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Yes - Tales From Topographic Oceans CD (album) cover

TALES FROM TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

3.89 | 2354 ratings

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david
4 stars I have never understood why this album elicited such antipathy. It is the logical conclusion to what YES was working towards on the previous albums. It compares favorably to "Close to the Edge" and "Relayer" and is only a notch below them, in my mind. Admitedly, the concept of the album is overblown, but one could listen to the music without reading the liner notes and never know the album was based on "Shastras." It is quite possible to ignore the concept and enjoy the music...and even some of the lyrics. The first movement and the last are excellent pieces of music with all the marks of what YES fans like about YES. The second side is less good, but still quite listenable. The third side is experimental and meandering, but still features a superb classical guitar section from Steve. Embedded within each of the sides one can hear real SONGS, mostly with the mark of maestro Anderson, that are beautifully melodic and brimming with expansiveness, hope and promise. The ending section of the fourth side is particularly charming and beautiful. Again, I can't for the life of me figure out what is so objectionable about this album, or why it is considered to be so different from the albums which surrounded it. The 70s career of YES exhibited an almost perfect bell curve in terms of the length of their pieces: "The Yes Album" had six songs, "Fragile" had (effectively -- minus the solo features) four songs, "Close to the Edge" had three songs, and "Topogrpahic Oceans" had two-songs per record...the peak of the bell curve. Then YES came down the other side of the "bell" -- "Relayer" had three songs, "Going For the One" had five songs, and "Tormato" several more. "Topographic Oceans" was the peak of the bell curve in terms of the ambition and scale of YES's work. Why lovers of "Close to the Edge" and "Relayer" can't seem to wrap their ears and hearts and minds around this album is something I can't understand -- but then again, I can't understand why anyone could prefer KISS to YES, but millions did back in the 70s. Ah well...

Don't start with this one if you are a new YES fan. But if you work your way up to it, via the previous releases, you will find great playing and some fine writing in the first and last "movements" of this most ambitious of YES masterworks.

| 4/5 |

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