YES – Tales From Topographic Oceans Definitive Deluxe Edition

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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.

 

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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

Roger Dean – ‘Islands And Bridges’ Postage Stamp Collection

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To coincide with Roger Dean’s current ‘Islands And Bridges’ Exhibition at the Manx Museum in Douglas,  a series of six stamps has been created for the Isle of Man Post Office.

One stamp features a new painting called ‘Meeting Place’, inspired by the Isle of Man’s landscape. Another called ‘Blind Owl Late Landing’ uses artwork that is as yet unreleased.

Others including ‘Pathways’, ‘Green Parrot Island’ and ‘Tales from Topographic Oceans’ use existing paintings from Yes albums, and ‘Sea of Light’ is a piece taken from the Uriah Heep album cover.

Roger adds,  “Of all the ways and in all forms that I have shown my work, this project has been one of the most exciting for me,” Roger says of the collection. “My paintings are landscapes that are mostly inaccessible; stamps are the means of paying for the passage of messages from place to place, I love the purposefulness of that.”

The ‘Islands and Bridges’ stamp collection is part of a collaboration between the artist, the Post Office and Manx National Heritage, which is also marked by the exhibition at the Manx Museum in Douglas, Isle of Man which runs from 20th August until 19th November 2016.

The stamps featured  in this presentation pack are:
• 45p – Meeting Place – painting inspired by the Isle of Man.
• 77p – Blind Owl Late Landing – artwork for the Blind Owl album, to be released.
• 95p – Pathways – cover artwork for the Yes triple album Yessongs.
• £1.24 – Green Parrot Island – from Yes – The Studio Albums 1969-1987 box set.
• £1.69 – Tales From Topographic Oceans – Yes album cover.
• £2.08 – Sea of Light – from the Uriah Heep album of the same name.

The stamps can be ordered here.

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NEW Interview with Geoff Downes (14th August)

TD GD InterviewPhoto by Sue Hegedus

Pre-show at The Egg in Albany, I sat down with YES keyboard genius Geoff Downes to discuss the current tour, Drama in 1980 and the future for YES…….

Tim Darbyshire – Firstly thanks a lot for agreeing to this interview.
Geoff Downes – No problem at all.

TD – 2015 was obviously a difficult year for everyone involved with YES
GD – Yes, obviously because of Chris, it was tough, it took us all by surprise we were pretty shocked because we all thought he would pull through. The last diagnosis we had was he said I’m going to have this treatment then be ok. When it got more in depth and started to look more serious that’s when he decided he wouldn’t be able to do the tour, so that’s when we brought Billy in – we’d already brought Billy in before unfortunately circumstances prevailed. So yes it was a tough time – I mean thinking about Chris’ contribution, he was essential really to all YES’ music.

TD – After a difficult 2015, it seems YES in 2016 is invigorated, everything’s come back with a vengeance
GD – It was all going quite well until Alan got sick, but I think that again, you know, he knew only a week before the tour when he had the operation on his back – and his recuperation time was longer than anticipated …

TD – So I guess he’s out for the whole tour?
GD – I don’t know, he’s hoping to maybe make an appearance when we get to the West Coast, but at the moment he’s in convalescent mode recuperating. I speak to him every day or two, he gives me updates and says he really misses not being there. I think he feels that he’s letting the side down in some way, but I tell him, no, you just get well. And of course Jay is the guy he appointed, he said this is the guy that can do it if I can’t.

TD – So he could play it from the off? What was the rehearsal like?
GD – Well we looked at it about a week before and Alan said I don’t think I’ll be able to do it, so effectively he (Jay) had a week to learn the set.
TD – Is that different for a drummer than say a keyboard player, to learn the set quickly?
GD – I don’t think so necessarily, none of it’s easy you know, YES music is particularly demanding in every department, it’s not something that people can just walk on and start playing. There’s also a lot of ways that the numbers aren’t absolutely parrot fashion to the albums – so in that respect he took on quite a lot to get that together within a week, but as you’ve seen he’s playing brilliantly.

