yes album, I know there is at least one song that I won't like, and this is it on this album.

Can I? I hope they enjoyed screwing around to come up with this song, because I sure don't enjoy listening to it. Even Jon Anderson has limits, and his aboriginal scatting above a droning didgeridoo and a remix of We Have Heaven appears to be that limit.

New Language/Nice Voices (Longwalker). I view these two songs as a mini-suite, and a good one at that. New Language begins quickly, showing that Yes can still rock when they choose, which moves into a bouncy melody and catchy chorus. This song then segues into the mellow Nice Voices: a mellow but thoughtful tune to close out the album, featuring nice interplay between Howe and Anderson.

All the other songs not listed are neither exceptionally good nor exceptionally bad, in addition to not being very proggy (in my opinion, at least). Overall, an enjoyable album, in which Anderson is featured the most, backed by solid (but un-virtuosic) keyboarding, with Howe and Squire seeming a bit too restrained, and White adding little besides a beat and relatively generic fills (though he never detracts from the music). Only the bookends will make my regular playlists, but I believe the album to be worth buying just for those tunes.

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Posted Thursday, August 30, 2007

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars It will be a good album.

Following up the 1997 disaster Open Your Eyes and the excellent Keys To Ascension duo comes this album. The sporty Roger Dean album cover reminiscent of some of the classic work he did with the band, and the album just calls out to prog fans from the store shelves. Upon closer inspection however, a couple people might be taken aback. What by? - The line-up here is a little bit strange. Billy Sherwood has managed to stick around even if his presence didn't make Open Your Eyes the smash it had the (apparent) potential to become after the return of guitar god Steve Howe... and what's this? No Wakeman? No - On keyboards instead comes fan turned band member Igor Khoroshev. The rest of the classic members are there (spare Bruford, but White works as a classic member), but they're under the production of a guy named Bruce Fairbairn. So how will this album turn out?

Apparently the first words that Bruce said to the YesMen were, ''Just make the best yes album that you can, the rest will follow,'' and thats what they did. While a bit uneven at times, this disc is very good after all. Khoroshev proves that he can be an ample Wakeman replacement, even if his style is a bit different from Wakeman, and if he can't pull off the same kind of solos and doesn't add his word into the final product of music that comes out in the end like Wakeman's clearly did. Are these all complaints against the man? No, not at all, it's good to have someone else give directions, after all, Relayer was a classic done without him, was it not? As for the other temporary member, Sherwood, it seems that if he had a big say in the music direction of the last album here it's been toned down considerably. The rest of the members just do what they do best; Squire slays with killer bass lines, Howe hit's those wonderfully clean chords of his, White smashes the skins and Anderson still hits the high notes thirty years later. While Anderson may have written a bit too many lyrics for the album (aka - over insistent vocals), his voice still makes it forgivable (although, to those who don't like his voice this album may not sound to pleasing).

An original album in ever sense of the word, this is a style that really mixes the poppy Yes music from albums like Talk with more progressive music like what they'd done on an album like Keystudio. What emerges is a very upbeat album that is optimistic the entire way through. What's original about this is that this is really a sound that only Yes could capture, and they only ever did it on this one album.

The songs presented here are done so well. There's a few flashes of Yes brilliance but they're fairly widespread. However, most, if not all of the music here is very enjoyable with only a few tracks that the progressive elitists will get offended by. A couple of dance-y numbers such as the infectious Lightning Strikes and the jumpy Finally will not sit well with the prog-heads, but these tracks will be balanced out by a couple other moments of brilliance like the excellent Homeworld (The Ladder) and the truly original New Language. A couple of very pleasing tracks would include It Will Be A Good Day (The River) with it's lush melodies and To Be Alive (Hep Yadda) where Anderson's over insistent vocals actually make the song very easy on the ears. Face To Face is a great standout, it's upbeat tempo and well done instrumentation make it one of the best songs on the album. Can I?is likely the only track on the album which comes off as weak. Really, it's just an overextended remix of We Have Heaven trying to remind audiences of their 70s days.

Not a classic but definitely good, this album gets 3 stars. More for the Yes fans than any one else, some of the poppier material on here may upset some listeners while the longer and more progressive tracks should prove a great deal of solace. Recommended for Yes fans and anyone who doesn't mind that their music be upbeat and somewhat dance-able.

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Posted Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Review by Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars This album is indeed like a ladder, so long as we're talking about the experience one has when slipping down one-- each song leaving a sour-taste in the mouth as a bloody jaw smashing against each rapidly approaching, unforgiving steel rung. The Ladder is not a Yes comeback album, it is a lengthy exercise in masochism.

Here are the pros: the songs are (slightly) elevated beyond the radio-friendly tunes we've been hearing from these guys for the past decade; finally we're given longer offerings with more interesting compositions which begin to reconcile the band's glorious symphonic hey-day with a more modern edge. Secondly, the group delivers more interesting performances across the board-- but given the immense failures of everything since Going For the One, that isn't saying much.

Here are my complaints: these songs are so happy-fun-tra-la-la-skippy-do-saccharine-squeeky-clean that, by the end of the first half I could not wait for it to be over... then If Only You Knew started up and the torture really began. Of course, the real offender here is Jon Anderson, whose voice and lyrics DOMINATE this album. The instrumental moments are few and far between-- and don't come close to ANYTHING we were gifted with during the classic era. But, I could at least get into these few moments of nice playing until Anderson opens up his big, new-age-Christian-mystic bullcrap spouting mouth and ruins everything. EVERY song on this album sounds like he's singing to Jesus... I am not joking; he's lyrics are interchangeable with contemporary Christian rock. I realize that this has always been prevalent in his writing-- but at least in 1973 his lyrics were so obscure and weird that it wasn't obvious, these are just painful.

If uniformly cheery songs and inspiring lyrics with the words you and believe plastered in every other line-- you'll find a lot to enjoy with The Ladder. For those of us who enjoy variety, art, depth, and intensity-- The Ladder is just that: something very tall to fall off of.

Songwriting: 3 Instrumental Performances: 2 Lyrics/Vocals: 1 Style/Emotion/Replay: 2

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Posted Thursday, April 03, 2008

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
4 stars Climbing the ladder towards former glory

Even if Yes continued to release good albums throughout the 80's and 90's and even experienced commercial success in the early 80's with 90125 and the hit song Owner Of A Lonely Heart, I don't think that anyone could deny that they were far away from their glory days in the 70's. Some members left and some others came back and then left again, etc. etc.

