YES – Tales From Topographic Oceans Definitive Deluxe Edition

yes-tfto-21-small

Forty three years after its original release, the controversially divisive ‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’ has just been released by Panegyric in two different deluxe formats. A 3 x cd/ 1 x blu-ray disc version – reviewed here, and a 2 x cd/2 x DVD-A version. Review and pictures by Tim Darbyshire…….

‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’ is the fifth Panegyric release in the series of expanded YES editions including Steven Wilson 5.1 Surround mixes, new stereo mixes and high-resolution stereo mixes of the original music. There’s a wealth of extra material on blu-ray edition (see full track listing below). Steven Wilson has produced the new mixes with the approval of the band and previously unseen restored artwork (overseen and approved by Roger Dean ) adorn an expanded booklet which contains new sleeve-notes  (including a new essay from Sid Smith), and archive material.

The package is superb, and of course the sleeve must be one of the best album covers created by YES’ unofficial sixth member Roger Dean. But what about the music?

After the high of 1972’s near perfect ‘Close To The Edge’, ‘Tales from Topographic Oceans’ is the sixth studio album by YES, released in 1973 on Atlantic Records. Presented as an 80 minute double vinyl album with one track on each side, its concept is based on singer Jon Anderson’s interpretation of four Shastric scriptures from a footnote in ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’ by Paramahansa Yogananda – a book he was introduced to by ex-King Crimson percussionist Jamie Muir at Bill Bruford’s wedding.  This footnote described four bodies of Hindu text, collectively named the shastras, that Yogananda described as “comprehensive treatises” that cover “every aspect of religious and social life, and the fields of law, medicine, architecture, art, etc” that “convey profound truths under a veil of detailed symbolism” This fitted Jon Anderson’s quest for a big theme for the next Yes album. He wanted a limitless large-scale composition.

Ambitious, stellar and triumphant? Or overblown, pretentious nonsense?  ‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’ is loved (mostly by fans) and loathed (by music critics) and has sometimes polarized the YES fan base, as well as the band itself.

Jon Anderson and Steve Howe thrashed out the structure and themes of the double album while on tour in early 1973, and understandably remain supportive of the music. They had the task of ‘selling the concept’ to the rest of the band. Chris Squire and debutant drummer Alan White knuckled down, but Rick Wakeman left the band after never really embracing the wide-ranging themes of the album and the direction the music was taking the band.  Despite this, Wakeman’s contribution to the album are stellar, providing colour and atmosphere throughout and of course the minimoog solo towards the end of ‘The Revealing Science Of God’ remains one of the highlights of his contributions to any YES music.  Squire in particular comes to the fore during ‘Ritual’, which rounds off the album and includes some of the most beautiful parts of any YES song in the  ‘Nous Sommes Du Soleil’ sections.

Steven Wilson remains a strong advocate: “I worked on and off for about 3 years on this new mix in my quest to do it justice. I hope it will satisfy the people who agree with me that it may just be Yes’ pre-eminent masterpiece.”

Sonically I’d say it’s one of the best new mixes Steven Wilson has done for YES. There’s a new clarity and increased depth to all the instruments making this definitive edition a joy to revisit. As with all the Wilson 5.1 surround mixes, additional instrumentation can be heard, sounds that used to be lost in the muddy original mix. For those who continue to be put off by four twenty minute pieces of music, there are five ‘single edits’ – sections chosen by Steven Wilson to highlight the strength of the song writing on the album.

To my mind,  time has been kind to ‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’. Although controversial in 1973, YES was always pushing boundaries and refusing to bow to corporate record company pressure to repeat the formula of past successes. Today it seems like no big deal for a band to produce long form pieces.

The point of this reissue probably isn’t to win new fans, but rather to reward existing fans. The blu-ray disc is stuffed full with different versions of the album and interesting extras (see below).  I’ve always ranked this album just outside the Top 5 best YES albums – after ‘Close To The Edge’, ‘Relayer’, ‘Going For The One’, ‘Fragile’, and ‘The Yes Album’. My mind still tends to drift a bit in the first half of ‘The Ancient’, but ‘Tales’ is clearly part of the hot streak YES was on between 1970 and 1977.

