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Yes - Keys to Ascension CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.05 | 504 ratings

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4 stars I pulled this out recently for some reason, perhaps to reassess the studio material (which I've already reviewed under the Keys Studio release).

What struck me again with this release is just how the Yes magic is really still there. The drive and energy of Yesshows and their 70's albums may be missing, but the passion and magic is still very much their in the live material. Also, since this is the only live version of Awaken I have, it is something special (I hadn't actually even heard the studio version when I go this.......and as will all Yes material, the studio version pales in comparison to the live version). Sure, I was a bit dissapointed with Siberian Khatru for not being as fast and energetic as the Yessongs version (and for Alan White leaving out some of the most exciting drum fills). But hearing Anderson's ageless voice hitting every not perfectly and giving the songs the same emotion and grace he did 30 years earlier, one can't help but enjoy this release. The set list is great (though I could have lived without yet another version of Roundabout) and the performance is outstanding for a group of 50 something year old guys.

As to the studio songs, I'll try to be brief, since I already reviewed them for Keys Studio. They are not groundbreaking, they are not breath taking, they are not jaw dropping. But they are good. They are Yes, attempting to write music in a format that they haven't done for many years while still maintaining something of a modern sound. If it was any other band, people would probably have been praising this material as brilliant and beautiful (at least in 1996, anyway). And while I wouldn't call it brilliant, it is beautiful for the most part. Anderson's lyrics are probably too literal and obvious, the various parts don't flow together as seamlessly in the old days, and the music can get too smooth. But considering their age, how many bands could pull something like this off as well as Yes does? Probably not many, if any.

So I still think this (and Keys 2) is the best thing they have done in the 90's, or even the 80's for that matter. 4 stars if you are already a Yes fan and can put this in it's proper context. 3 stars if you are not a big fan or are expecting to hear something out of the 70's.

| 4/5 |


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