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Yes - Talk CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.08 | 1038 ratings

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3 stars This is kind of a forgotten Yes album in some ways. It failed to really make any waves when it came out in the midst of a heavy college indie and grunge period in music, which is partially reflected in the generic Victory label that released it.

This certainly isn’t much of a progressive work, but it is several standards above where many of the former prog heroes were at the time. And I will say it iis nowhere near as vapid as the previous two albums 90125 and Big Generator (Union only partially counts since it’s really more like two bands who decided to split production costs by releasing on the same album). The songs here are mostly quite mellow, although Trevor Rabin manages several soaring guitar-scream solos that for the most part seem contrived and out-of- place. It’s also an album with compositions that seem geared toward a concert setting. I would imagine there were plenty of disposable lighter tributes in the live shows for this tour, especially during songs like “I Am Waiting” and “Where Will You Be”. One of those two was chosen as a class song by some midwestern American high-school graduating class I’m quite sure. Maybe both of them. And “Walls” sounds like some kind of Peter Cetera solo work for sure. Nothing wrong with that I suppose, but it's worth pointing out.

The music here is much more guitar-focused than the band’s previous albums, and there is a great deal of collaboration between Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, and Rabin on both songwriting and vocals.

The strongest tracks here are the two opening “The Calling” and to a lesser extent "I Am Waiting”. Both are centered on Rabin’s guitar and Anderson’s sappy lyrics, but for the first time in several years the band takes the time to develop each song to include some interesting instrumentation to augment the angst-a-thon singing. “I Am Waiting” in particular has several modest guitar features that are lightly accented by Squire’s bass.

The band revives an almost forgotten tradition of including an extended, multi-section piece at the end entitled “Endless Dream”. The differences between this and some of the epic tracks in the band’s early album are significant. The lyrics are quite trite compared to the majesty of “Gates of Delirium” or “Heart of the Sunrise” or “Awaken”. And the keyboards (where they stand out at all) are very mild-mannered. But the track has several extended instrumentals that highlight mostly Rabin and Squire but are more interesting than two or three more slow-dance tunes.

I guess Rabin and Tony Kaye left after this album, which maybe is a good thing or Keys to Ascension might not have happened. Who knows.

This is a step up from most of what the band had been churning out up till this point in the decade or so since the music started being more about egos and income, and less about music. So it is what it is. If I were discovering Yes for the first time with this album there’s a good chance I wouldn’t pursue them any further. But for long-time fans, this is a good step in a positive direction after several years of really annoying diversions. Three stars is probably ever-so-slightly too high, but two is definitely not enough – this is better than just a collector’s piece. And better times are ahead for the band, at least for a few years.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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