YES played Side 1 (The Revealing Science Of God) and Side 4 (Ritual) live to enthusiastic US audiences in 2016 – see my reviews here and here.

 

yes-tfto-01-smallyes-tfto-03-smallyes-tfto-11-smallyes-tfto-13-smallyes-tfto-07-smallyes-tfto-23-smallyes-tfto-21-smallyes-tfto-05-smallyes-tfto-09-smallyes-tfto-15-smallyes-tfto-19-smallyes-tfto-17-small

TRACK LISTING:
New Steven Wilson Stereo Mixes:
CD 1:
1. The Revealing Science Of God (Dance Of The Dawn) 20:18
2. The Remembering (High In The Memory) 20:32
3. The Ancient (Giants Under The Sun) 18:41

CD 2:
1. Ritual (Nous Sommes Du Soleil) 21:44
2. Dance Of The Dawn (extended version of The Revealing Science of God) 22:36
3. Dance Of The Dawn (Studio Run-Through) 22:23

CD 3 (Blu-Ray set only):
1. High the Memory (studio run-through) 20:36
2. Giants Under the Sun (studio run-through) 17:18
3. Ritual (live, Zurich, April 1974) 23:11
Bonus single edits:
4. The Revealing Science of God (single edit) 3:54
5. The Remembering (single edit) 2:50
6. The Ancient (single edit) 3:26
7. Ritual (single edit I) 4:20
8. Ritual (single edit II) 3:47

2016 full album mix, plus an extended Dance of the Dawn and 5 single edits, all mixed by Steven Wilson.

Blu-Ray and DVD-A #1 (Region 0, NTSC):

New Stereo Mix (24/96 LPCM):
1. The Revealing Science Of God (Dance Of The Dawn) 20:18
2. The Remembering (High In The Memory) 20:32
3. The Ancient (Giants Under The Sun) 18:41
4. Ritual (Nous Sommes Du Soleil) 21:44
5. Dance Of The Dawn (extended version of The Revealing Science of God) 22:36

DVD-A #2:
5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Surround (24/96 LPCM):
1. The Revealing Science Of God (Dance Of The Dawn) 20:18
2. The Remembering (High In The Memory) 20:32
3. The Ancient (Giants Under The Sun) 18:41
4. Ritual (Nous Sommes Du Soleil) 21:44
5. Dance Of The Dawn (extended version of The Revealing Science of God) 22:36
Flat Transfer from original master tape source (24/192 LPCM):
6. The Revealing Science Of God (Dance Of The Dawn) 20:18
7. The Remembering (High In The Memory) 20:32
8. The Ancient (Giants Under The Sun) 18:41
9. Ritual (Nous Sommes Du Soleil) 21:44

Exclusive to the Blu-ray version only:

New Stereo Mixes (24/96 LPCM):
The “alternate” album:
1. Dance of the Dawn (studio run-through) 22:23
2. High the Memory (studio run-through) 20:36
3. Giants Under the Sun (studio run-through) 17:18
4. Ritual (live, Zurich, April 1974) 23:11
Single edits:
5. The Revealing Science of God (single edit) 3:54
6. The Remembering (single edit) 2:50
7. The Ancient (single edit) 3:26
8. Ritual (single edit I) 4:20
9. Ritual (single edit II) 3:47

New Stereo Instrumental Mixes in DTS-HD Master Audio (24bit/96khz):
1. The Revealing Science Of God (Dance Of The Dawn) 20:18
2. The Remembering (High In The Memory) 20:32
3. The Ancient (Giants Under The Sun) 18:41
4. Ritual (Nous Sommes Du Soleil) 21:44
5. Dance Of The Dawn (extended version of The Revealing Science of God) 22:36