While I have some difficulties with 90125, even it had its moments. Big Generator, Talk and Open Your Eyes are all in my opinion good (but non-essential) albums and Union and the Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe and Keys To Ascension projects are all great. But the latter three had only been brief reunions of past members and small reminders of what Yes used to be capable of in the 70's.

Steve Howe finally returned full time for the previous Open Your Eyes and even if I like that album, there was something missing still. The Ladder has that missing something! The Open Your Eyes line-up was not a full reunion of a classic line-up, but it was very close. Jon Anderson is here of course, as is Chris Squire and Alan White. Jon and Chris had been with the band from the very start, Steve since 1971 and Alan since 1974. Billy Sherwood and Igor Koroshev joined the band here full time for The Ladder making this the only six man line-up of Yes ever.

The Ladder is more in line with the classic Yes sound of the 70's, more so than any other full Yes studio album since 1980's Drama (almost 20 years earlier). (Though, the two Keys To Ascension live albums that were recorded a couple of years before The Ladder had included some new studio tracks featuring the classic line-up from the 70's).

And they do indeed pull off some great songs here. The best one is Homeworld (The Ladder) which is a great song. But the whole album holds up very well.

Highly recommended! A good companion to the classic albums of the 70's.

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Posted Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Review by russellk
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars A corker opening track, and you just know they've fired their best shot. Too many YES albums have flattered to deceive, and a couple just clunked from the start, so the listener sits and waits for the other shoe to drop.

It doesn't take long. 'It Will Be a Good Day' returns us to the mire of their late eighties/nineties output, where the ambition to pen a rock staple outmatches their compositional ability. A five minute yawn.

But what's this? 'Lightning Strikes' is just wonderful, a fun stomp, the first part of what I think of as a three-part song. Energy, verve, woo hoo! I doubt this little ditty will be to most proggers' taste, but I like it muchly. 'Can I?' reprises 'We Have Heaven' from 'Fragile' with a continuation of 'Lightning Strikes' shuffle beat. The trilogy is finished off by 'Face to Face', featuring the same beat and some YES tomfoolery. This three-parter isn't top-drawer YES - 'Face to Face' drags a bit - but my goodness it at least has some adventure about it. The band has finally broken out of twenty years of straightjacketing, when they seemed to think music was all about variations on the classic rock formula.

See, this is what you get when you finally decide to make an album YOU want to listen to, not just some putative audience.

But, sadly, this is the high-water mark. An inoffensive ANDERSON-dominated ballad follows, another five-minute yawn, and the listener begins to look anxiously at the track listing. 'To Be Alive' leads into a series of saccharine platitude-laden tracks with none of the dynamism present earlier in the album, and plenty of pop-mystical new age sentiment. 'The Messenger' sees SQUIRE emerge from the fridge in which he's kept chilled to play a nice sinister bass lead-in, which the band squander a golden opportunity to make something of. 'New Language' is a disappointment, again fading into mediocrity after a good opening. Don't be fooled by its length: it's another rock track extended by a couple of solos that certainly don't stretch either the talents of the musicians or the mind of the listener. A mellotron pokes its hoary head over the parapet during this song, and for the life of me I can't work out why. The album finishes with a self-indulgent ANDERSON number. Dispensable.

So. Given that there's an hour's music here, about twenty to thirty minutes is redeemable, depending on your taste and tolerance for vanilla rock. That's not bad for post-87 YES. But it is not the return to form we'd all hoped for.

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Posted Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Review by The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This is an album that is really difficult for me to rate.

My problem lies in the fact that I don't know where "The Ladder" stands in the whole catalogue of YES' albums. Keeping in mind that I haven't heard the four albums that were released between the awful "90125" and the one I'm reviewing right now, the jump in quality is quite big (even if that's not much of an accomplishment considering how terrible the earlier record is). There are 16 years separating one from the other, which doesn't help me to have a proper perspective of the placement of "The Ladder" among the works of the legendary English band.

For that reason, I should show more leniency towards this album, as I don't know what happened in between it and "90125". Also, there's no doubt the record shows signs that YES was trying to get back on the prog track. Songs are longer in average, with more solos, more instrumental passages, a few sections of interesting harmonies and other musical elements, and there's even one really good song with "Homeworld (The Ladder)", which almost achieves the status of a minor classic.

On the other hand, "The Ladder" is a really boring album to sit through. Old YES' discs used to last about 40 minutes in average. But with the arrival of new technology, times could be expanded. Now YES give us an album with one hour of music, where only about 15 minutes are truly enjoyable. The rest is just filler material. Disguised as experimental tricks Squire and band mates recorded a lot of tropical-African-Caribbean-sounding passages, which give the disc a distinct disposable-music flavor, and most of the songs are completely forgettable, with no hooks, no great melodies, no decent choruses, no amazing sections of musical wizardry. In general, 15 good minutes out of a 40-minute album is the sign of a mediocre record; 15 good minutes in a 60-minute album announce a plain bad effort.

So where does "The Ladder" stand among its peers? Obviously, nowhere near any album previous to "Tormato", even inferior to "The Yes Album" (the love for which I still don't fully understand). "Tormato" is better than "The Ladder", and much more so is the tremendously- underrated "Drama". But "90125" is an inferior recording, and from what I've learned, so will probably be "Big Generator", "Union" and "Open your Eyes" (I reserve any guesses about "Talk"). Thus, a 2.5 rating would be the right one. As I don't have that option, I'll round off this time, as I feel the need to express the superiority of other 3-star albums over this mediocre, immediately-forgettable record.

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Posted Saturday, August 23, 2008

Review by poslednijat_colobar
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Oh... Yes,Yes,Yes again and again!!! Long live for this band! The name of the next album is Magnification,but the magnification begin from here,again and again!It is very pleasant for someone simple person like me when see that five big persons (or six) repair their mistake! And Yes made it perfectly! After the absolute failure Talk and the problems with the sound tuning and some other circumstances in Open Your Eyes Yes are here again! The Ladder is the first album with crystal and synchronic sound and mystical perfection in songwriting since Drama and the first in typical classic Yes sound since Going for the One.I exclude Union,because it is different and its beauty shine in other way!I think that a returning to the top is harder than reaching it for first time. And that's the importance of The Ladder and the greatness of Yes. There are many band,but there aren't others like Yes. The Ladder contains one of the most famous and one of the best Yes' songs - Homeworld (The Ladder). All of the other songs are very good,without anything weak. The Ladder is album that makes you happy,satisfied and pleased from life.It turns you free and positive. Appropriate for everyday use and for all moods.A must recording for every little progressive rock fan!

