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




Symphonic Prog

3.26 | 103 ratings

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Eetu Pellonpaa
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Yes was the first symphonic progressive rock band I ever heard as a fragile high school teenager, and the group's magic effect has lingered in my mind during all days of aging. My truest interest to the orchestra lies in their early material ending up quite much to the 1980 "Drama" studio album, but have verified some of their later records, which have offered sometimes real enjoyment.

Bought this album in wake of 2021 released "The Quest", and had some expectations as liked both "Drama" and "Tales from Topographic Orchestra". Sadly the triple vinyl album was quite disappointment to me, possibly partly due both expectations and relation to the 70's and 80's performances. When compared for example to the 2015 remastered live recordings of "Progeny 1972" CD box or vinyl compilation, the band lacks power and even sounds do not feel so vivid. Though picking up mistakes on playing is a vicious way of listening, can't avoid uneasy feelings when hearing the clumsy parts for example on songs "And You and I" or "The Revealing Science of God". As the personal favorite versions of these compositions do not escape my mind, I'll get the same experiences of unhappiness when local Finnish opera singers go for the classic I always compare those sung by Gigli, Flagstad or Chaliapin. So the set up seems unfair. Also the LP covers or the photo booklet do not shine similar wonder as

There are some moments which worked well, like the selection of "Leaves of Green" from "The Ancient - Giants Under The Sun", and the performance of "Into The Lens", maybe due it's nostalgic theme characterizing the band institution where its classic musicians are nearly all disappeared. This kind of concept bands where original members are replaced with young musicians is not totally wrong, but actually enchanting; It kind of proves the meaning of the classic sound and concept of the group for musicians and audience. Also I think it proves the uniqueness of the band's sound and compositions they have created during the decades. As an example from other kind of art rock the long continuation of Pärson Sound - (International) Harvester - Träd, Gräs och Stenar - Träden shows how amazingly well a music group can survive and does not die with their core members.

Also contemplation of the passing of time whilst the vinyl sides spin brings its own element to this listening experience. I believe if You were on the concerts preserved here or as a younger person have found this band later, You most possibly experience this music totally differently. I remember few times Yes visited my country in early 21st century, and the magic was really powerful, denying all my criticism to sound or playing details totally. Thus can understand the potential of this album which did not totally enjoy myself however.

Eetu Pellonpaa | 2/5 |


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