TD – Yes, we saw the show a couple of weeks ago
GD – It’s got very very tight as time has gone on – people always used to criticize YES saying they never rehearse enough, but I think we did enough to make sure everyone was at the same place.
TD – It sounded pretty tight two weeks ago, so I’m guessing tonight will be even tighter.
GD – Yes

TD – Billy of course has just shoehorned in there, a perfect fit
GD – Yes, it’s not easy for anybody you know, as I say, YES music is pretty demanding, not just musically but physically as well, especially for a drummer, which is probably one of the reasons why in Alan’s case unless he thought he was in tip-top shape physically he felt he might be doing a disservice – but he’s getting better and hopefully he’ll be fully fit by the time we get to the West Coast, or certainly by the time we go to Japan.

TD – So, onto this tour – when I saw what you were going to play I thought that’s a brave set list. You know the Summer tours in the States tend to be a safer set list normally?
GD – Yes, it’s adventurous for the band in its own right because we’re not playing stuff that’s mainstream, familiarity stuff – a lot of the Summer tours are, you know… if you see Kansas you know you’ll hear ‘Carry On Wayward Son’, ‘Dust In The Wind’ and a few others. I think it makes a nice change, because we’ve played a lot of the mainstream core material for quite some years now and it’s two years since we brought an album out. The last couple of years has been relying on the old standards. Now we’ve shown the band has got some spirit to be playing two of the non-mainstream albums.

TD – Yes it would have been so easy to play it safe.
GD – I mean obviously it’s a bit more relevant in the case of Drama because I was on Drama, with Steve and Alan, so that was a given that we’d be doing that album at some point.

TD – It must feel good to be playing an album you featured heavily on and co-wrote?
GD – Yes, when Benoit was in the band and I first rejoined we were doing Tempus Fugit and occasionally Machine Messiah, but obviously the other 4 tracks have not been played live since the original Drama tour ….well Run Through The Light has never been played – even on the 1980 Drama tour.

TD – Live it seems it goes so fast (the Drama album)
GD – I know, I know, time flies
TD – Tempus Fugit…..

GD – But for me it was very interesting to look at Tales, because that’s really a kind of holy grail type album for a lot of YES fans, the real dedicated fans are really into that album. I’d kind of moved on, it passed me by.
TD – So it wasn’t an album you were heavily into at the time?
GD – No, no – and again, both albums that we’re doing were quite controversial. Tales From Topographic (Oceans) was controversial because of the way the music was presented on the album and I suppose Drama was controversial due to the fact that Trevor Horn and myself joined the band – and took YES in a …I would say more of a kind of …not a rock direction, but it was more of a kind of hard hitting edge and not so many dreamy sections and all that sort of stuff. It was a very powerful album.

TD – Let’s talk about Drama, the first time around and the circumstances around you joining – I remember as a 16 year old hearing Tommy Vance’s announcement on the Friday Rock Show (UK radio show)
GD – I remember that too, I was driving my car listening to the radio…
TD – All he said was Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman have been replaced by Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes also known as The Buggles – and that was it, no information. Today you can get information online, find out what’s what…..
GD – Yes he (Tommy Vance) had the Friday Rock Show, it used to run quite late didn’t it?
TD – 10 till 12 I think
GD – Yes that’s right, 10 till 12 and that was his breaking news that night, and I remember thinking oh yeah I guess it is pretty strange you know….

TD – Was the announcement well after it had happened then?
GD – Oh yes, that was after we’d agreed to do the album. Up until that point, we’d really just been providing them with some ideas because we had the same manager.
TD – Brian Lane
GD – Yes Brian Lane was managing both The Buggles and YES, and it was Chris who heard ‘The Age Of Plastic’ and said it sounded really interesting. We were rehearsing in the room next to them, they kind of came in and we started talking and they asked if we had any material they could use.
TD – Didn’t you find that quite strange?
GD – Well yes but we had some material that was not so mainstream Buggles, so we said we’ve got these couple of ideas. We did a demo – I think we got Bill Bruford to play on it at one point – it was actually the basis of Fly From Here. So that was the first track we came up with and Chris came and played bass on it, and said he quite liked it and did we have anything else. I think we had I Am A Camera which became Into The Lens and that kind of got incorporated…..so we started building these things up and Yessifying them, Machine Messiah sort of came out of all that. It started to escalate and at that point Chris said why don’t you guys join the band then?

TD – So you knew by then that the other two had lost interest? Jon and Rick had left the band?
GD – Yes, they were doing other things, Jon was working with Vangelis and Rick was doing his solo stuff. They’d had a disastrous attempt at an album in Paris with Roy Thomas Baker producing, which never really saw the light of day although I think some of the tracks that Steve, Alan and Chris were rehearsing at the time were parts of those reworked ideas.
TD – There’s a few tracks from the Paris sessions on the Rhino reissue of Drama
GD – Yes, I think some of the riffs and some of the sections they already had those, but the general vibe of the album was that it generally wasn’t happening, you know, what happened in Paris.

