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3.4 out of 5 stars
3.4 out of 5 stars
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on 14 July 2015
It's weird. I bought this on its release a year ago (summer 2014) with eager anticipation. Played it three, four, five times, each time sounding more and more laboured on my ears, painful, tortured, terribly disappointing...

I let it rest nearly a year, and came back to it recently. It's the strangest thing. I am now playing it on repeat, enjoying the company of one whom I had, a little rashly, misjudged.

Is it simply the big adjustment you have to make to a new lead vocalist, having loved legend Jon Anderson since the '70s, and come to like the Benoit, Fly From Here, album more recently? This is certainly Yes in mellow-mode. It is avowedly not Close the Edge mk 2, nor Going for the One mk 2, neither Fly From Here mk 2. It is Yes in their (mostly) pensionable age! Heck, if I was in my upper 60s I think I would want to take a reflective, laid-back approach to life and creativity, too.

I still wonder whether Jon Davison's voice needs some extra dynamic in the mix: maybe more reverb (think Turn of the Century), maybe double-tracked, or something radical like a female backing vocalist in that unusual Anderson-esque mezzo-soprano register (after all Alan White's band successfully, to my mind, pulled off some live Yes material with a girl lead vocalist). But the fact that Davison's finished vocal is rather plain, and you might say lacking power, gives it a very human, accessible, organic quality.

This is humble Yes. And perhaps they deserve a bravo for that. The 'Earth' aspect is an honest, straight-forward approachability in the songs. The 'Heaven' is... I am now realising, subtle; four virtuoso instrumentalists playing with a kind of restraint that perhaps only comes with advanced maturity. Not showing off with the flashy stuff, instead opting for lightness of touch, and pursuit of the perfect tone. And I suspect JD, as singer and (usual, here) lyricist, displays his own kind of quietness that might emanate from personal spirituality - surely a requisite in the classic Yes tradition of Anderson's Cosmic Mind.

I must admit my new feelings about the album might be underpinned by the knowledge that Chris Squire is suffering from an illness and will pull out of the next Yes tour... you appreciate what you've got, and see (hear) it for what it is.

But a year on, I do now feel this album, after all, sit appropriately and appealingly as the latest chapter in the epic and extraordinary Yes saga.
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on 21 June 2015
For the first time in 40 years I didn't rush out and buy a new Yes album. In fact, I have waited nearly a year before even a first listen. But initial thoughts are that this was a year wasted - because it is really is an excellent addition to the Yes catalogue.
Too soon in my listening to it for a real analysis, but first impressions are of a really cohesive and incredibly melodic range of music. There are a few real old school Yes sounds and riffs - particularly from Steve Howe, a Moog and super Hammond solos from Geoff Downes, but the real highlight so far is the
Anderson-esque quality and intonation of Jon Davisons vocals. At times I really had to convince myself that it wasn't JA.
Just a shame that I didn't rush out in July 2014 and buy it!
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on 9 March 2015
well the first thing to say is the sound is superior on this shm cd and i actually like the album more than I did on the first couple of listens it is not as good as Fly From Here ...which I love ...it could do with a bit more punch on the production side of things and the material is a bit laid back ....but its a grower so stick with it
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on 20 February 2015
I don't find this Yes album as interesting as "Fly From Here", the band's previous album. I note that there is a new lead singer, Jon Davison, whose voice is more like the original 'Jon' (Anderson) than that of Benoit David, who sang on FFH. The songs are OK and the instrumental work is up to the usual high standard but I don't find it as memorable as the songs in "Fly From Here".
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on 19 March 2015
The new Yes do not disappoint a great album
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on 9 March 2015
This band can do little wrong for me. Been with them since day one. Just hope this is not their last album
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on 22 May 2015
First class
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on 28 July 2014
I have some shock news for some Yes fans - it may not be easy to take but here it is... It's not 1972. What's more it's not 1977 either. There's no point pining for Close to the Edge 2 or Going for the One (again). It's 2014. The band is not going to sound like it did in the 1970s, these are not guys in their 20's - with the exception of Jon Davison - they are all in their late 60's.

