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Yes - Tales From Topographic Oceans CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.89 | 2348 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars "Make sure your reach does not exceed your grasp"- Testament's "Envy Life"

Tales From Topagraphic Oceans came after the prog masterpiece Close to the Edge and, perhaps just as important, Bill Bruford's departure. His replacement was Alan White, an exceptional drummer who had an unenviable task. The rest of the lineup remained the same, and Jon and Steve set out to write an ambitious follow up. The decided to adapt Hindu Shastric texts into four extended pieces, each taking up one side of vinyl. Each song deals with a section of text. Upon the first listen, I noticed a few things. First the positive: Steve Howe's guitar dominates this album in a way it never has before (or since). Rick Wakeman contributes some truly dizzying passages. Now the negative: Chris Squire's bass has been relegated to the back by Steve's new dominance. Jon Anderson's vocals, though far from bad, aren't as beautiful as those on previous records. Alan's kitwork lacks the originality of Bruford's, though he displays a lot of skill.

The most negative thing about the record is that, with the exception of the stunning opener, it's boring. Each suite gets bogged down with technical displays. Yes always knew where to draw the line between over the top and just downright ridiculous, and they pole- vaulted over the line on this album. The best method for listening to this, as others have stated, is to spend time on each song, but that severely detracts from the album's cohesiveness. The concept is completely lost if you have to listen to each song several times before advancing. You feel like you're playing some role playing game, not listening to music. This album can be enjoyed by fans (I've come to like it), but the failed concept makes The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway look almost perfect. If you are new to Yes, do NOT start with this. Get Fragile, The Yes Album, Close to the Edge, and Relayer before touching this.

Grade: D+

1800iareyay | 2/5 |


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