After the disastrous Tales From Topographic Oceans wherein Yes tried to outdo themselves musically by making a typically lengthy and bloated Rock record that was a double-disc concept album gone too far, Yes lost legendary keyboard player Rick Wakeman after he found he was not up to playing the material live. This was due to the fact he disliked the length of the material in the first place, comparing the album to a “woman’s padded bra”. Yes quickly realised that they had to get their musical act together. Okay, this is not their best album overall but is seen as a definite improvement on the album before it, despite the fact that the band undoubtedly had lost a legend in a musical sense. Let’s take a time warp back to 1974 and hear where the music takes us.
The Gates Of Delirium is the 21-minute long sole side one piece, which is a length of time not unusual for Progressive Rock. It launches straight into a cyber and trippy piece with awesome guitar harmonics, shredding and wonderful playing by the band overall. Before you know it, there are some dramatic musical changes flowing in and out of listening. These changes are pulsating with energy and melody, and just sound fantastic. An interesting groove emerges, followed by more interesting guitar playing, which sounds really interesting and well-executed. Soon enough, Jon Anderson sings beautifully and guitarist Steve Howe plays along some gorgeous guitar fills. Before you know it, the song gets grooving away nicely. The music upon listening is extremely artistic, and there is zero doubt that Punk bands later on in the decade would have loathed this music. It is majestic and beautiful listening and just sounds really dynamic, epic and awesome. A really colourful, beautiful and grand piece of music, this is the sound of Yes getting it right again. The drum fills are particularly underrated here, with drummer Alan White (not to be confused with the Oasis drummer of the same name) putting in a stellar performance. The bass playing deserves mention, too, by legend Chris Squire. After five to six minutes, a gorgeous breakdown occurs with Jon Anderson’s beautiful singing making an impact. A really very different and refreshing listening experience, this is without a doubt great music. Some unusual guitar parts drive the next song section along, and Steve Howe puts in an interstellar effort. Jon Anderson gets intense afterwards with his singing, and the rest of the band follow. A trippy keyboard sound then follows, along with some flanger heavy guitar solos. A really awesome and grand listen, the music on this album is really amazing listening. Intense, beautiful and majestic, the music will take you places elsewhere. Really excellent and refreshing, this is a real winner of a listen. This is definitely a great combination of musical prowess and beautiful artistry, and Yes deserve credit here. Towards the middle, a competition (or at least it seems) between the guitars and other instrumentation take you by surprise, along with some very strange and odd guitar licks. Nonetheless, this is not at all boring for the length of time one listens to this album. It just works incredibly well. There are some weird musical sections throughout in the second half, but not unpleasantly so. Some powerful drum rolls and tape trickery then occur, before launching straight into the science fiction style section for you to listen to. Steve Howe, once again, puts in a powerful and amazing performance throughout. A truly amazing and interesting piece of music, complete with some slide guitar with a touch of reverb/delay on it, this is really top. A really fine and amazing sounding effort by Yes. After around two-thirds of the way through, the whole thing goes relatively quiet, with surges of gorgeous keyboards to listen to. These continue for some time, which is suspenseful and interesting. A great and fine musical listen, this is followed by more delayed slide guitar. It would be unsurprising if Eddie Van Halen got some of his ideas from these tunes. In any case, eventually, Jon Anderson gets singing again very well and asserts command over the rest of the group. A truly awesome and fantastic listen, Yes can change the way one hears and appreciates music. Singing about the sun and the light from it, Jon Anderson will blow you away with such wonderful singing. The slide guitar continues, along with keyboards and acoustic guitars in the background. A gentle and nice addition from Yes in terms of musicality, this must be heard if you are a fan of Progressive Rock or similar styles of music out there. It reaches an amazing conclusion towards the end and sounds truly uplifting. A great piece of music that is very wonderful. The end of the track has loose harmonies and instrumentation, before gently concluding. Brilliant work by Yes.
Sound Chaser begins side two of the album, and is quite a lot shorter on this album, at nine minutes long. It begins with interesting keyboards and percussion, with Patrick Moraz putting in a really superb effort on keyboards. Some super interesting sounds follow, including some amazingly intricate drum rolls and a decent amount of suspense for a Progressive Rock music piece. The combination of keyboards and guitars sound terrific. Jon Anderson gets singing away nicely, and this piece sounds really fantastic. A joyous, awesome and positive listen, this is musical and imagination combined. A groovy and fast bassline follows, and the guitar playing fits this perfectly as well. Really top and fun listening throughout. Soon enough, a lone guitar part enters and this is really excellently played by Steve Howe. This is quickly followed by a trippy keyboard sound before Steve Howe returns in full might to show how great he is on the guitar. Some guitar violining follows, and this track sounds majestic. Keyboards with suspenseful string patches follow. It gets dark and a little odd at times before Jon Anderson sings calmly and perfectly over the mix. Really excellent listening is here. Soon enough, drum rolls enter and the second half of the song is well underway. This is a nice little instrumental section and the music on this album is purely great. Tempo and structure changes are everywhere on this song, followed by wordless chanting. A very interesting and different piece of music, some pitch-shifted guitar solos emerge towards the end of this tune. Catchy, clever and different, Yes have raised their game on this album in comparison to the one before it that was made by them. A wonderful and awesome piece of music, and definitely worth your time.
To Be Over is the last track on this album. It begins with more majestic guitar violining, in addition to some layered sounds via keyboard and Sitar. This sounds different and exciting and just goes to show that Yes still could make great music at this point. The unique and different mixture of instrumentation is outstanding, and the Sitar is actually pleasant listening to this piece. A really cool and excellent piece of nicely structured tunes. Jon Anderson enters, soon enough, and this piece gets going very well. Brushed percussion is here as well. A tranquil and lovely listen throughout, this is certainly exciting and beautiful. Very casual listening. Towards the middle, the piece changes dramatically with some gorgeous slide guitar and some suspenseful musicality and professionalism. Steve Howe plays away wonderfully on the midsection and proves that he is more than capable as an accomplished guitarist. Mellotron sounds follow, and we hit musical paradise. The second half continues the dreamy, lush feel of the music and just sounds amazing. A really awesome piece, Jon Anderson’s dual tracked vocals then enter and this piece is a majestic journey through sound. The production also sounds like a million dollars, showcasing wonderful and different creative music at hand that is near perfect. After some time, guitar licks and quirky keyboards enter which instantly grab your attention. Really great creation of well-crafted music, it gets nicely and wonderfully layered towards the end, with the Sitar and vocal harmonies returning. A truly excellent and picture-perfect listen, this sounds really top. The repeated instrumentation continues all the way to the fade-out at the end. Great job, and a great album.
This album is a very good winner overall and has many intricacies, melodies and gorgeous parts to grab your attention. Whereas other Yes albums gather plenty of attention, this album is certainly underrated. Should you hear this? Absolutely. This is pretty and wonderful music that has historical relevance. Sadly this is the last great Yes album made. Fans of the band will be pleased to know that there are expanded and remastered editions of this album out there, so go check those out if you are interested.
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