Personally, I would rather Yes create new music than continually live on past glories as a live act. I don't want to hear Siberian Khatru yet again - but I can accept that many fans do and ticket sales don't lie. So given that today's Yes is mainly a 1970s back catalogue touring act - the promise of new material is intriguing. You might wonder 'why bother' as new Yes material never seems to survive in a live set-list for more than one tour. Perhaps, as musicians they want to show that they can still cut it, haven't run out of ideas and are not, despite their live shows, a band stuck in a time warp. But is the new material any good?

The reviews of Heaven and Earth have been far more mixed than for Fly From Here which was generally well received - despite the re-cycling of Drama era material. Although only three years later, Heaven and Earth has a very different feel for two main reasons - the input of new vocalist Jon Davison who co-wrote almost every track and, the absence of Trevor Horn behind the desk - replaced by Roy Thomas Baker. So, let's discuss the songs, and then the production.

I won't go through every song - there are many other reviews that do that perfectly well. The key thing for me is, does this new album sound like a Yes album? Does it, even without Jon Anderson, capture the 'spirit of Yes'? It definitely does. There are standout tracks that are as worthy of the Yes name as anything they've produced before. Believe Again, To Ascend, Light of the Ages (written by Davison on his own) and Subway Walls will please the long-term Yes fan. There's a lot of Steve Howe - albeit sounding quite similar - but at least he's not lost in the mix. It's also good to hear Geoff Downes own keyboards rather than his rather awkward (and some would say `winged') interpretations of Rick Wakeman live. There are other songs that are lighter, `progressive easy listening' even but they are strong on melody and they grow. That's the good part.

The big disappointment is the production. Many reviews cover this. It seems flat and tinny - it lacks the atmosphere and dynamics we should expect from Yes. Simply, the instruments don't seem to breathe. The bass isn't as clear as it should be and the drums have the lightest sound ever on a Yes album. The power house of Chris Squire and Alan White is not what it was - at least not here. After a couple of plays of the CD I began to notice I had to turn up the volume to hear it at the right level. I then did a test - I played the opening overture from Fly From Here - and my worst fears were confirmed. It was a lot louder, much clearer and the instrumentation had the energy and dynamics so missing on Heaven and Earth.

So, what went wrong? I remember an interview with Mike Oldfield years back - he said he always plays his masters through 'ordinary hi-fi' to make sure it still sounds like he wants it to. Perhaps Yes should have done the same. It's all very well listening in the recording suite - us mere mortals don't have £10,000 speakers. I had my doubts when I heard Roy Thomas Baker was producing - they went for a 'name' rather than someone who could have given their new music a much more contemporary sound.

Is Heaven and Earth as bad as some of the reviews? Certainly not. Nothing could be as bad as Union - an album so dire that even charity shops would politely refuse to accept. It's way better than Open Your Eyes, its better than a lot of the songs on The Ladder too. If it had had a bit more time and they weren't, in their own words, rushing it at the end due to their touring - it might even have been a really good Yes album.

If you are new to Yes - go and buy the latest greatest hits `Wonderous Stories' and if you want more, get the complete albums from the 1970's like Fragile and Going for the One and 90125 to appreciate the Rabin 80's era. If you still want more - then Heaven and Earth deserves your £10. If, like me, you simply 'have to' buy the lot - you'll find enough here to keep the faith. And, in 2014 being able to listen to a new Yes album is a minor miracle - and that gets it an extra star. Overall I am happy with that.

Footnote: For Chris Squire fans - if you haven't already got Squackett's Life Within A Day - his recent work with Steve Hackett - it's well worth a listen. The bass is clearer, the writing is excellent and the production is just what's missing from Heaven and Earth. Maybe Chris should have called Hackett's producer Roger King.
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on 14 October 2016
This is in no way the Yes of yesteryear (see what I did there!), but it is solidly decent for a twilight years album, albeit with little of the musical dexterity and invention expected of such a talented band, and much less so than the previous Fly From Here recording. Moreover, any affection for it is instantly compromised when you listen to earlier Yes classics, and with no disrespect to Jon Davidson, he simply isn't Jon Anderson, and so the album lacks that marvellously ethereal vocal quality that made Yes such a unique band.
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on 30 September 2016
Message to Yes: if you've forgotten the characteristic factors which make prog rock, like out-of-the-box creativity, please just retire.

The album is lightweight, unoriginal and insulting to fans.
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