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Posted Monday, October 06, 2008

Review by Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Oh. what a difficult album to review! Yes was always my first love in prog, the reason why I fell for this genre in the first time. But, to be absolute frank, all their studio works after Tormato did not captivate me too much. The Ladder is among them. It has some great moments that made me remind of how special they are, like the opening Homeworld (The Ladder). Fantastic song that makes you believe the band is is fine form and promises a wonderful album. But then the album gets so uneven is hard to believe. There are some embarrassing moments (few) and some good moments, but nothing that stands to the opener. Really a pity.

I like this CD, by the way. I can stand their pop rock tunes. I can forgive the bad moments (although the brass arrangement on Lightning Strikes tempts me not to). After all, it´s YES! The greatest prog band that ever existed! But clearly nothing here stands up to their best 70´s work (aside from Homeworld). If you listen without prejudice, without comparing, then you might like it too. To me it´s a fans and collectors affair. But since I´m a fan, I enjoyed it. So, my rating keeps going between 2,5 and 3 stars, depending on my mood of the day. But it won´t be higher than 3, and not lower then 2,5. You hear, you judge.

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Posted Monday, October 06, 2008

Review by Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars The appeal of THE LADDER wore off rather easily, much faster than I had anticipated. It's as if I bought THE LADDER and subsequently walked right under another one. We have two nine minute things here, and they may lead one to believe that Yes may have returned to their old style back in the early 70's. The sound produced here is far from classic Yes with the two longer songs being teases to prog fans, much like the epic on TALK.

I'll admit that ''Homeworld'' is the best epic here, one that could faintly harken back to Yes of old even with that over-produced 90's Yes sound. ''New Languages'' isn't horrible, but plagued with cringeworthy AOR choruses and ideas that sound ''borrowed'' from THE YES ALBUM. Pop music pretty much dominates the rest of the material; the reggae-esque ''The Messenger'' is the best here although also noticeable is the short ''Can I?'' with its world music thingys. Parts of ''Lightning Strikes'' sound laughable, and the whole song sounds like a kids tune in 7/8 time (which would scare the kids more than anything). Everything else need not be mentioned.

If the poppier Yes doesn't offend you, then this album should not be difficult to digest as it gets a little proggy in spots. Those looking for a more classic Yes should skip ahead to MAGNIFICATION or get a classic Yes album; THE LADDER is not classic Yes.

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Posted Friday, January 16, 2009

Review by Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Progressive rock certainly has its fair share of dysfunctional families but few can rival the soap opera- like breakups and makeups of the musically-incestuous crew of the battleship Yes. A complete roster of their alumni would approach the size of a phone book. In their illustrious history they've created sublime masterpieces like "Close to the Edge" and rancid, vegetable-splattered embarrassments like "Tormato." Therefore, blindly investing in one of their albums can be akin to a crap shoot. Slowly but surely I'm getting around to hearing everything they've ever released but, due to the cautionary word circulating around Prog Street, I tend to view any Yes product between "90125" and "Magnification" with acute trepidation. It really boils down to my not wanting the group to further sully the holy and reverential esteem my prog buddies and I bestowed upon them in the glory daze of the early and mid 70s when everything they did turned us into euphoric, dancing urban gypsies. However, having been such a huge fan I feel I have a responsibility to offer an honest assessment of ALL their albums, not just the extraordinary ones. In other words, there are some donkey droppings in the Yes rose garden and the younger generations must be warned not to play with them. Fortunately, "The Ladder," while it'll never be confused with a jewel like "Fragile," is not one of the stinky turds hidden in the peat moss.

According to the italicized banner in the liner notes producer Bruce Fairbairn instructed the band to simply "make the best Yes album you can, the rest will follow." I have no doubt that Anderson, Howe, Squire, White, Sherwood and Khoroshev set out to do just that but, if conjuring up classic Yes magic was their dedicated intent, why leave out essential elements that made the group the arena-filling juggernaut they once were? Sure, the vocals are top notch, it's very melodic, the sound is pristine and the performances are admirable but where are the extended guitar, synthesizer and organ solos that elevated Yes' material from average fare to the phenomenal? Those electrifying rides were the delectable cherries on the sumptuous sundaes that were "Yours is no Disgrace," "Roundabout" and "Gates of Delirium" (to name but a few) so why this particular line up of Yessirs would overlook what seems so obvious to me is baffling because that missing ingredient is what keeps this otherwise respectable collection of tunes from achieving greatness.

A strong beginning is always a plus and the mini-epic "Homeworld (The Ladder)" delivers. After a trademark mystical, birds-taking-flight-in-front-of-a-waterfall, Steve Howe guitar-noodling intro Jon Anderson's crystal-clear soprano rings out with "Nothing can take us far enough/emotion/far enough together." (For the uninitiated, that's a typical cryptic Yesism that, while confusing for earthlings, makes perfect sense to beings from say, Alpha Centauri) and you're off on another Yes adventure. Soon the band flows into an enclosed, growling guitar/bass rock riff for the verses and opens a wider scope for the choruses. Steve tosses in a too short (but hot nonetheless) lead along the way, then the 2nd movement takes over with Howe's jumpin' boogie thang a rollin', clearing a path for keyboard man Igor Khoroshev to scorch the earth with a searing Hammond organ spasm. The whole shebang possesses a vibrant vibe and one gets the impression that they're having themselves a good ol' time as they build up to a climactic peak before descending gently into a soothing acoustic guitar/piano motif for the serene coda. It's a quality track from front to back and at this point I'm impressed with what they're doing but that enthusiasm doesn't last. "It Will Be a Good Day (The River)" comes next and it features another subtle fade-in that, alas, promises more than it can set on the table. After a few minutes it's evident that this song has a tired pop-rock structure, is little more than a power ballad and sorely lacks that spotlight-hogging solo necessary to make it shine.

The first time I heard "Lightning Strikes" I thought "Holy crap, Thelma Lou! Someone's pulled a cruel stunt and snuck a Jimmy Buffett CD into my changer!" That panic quickly passed, however, once I noticed the sneaky 7/8 time signature (I knew The Coral Reefers probably couldn't keep that up for more than three measures) and settled back to hear something completely different. I particularly like the tune's infectious spirit, the vocal-heavy bridge and Chris Squire's four-second bass solo that guides them back to the verse. I don't mean to be rude but I have to chuckle at warbled lines like "Who ya gonna call for the secret of stealing the world?/swimming in this ocean of words on your new cell phone." Um, right, Jon boy. (Look, I'm a nut for great lyrics but I've rarely gotten what you'd call warm and runny over Yes' abstract poetics.) The song segues seamlessly into "Can I?" and it's one of Anderson's mesmerizing, pulsating mantra "we have heaven" singalongs that causes me to visualize Jon & Co. in loin cloths, parading around a roaring bonfire with aborigines in the outback. Astonishingly, though, it works.

