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YES Tales From Topographic Oceans Album Review

Updated on January 18, 2014

A 1970's Masterpiece

Since the 1970's I've been an avid Yes fan, and seen them in concert at least 20 times. Their double album Tales From Topographic Oceans was released in America on January 9th 1974. The album was recorded during August to October 1973 and featured the classic lineup of; Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Rick Wakeman and Alan White.

This concept album consists of 4 songs; The Revealing Science Of God, The Remembering, The Ancient and Ritual. All songs are approx 20 minutes long and deep in texture and sound that make YES.

The Revealing Science Of God; Starting with a chant that swirls in a rich mix of Steve’s guitar and Rick’s keyboards The Revealing brings you to that mellow spot in Yes music that doesn’t bring you to your feet but allows you to ponder. The next day after you’ve heard this song you’ll think about the lyric "I must have waited all my life for this MOMENT !" The song itself moves about very leisurely but delivers with Steve's guitar riffs and brief moments of Wakeman’s superbly textured keyboards.

The Remembering; With the sounds that made early progressive rock great, this song’s starting place leads you on a musical journey into a common YES hook. The song ends back where it started. As Jon Anderson sings; "And I do feel very well..." the entire band can be heard, Steve’s subtle guitar, Chris’s thundering base as quiet as can be and Alan’s drums helping to texture and move the song forward, while Rick’s keyboards add the finishing touches. "The strength of the moment lies with you !", and the song is back where it started.

The Ancient; Starting off with such a mystical sound and venturing into a keyboard / guitar mix that stays with you, The Ancient shows true depth within its segments. With its starting and stopping technique and a well timed use of silence, and then increasing tempo the song is leading into some true YES greatness. The Leaves Of Green segment of the song is reason enough to have this song in your collection. Steve’s acoustic guitar playing and Jon’s singing "And I heard a million voices singing" show true musical greatness and this segment of music will endure. The last few moments of this song are taken to musical heights rarely seen, touching the outskirts.

Ritual; Of the 4 songs on this album, Ritual has the most commercial sound. Its starting hook is easy to find and listen to. Somewhat of a tour-de-force sound, YES has unleashed itself in this song. As Steve’s guitar weaves thru the opening minutes, what impress the most is the depth of Chris’s bass, less of the typical thundering sound and more of almost a bit of a violent sound played with gusto. What Ritual does is tell a story of hope as Jon sings "open doors we find our way." However not returning to from where it started, Ritual rolls on with almost African or Caribbean drum beat leading and building into the spot a YES fan wants to hear. With the songs journey nearly over, Jon’s sings "and course our way back home, flying home, going home !" If you want to listen to Tales, I’d recommend listening to Ritual first, it will leaving you wanting more.

Yes had "progressed" since Close To The Edge and Rick Wakeman wouldn't return again until Going For The One. Any YES fan or music fan should own Tales in their collection. It will go down in history as an album of original progressive rock recordings that will sound great for years to come.Tales From Topographic Oceans was certified as a Gold record in the USA and England in 1974.

Please Enjoy This Song By YES


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    • RussellLHuey profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice review! Thanks.

    • Rock_nj profile image

      John Coviello 

      7 years ago from New Jersey

      I love Yes. My favorite band of all time. It is amazing how long they've been playing. Steve Howe is still an incredible guitarist, even at his advanced age.

      Tales From Topographic Oceans was criticized at the time of it's release for being self-indulgent, but it's far better than most of the junk coming out of the music world today. Ritual was a great song to see live during the 2003 35th Reunion tour.

      Yes, a band for the ages.


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