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on 1 July 2010
When I'd first acquired this album,back in the 80's, after I'd been turned on to Yes with the commercial 90125,and then having explored my parents 70's Yes collection and fallen in love with "Close to the edge",and "Relayer" and "Going for the One",I finally got around to buying this in the beautiful gatefold vinyl it was meant to be presented in.

"Close to the edge" had the jazz fusion into Baroque church organs,the folky ballad whimsy of "And you and I",and the crazy hoedown of Siberian Khatru with it's cyclical loop riff.Relayer had the Jazz/rock mania of the "Gates of delirium" and "Sound chaser" with the beautiful and a bit manic "To be over",and Going for the One had three quarters more commercial,but still with soaring guitar,fat bass riffs,church organs,and madrigalesque guitar topped off with the incomparable eastern delight of "Awaken".So what would I make of the album that had sent Rick Wakeman running a mile,but not before he'd ordered a curry in the middle of one live rendition of a track from topographic because he didn't have much to play on it.

Well,ironically,I think there's actually rather alot of great keyboard and synth playing on this album,which I get the feeling he rather felt was just a wash- blagging it out between ideas,and felt he was not really mad about it.But if you listen to Close to the edge,apart from the big organ solo's some of the accompanying keyboard is not that symphonic a palette wheras I think here the keyboards take a bigger role than piano or cathedral organ.Much nicer sounds than he's used since anyway. My first impressions were:

The revealing science of God mesmerised me with it's fantastic production,multi harmony vocals, eastern tinged guitar,epic sweep and exciting drumming. However,I did find that for all this,the track,compositionally challanged you,because just as the energy levels built up and took you to perhaps an interesting 1 minute keyboard/Guitar solo it would subside and resume the original tune.Wheras,perhaps you felt like it was time to go somewhere else altogether!! "High the memory" feels like that for the first 7 minutes or so,and to this day,it's marred for me by the fact that I just don't like the tune,and they keep returning to it!! So at a young age I could appreciate some peoples criticisms (including Chris Squire's and Rick Wakeman's!!) that it was a little bit padded out,and after having teased you,it would then you return you to an old melody. Having said that,years ago I basically Loved "Revealing" adored the second half of "High the moemory" so much energy and such a great guitar solo ending. I was mesmerised by the eastern feel of the "Ancient" with it's crazy out of tune style,which I love,and then still going into perfectly in tune sections..... which then segued into the Baroque english acoustic guitar coda. And then the last track "Ritual". I thought the chanting first section of "Nous sommes du soleil" went on a bit,and at the time wasn't exactly in love with the noisy percussive section.....despite it resolving in the quite beautiful last section. I would be a bit bemused that yes fans could say that it was their finest hour,but now,I'm beginning to feel that it very nearly is.Despite returning to certain melodies,you accept that that is the nature of what this album does,but there is SO MUCH music here!!!!!! So much fanatstic guitar. Apart from the beginning hysteria of Close to the edge, and the Siberian Khatru riff it is not necessarily full of solo orientated guitar.(And you and I is a 3 chord folk song let's face it,and I always preferred Steve Howe's live slide solo to the one on record) Relayer and Going for the One are riddled with guitar,but then you realise that so is Tales from topographic oceans but it also showcases so many more styles. The Close to the edge main tune and Siberian Khatru's loop tune are actually simple,short phrases but in Topographic the phrases become longer,more melodic,more complex and less tendancy to go into a loop.It's got all the riffs,the rock,the acoustic guitar,the slide..... plus,... the crazy eastern stuff! Some sections literally fly and really do break down the barriers of how different genre's of music can be intertwined. 3 of the four tracks have soaring endings with great guitar solo's,and though track 3 ends in a madrigalesque though dark,lullaby it finishes with a punch!

Over the years as I've watched people defending the quite atrocious and sickening mutation of Yes into a shameless AOR beast with awful quasi-new age lyrics,I had no sympathy for those who could not see the distinction between the virtuosic beauty, turbulence and integrity of the seventies with the bland puke-making middle of the road drivel that they've produced since.
In the seventies,the group said that they were left alone to get on and do what they wanted. In this age,where ethnic music, d'n'b Jazz rock trance eastern and symphonic are all mixed together, Yes could have been doing just that,instead they chose to only succeed at making bad 80's AOR for the next 30 years.

