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Yes - Keys to Ascension CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.05 | 497 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars (Great) Old songs, (OK) New songs

The first of two double CD albums co-produced by Billy Sherwood and bearing the "Keys to ascension" name. Both collections are a mix of live performances and new studio tracks. Rick Wakeman is back on board (again!), thus reforming the TFTO line up. The concert performances, recorded at San Luis Obispo in California, are superb. The tracks included in this volume are some of Yes' true classics, i.e. "Siberian Khatru", "Starship trooper", "Revealing science of God", etc., all performed flawlessly.

The highlight of this part of the set is undoubtedly "Awaken". This sleeping giant does indeed awaken, the rendition here being slightly slower in parts, bringing out the full majesty of the piece. In particular, the powerful section towards the end becomes a cacophony of magnificent fanfares with a wall of sound lifting things ever higher, before Jon Anderson brings us slowly back to earth with the peaceful conclusion. A genuinely awesome piece.

This was the first time "Revealing science of God" had been performed live since the tour to promote TFTO. It lacks the extended intro recently uncovered by the re- mastering of the album, but is nonetheless a fine performance. It is also good to hear the legendary non-album cover of Simon and Garfunkel's "America" given a dusting off.

There does appear to be some liberal overdubbing of the performance, especially in respect of the vocals, but give the lengthy sabbatical enjoyed by the band, this is perhaps forgivable.

Unfortunately, the studio tracks are nowhere near the same quality. Wakeman appears to have had very little input to them, either in terms of song-writing or performance. Only two tracks are included, but they last for a total of almost 30 minutes. Normally with Yes, this would imply that these would become some of their more significant works, but neither "Be the one" or "That, that is" will ever fall into this category. "Be the one" is a lengthy but ubiquitous softer Yes number, while "That, that is" is more diverse but overlong and very indulgent.

The studio tracks from volumes one and two were subsequently gathered together to form a single CD entitled "Key studio". It would perhaps have been wiser to have done this from the outset, and released the live performances as a separate triple CD collection.

One other disappointment is the absence of the introductory "Firebird suite" music, the opening chords of "Siberian Khatru" starting the album off.

In all though, the excellent live performances of some of Yes' best works make this a worthy live collection. Do not however expect too much of the studio tracks, even if they appear to be of epic proportions.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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