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Yes - Keys to Ascension CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.08 | 497 ratings

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5 stars For the last fifteen years or so (from the date of this effort - 1996), Yes produced very poor albums (to say the least) but commercially they were quite successful (at least for "90125" : six million albums sold, I remind you). Trevor decided to quit in May 1995. Tony left the band as a musician but will be involved in their management. So, logically, Steve and Rick came back. The decision was made on July 12 during a meeting in L.A.

The legendary line up is there again. : Chris, Jon, Alan, Steve and Rick. The rehearsals started in October (the 25th) but Rick only joined in January 1996. At this time, three band members were living on the West coast : Chris, Jon and Alan so they decide to perform a few dates around there. The choice of San Luis Obispo was taken on February 8. This choice is quite bizarre : SLO is in the middle of nowhere basically : halfway through Frisco and L.A. Of course, Jon is living there and that's probably the answer. The venue : the Edward's Fremont Theater.It is said that the acoustic is exceptional. Capacity : 800 seats ! The least we can say is that they were not really confident to recover their past aura.

I found a superb message posted on the Internet ages ago. Here it is in full, non edited version :

N o t e s F r o m t h e E d g e. THE Internet YES Source A Message from Yes. July 14, 1995.


A message to Yes fans from Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Chris Squire, RickWakeman, and Alan White:

21 years ago, at Stouffer's Hotel in Cincinnati on Chris' birthday, March 4, we, the members of Yes (Jon, Steve, Rick, Chris, and Alan) decided that if the world was still together and that we were able as musicians to work together, we would unite in 1995 on the 4th of March in order to perform yet again not just for one album or one tour, but for the next five years in order to take the band and its fans into the 21st century and beyond. A document was created which we all signed that evening in the year 1974. Thankfully, not only for ourselves but for Yes fans around the world as well, we have decided to follow this prophecy through into THE FUTURE!

Be ready. KNOW that you are part of the future. KNOW that you were part of the past. KNOW that we will deliver the true YES MUSIC.

Isn't it wonderful ? I will give you more details about the genesis of these concerts in my review of "Keys II".

With "Keys I" Yes had the good idea to release a double CD with some thirty minutes of new studio material and eighty five minutes of great live, classic YesTracks. This was a brilliant way to recreate the YesFeeling amongst the disappointed fans.

It is amazing that I purchased this double CD when I was on holiday in California (almost half the World West from where I live - Belgium). I was visiting Santa Barbara (which is not far from San Luis Obispo) in 1999. I stopped at a secondhand record shop and I saw this double CD. If I except their compilation work "Classic Yes", I had not bought any YesAlbum since GFTO in 1977. Since the track list seemed very attractive and the price was very low (ten bucks or so) I decided to get it. This was a very good decision of mine.

Let's start with the new material.

"Be The One" is a wonderful, melodious YesWork. The feeling and passion that come out here are just great. It is really a pity that we had to wait for such a long time to get a great song like this (the last one as far as I am concerned was "Machine Messiah" from "Drama"). How great this band can be while it sticks to its past grandeur. By its beauty, this song definitely reminds me of "&Y&I", although in some parts it rocks like "Siberian"! (CTTE where are you )? The end could have been more performant, it sounds as if it was only a demo number.

"That, That Is" is in terms of lenght another epic. Very nice acoustic guitar intro (during 3'40"), then we get a "tribal" moment for about fifty seconds, then the track really starts with Jon's entry on the vocals. These are not so smooth as usual. It is obvious that they wanted to reproduced CTTE but this is a MAJOR challenge. There are more emotion in Jon's voice from minute eleven onwards (for about 4'30") : this part is great. The band than comes into action for a solid instrumental break. The finale being a great YesMoment. IMO, it lacks a bit in consistency and if compared to CTTE, some of the TFTO epics ("The Revealing Science" or "The Remembering"), "Gates" or "Awaken" it is sub-par, but still a great YesTrack. Forget about the crappy FM and AOR times and welcome back to YesEpics (this is the ninth of the genre).

What can I say about the live parts ? They were all recorded in SLO in March 1996 (from March 4, through 6). The CD opens "Siberian" but without the traditional "Firebird" What is immediately noticeable is that the sound is great (nothing to do with the crappy one from "YesSongs"). I have also the feeling that the band was really enthusiast to be together again.

"The Revealing Science Of God" : finally a piece from TFTO on a live YesRecord ! I wrote in my review of this double album that both "Revealing" and "The Remembering" contained an awful lot of text and that it should be a nightmare to render these live. Can you imagine that Jon could do it again more than twenty-two years later with only a few weeks to rehearse (Rick joined effectively on January 28). This is awesome. This version is slightly shorter than the original but very nice. Melodies are superb, the whole band as it always was before. It seems as if there had been no break since 1977...

"America" : the first official live rendition for this wonderful cover from Simon & Garfunkel. Fabulous. "Onward" : a delicious acoustic guitar intro (a bit flamenco influenced) from Steve and gorgeous vocals from Jon and Chris. Very, very emotional.

Then, "Awaken" : slightly extended (by some three minutes) and another epic from the glorious days (IMO). This audience has been attending something VERY special. Rick is brilliant. The middle section is longer and very smooth. The last seven minutes are a pure jewel. A symphony of guitar and keys, a strong rythmic (bass and drums) and sensational vocals. Heaven is REALLY close. Almost at hand. I quote : "High vibration go on, To the sun, oh let my heart dreaming Past a mortal as me. Where can I be"?

"Roundabout" is just beautiful. Acoustic guitar intro, then rocking, then melodious. On par with the studio track and the best live rendition I know (I have the same feeling for "Starship Trooper").

I rated YesSongs emotionally (it was my entry YesAlbum in ...1973) with five stars (which is a bit overevaluated). I will do the same for this one. For three reasons : 1. It is my new reunion with the band (which still lasts so far - 2007), 2. The live tracks are just superb (no stuff like "Mood" or "The Fish") with fantastic sound, 3. The new studio work is just great. Five star my YesFriend for this great YesComeBack !

ZowieZiggy | 5/5 |


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