The bad news at this juncture is that the next three cuts are yawners. "Face to Face" begins with Alan White's disco bass drum pounding relentlessly underneath zippy synthesizers and assorted bass guitar runs, then turns into a plain vanilla rocker that doesn't do much at all despite Anderson singing "the promise will come when the promise is made..." Whatever, Captain Kirk. "If Only You Knew" is a pretty ballad with very tight accents and a nice arrangement but it's too slick, too long and too uneventful for me. Jon dedicated it to his wife and I'm sure that she thinks more of it than I do. And "To Be Alive (Hep Yadda)" sounds like something Sting would write because of its world-beat attitude and the unintelligible call and answer going on behind the choruses. Howe gets to fool around with his steel guitar for a spell but he's kept too far down in the mix to add any pizzazz. Don't get me wrong, I like Sting plenty but this is Yes and it sounds a bit forced.

The good news is that the last four numbers rescue the album from the doldrums. They wheel out the sleek sports car that is "Finally," and, as they intone more than a couple of times, they "put it to the test." While Anderson will never be mistaken for Greg Allman, he manages to cram some raspy grit into his normally angelic voice and that tactic makes the song stand out. But just when you think they're going to rock it to midnight they suddenly pause and make an unexpected 180-degree turn into a soft musical landscape where sexy Jon swears that he can "feel the earth moving." (Was it good for you, too?) But the star of this show is Steve Howe as he at long last is allowed to dazzle us with wave after wave of gorgeous guitar runs, the sort that he often paints their songs with so well. "The Messenger" is a Yes-goes-Jamaican, Bob Marley tribute that could have fallen on its face but doesn't. In fact, it's an interesting and timely change of pace. Here you get some intricate interplay between Steve and Igor (sounds like a lounge act, no?) and the acoustic guitar twist at the end is a clever move.

"New Language" is the album's second mini-epic and it's every bit as good as the first one. It has an energetic onset with a climbing melody line containing a Native American influence that leads to another spicy Hammond organ salvo from Khoroshev. (He's no Wakeman, but he ain't bad.) The 2nd part is calmer but it still possesses a very tight groove and a rousing chorus. The 3rd section is spurred into action by a strong guitar pattern (could this be the elusive Billy Sherwood?) and terrific dynamics as Howe turns in another hair-raising guitar ride before the group reprises the original verse and chorus. The all-acoustic "Nine Voices" is last but in no way least. I'll admit that it's a tad nostalgic (Can you say "Your Move"?) but in a very satisfying way. It has cavernous depth and Steve's raga- like, 12-string guitar rampages in the middle and at the end are ferocious and amazing to behold. You may well be tempted to push the repeat button for this one. Go ahead. Indulge freely.

The album they made after this one, "Magnification," is better overall due mainly to their artful and graceful blending of a real orchestra into that project but that doesn't mean this one can be summarily dismissed. These virtuosos set the bar mighty high for themselves back in the day and I expect that it takes every ounce of talent they've retained to even come close to clearing it now. I guess what it comes down to is that it's just missing that undeniable WOW moment that makes you wonder if you really heard what you THINK you just heard. I'm talking about an almost spiritual musical experience that can still send a chill up your spine decades later. "The Ladder" never elicits that kind of aural epiphany but, then again, few do. Quality prog from start to finish and a must-have for every Yes enthusiast. 3.4 stars.

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Posted Monday, February 09, 2009

Review by lazland
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This album was such a relief following the sheer rubbish that preceded it - a Yes album we could all love and empathise with, a volume of work which at least felt like a Yes LP, even if you still couldn't compare it with essential seventies works.

Bruce Fairburn produced the album, and died shortly afterwards. Some cruel people suggested that it was simply the strain of producing a band that had in the previous ten years nearly torn itself apart. He apparently told them to simply go out and make the best Yes album you can. You can tell from listening to it that they tried their best to take him at his word. It is a sunny and fresh work, a joy to listen to.

Homeworld starts proceedings off very nicely, this is a soundtrack to a PC game of the same name. Howe especially shines with some exceptional guitar work on this.

It Will be a Good Day is a commercial piece that, crucially, does not try to replicate the old Yes West feel, the biggest mistake on Open Your Eyes. Lightning Strikes attempts the same trick, with Khuroshev adding some nice brass effects. On Can I, we are even treated to a modern version of We Have Heaven, and it works very well, with great vocal harmonies to a backdrop of percussion, bass, and low lying keyboards.

Face to Face is too frenetic for me, and a misguided attempt at commerciality which fails on the basis that it is a weak track. However, If Only You Knew more than makes up for this, This, to me, is one of the finest love songs ever written and performed by the band. Clearly inspired by Anderson's second wife Jane, it tells a simple story of how love for your partner can change your life for ever and certainly for the better. I had just met my future wife when this was released, and she took the Eurostar train to France (rather reticent about this), and she said that this track kept her going throghout the journey. Anderson, therefore, at his best, able to inspire love and devotion in the most unlikely suspects.

To be Alive (Hep Yadda) starts nicely, with nice keyboards backing Anderson, but degenerates into a slighlt messy poppy track with not much direction.

Finally announces itself with a Howe rush, with Squire then coming in with a pulsating bassline. Khuroshev plays a lovely keyboard solo half way in, after which Anderson reminds us all why we love his voice and lyrics so much with a soaring lyric, with Howe accompanying magnificently. When Jon sings I can feel the earth coming, you are lifted, in the best tradition of Yes from days past.

The Messenger features Squire with a hard bass and Howe playing subtle acoustic guitar. The track then rocks as it moves forward with a cohesion that was simply missing from certainly the previous two studio efforts, and Howe especially plays marvellously with Sherwood backing well.

New Language is the second epic on the album at just over 9 minutes. Apparently a tribute to Bob Marley, this feels like a very old style Yes track, especially with Howe's playing. It could almost be 1971 at the start! The whole piece feels so Yes, with coherent vocal harmonies, strong bass and drum rhythm sections, Howe playing the frets as if he really means it, and a good keyboard backdrop.

Nine Voices is a great way to finish off the album, a piece inspired by American Indians in the same manner as Anderson's Toltec album, it features Anderson and Howe playing together in a manner not heard since Going for the One - indeed the flowing vocals and playing reminds one of that album.

Four stars for this album, a complete refreshing return to greatness from a band who we thought had completely lost it. Essential listening for all Yes fans and prog fans generally.

