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Yes - Tales From Topographic Oceans CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.89 | 2354 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars I first learned this album about 9 years after the fact.

I'm a pianist, and one day I decided to buy the two folios of Yes that were available at the time (this was the during the first period they were broken up, after Drama). Of course, in them were the four tracks that make up Tales From Topographic Ocean (all albums up through Relayer in them, with Dear Father tacked on the end), severely edited of course, but they're there. I'd only actually heard Yessongs, Tormato, Fragile, and what was on the radio.

I learned them without ever hearing the record, so I had the benefit of using my own imagination on the songs' arrangements. The upshot is because of the editing, the sides break down into songs for me ... there's just four titles.

I thought the interspersing of the songs themselves was interesting -- for example, Revealing Science for me is like three or four different shorter songs mixed up -- where the second verse would come in, you get a section from another song.

Then I heard the record, finally, after approximately 4 years of playing it myself, for myself. It must be said that while I love the album now, I found it hard to make it through the parts that were edited initially.

I also found the performance stilted all the way through, preferring the live tapes I've heard since -- Jon sings to the click-track, holding each note precisely, for example .... a bit too perfect, a bit too tight, more just get the notes than injecting shaping on the phrasing and dynamics. Very mechanical in execution.

But I still have my imagination, and in my head I have my very own Tales From Topographic Oceans, shaped and dynamo. Is what was released a masterpiece? No, but it could have been, all the way through. Does it detract from listening to it for me nowadays? No, it remains a favourite. Jon Anderson keeps threatening to return to this album. Maybe I should ring him up and suggest that if he's going to do it, let's get on with it. In the meantime, what we have is very nice to have, but it doesn't sound finished, and maybe that's the charm as to why it's so fascinating.

| 4/5 |


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