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Yes - Tales From Topographic Oceans CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.89 | 2348 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars I first got into Yes around 1974, which was when I started taking an interest in prog, although I was well aware of them, and other bands like Floyd and King Crimson, long before, thanks to friends of mine. However, I didn't buy this record until 1977, as there were so many conflicting reports about it at the time. The prevalent feeling was one of disappointment, but a few critics called it a masterpiece. Well, when I bought it, I have to say I was one of the disappointed! After the majesty of 'Fragile', 'Close To The Edge', 'Relayer' and 'Going For The One', this seemed utterly tuneless, overlong and, frankly, boring. Of course, I was only 18 at the time. I played it a few times, but only really liked side four, 'Ritual'. Then I sold, or swapped it for something else. Recently, however, a friend of mine purchased the remastered digipack version, with two extra tracks, and extra notes to go with the original ones, oh, and some nice pics too. Having borrowed and listened to it, I am now ready to do a review of it, while it is again fresh in my memory. Firstly, I have to say I can appreciate it a lot more now. Tracks 1 & 2 are really very good, with plenty of typically Yes moments. Howe's guitar is the dominant instrument on the album, but that is only to be expected, seeing as he and Anderson wrote it between them. There is more melody here than I remembered. Squire's bass is rather low in the mix, but still there, and Alan White is impressive on his debut for them. Wakeman's keyboards, although not as obvious as on previous records, are effective, gently pervading much of the material in a non obtrusive way, the mellotron especially being used to great effect. Track 4 is likewise very good, but now I don't consider it any better than the first two. The weak point is track 3, which, whilst retaining some melody, goes off on a tuneless tangent a little too often for me, with Howe sounding like he is not sure how to fill in some of the spaces, so letting his guitar meander somewhat pointlessly at certain times. Nevertheless, the whole album is rather better than I had thought it first time around. The bonus tracks on the remastered version are studio run-throughs of the first and third tracks, differing slightly at times; interesting but no better than the final versions. The vocals are rough, to say the least, and down in the mix here and there. These tracks are non essential, but nice to have, and they don't interrupt the flow of the album proper. So, after all the hype and controversy, is this album a) A masterpiece, or b) an overblown bit of disappointing fluff? In truth, it is neither as good as some suggest, nor as bad as others hint at. A long way from being their best work, but worth having. It is still recognisably Yes, although new fans should not acquire this one until they have the other key albums, such as 'Fragile', 'Close To The Edge', 'Relayer' and 'Going For The One'.
chessman | 3/5 |


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