Yes: Tales from Topographic Oceans
What an album, and what a controversy. I can understand how some might have problems with it, but for me, this is the definition of prog. I got into the genre (I only knew it as art rock then) because it seemed as the musicians were trying to create symphonies in rock. I can’t think of a better example than this. It consists of four songs (or movements) running around 20 minutes. There is actually very little that resembles traditional pop song structure. The beauty is that it all holds together as one piece, without seeming directionless. They are complete compositions, with a commonality.
The majesty (or pomposity, as some would say) is exactly what I would expect for artists trying to hit the heights of symphonic music. It’s actually necessary. Yes delivers full force. Everyone gets to shine, and in many different ways. Wakeman’s keyboards are espescially tasty on “The Revealing Science of God.” Steve Howe is showcased on “The Ancient,” playing many different styles. “Ritual” brings it all home, and has wonderful vocals. The only lesser point might be “The Remembering,” which does go on a bit. However, It’s still a beautiful piece.
More recently I purchased the re-master, and it is even better. More of the nuances pop out. I can take or leave the bonus tracks, but the sound quality is worth the price. This deserves to be heard in all of its glory.
I went many years without hearing this album, and that is a shame. It is terrific achievement, and should be heard by every prog fan. You don’t have to love it, but it must be experienced. If you are not sure what symphonic prog is, look no further.
Jon Anderson – vocals
Steve Howe – guitars and vocals
Chris Squire – bass and vocals
Rick Wakeman – keyboards
Alan White – drums