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Yes - Tales From Topographic Oceans CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.89 | 2354 ratings

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5 stars Soaring, beautiful music from the UK's finest-ever prog band, but one which still divides fans and critics 30 years on. I feel sorry for Jon Anderson sometimes, having to defend this album when not even the whole BAND were into it at the time. Rick Wakeman famously hated it and all of the group have agreed at various times down the years that it could have done with a bit of editing. Personally, I like the way they strike out into a kind of jazz-fusion vein on side three (The Ancient) and would have liked to have heard more. It only really crops up again on Soundchaser on the follow-up, Relayer.Rounding off that section with the delicate and highly melodic Leaves Of Green guitar/vocal duet also acts as a nice sweetener for the forthcoming onslaught of Ritual, arguably Yes' greatest epic piece of work, with only Close To The Edge, Awaken or Gates of Delirium coming close. From Ritual's searching opening passage, until Steve Howe locks into the main riff and Anderson's vocals make their understated entrance, through the three-man percussion tour de force by way of some astonishing warp-speed playing from Chris Squire until the closing section rounds off both Ritual and Tales... itself with a delicate fade, it stands as one of the finest pieces of rock music ever recorded. Most of the lacklustre parts of TFTO that some would see discarded are on part two, until Howe's brilliant folky acoustic guitar brings the piece to life, and even the first side, which was the first part of the album to be reinstated when Wakeman and Howe rejoined the band, is lacklustre in places. As regards Anderson and Howe's lyrics, yes they are over-reaching and pretentious, but surely that's the whole point? Let's not discard ambition in case someone laughs and says we're getting above ourselves. The words just add further colour to an already dazzling palette. The sleeve packaging is probably Roger Dean's best-known painting - apart from the Yes logo itself - which is saying something given the man's career. Definitely not an album any self-respecting prog fan should be without, although go for Close To The Edge and Fragile first if you're just discovering Yes music. Then go for the hard stuff!
Nizzy | 5/5 |


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