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Send comments to lazland (BETA) | Report this review (#207106) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, March 14, 2009

Review by The Truth
COLLABORATOR Post and Math Rock Team
3 stars Nope this is not the Yes you hope to get. Although still very prog, (they even put some We Have Heaven in here!), it contains too many bad elements from their 90215 era. They have almost blown off symphonic prog! If you want the good stuff from this album get Homeworld (The Ladder) it almost sounds like the Yes of old and Face-to-Face is a decent song. Things, in my opinion, to stay away from are Lightning Strikes and To Be Alive which are just annoying to me. Another good thing about this album if you have the CD you get an awesome poster on the back of the booklet (Awesome artwork on the cover too!). 3.4 stars for this one. It's just not very good Yes.

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Posted Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Review by The Quiet One
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars A ''Compilation'' of a bit of all:

The Ladder is a decent attempt in reviving their 70's Prog style, introducing some World music influences, plus the already incorporated POP from their 80's period.

You got two 70's-style Prog songs, The Ladder and New Language, full of great musicianship and song-writing, which could have perfectly suit any 70's albums by them, pittily these two give just a false impression of the overall style of the album, also such a pitty that 2 grandiose Prog pieces are wasted in a album that isn't on the standards of them. The rest of the album is nothing close of being Prog, neither being good music actually, with the exception of the Reggae-esque, Pop tinged, The Messenger, with Chris' simple but effective bass and Jon's vocals still standing well. Then there's the pop-rock tune called Finally, which should appeal to those who enjoy their 80's singles, just that this time a bit more elaborated. The rest of the album, like I said at the very begining, is a mix of bag of acoustic ballads and some odd World-esque music songs, which are pretty mediocre, making the album as a whole, not consistent, and by no means, a very worthy album.

A forgettable album with two very well performed Prog songs, which they're neither really fresh nor anything beyond their 70s standards. If you want something new by Yes check either Magnification or Keystudio, any of those two are pretty fresh and might give a lot of enjoyment to the 70s Yes fan, even if the albums don't stand along their classics.

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Posted Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars Yes returns to form with this exquisite album, full of great arrangements and even better executions. Jon Anderson sounds at his peak on this album, in my opinion, his voice soaring into the galaxy, as it were. Billy Sherwood, I honestly believe, is a boon to the sound; even though Steve Howe is a phenomenal guitarist, two guitarists working alongside each other provides for variety. Chris Squire uses a different bass on much this recording (a psychotic-looking green one, if I recall), and while his signature punch remains, his tone is able to get underneath the mix, making his sound that much fuller. Also, drummer Alan White has several of his best performances ever captured on this recording. Then there's Igor Khoroshev, who provided some tracks on Yes's failure of a previous album: In my opinion, Khoroshev is Yes's best keyboardist second to Wakeman (although it's a close call with respect to Patrick Moraz). I have had the pleasure of seeing Yes live with Khoroshev manning the keys, and he is also featured prominently in the House of Yes DVD. His cooperation here is nothing short of brilliant. Yes fanatics may have plenty of criticism to offer with regard to The Ladder, and oftentimes I can understand their perspectives, but sometimes I just don't get the complaints: Many of these critics have howled about the Rabin-era since Yes was no longer the progressive powerhouse of their glory days, and then these same critics complain that Yes should be trying to do something fresh and original when an album like this comes out. For me, what Yes produced in 1999 is a stellar album that naturally doesn't compare to their masterpieces of yesteryear, namely Close to the Edge, Tales from Topographic Oceans, and Relayer, but I can't help but regard this album one of their finest moments.

"The Ladder" Very likely in my top ten all time Yes songs, this complex and extremely progressive song is what I consider a masterwork. Anderon's vocals are top notch here, and if I had to pick one track to showcase him, this might be it. Even Squire's backing vocals are superb, and allow Anderson to show what he can do in the context of Yes. The thudding guitar and bass underneath Khoroshev's clucking keys are a great palette for said keyboardist to work his magic over. The instrumental section is interspersed with two parts of uplifting textures of sound, bouncing between Howe's gritty guitar and Khoroshev's amazing organ soloing to one of Yes's greatest vocal sections, which leads right back into one more recitation of that glorious chorus. The ending section, introduced by some piano and guitar, brings in Anderson's final thoughts.

"It Will Be a Good Day" Howe's guitar playing juts out and adds to the overall effect, but it is Anderson's uplifting singing that has often given me an optimistic spirit on mornings I have played it. Backup singers Squire and Sherwood are stellar on this track also. While I realize this can be perceived as campy (I myself have thought so), I still enjoy it and its elevating nature.

"Lightning Strikes" I love the amusing introduction, but if this song doesn't wake someone up, nothing will! It's a happy number, full of great keyboards, lines I can't help but sing to as it makes me tap my toes, and Squire rips out a killer bass solo. Take this one for what it is- a hell of a fun song to put you in good spirits if the previous one failed to do so.

"Can I?" This is something of a "world music" expansion of "We Have Heaven," which also serves as a great introduction to another amazing song.

"Face to Face" This is one of my favorite songs on the album and is the first one I heard from it; it is catchy, uplifting, and full of many fantastic moments. Squire's bass is probably the most important instrument, but both guitarists work together to get things rolling (with even a quick vocal introduction for Howe). It's just one of those great songs full of musical layers of sound and inescapable cheer. The chorus is powerful and is a shining example of the vocal harmonies Yes is capable of.

"If Only You Knew" The ballad of the album is still genuine progressive rock, even if completely accessible to a pop-loving audience. It has a beautiful melody and great instrumentation from the musicians. The bridge at its most powerful point almost always gives me goose bumps.

"To Be Alive" Despite it's structural simplicity, the instrumentation is highly sophisticated and I find myself always looking forward to hearing this one. Howe delivers a wonderful steel guitar solo, and Anderson shines as always. The chorus is yet again a very memorable highlight.

"Finally" One of the most upbeat songs on the album has its roots in the bonus track on the Sherwood / Squire duo Conspiracy's second album. It features more layers, especially with keyboards and acoustic guitar though, and is the superior rendition.

"The Messenger" Yet another amazing track, this features outstanding bass and acoustic guitar work initially. The vocal melodies are so memorable, and the refrain just begs to be heard again and again. This is a song about the late Bob Marley, as Anderson has said, yet there is nothing distinctly reggae about this excellent track except the rhythm (even if that was the band's intention). The guitar and keyboard work throughout are out of this world.

