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Yes - Keys to Ascension CD (album) cover

KEYS TO ASCENSION

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

4.05 | 503 ratings

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ProgressiveAttic
4 stars A hell of a reunion!

18 years after splitting, the late 70's Yes lineup is back (lets forget about Union for everyone's best interest...) featuring all the power and strength of Yes' classic era. Here we have the expected and the unexpected, the old and the new presented in a unique fashion.

(Every rating is in function of the added value of the particular performance.... if it were just for musicianship and quality of the song it would've easily reached the fifth star)

Although every Yes live performance always adds something new and exciting to the pieces, there is nothing relevantly new about the, otherwise amazing, performances of Siberian Khatru , Roundabout and Starship Trooper (all played live so many times that it is almost a cliché....). 4.25 each

On the other hand, we have rarely performed pieces of the Yes repertoire such as the amazing performance of The Revealing Science of God from the bombastic and pompous Tales From Topographic Oceans (my favorite Yes album), this is quite rare since Wakeman isn't too proud about that album. 5

Then we have a very good rendition of their adaptation of Paul Simon's America (only available as a single released in 1972, on several compilations and as a bonus track on the 2003 re-master of Fragile). This piece is a key element in the development of the "Yes sound"; the original inspiration of this song is a version performed by 1-2-3 (original name of Clouds), a regular act at the London Marquee Club during the mid and late 60's which inspired such artists as Yes, Keith Emerson, King Crimson and David Bowie to make more adventurous and complex music. 4

The outstanding performances of Onward and Awaken take the pieces to a new level. An absolute improvement over the studio recordings in Tormato and Going For the One. The extended sections and instrumentals, along with Anderson's beautiful vocal work make of this performance a gem. 5 each

Be the One starts the new studio recordings section of the album. There is a great interplay between the members of the band and Jon's vocals are just beautiful, a very nice song overall. 4

And finally.... That, That Is closes the studio section with the best piece written by Yes since the 70s, reaching the standard set by Yes' most impressive epics (Revealing Science of God, Sound Chaser, Close to the Edge, etc.). The lyrics aren't Jon's best and there is a lack of the consistency of Close to the Edge, Relayer and Tales...Nonetheless a great piece and I have to say that Steve Howe just shines with this one. 4.80

This album is, without doubt, a gem and a must for Yes fans. The sound quality is one of the best you can find on a Yes live recording (this represents the only advantage of Keys to Ascension's Siberian Khatru , Roundabout and Starship Trooper over Yessongs') + those rare live performances are uniquely amazing and the new studio material presents a quality worthy of a 70s Yes album.

Total: 4.5

If this album only had the "Revealing Science of God", "Onward" and "Awaken" performances or the studio tracks, it still would have been worth buying. This is part of my trilogy of must-have Yes live albums, together with Yessongs and Symphonic Live. Nonetheless, if you are not a Yes enthusiast this is just an excellent addition to your prog rock music collection. Very solid 4 stars.

ProgressiveAttic | 4/5 |

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