This album,despite it's faults,given time,has for me,matured from an album which I enjoyed some bits more than others, into an album which I thoroughly enjoy from beginning to end,and,showcases Steve Howe's prodigous gifts to a sublime degree.
It's stands right up there with CTTE,Relayer,and Going for the one.
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on 18 October 2008
Me and my friends bought this on double vinyl when it came out in '73. Unlike 'Close to the Edge', 'Fragile' et al, which were fairly accessible - at least to us 6th form 'intellectuals' - this was hard graft, at first. Yes, quite boldly, had turned against the user-friendly. But, in a strong sense, that's what some of us expected from prog and early fusion stuff like the Mahavishnus. We wanted to work for our payoff. Not for us the easy pleasures of Sabbath, Purple and, later on, Sting, U2 and the ghetto of punk. What could be more demanding - outside of Bruckner - than four sides of quality prognostications at one track per side? Each time I take it out of the rack, I still get a warm feeling of anticipation. I commend it the house.
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TALES FROM TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS is the fifth in a series of remixed and expanded YES albums that so far include CLOSE TO THE EDGE,THE YES ALBUM,RELAYER and FRAGILE. All five so far have been all mixed from the multi-tracks by Steven Wilson with the approval of the band. The set is being released in two versions, either 3CDs and a Blu-ray disc or 2CDs and 2DVD-As. The first two CDs contain a new stereo mix of the original album and two "Dance Of The Dawn" versions, the third "Blu-Ray set only" CD has an "alternate version" of the album, and 5 single edits. The alternate album is composed of the studio run-throughs of "Dance Of The Dawn" and "Giants Under The Sun" originally released on the 2003 Rhino remastered 2CD set, an unreleased run-through of "High The Memory," and a live version (Zurich, April 1974) of "Ritual." A 2016 mix of the extended "Dance Of The Dawn" from the Rhino set is included as well. The first DVD-A contains the new stereo mix of the four original album tracks plus the extended "Dance Of The Dawn" in High Definition. The second DVD-A contains the same mixed for 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Surround Sound, along with a flat transfer of the original album from the master tape source. The Blu-Ray disc retains the content of both DVD-As along with a plethora of extras, including the "alternate" album version, the five single edits, new stereo instrumental mixes of the album tracks and extended "Dance Of The Dawn" in DTS-HD Master Audio, and two "needle-drop" vinyl transfers; from the original UK LP pressing and the US banded promo LP pressing. Whew...!

TALES FROM TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS, the group's sixth studio album, is considered by many the most controversial of the YES canon. Coming off the mega-selling CLOSE TO THE EDGE (#3US, #4UK), which featured just three tracks, including the side-long title cut, the band was blindsided by the departure of drummer Bill Bruford. Although an extremely gifted and popular member, Bruford was tired of the personal conflicts and the constant state of friction between him, singer Jon Anderson and bassist Chris Squire. When scouted by KING CRIMSON honcho Robert Fripp, who was putting together a new version of the titular groundbreaking progressive group, Bruford quickly bailed. With a world tour on the horizon, the band settled on Alan White, mostly known for his work with the PLASTIC ONO BAND and on John Lennon's IMAGINE, who had three-days to rehearse (!) before the tour commenced (most of the content of the band's next release, the live YESSONGS were recorded on said tour). During a stop in Tokyo during the tour, Jon Anderson was inspired to write a four-part epic based on a lengthy footnote within the book 'Autobiography Of A Yogi' that described four "shastras" or treatises covering all aspects of religious and social life. Anderson approach guitarist Steve Howe with his idea, and when Howe agreed they began working on themes and instrumentation, conceiving the project as four side-long album tracks. Unfortunately keyboardist Rick Wakeman disagreed with the concept and musical direction, but agreed to finish the material, even though he considered it too avant-garde, bloated and padded. The songs were credited to Anderson and Howe, with music by YES. TALES FROM TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS was the first YES album to utilize 24-track recording, although they had numerous issues with the equipment. Wakeman found himself often bored and spent a lot of time in a nearby pub playing darts. He also contributed to BLACK SABBATH's SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH which was being recorded in an adjacent studio. A tour followed where the group performed the entire album live, which I'm proud to say I caught twice. Afterwards, Wakeman was the next to jump ship, onto a fairly successful solo career, rejoining YES on and off throughout the remaining years. Although panned by many critics, who held the album as an example of progressive-rock excess, it was a stunning commercial success. It was the first UK album to "ship gold," and topped their charts for two weeks, in the US it made #6 and also certified gold (over 500,000 copies sold). The band toured behind the album from November 1973 to April 1974. The band also broke attendance records at the UK's Rainbow Theatre, selling out five consecutive nights, a rock band first.....