TD – So this was something you jumped at? Joining YES? I mean you were already a successful pop artist with ‘Video Killed The Radio Star?
GD – Yes but it was a totally different ball game, you know venturing over to the other side, the Prog side, even though a lot of people gave The Buggles credit for being a very musical pop outfit, there was subtlety not only in the production but also in the song writing. We were just kind of condensing it down to a very radio friendly format and I think when we joined YES and did the Drama album I think it showed – and Chris was particularly receptive to it – that YES could utilize that sound and take it even further into the mainstream, without you know selling out – some people say they sold out with 90125, I don’t think they did, they just redeveloped a different side of YES’ music. They’d done all the long albums, Tales, Close To The Edge in the 70s and Tormato their previous album, I don’t think they were all wholly satisfied with that album…

TD – I have a soft spot for Tormato as it was the new album when I got into YES
GD – We have considered playing it as one of the albums in The Album Series, but Steve doesn’t think it’s strong enough as an album.
TD – I think Side 1 is stronger than Side 2
GD – Alan feels the same, it’s not got that depth that the other albums have got, you know in terms of the writing. That album never really surfaced as a real possibility to be played. Relayer is up there as a possibility.
TD – I was going to ask if Relayer might be added to The Album Series?
GD – That would be particularly demanding from my standpoint you know, Moraz’s parts are exceedingly complex.
TD – Sound Chaser?
GD – Yes, and Gates Of Delirium you know – we’ve played Soon but that’s only a small section.
TD – Is it an album you like?
GD – Yes, it’s a very very masterful album, all the players are playing at the top of their game.
TD – I read that To Be Over might have been close to making the set list this year?
GD – Yes, we’ve actually discussed doing that at some point because we were going to do that on the Cruise, but it never happened, so we did Soon instead.

TD – If you continue the album series, which album will be next?
GD – We’re still discussing whether to do that or not, nothing is set in stone, the balls are up in the air on that front, but with this line-up I don’t see us doing any other full album other than Relayer, if we were to do anything.
TD – Well that would be worth travelling a long way to see.

TD – So the Drama tour first time around – how was that?
GD – In 1980? Pretty formidable from my standpoint really, I’d never done anything like that before.
TD – As in touring?
GD – Well, being in front of that many people – it was quite an eye opener, as The Buggles were just a video band you know, appearing in magazines and stuff like that. We were never forced to get up there and play, but we had a fairly lengthy rehearsal period and I’ve heard some of the stuff from that period – when we actually got into the tour we sounded pretty good.
TD – Yes I dug out a few tapes from that tour, by the time you got to the UK, the audiences weren’t as receptive. I think that’s a British thing isn’t it? The Buggles are a pop band let’s knock them down?
GD – Yes the British are a bit more cynical when it comes to things like that. The Americans were very open about it and of course you had the spectacle of the stage being in the round and stuff like that – it was much more of an experience for the American fans to see it that way, because it was a show whereas when we got to the UK we were in the theatres you know. It wasn’t so much of a show, it was a case of let’s listen to the music and there was a lot of resentment from the diehards – not so much against me but more to do with Trevor. Obviously he was the first replacement for Jon Anderson, and now….. the ‘fairy’ figure wasn’t there anymore.

TD – Whereas you were on stage surrounded by keyboards…..
GD – It wasn’t so bad for me…..Rick Wakeman wasn’t the original keyboard player, that was Tony Kaye and they had Patrick (Moraz)….so the focus was less on me, although there still was a certain amount of resentment, no doubt about it – there still is you know.

TD – I know you keep half an eye on what’s being said online – at Yesfans.com. Straight after the tour you pretty much all went your separate ways – was there never any impetus to carry on?
GD – The negative response did have an effect on us. By the time we’d finished the UK shows – I think we ended up at the Finsbury Park Rainbow, I remember Chris saying I don’t think this is going to work.

