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Yes - Topographic Drama: Live Across America CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.26 | 103 ratings

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2 stars This double album is either a latter day triumph or a ridiculous piece of nonsense, depending on how you want to see it. As a veteran Yes fan with a clear preference for the band's classic era (1971-1974) and with a love of DRAMA, I was curious to find out how the band managed to perform the old 'Buggles' album AND more than half of TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS as late as 2017. I was not disappointed. Despite slowish speeds, both 'The Revealing Science of God' and 'Ritual' are played with an eye for detail and with great sensitivity. Steve Howe's contributions are as masterly as ever, Billy Sherwood is a first-class replacement for Chris Squire, Geoff Downes does what he needs to do on keyboards, Jay Schellen expertly performs all drum parts Alan White can no longer reach, and (dare I say it) Jon Davison sings even better than the one performer who really should be here, Jon Anderson. (Although Davison does sound a little bloodless at times.) By the way - DRAMA must have been real fun to play; as a listener you can tell!

So why the 'ridiculous piece of nonsense'? Well, the entire album sounds suspiciously as if it was recorded during a soundcheck or rehearsal. There is no indication as to which gigs it derives from. Audience noises were clearly pasted on long after the fact; they pop up at the most inopportune moments. In my opinion it's completely unthinkable that today's largely middle-aged, sit-down audiences would start cheering and clapping at least FIFTEEN times during a twenty-two minute piece of music, as they do here. Sometimes the mechanical cheering gets very annoying: in the Disc Two drum workout some anonymous male voice keeps shouting 'Oh yeah! Oh yeah!' as if he was in a cheap porn flick. As for the familiar 'extras' , I tried 'Heart of the Sunrise' and 'Starship Trooper'. The latter (probably my favourite Yes tune) sounded lifeless and far too slow , so I gave 'And You And I' and 'Roundabout' a miss.

So how to grade this? Worth hearing, perhaps, but definitely not essential.

fuxi | 2/5 |


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