Vinyl transfers (24bit/96khz):
UK needle-drop:
1. The Revealing Science of God 20:27
2. The Remembering 20:38
3. The Ancient 18:34
4. Ritual 21:25
US banded promo needle-drop*:
1. The Revealing Science of God 20:27
1a. 3:30
1b. 6:17
1c. 3:21
1d. 4:30
1e. 2:55
2. The Remembering 20:38
2a. 4:40
2b. 3:06
2c. 8:10
2d. 1:45
2e. 3:06
3. The Ancient 18:34
3a. 3:15
3b. 4:19
3c. 2:17
2d. 3:56
4. Ritual 21:25
4a. 5:25
4b. 6:42
4c. 5:20
4d. 4:18

*the “banded” US promo album had the songs divided into shorter and more “radio friendly” segments in the hope of airplay from DJ’s and radio programmers adverse to 20-minute songs……

Band Members:
Jon Anderson – lead vocals, harp, cymbals & percussion
Steve Howe – electric 6- & 12-strings, steel and acoustic guitars, electric sitar & backing vocals
Chris Squire – acoustic & electric basses, timpani & backing vocals
Rick Wakeman – grand piano, RMI Electra-Piano, MiniMoog, Mellotrons, Hammond C3 & pipe organs
Alan White – drums, piano (Track 4), vibes, Mini-Moog, Moog drum, tubular bells & assorted percussion

YES – Live at The Egg, Albany NY 14th August 2016

YES The Egg Albany 2016 15-small

With YES reaching the halfway stage of their 2016 US Drama/Tales 1 & 4 Tour, we headed south again into upper New York State, to The Egg (Performing Arts Center) in Albany to find the band still on top of its game …………review and photos by Tim Darbyshire.

With a capacity of under 1000 seats, the intimate setting of the Hart Theater inside The Egg provided the ideal setting to witness YES as the venue is known for its great acoustics. Although not quite sold out, the crowd welcomed the band enthusiastically as they entered the stage to the sound of Benjamin Britten’s ‘Young Person’s Guide To The Orchestra’.

As on all dates on this tour, YES immediately powered into 1980’s ‘Drama’ album in its entirety.  Released originally in 1980, it was an interesting time in YES’ often turbulent history as founder member Jon Anderson and keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman were replaced by  Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes – aka The Buggles who were best known for their hit single ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’.  36 years later, ‘Drama’ is widely regarded as a gem in the YES back catalogue.

‘Machine Messiah’ kicks off the album, and from the off it’s clear Geoff Downes in particular is in his element,  enjoying playing the material he first co-wrote for YES.  Billy Sherwood handles Chris Squire’s bass parts with aplomb throughout, highlighted on ‘Does It Really Happen’.  The Buggles’ Yessified ‘Into The Lens’ and the rarely heard ‘Run Through The Light’ lead into the album closer ‘Tempus Fugit’ – a storming climax to a remarkably fresh sounding work.

It seems ‘Drama’ is over so quickly (all 37 minutes of it – tempus fugit indeed), and before we know it we’re back in the familiar crowd-pleasing territory of ‘I’ve Seen All Good People’. A rousing ‘Siberian Khatru’ closes the first set, with Steve Howe relishing the solo at the end of the piece.

On paper at least, by playing half of ‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’ YES is challenging their more casual fans – but that’s par for the course, YES has always demanded listeners actually listen to the material which leads to great rewards on the most part.  A typically uplifting ‘And You And I’ with the customary sublime guitar work from Steve Howe opens the second set and leads into the two 20 minute ‘Tales’ tracks.

‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’ was of course 1973’s controversial follow up to ‘Close To The Edge’, and for some fans and many critics it was a step too far.  A double album with one song per side – it even split the band. To other YES fans it’s a kind of holy grail and I think the decision to present the more accessible sides 1 and 4 (The Revealing Science Of God and Ritual) with the acoustic interlude ‘Leaves Of Green’ (from side 3 – ‘The Ancient’)  sandwiched between the two longer pieces should be applauded.