"New Language" Khoroshev gives his organ a workout in the introduction, and Howe, Squire, and White keep up with precision timing. After the two minute introduction, Anderson sings over an upbeat and poppy backdrop. The chorus is one of the best moments on the album, as the background vocals are simply fantastic. Finally, there's an acoustic guitar solo from maestro Howe that is jaw-dropping.

"Nine Voices (Longwalker)" A clear descendant of "Your Move," this is an acoustic driven simple song that even hearkens back to that classic with the vocalizations. The didgeridoo and exotic percussion set it apart, however.

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Posted Friday, July 31, 2009

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "The Ladder" is the 16th full-length studio album by UK progressive rock act Yes. The album hosts new keyboard player Igor Khoroshev. The album was recorded under some pretty unusual circumstances as producer Bruce Fairbairn passed away during the recording of the album and Yes had to finish recording the vocal tracks after his death. The mixing of the album was also done after Bruce Fairbairn passed away.

The album features several good progressive rock tracks like the great 9:33 minutes long opener "Homeworld ( The Ladder)", "Finally", "The Messenger" and "New Language". Unfortunately it´s also scarred by some mediocre tracks like the awful but fortunately short "Can I?" and especially "Lightning Strikes" with it´s horrible caribbean influence. Yes probably had great fun making the latter but they really shouldn´t have put it on an album IMO. Maybe the odd B-side would have been a better choice. The music style is generally somewhere between progressive rock and more commercially sounding AOR/ pompous pop/ rock and it´s needless to say I enjoy the music most when Yes emphasise the former style. When they do I think they shine.

One of the greatest assets on "The Ladder" is the excellent musicianship but also the enthusiastic attitude that comes across when listening to the album. I really enjoy albums where it´s obvious that the musicians had fun while recording them. This is such an album. The production, which is pretty succesful to my ears, also helps a lot on the generally good impression I have of "The Ladder". A 3 star rating is deserved. "The Ladder" is not essential in any way but it´s a pretty solid effort by Yes.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#258923) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, January 02, 2010

Review by thehallway
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars A caribbean prog sandwich with two 9-mintue slices of bread and plenty of latin-tinged filler.

This album is slightly overrated in my opinion. "People" tend to say it's closer to the classic Yes sound in style and shows a more directional and unified band. This is very much true, but I don't think it's to a great enough extent for it to qualify as excellent. In my opinion, 'Maginification' is the culmination of this retrospective "symphonic prog" style, with 'The Ladder' being the next step towards this; better than 'OYE' but not as good it's successor, 'Magnification'.

The title track is great. It's well constructed and features some well-played, albeit safe, solos. 'New Language' is another long piece, often overlooked, but no worse than the universally-praised 'Homeworld', with a more risky and interesting acoustic guitar solo from Howe. Other worthwhile tracks include 'Face to Face', 'If Only You Knew' and 'Finally', the only shorter tracks to have any memorable themes or moments of development. The rest is largely ignorable, although I can't review this album and simply ignore 'Lightening Strikes' no matter how hard I'm trying to. It is a VERY cheesey, cringe- worthyly instrumentated, latino-dance number with about as much charm as Robert Fripp on a date. But for some reason I seem to like it! There's something about this tune that makes me keep returning to it, in the same vein as ELP's ridiculous 'The Sheriff' or the Floyd's dire 'Corporal Clegg'. I literally don't know anyone else who likes this song.

With Dean back on board and less input from Sherwood, 'The Ladder' is well on the way to becoming top- notch Yes, but the overenthusiastic world influences and abundant filler prevent this album from reaching the same heights as it's orchestral follow-up.

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Posted Friday, April 23, 2010

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
3 stars On this album, keyboardist Igor Khoroshev joins the band (for too short a time, in my opinion). And he does an excellent job filling a difficult position in this complex band.

The album begins with it's only great song, Homeworld (The Ladder). This song ranks as one of the better Yes epics recorded in the latter part of their career. Featuring some of Chris Squire's most powerful bass playing in years, and beautiful guitar by Steve Howe, this one song alone makes the album worth owning.

New Language, the other epic, starts out very strong, but lapses into a fairly mundane verse section, ruining what was a fantastic intro. It does, however, have a nice instrumental section, where Squire plays a bass line with an obvious nod to Roundabout.

The rest of the songs are pleasant, but not eye-opening prog. Although it should be noted that on the "House Of Yes" live album, It Will Be A Good Day (The River) and The Messenger are brought to life and show their full potential.

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Posted Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Review by Anthony H.
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Yes: The Ladder [1999]

Rating: 6/10

The 90s were a strange time for Yes. The band's output during the decade was a roller-coaster ride of high highs and low lows. Yes was stuck in a cycle of releasing weak material and redeeming themselves by following it up with excellence. This 1999 release was the album that finally broke this cycle: if Open Your Eyes was a bizarre vacation, then The Ladder is a peaceful return home. This album is a very good piece of crossover-ish symphonic rock that features many classic Yes elements, along with significant world music influences. However, while the Keys to Ascension albums were a triumphant return, The Ladder is merely a good one. This album is inconsistent, containing both excellent moments and moments that fall just short of greatness.

"Homeworld (The Ladder)" is a fantastic opener with excellent vocal harmonies, throbbing bass, strong keys, and a great chorus. The soft piano/vocal reprise at the end is particularly excellent. "It Will Be a Good Day (The River)" is centered upon Anderson's vocals and a simple chord progression that almost sounds like it's being played on a samisen. The tribal influences on the fast-paced "Lightning Strikes" are somewhat reminiscent of "Teakbois" from the ABWH album, but aren't quite as effective. This song sounds rather flat. The tribal sounds continue on "Can I", an interesting a-cappella interlude featuring African chanting from Anderson. "Face to Face" is another energetic track similar to "Lightning Strikes", with a strong bass riff and catchy vocals. "If Only You Knew" isn't particularly interesting; however, as with most Yes ballads, it is difficult not to like due to Anderson's wonderful vocal work. "To Be Alive (Hep Yadda)" may be the most ridiculously uplifting song Yes has ever written. It's centered on a sitar-sounding riff and a vocal chant. Unlike many happy Yes songs, it avoids silliness and remains genuine. It's one of my favorite songs here. "Finally" is another high-energy track; it's generally dull with the exception of the spacey section near the end. "The Messenger" is an effective tribute to Bob Marley. The song doesn't do much more for me, although I do like the conclusion. "New Language" is an excellent track that opens with a heavy intro that moves into a groovy rock song centered on more vocal harmonies. Howe plays a superb solo during the song's Mellotron-laden conclusion. "Nine Voices (Longwalker)" is a subdued acoustic closer with great vocals and soft percussion.

