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Customer Review

on 19 May 2004
I had read so many negative reviews of this album on the 'net and elsewhere, that as a result, the forbidding reputation of this album compelled me to buy it. And I really don't understand the objections - particularly from some Yes fans. It bears all the hallmarks of classic Yes - indeed, it appears to me to be the summit of their achievements so far. Perhaps in its day, it was one 'prog rock' opus too many: now however, we appear to live in an age where things can be appreciated for themselves, without being compared and contrasted with opposing trends.
There is much that is symphonic about this work - and if you have some appreciation of classical music and can happily endure the sublime enormity of the symphonies of Bruckner and Mahler, then 'Tales'will be an effortless joy. There is so much strong music here - both melodically, and in terms of the sometimes astonishingly original and vigorous 'orchestration'. Contrary to some opinions, 'Tales' is never boring - the material shifts and moves quickly and dramatically within each movement or 'song', that one often feels each section to be over far too soon. There are so many ideas here, realised with creative surety and strength. 'The Remembering' in particular, with its ethereal evocation of the tides of the cosmic ocean, has to be the most ambitious and magical of all of Yes' compositions so far. 'Ritual' of course is an absolute classic, which many fans will know well - particularly because of the (it has to be said, superior) version on 'Yesshows'. The same label of 'classic' can also be applied to 'The Revealing ...' Even the much reviled 'The Ancient' is really good - although it does perhaps provide the one moment (and it is only a moment) of weakness, during the percussive section when their focus is lost a little. But the piece soon rights itself, showcasing some glorious classical guitar by Howe in its second half.
'Tales' does not represent any shocking departure from anything the band had done before, and seamlessly flows into 'Relayer' - in fact, several themes on 'Tales' pre-echo that subsequent album.
'Tales' represents great artistic courage and ambition: it is an uncompromising and magical work, a work that all who care for music as more than just entertainment should own.
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