Vocalist Jon Davison effortlessly handles ‘The Revealing Science Of God’. That’s no mean feat considering some of the lengthy wordier sections, and Alan White’s temporary replacement Jay Schellen  – who does a commendable job throughout – gets the chance to shine during ‘Ritual’ which has Jon, Billy and Jay all pounding out rhythms towards the end of the song. The ‘Nous Sommes Du Soleil’ part of ‘Ritual’ remains some of the most beautiful music written by YES.

A barnstorming double encore of ‘Roundabout’ and ‘Starship Trooper’ brings the evening’s proceedings to a close – this is clearly a band on top form. The current line-up might not please every YES fan, but make no mistake, they are YES and I’m struggling  to recall any line up looking so happy to be on stage playing YES music.

(I interviewed Geoff Downes before the show which can be found here).

 

Line Up:

Jon Davison – vocals
Geoff Downes – keyboards
Steve Howe – guitar
Jay Schellen – drums
Billy Sherwood – bass

Set list:

Set 1 (8:00pm – 9:00pm)
Intro – Benjamin Britten The Young Person’s Guide To The Orchestra
Machine Messiah
White Car
Does It Really Happen?
Into the Lens
Run Through the Light
Tempus Fugit
I’ve Seen All Good People
Siberian Khatru

Set 2 (9:20pm – 10:50pm)
And You And I
The Revealing Science of God
Leaves of Green
Ritual (Nous Sommes du Soleil)

Encore:
Roundabout
Starship Trooper

 

YES – Live at Artpark, Lewiston NY 2nd August 2016

P1070488-small

With no Canadian dates scheduled for the Drama/Tales 1 & 4 YES Summer 2016 tour, we headed over the border to ArtPark in Lewiston NY to catch the band as they entered the second week of the tour…………review and photos by Tim Darbyshire.

As part of Artpark’s $12 open-air Tuesday night series, YES returned to Lewiston after an absence of 4 years with a brave set of 1980’s ‘Drama’ album in its entirety and half of 1973’s controversial ‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’, interspersed with classic YES staples ‘I’ve Seen All Good People’, ‘Siberian Khatru’, ‘And You And I’, ‘Roundabout’ and ‘Starship Trooper’.

Shortly before the tour began, it was announced that Alan White – ever present drummer since 1972 – had had to have back surgery and would be absent from (at least) the first few weeks of the tour. Thankfully Jay Schellen has stepped up to fill the drum-stool at short notice. Jay is known to most YES fans through his work with Circa and Asia, and it has to be said, he’s doing a great job.

In bright sunshine, the band kicked off with the ‘Drama’ album – released in 1980, it was at the time a difficult moment in YES’ history as founder member Jon Anderson and keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman were replaced by successful chart toppers  Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes – aka The Buggles.  36 years later, ‘Drama’ is widely regarded as a gem in the YES back catalogue.

Album opener ‘Machine Messiah ‘ is about as heavy as YES gets, and from early on it was clear that this was a relaxed band that appeared just to be happy to play. As an album, ‘Drama’ has a nice flow to it with ‘Does It Really Happen’ and ‘Into The Lens’ being neatly bookended by standout tracks ‘Machine Messiah’ and ‘Tempus Fugit’.

Having rejoined YES in 2011, I’m sure Geoff enjoyed playing the material he wrote (mostly) for the first time. Jay provided the energy the material required, and before you knew it we were back in familiar live territory with ‘I’ve Seen All Good People’ and ‘Siberian Khatru’ where Steve Howe rightly came to the fore. Set 2 started with the welcome return to the live set of the sublime ‘And You And I’, which as ever received a particularly strong reaction from the appreciative and large crowd.