TD – Yet you’d enjoyed being in the studio, making a good album?
GD – Yes but I think it was something he didn’t think was working anymore, although more recently he changed his mind on all of that. Chris was very much the guy – not necessarily the guy who made the decisions because YES is you know a very co-operative kind of unit – but he just didn’t think it was going to go anywhere, and then Steve and myself were at loose ends really. Chris and Alan were working with Jimmy Page……
TD – On the XYZ sessions…
GD – ….and I’d got on very well with Steve and we had a really good understanding between guitar and keyboard and you know, he wanted to preserve that……and that’s really how the ASIA thing started. John Wetton’s wife was working in Brian Lane’s office, so we kind of got mingling and talking about stuff and then somebody gave Carl a call, and it just came together like that.

TD – That’s 4 very talented musicians in ASIA, you just mentioned 90125 – it seems to me in the early 80s, a lot of this kind of music was going towards a more radio friendly rock sound?
GD – Definitely. 90125 is YES’ biggest selling album by some margin….
TD – But nowhere near ASIA’s first album…
GD – Not in the same division as that, no. But even when you think about Close To The Edge or Fragile or whatever…..90125 managed to strike a chord and they had a Number 1 single in America, which was unheard of for a band like YES.
TD – It’s still what the casual fan equates YES with – Owner Of A Lonely Heart.
GD – It set them on a course, they became more widely accessible to a lot of people, who would not normally be into YES music. And also the musical climate was changing, you know obviously MTV was out, starting to affect people’s perception – it wasn’t just the rock radio stations calling the shots anymore. There was a whole different world out there – people had this brand new shop window, so it was affecting the way people wrote music I think.

TD – When do you think that stopped? When did it become alright again to look back and start playing things like Close To The Edge live….I mean there’s nothing new out there anymore….
GD – No, there was a wave of alternative bands, the grunge stuff, bands like Maroon 5 came out of that…and then the BritPop bands, Blur and Oasis and Snow Patrol, you know all those kind of bands……but they didn’t have the depth of the music that YES had.
TD – Coldplay.
GD – Yes exactly, Coldplay. They’re sort of billed as the latter day Pink Floyd, in terms of the significance of them in modern music. You know, it’s not my bag, but good luck to them. It’s really only the last 5 or 6 years where a lot of reissues have come out – King Crimson deluxe editions – that’s really helped to revitalize the catalogs of the Prog rock bands.

TD – Some of the classic YES albums are out now in 5.1 surround sound, is there any talk of Drama getting the 5.1 treatment, even though it’s a decent sounding album and maybe doesn’t need the work maybe Tormato does?
GD – It’s a tricky one that because they don’t know where the multi-track masters are at the moment.
TD – That’s the same with Going For The One
GD – Yes, so there’s nothing you can do unless you locate the multi-tracks….

TD – Are you interested in that, or do you feel it sounds good as you made it?
GD – I like to listen to the albums the way they were originally recorded. I know Steven Wilson does a very good job, and it’s interesting to some fans but the problem I have with 5.1 is that unless you’re in the sweet spot – right in the middle of the 5 speakers – you don’t really get any perspective because if you move from that point….
TD – Or lie down….
GD – Yes, you have to be sitting there – which is maybe how some people like listening to music with the sensory surroundings, but if people are just listening to music as a general thing or as background or while having dinner….it’s a bit pointless you know because you really have to be a hi-fi specialist to be sitting there in the sweet spot.

TD – I guess at least it’s better than just another release of an old album, they are offering something new…
GD – Well the good side of it is it generated a lot of interest in that album, I think Close To The Edge benefitted from that.
TD – Yes, extra vocal parts were added back in to the quiet section of the title track for example, that’s on the new stereo mix, so you don’t have to listen in 5.1….
GD – That’s interesting to some fans, stuff they hid from the final mix originally. But I think you have to be a mega mega enthusiast to get into that side of it.

TD – So, the future for YES? It’s not long now until the 50th Anniversary and I guess do you as a band, or individually have mixed feelings about the upcoming ARW tour?
GD – I think we’re just, you know, we let them get on with it really…I don’t think there’s any……we just wish them luck. Anything that’s going out promoting the music of YES is good for everybody. It’s not a kind of us versus them scenario.

TD – Do you see a repeat of the late 80s/early 90s when 2 bands came together for the Union album and tour?
GD – Ummm, I’m not seeing that at the moment but you never know what might happen. YES is a very strange band (laughs…..) weird things happen with YES.
TD – I don’t really know what I want, as a fan – do I want Union 2? It seems a bit final to me somehow.
GD – I don’t know….if that would, I don’t know….there’s a lot of talk about the Rock n’ Roll Hall Of Fame, which members of the band would be inducted if YES ever got in there…I don’t know, I don’t really concern myself with those kind of things.

