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Yes - Tales From Topographic Oceans CD (album) cover

TALES FROM TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

3.89 | 2327 ratings

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Eric_T
4 stars A couple of months ago MOJO magazine published an article on "critically-loathed albums which people love" and invited the readers to write in with their choices. I chose this album.

One of the most annoying "truisms" in rock journalism is that Prog was bloated and self-indulgent and needed to be blown away by the "refreshing" simplicity of Punk. This album is often cited as a major reason why Punk needed to exist. However many of the better Punk/New Wave musicians disagreed with this type of thinking and were big Yes fans. One such was Keith Levene of PIL, who were as adventurous in their sphere as Yes were in theirs. Prog and Punk share a spirit of experimentation and ambition.

This is Yes at their most extreme, pushing all the boundaries. In particular it is an excellent showpiece for Steve Howe's guitar playing, especially on Side Three. Wakeman does not have so many solo slots as on previous Yes albums, taking more of a background textural role (maybe that's why he's never been fond of the album). Chris Squire sounds great throughout and provides a lot of the muscle. The musical themes are strong and memorable, and each side maintains its momentum throughout.

Flaws ? Some of the passages are extended that minute or so too long. The lyrics are hardly Elvis Costello (but are appropriate in context). And there isn't any music here which quite reaches the peaks of "Starship Trooper", "Roundabout", or side one of "Close To The Edge".

In summary this is a highly-adventurous album full of marvellous themes and playing. If it does occasionally over- reach itself then that's far better than the sort of mediocre two-chord thrashes which the majority of Punk acts churned out.

Eric_T | 4/5 |

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