I’m not sure what the more casual fan made of the ‘Tales’ tracks. 2 twenty minute pieces, with ‘Leaves Of Green’ (an acoustic duet from Steve Howe and Jon Davison from the third side – ‘The Ancient’) sandwiched in between. It’s heaven of course to the deep YES fan, culminating in Jon, Billy and Jay all pounding out rhythms towards the end of ‘Ritual’. In ‘Ritual’ especially Billy once again showed how comfortable he is filling Chris Squire’s shoes.

Jon Davison takes whatever YES throws at him in his stride, even if he did need an iPad to guide him through some of the lengthier, wordier passages of ‘The Revealing Science Of God’.  Jon’s voice always seems spot on, effortlessly rising to the challenge – I’d love to hear him tackle ‘Relayer’ in full, surely the only YES challenge remaining to him?

After a rousing double encore of ‘Roundabout’ and ‘Starship Trooper’ the enthusiastic crowd left happy, knowing that once again YES had undoubtedly delivered.

Line Up:

Jon Davison – vocals
Geoff Downes – keyboards
Steve Howe – guitar
Jay Schellen – drums
Billy Sherwood – bass

Set list:

Set 1 (7:00pm – 8:00pm)
Intro – Benjamin Britten The Young Person’s Guide To The Orchestra
Machine Messiah
White Car
Does It Really Happen?
Into the Lens
Run Through the Light
Tempus Fugit
I’ve Seen All Good People
Siberian Khatru

Set 2 (8:20pm – 9:50pm)
And You And I
The Revealing Science of God
Leaves of Green
Ritual (Nous Sommes du Soleil)

Encore:
Roundabout
Starship Trooper

YES – Tales From Topographic Oceans 5.1 Release Coming Soon

YEStfto

Confirmed by Steve Howe at the recent YES concert in Newcastle, and now on the official YES facebook page,  1973’s epic ‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’ is the next YES album to receive the Steven Wilson 5.1 surround deluxe treatment.

From Steven Wilson’s Remixes Facebook page: Started in 2013 and finally completed in April this year (so that’s 3 years in the making folks), my remix of the double album “Tales from Topographic Oceans” by Yes will be released later this year. More information soon.

‘Tales’ will be the fifth YES release by Panegyric, following ‘The Yes Album’, ‘Close To The Edge’,  ‘Fragile’, and ‘Relayer’. Sid Smith has also confirmed he has written the new sleeve liner notes.

No release date has been announced yet, but I’m expecting two versions, a CD/blu-ray and a CD/dvd-a following the previous releases . Hopefully it will be released to coincide with the Summer YES tour, where the band is playing ‘The Revealing Science Of God’ and ‘Ritual’ from the album.

YES Summer US Tour Dates:

YES-USA-2016

Jul 27: Columbus Celeste Center, OH
Jul 30: Atlantic City Tropicana, NJ
Jul 31: Bethlehem Sands Event Center, PA
Aug 02: Lewiston Artpark, NY
Aug 04: Lynn Auditorium, MA
Aug 05: Walingford Toyota Oakdale Theatre, CT
Aug 06: Westbury Theatre, NY
Aug 09: Staten Island St George Theatre, NY
Aug 10: Englewood Bergen Performing Arts Center, NJ
Aug 12: Port Chester The Capitol, NY
Aug 13: Morristown Mayo Performing Arts Center, NJ
Aug 16: Washington Warner Theatre, DC
Aug 17: Munhall Carnegie Of Homestead Music Hall, PA
Aug 19: Sterling heights Freedom Hill Amp, MI
Aug 20: Chigago Copernicus Center, IL
Aug 21: Milwaukee Pabst Theater, WI
Aug 24: Denver Paramount Theatre, CO
Aug 26: Anaheim The Grove, CA
Aug 27: Las Vegas Downtown Event Center, NV
Aug 28: Santa Barbara Arlington Theatre, CA
Aug 30: Los Angeles Orpheum Theater, CA
Aug 31: Saratoga The mountain Winery, CA
Sep 02: Reno Silver Legacy Casino, NV
Sep 03: Paso Robles Vina Robles Winery, CA
Sep 04: San Diego Humphrey’s, CA