It pains me not to give The Ladder a full "excellent" rating. Every song here is a pleasure to listen to, but many don't manage to be as soaring as "Homeworld", as moving as "To Be Alive", or as intriguingly multifaceted as "New Language." If this wasn't Yes, then this album would deserve a slightly higher rating, but these musicians' true capabilities aren't quite being fully displayed here. While I very much enjoy The Ladder, if falls short of excellence when looked at objectively. Regardless, there's plenty for fans to appreciate on Yes's final 90s album.

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Posted Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Review by colorofmoney91
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars The Ladder shows Yes reverting back to writing music that is progressive at its core. Some of the poppy elements from the '80s albums are somehow still present even though this album was released just before 2000. Though the music here is much more progressive than on recent releases, and the songwriting is much stronger, it doesn't seem to work all that well. Lots of ambition went into this album, and that seems obvious when listening to it, but this album seriously lacks any memorable melodies or stand out tracks. I think "The Ladder" is the best track on this album, and I recall it being a minor hit for progressive rock fans though I can't see why.

This is another album in the Yes catalog that is easy to skip over without feeling bad.

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Posted Friday, April 08, 2011

Review by octopus-4
COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
2 stars I have started and restarted this review several times in the last months, but this album inspires very controversial feelings to me that I've not been able to finalize it until now.

The opener "Homeworld" reminds to the times of "Going For The One", that means that's a very good track even when it's closer to ABWH, probably because Chris Squire makes the difference. On ABWH they had Tony Levin at the bass, but even this great bassist can't sound like Squire on a Yes album. Who doesn't like the melodic newage of Jon Anderson may be disappointed by the last minutes of the song. I like them, instead and it's closer to the Jon and Vangelis songs than to his solo works.

"It Will Be A Good Day" is in line with songs like "Brother Of Mine" (ABWH), who has liked that album like me will like this song as well.

"Lightning Strikes" belongs to the kind of Anderson's songs that I dislike. He sometimes indulges with south American rhythms since from Song of Seven. They can be fun but nothing more. Nothing to do with Yes, anyway.

Anderson's influence is strong also on "Can I". It's like the return of Olias of Sunhillow. Clearly Jon's stuff.

Still in the Caribbean with "Face to Face". At this point I start getting bored. I like Jon's solo works, but this is labeled YES and this is not what expect.

"If Only You Knew" is still on the newage side of Anderson, not too dissimilar from most of ABWH contents but it's quite a good song if you don't think to Close to the Edge.

"To Be Alive" makes me raise a doubt about the lineup: are we sure that Trevor Rabin is not in he band? This looks like a song from Big Generator, but it's also similar to some of the GTR stuff so Howe may be responsible for it.

"Finally" can be the esclamation of the listener when it starts. They are the YES after all. Ok, this song too seems coming from the 80s, but the trademark is clear. If one is survived until this song can enjoy it.

It's always a pleasure when Chris Squire's bass is in evidence, but the start of "The Messenger" sounds like Greg Lake on "Works". The song is nothing special. Well played but I would define it "blank".

A Wakeman's like Organ opens "New Language". This is for me the best song of the album. There are the unusual signatures and the mood of the good old times. It's not Close to the Edge but the first 2 minutes are the YES at their best. Unfortunately after those 2 minutes we fall back into the Anderson's poppy Universal love songs. There are various moments so sometimes the old YES come back, at least those of Drama. It could have been better.

The closer is driven by Howe and Anderson. Not bad but still below average.

Now my dilemma. It's not totally bad and I don't think it's worse than Big Generator but I'm not able to rate it as "good". I have bought it because I'm a fan, so 2 stars.

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Posted Monday, August 22, 2011

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover and E&O Teams
4 stars Yes always played with a fire called Pop. Sometimes drenching more into it, sometimes less, but there was always one constant - Jon Anderson's vocals. No matter if it's 3 minute short song or 20 minute epic, he always did his job. So he's doing here. For some, he may be a big saving feature and to be honest, I am quite fond of his skills.

Homeworld is the best track here, obviously, as it's bringing back memories of 70s epics (even it is noticeable that it's "worse" somehow. The rest of tracks are unfortunately just a shadows of its master song, while some emerges above averageness (It Will Be a Good Day New Language). The good thing is that there is not heavily weak song and whole composition feels solid.

Other songs tries to be better, but Homeworld doesn't have to try, it simply is. The best of this album and one of the best by Yes. My concern was if other songs can stand the test and survive the heat. They can.

4(-), "truth is a simple place".

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Posted Sunday, October 23, 2011

Review by stefro
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Cynical it may sound but the cold hard truth is that Yes, possibly the greatest progressive rock group of all time, haven't made a decent album since 1980's 'Drama', and even that had it's fair share of duff moments. In fact, you'd have to go right back to 1976's 'Relayer' to find the last proper Yes classic. Since the group's early- eighties rebirth, when South African guitarist Trevor Rabin joined and helped morph the group into a hugely- successful synth-rock outfit, Yes have slowly faded, both in terms of sales and relevance. 1987's 'Big Generator' was probably the nadir, although 'Union', 'Talk' and 'Open Your Eyes' also failed to set the pulse racing. 'The Ladder', from 1999, was another attempt by Yes to re-capture past glories, with Roger Dean roped back into the fold to produce one of his signature sleeve designs and four of the group's classic-era members - Jon Anderson(vocals), Steve Howe(guitar), Chris Squire(bass) and Alan White(drums) - augmented by new boys Billy Sherwood(guitar, vocals) and Russian keyboard wizard Igor Khoroshev. Sadly, however, this is very much an album - and a group - both out of time and out of mind. The attempted mixture of classic symphonic elements and sparkly new rock sounds merely confirms that Yes' once distinctive sound has simply run its natural course, though there are shreds of interest to be found on 'The Ladder', most notably on the anthemic opener 'Homeworld(The Ladder)'. However, that nine-minute mini-epic aside, the rest of this uninspiring release simply has one reaching for the nearest copy of 'Close To The Edge' or 'The Yes Album'. Die-hard fans may well enjoy Yes' (almost) 21st century sound, yet for the rest of us this is very much an album-by-numbers from a once brilliant group well past their sell-by-date. In a word: dull.

STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012

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Send comments to stefro (BETA) | Report this review (#655762) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, March 12, 2012

Latest members reviews

3 stars I bought Yes' "The Ladder" on vinyl and found it peculiar. It came in the heydays of the CD and now 2013 the new release is on LP. It came originally in 1999 with this Yes' set up: Jon Anderson (vocals), Chris Squire (bass, harmonica, vocals), Steve Howe (guitars, steel, mandolin, banjo, vocal ... (read more)

Report this review (#985089) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Monday, June 24, 2013 | Review Permanlink

2 stars The Ladder by Yes is supposedly a return to the days of old...but I don't buy it. It is an attempt to recapture the magic of 70s period Yes, and for all that trying...it pales in comparison. It's not like the album is a complete disaster, but it doesn't do anything for me. That being said, th ... (read more)

Report this review (#914065) | Posted by wehpanzer | Friday, February 15, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Let's face it, Yes had a pretty hard time pleasing fans ever since 90125. With the weight of their success in the 70's and their crown for being prog rock legends encumbering them, the band appeared to struggle to achieve success and acceptance in a decade where prog rock was "kept in a paper bag ... (read more)

Report this review (#731607) | Posted by FragileKings | Tuesday, April 17, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Even though Yes' 1999 release isn't as technically vituostic or groundbreaking as their early 1970's albums, I think The Ladder was the best thing they'd made since Going For the One, and I can understand why they went back to Roger Dean for the album cover - it does have the expansive, nature ... (read more)

Report this review (#593905) | Posted by 7headedchicken | Wednesday, December 21, 2011 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Boring, boring, boring ... This 1999 release of Yes is anything but good. After hearing the first track, "Homeworld" I had high hopes for "The Ladder". Hopes that they were thrown to the ground after hearing the entire album is weak and certainly one of the most discouraging of long-lived car ... (read more)

Report this review (#484506) | Posted by voliveira | Sunday, July 17, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars "Homeworld", "It Will Be a Good Day", "To Be Alive", and "Nine Voices" are really all that I enjoy on this album. The rest are either too poppy, too twee, or just too dang annoying. For a Yes album without Rick Wakeman it's actually not too bad. It is certainly miles above TALK, UNION, BIG GEN ... (read more)

Report this review (#445907) | Posted by mohaveman | Wednesday, May 11, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Later Yes albums are often criticised for having a less progressive sound and being dominated by the songwriting of Jon Anderson more than a group effort. For Talk and Open Your Eyes this was definitely an issue but here on The Ladder the music is once again closer to Yes in their Prog days. By ... (read more)

Report this review (#395562) | Posted by topographicbroadways | Sunday, February 06, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 3.5 STARS From the last Yes productions, The Ladder, as an overall album, differs from many of the rest ones in that the music is not forced, and seems to flow freely. Not superb, but yes good. One of the low points of the album is the lack of instrumental passages, but we can find good stuff ... (read more)

Report this review (#294083) | Posted by genbanks | Tuesday, August 10, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars That was the first progressive rock album I've ever listened to. At the time I was around 10 (~2002-3), my father (also a big fan of prog) played that CD a lot, among others, in order to introduce me and my younger brother to that kind of music. I was very impressed with everything: the music (w ... (read more)

Report this review (#199038) | Posted by Diaby | Wednesday, January 14, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Modern Yes To be honest my perception of Yes starts a lot before with Tormato (the Rejoice part especially) and follow the road up to The Yes Album, but this one was the first disc post GFTO that I've used to listen deeply as a proghead (Tormato was simply an intro for a child), so this was my ... (read more)

Report this review (#190767) | Posted by Erik Nymas | Friday, November 28, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars To begin... I do not want to sound like a "generator". but we must admit that although Rick Wakeman wasn't in the keyboards, Igor Khoroshev carried out enough good its paper in this album. And the great majority of these songs are exelentes, opening the disc with Homeworld... is a song does not ... (read more)

Report this review (#182459) | Posted by Terenzani | Monday, September 15, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The rise of a real Yes, or continuing of Union-Talk-Open your eyes era? First thing that is notable for this album is the brilliant cover artwork by Roger Dean, which promises, that this album will be very successful and sounds great! So, i pick up this one, that it will be convinced, wheth ... (read more)

Report this review (#178357) | Posted by Resurrected | Monday, July 28, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars One of the tracks on this album manages to sum up Yes in the 90's: Finally! The Ladder was the last album Yes released in the 90's, and listening to it makes one wonder why it took them so long to get it right in this decade. After a few hit or misses (Keys to Acension, Talk) and one major dissa ... (read more)

Report this review (#159831) | Posted by AmericanKhatru | Saturday, January 26, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This was the comeback I was hoping for at the time. Granted, I loved most of the 90s output with Open Your Eyes being the low point (I do LIKE the album okay). So I was hoping Yes could really make one more masterpiece and The Ladder was that and more. I remember getting the album and just bei ... (read more)

Report this review (#158437) | Posted by pociluk | Saturday, January 12, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars One of my favourite Yes albums. We have tunes again (after most of the late 80's and early 90's output where melody was, well, missing) and some proper songs. It's not all great but the two openers are, and over the piece it deserves 3.5 - 4 stars. I miss Wakeman from this one but at least we ... (read more)

Report this review (#114556) | Posted by ProgmanT | Thursday, March 08, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars In the 90s, I did not listen to rock music at all. It was somehow over for me, nothing could any longer satisfy me. Instead, I listened more classic music. But then, magnification appeared and i was really moved very much, and surprised. It became my no.1 of yes immediately. so i was researchi ... (read more)

Report this review (#113924) | Posted by ryba | Thursday, March 01, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars If "Ladder" would been released by another group, I would rated 4 star for this album. But... and I can not give more stars, because "Close to the Edge", "Relayer" and "Fragile" are in my remembrance and "The Ladder" is so far from those albuns. In my opinion, many people has been unjust wi ... (read more)

Report this review (#110715) | Posted by sam_loyd | Sunday, February 04, 2007 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Anything was an improvement after Open Your Eyes, so this album got a little more kudos within Yes fandom than it deserved. The first half of "Homeworld" is still some of the best music Yes have done post-Drama, although it is let down by a lacklustre ending that wastes the momentum of the op ... (read more)

Report this review (#79349) | Posted by Teaflax | Thursday, May 25, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Album released in 1999 "The Ladder". Keyboardist Igor Khoroshev joined the member. It is after a long time that I bought CD of YES. It is gorgeous as usual. The music of YES is surprisingly still alive and well. I got excited to the sound it kept peculiar and transparent and with the extension ... (read more)

Report this review (#76418) | Posted by braindamage | Thursday, April 27, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This is a good album. Usually fans demand their prog heros to keep the level of their music high no matter what. Well, wake up, this album was made by prog veterans 30 years after their first album and it still has great songs! "Homeworld" is a 10 minute song with all the ingredients a prog fa ... (read more)

Report this review (#71381) | Posted by | Tuesday, March 07, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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