The set comes in two mini vinyl replica gatefold sleeves within a slipcase, at first the cover art looks the same on both, but on closer inspection the second has a subtle difference (I'll leave it for you to discover). The disc labels reproduce the record labels found in the original 2LP set, in both the original (Discs 1 & 2) and "tweaked" (Discs 3 & 4) versions. The booklet features new sleeve notes by Sid Smith along with portions of new interviews with Jon Anderson, Steve Howe and Alan White. Besides rare photos and archive material the original artwork has been expanded, restored and approved by long-time YES illustrator Roger Dean. My only complaint is the lack of easily readable lyrics. Either an expanded booklet, a separate lyric booklet, or a mini-poster of the original (and beautiful) inner jacket is sorely needed. As is you need a magnifying glass or your old LP to follow the lyrics, which are a major part of this masterwork, and enjoy the now minuscule inner artwork........

To quote Steven Wilson: "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's pre-eminent masterpiece."

As with RELAYER, another dense recording, the added surround, center and subwoofer channels open the compositions wider, helping the listener to discern parts and themes buried in the conventional two-channel mix-down. I wish they had included a surround version of the instrumental mixes found on the Blu-ray, although the listener can again discern more from the absence of vocals, a 5.1 mix would've been the icing on an already delicious platter. Mirroring their genesis, all the tracks are credited lyrically to Anderson/Howe, adding Squire to "The Ancient / Giants Under The Sun." The music is credited to the entire band as well as the track "The Remembering / High The Memory." Anderson and Howe felt TALES FROM TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS to be innovative and breaking new ground, whereas the critics let loose, some calling it the death-knell of progressive rock. . It's arguable that the architect of the album's sound-palate this go-round is Howe, who's playing throughout is stellar. Even though he has spoken bout his distaste of the opus, Rick Wakeman devised many unique and daring keyboard passages, providing the "glue" so to say, that binds of the disparate parts. One of the pluses of Steven Wilson's remix is the liberation of Chris Squire's bass, which seemed lost most of the time in the original mix. Surprisingly the MVP award goes to the new kid, drummer Alan White. To be thrown into the maelstrom of a mega-popular band's tour on three days notice while facing the prospect of contributing and recording four side-long compositions must've seemed daunting indeed! White not only acquits himself with a rock-solid steady base underlying the music, he also contributed melodies, a bridge and piano on "Ritual." His finest moment however is leading the band during the astounding "Ritual" percussion break, the rarest of rock animals, a drum/percussion solo that's not boring. The two outtakes of "Dance Of The Dawn," basically live in the studio run-throughs, are terrific as well, and best exemplify the talent, genius and innate musicality of the band called YES......

All said, the remastering is stellar, the remix will depend on individual tastes. As with his remix of RELAYER, Wilson brings forth many passages, sounds and nuances buried in the original mix. Is it better? Well, while the 2003 Rhino remaster was great, hearing this prog monster in surround sound is a whole other ballgame. Wilson's remixes/re-imaginings are always well done, you never sit there and think "gee, this sounds lousy" unless your a dyed-in-the-original-listened-to-it-2,000-times advocate for the original recording, which is also here as a "flat transfer from the original tape source" as well as needle-drops from the original UK LP and US Promo LP (the latter two Blu-Ray only). I look on these YES remixes as a complimentary additions to the original recordings. Considering the length of TALES FROM TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS and the breadth of extra material you would have to spend many, many hours listening to and comparing the different versions to note the exact differences. I say, take it on it's own merits, and enjoy! Fans will definitely be pleased, and those either new to the album or critical in the past will have to judge it's merits. Me? Well anyone who has read my review of FRAGILE will note that I was disappointed that TALES was not the next release after RELAYER. You'll have to excuse me, I'm dying for a second/third/fourth listen......

TRACK LIST:
New 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......

least we forget, the band:
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

After the album release and tour Rick Wakeman (who on record has called the album "padded and bloated") decided to go solo with A&M Records who had been pursuing him ever since the success of THE SIX WIVES OF HENRY THE VIII (#7UK, #30US). YES eventually chose Swiss keyboardist Patrick Moraz, late of REFUGEE, as his replacement and released RELAYER, another successful (#5US, #4UK) a three-track but this round single-disc album. After they toured THAT album, the individual members all recorded solo albums, with Moraz eventually escaping the dreaded psychological pressures of being a YES member. He later was off to a dozen-year stint with THE MOODY BLUES, only to be replaced by...Rick Wakeman! The reunited TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS band recorded two albums, the back-to-basics GOING FOR THE ONE (which is rumored next in line for the Steven Wilson magic ears remix) and the disappointing TORMATO. As if the YES saga could get any stranger and complicated, Jon Anderson and Wakeman jumped ship, to be replaced by Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes, late of one-hit MTV-opening wonders THE BUGGLES. The resulting album, DRAMA was surprising strong (at least to this listener) but after the dreaded and unlucky follow-up tour, the band dis-banded. Downes would later head ASIA with Steve Howe in tow and Horn became an uber-producer, with one of his major successes numbering 90125, the band's surprising hit "comeback" disc. The YES saga continues to this day, unfortunately without founding bassist Chris Squire who sadly passed in 2015. Those interested in the myriad releases and band member merry-go-round are advised to hit Wikipedia or any of the official or fan run sites the proliferate the web......