TD – I see a future for YES (this YES) with Jon D and Billy……
GD – Yes, I mean Billy’s done a tremendous job to replace Chris because, well a lot of people said you know Chris is irreplaceable, I think he couldn’t have done it any better you know, that’s for sure. It all sounds great – Chris’ parts are not easy for anyone to emulate, not just his bass parts but his techniques as well – his vocal techniques, because his voice was such a close blend with Jon Anderson’s, and Chris’ vocal parts were as important as his bass parts.

TD – A couple of general questions to wrap things up. When you write do you write for ASIA or YES or DBA, or does it depend on the style?
GD – Probably in my own mind I think it’d be more suitable if I get a basic idea of what something is for, like when I work with Chris Braide (DBA) or I just bag some ideas up that I think relate to that project, same with John Wetton you know. Generally in my mind I kind of split them up, there are obviously blurry elements, whereas sometimes you think maybe I should have worked more on that for another project…..

TD – There was a talk of an unfinished longer song with Jon Davison.
GD – Yes that’s still there, it’s not completely on the back burner.
TD – So is new YES music maybe in the plans for next year?
GD – I hope so yes, I think it’s always good to do new music, it enables the touring to have a different angle, I mean we’ve been doing The Album Series for a while now but when you have a new album out it’s always nice to throw in a couple of the songs.

TD – As a creative person you always want to keep creating.
GD – Yes, it not only keeps the fans interested I think, but it shows that we’re not just prepared to sit back and play the part, we always think about the future.

TD – OK, so was it always going to be a life in music for you? Your family were very musical I believe.
GD – Yes, a lot of music. I didn’t really feel like I had any choice.
TD – Well it sounds like a good non-choice to have!
GD – ..and I went to music college in Leeds as you know.

TD – Yes, 71-75 – did you venture down to Elland Road often?
GD – Yes I used to go there sometimes, and the cricket at Headingley.
TD – So I guess you lived near Headingley as a student?
GD – Yes, Hyde Park Headingley near the cinema.
TD – I was a Roundhay boy
GD – Oh yes, Roundhay Park
TD – I lived a 10 minute walk from the park.

GD – Yes it’s quite a ground Elland Road
TD – An old ground, apart from the East Stand – does Martin still have his season ticket and box there? (Martin Darvill – YES manager)
GD – Yes he shares it with a guy that runs that firm ShowCo, Mark Harding – a big Leeds fan, and a couple of other guys from the music business. They converge in the posh part, and have a bite to eat.
TD – The prawn sandwich brigade…
GD – Yeah yeah.

TD – Ok Geoff thanks very much for your time.
GD – Ok Tim, good to see you mate, enjoy the show tonight.

 

My review of the Albany show is here, with photos.

My review of the Lewiston show is here, with photos.

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

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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

Anderson, Rabin & Wakeman Announce Tour Dates

2016 will see 2 bands touring YES music; YES (Jon Davison, Geoff Downes, Steve Howe, Billy Sherwood, and Alan White) currently in Europe touring Drama and Fragile, and ARW (Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, and Rick Wakeman).

Pleasing many YES fans, North American ARW dates were announced yesterday – actually just US dates – with the show being described as ‘An Evening of YES Music and More’. An album of new music is expected to coincide with the October/November tour.

The official press release takes a barely disguised swipe at present day YES stating: ‘the aim of the band will be to restore the standard of excellence in performance that they established with their 1990 shows‘ (By 1990 shows, they mean the 8 member UNION tour of 1991/1992)

Despite this eternal YES political bickering – and the inevitable fansite rantings ‘who is the real YES?’, the signs are maybe pointing to an uneasy (but commercially profitable) UNION 2 in 2018 for the band’s 50th Anniversary…….