and the minutiae:
Blu-Ray disc authoring & assembly by Neil Wilkes at Opus Productions Ltd.
Blu-Ray Disc design & layout by Claire Bidwell at Opus Productions Ltd.
2016 CD Master prepared by Neil Wilkes (flat master transfer)
Alternate album mastered by Alex R. Mundy.
Vinyl transfers prepared by John Kimber
Concert photos © Roger Dean
Panegyric edition packaging design and layout by Hugh O'Donnell
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on 23 May 2017
Missed this album as it was the only one that I hadn't got on CD, typical early Yes.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 5 March 2016
I have a music teacher friend who loves this album. I have played and played it hoping to get to grips with this monolithic composition, but thus far have tried and failed.

There is absolutely no question that this is a clever piece of music by a highly talented group of musicians, who up until now had achieved some stupendous results - the previous album, 'Close to the Edge' was a masterpiece. But this begs the question, "where do we go from here?"

In my humble opinion, 'Topographic Oceans' was brave, but a step to far. Certainly, there are flashes of brilliance. However, it is bloody challenging!
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on 16 October 2012
Although I am a yesfan of some 40 years, I have three wonderful children, a gorgeous wife and loving family, listening to Tales is still the ultimate pleasure for me even after all these years. Of course most of the stuff the band did in the 'main sequence' period is music no other band has or ever will again, but Tales for me remains 'out there'; something magical and beyond anything mere words can really describe. I got into punk big time in 77 and my punk collection nestled quite happily against the Yes albums at the time. I have never accepted (and still don't) the 'difference'. It's all about the muisic. Great punk was GREAT. Neil Young is GREAT. But Yes were the GREATEST and Tales was for me the best. In a way the band were fairly angry young men at the time (certainly they were still quite young) but this 'anger' or perhaps 'intensity' is a better word, was focussed into something very considered, rather than a three minute scream of angst.

You can only really compare this album with classical music. It is Yes' classical album. Truly symphonic, full of deep meaning, high-minded poetry, wonderfully produced and brilliantly executed by all the players. Give it five listens and then decide....
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on 17 March 2015
Musically his is a brilliant album - though indulgent and long! It's definitely of it's time showing it's age and inspiration which reflects the slightly spacey era it was written in but this is as much experiment as anything else as it explores the vast open spaces of what the society it came out from was thinking. Possibilities were endless and at times this seems as if it is too! The high falsetto vocals irk, the indulgent and ethereal lyrics can come over as pompous but hey this is the 70's and what else was there out there Do You wanna Touch ? This is musicianship of the highest order minus the super serious art element of King Crimson or the lost spacy mental void of the Floyd. Do I like it? Well - not deeply but i respect the work because it it truly monumental , uncut, demanding, and honest. Would i buy it on vinyl for £25 no I would buy it on CD for £4. I have it on vinyl have anyway and it's a good copy- so i have the wonderful sleeve which all Yes albums are worth having for if you can get them cheap!!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 5 March 2016
I have a music teacher friend who loves this album. I have played and played it hoping to get to grips with this monolithic composition, but thus far have tried and failed.

There is absolutely no question that this is a clever piece of music by a highly talented group of musicians, who up until now had achieved some stupendous results - the previous album, 'Close to the Edge' was a masterpiece. But this begs the question, "where do we go from here?"

In my humble opinion, 'Topographic Oceans' was brave, but a step to far. Certainly, there are flashes of brilliance. However, it is bloody challenging!
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 5 March 2016
I have a music teacher friend who loves this album. I have played and played it hoping to get to grips with this monolithic composition, but thus far have tried and failed.

There is absolutely no question that this is a clever piece of music by a highly talented group of musicians, who up until now had achieved some stupendous results - the previous album, 'Close to the Edge' was a masterpiece. But this begs the question, "where do we go from here?"

In my humble opinion, 'Topographic Oceans' was brave, but a step too far. Certainly, there are flashes of brilliance. However, it is bloody challenging!
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 5 March 2016
I have a music teacher friend who loves this album. I have played and played it hoping to get to grips with this monolithic composition, but thus far have tried and failed.

There is absolutely no question that this is a clever piece of music by a highly talented group of musicians, who up until now had achieved some stupendous results - the previous album, 'Close to the Edge' was a masterpiece. But this begs the question, "where do we go from here?"

In my humble opinion, 'Topographic Oceans' was brave, but a step too far. Certainly, there are flashes of brilliance. However, it is bloody challenging!
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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