ARW

ARW Tour Dates confirmed so far:

October:
4 – Orlando, FL – Hard Rock Live
6 – Hollywood, FL – Seminole Hard Rock Casino
7 – Clearwater, FL – Ruth Eckerd Hall
9 – Durham, NC – Durham Performing Arts Center
10 – Atlanta, GA – Fox Theatre
15 – Glenside, PA – Keswick Theatre
16 – Glenside, PA – Keswick Theatre
19 – Boston, MA – Wang Theatre
21 – Wallingford, CT – Toyota Oakdale Theatre
22 – Huntington, NY – The Paramount
24 – Montclair, NJ – Wellmont Theater
26 – Red Bank, NJ – Count Basie Theatre
28 – Atlantic City, NJ – Borgata Event Center
29 – Akron, OH – Goodyear Theater at East End
November:
1 – New York, NY – Beacon Theatre
2 – Pittsburgh, PA – Heinz Hall
4 – New Buffalo, MI – Four Winds Casino
5 – Chicago, IL – Chicago Theatre
7 – Nashville, TN – Schermerhorn Symphony Center
9 – St Louis, MO – Fox Theatre
11 – New Orleans, LA – Saenger Theatre
12 – San Antonio, TX – Majestic Theatre
14 – Austin, TX – ACL at the Moody Theater
16 – Denver, CO – Paramount Theatre
17 – Salt Lake City, UT – Capitol Theater
19 – Las Vegas, NV – The Pearl
20 – Phoenix, AZ – Celebrity Theatre
22 – Los Angeles, CA – Orpheum
25 – San Francisco, CA – Masonic

Tickets on sale soon…..

 

 

YES – Tales From Topographic Oceans 5.1 Release Coming Soon

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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

 

 

 

Yes – Fragile (2015 Definitive Edition Blu-ray)

Review by Tim Darbyshire

Fragile is the fourth classic Yes album to be remixed by Steven Wilson, with a brand new 2015 Stereo mix and 5.1 Surround Sound mix. This Panegyric release comes in two formats, a double disc cd/dvd-a digipack version and a double disc cd/blu-ray audio gatefold mini-LP sleeve version.

The blu-ray version pretty much mirrors my old vinyl LP, the insert booklet that came with the LP is replicated here in mini form. The original Roger Dean artwork has been expanded and additional material from Roger Dean’s archive has been included. The main CD booklet itself is entirely original, including a new essay by Sid Smith.

So what about the music? Personally I’m always happy to hear another version of a classic Yes album. As ever the Wilson mix is balanced and very clean. His love of the music shines through, but in the end it’s a matter of personal taste whether this becomes your ‘go to’ version of Fragile. It is for me, with the surround versions of ‘Heart Of The Sunrise’ and ‘South Side Of The Sky’ sounding particularly fresh.

Highlight of the extra tracks would probably be ‘All Fighters Past’, which was found at the end of a tape, the majority of the song having been recorded over. We do get nearly three minutes of ‘new’ Yes music, which includes early sections of ‘The Revealing Science Of God’ and a melody that became part of ‘Siberian Khatru’.

Panegyric should be commended for producing another high quality value for money release.

So Panegyric Definitive Editions now exist for ‘Fragile’, ‘The Yes Album’, ‘Close To The Edge’ and ‘Relayer’ .Steven Wilson has confirmed he has worked on ‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’, but is unsure as to whether this will see the light of day. His facebook page also says this is the last of the scheduled Yes releases. Steve Howe, however, did seem to indicate on the recent Cruise To The Edge that ‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’ will be released. ‘Tales’ might not have the general appeal of the other four, but I’m sure enough units would be sold to justify the release.

The contents of the blu-ray disc are as follows:

– Album mixed in 24-96 5.1 PCM Surround Sound & in DTS-HD MA 5.1 from original multi-track sources.
– New Album mix in High Resolution Stereo
– Original Album mix (flat transfer) in High Resolution Stereo
– Six additional tracks (see below)

– Full album instrumental mixes by Steven Wilson
– Two additional alternate takes
– A full album needle-drop of an original UK vinyl pressing
– US promo singles edits as needle-drops.

As a bonus, the 2001 dvd-a 5.1 version of ‘Fragile’ is included, including ‘America’ – and it sounds very different to the Wilson version, bass heavy to my ears…

CD Tracks

01 Roundabout
02 Cans & Brahms
03 We Have Heaven
04 South Side of the Sky
05 Five Percent for Nothing
06 Long Distance Runaround
07 The Fish
08 Mood for a Day
09 Heart of The Sunrise
Additional Tracks
10 We Have Heaven (full mix)
11 South Side of the Sky (early version)
12 All Fighters Past (previously unheard)
13 We Have Heaven (acapella) mixed by Steven Wilson
14 Roundabout (rehearsal take/early mix)
15 Mood for Another Day (alternate take of Mood for a Day)

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