- "Tales From The Topographic Oceans, 1973 (re-release)"
Rhino Records 2003
If I got branded and exiled on the Elba Island, like Napoleon Bonaparte and got an opportunity for one thing to take with me, I would grab with both hands this record. Thanks to circumstances, this jewel saw a light of day in times when record labels surely left bands alone to create whatever they wanted and loved. If they use to fight with swords and Bible, I can do it with "Tales From The Topographic Oceans". A record that fulfils my soul in all senses and makes me extremely happy person every moment I get connected with it. This power of grand timeless magic caught inside!
You'll find Jon's explanations about conceptualization of every song in booklet. But I if am allowed, let me introduce my point of view. Let's start with Revealing Science Of God (The Dance Of Dawn). Past surrounds us, here is presence and we are headed into future. But when you join all those three tenses, it is easily to get confused. All moments that already happened. Are they still present somewhere near us? Energy that got materialized over centuries and millions of years hasn't gone (from ancestral Devonian coelacanth fishes, gigantic Carboniferous amphibians up to Aztec's pyramids phenomenally conceptualized by Roger Dean for an album front cover). It only changed its formation. So what happened to wonders, we once knew so well? Sink into the oceans!
We love when we play. Not a masquerade, but joy of life. Rejoice every moment and every breath of this cosmic eternity. Materialized form is changing constantly, even rapidly. When energy leaves it's physical form it doesn't disappear. It remains unharmed and always present reachable source. Fused energetic vibrations created by all past tribes that lived in communities before our civilisation are actually still here.
Maybe one of most touching verses of Yes "green language" "... Getting Over Overhanging Trees, Let Them Rape The Forest, Thoughts Would Send Our Fusion, Clearly To Be Home..." I am not native English speaker, so don't kill me if I'll blow it. They are blindly cutting the trees down, no matter where or when. With no purpose and without true meanings. Takers forgot to talk to the trees. Their only goal is money making! Trees are our teachers. Who will speak and sing after they'll all be raped and cut down? But this is mine interpretation. Well, "Tales From The Topographic Oceans" in one piece reveals there are unlimited sources of different interpretations that all lead to universal truth.
In next verse "They move fast..." Jon gets frustrated over wrong way we took and neglect everlasting Revealing Science Of God, by saying "...And I just can't believe our song will leave you..." ("you" in this case is The Revealing Science Of God, and "our song" a wrong way, I suppose). Can we remember? Can we recall it? Cosmic energy, power of vibrations, so called God or inner wizard that waits inside you, your soul teacher enables you to understand and communicate with those vibrations, with other souls and everything that unfolds the wisdom of the oceans. To take you over the edge, to navigate through the oceans of remembering. Are you able to switch your thinking and forget about rational analysing for a moment and fuse yourselves with power of The Remembering (High The Memory) to sail and touch the skies.
Verse in The Remembering that starts with straight word "...Relayer,..." offers overview of praising the glorious days of our past and all heroes who died for our cause, we reliving the past by not able to switch our minds to reach the wonders we once knew so well. Just keep on rolling our circle, we keep on "...sail futile wars they suffer..." There is far more to remember than this!
And where is wisdom and treasures of lost ancient civilizations. Can we make a connection, a soul connection and let us to be taught? Can we accept the presence of ancient treasures lost and found in time and space? Does our ego allow us to admit The Ancient vibes existence? By neglecting The Ancient we neglect our present incarnation and civilization we've built. And Western civilization bloody needs some spiritual awakening! The power of vibrations produced by our thoughts or mind drive creates the music in all beauty of its meaning. Souls communicate by singing and creating this music. Music is their language. You can catch it, but you can't hold it. It is timeless and formless.
Where Yes aware of that in 1973 or not doesn't matters. Well, I personally believe they were and of course still are. Yes showed the musical scene and masses that every record can be unrepeatable. Problem is that there are too many bands and musicians especially in presence that are constantly seeking outside for their personal idols and try to reach them by coping musical styles or certain technical skills. In case of learning The Ritual of life, this approach seems as being far away from what soul tends to accomplish, because every musician possesses an idol inside. It hardly waits to express. The language of soul!
Last movement draws a strong belief over absolute freedom of choosing. Every single being can choose whether he wants to learn The Ritual (Nous Sommes Du Soleil) of life or not. Believe it or not, this is a final goal of every soul. Our paths differ by destiny we choose. One's path is longer, other's shorter. We have the same tendency of learning the ritual of life. And verse "...our life seems like fight, fight, fight..." enables us to focus that certain kind of perpetual change is needed. It is not enough to live life from day by day till sudden death comes close. When The Ritual is conquered, you'll begin to love death as a part of your perpetual change. "Dreams are said to blossom courage...." is surely one of the most touching verses inside The Ritual. So, if fears still haven't ate out human brains, there is always time for remembering, navigating the endless ocean's depths of timeless wondrous stories, or let me put it that way, there is always time to start The Ritual of life, as it is destined to be. No one shall leave the planet without learning it. This record is endless source and I could write entire book out of it.
And finally, here are "few" common words about this record. This re-release includes two bonus tracks, so called studio run-throughs. First is alternate version of Revealing Science Of God in its rough shape, that offers straight overview into a process of its evolution. The other is very impressive different version of The Ancient (Giants Under The Sun) and practically a new song, 'cause it contains some different soloing parts and themes not included on original studio version.
As you all might already know with "Tales From The Topographic Oceans" Yes got new drummer Alan White who fulfilled all expectations. It was hard to replace Bill Bruford. He was one of those free exploring drummers with genuine feel for constant touch of unpredictability. His departure seemed in a way odd, 'cause he perfectly fitted to Yes and 'cause he choose a time to part his way with Yes at a point where band was enjoying high commercial success. Also very diverse skilled Alan brought even more muscular intensity on drums. On "Tales" he contributed some shivering parts throughout entire record, from addition of congas to ethno folk cymbal splashes (The Ritual) that enables listener easy to imagine being caught in the middle of Indian celebration ritual. Alan contributed exactly what Yes needed. What outstands in his overall "Tales" performance is his sensitive use of cymbals especially in The Ritual that suddenly splits into powerful drum murdering and switches back. The Ancient (Giants Under The Sun) is song where Steve's Spanish folk guitar reaches the sun. Point on "Tales" where guitarist most sincerely turned himself into pure inspires decoding media. Steve's pure feel involvement is accompanied with touching Jon's singing, gentle and tender all the way. The Ritual contains most rocking parts on record with Alan and Chris in centre roles by developing twisting yet spine tingling drive effect of The Roundabout format. All record contains special ethereal moment that enables listener escape easily into parallel world of dreams and to by-pass the principles of "touch-feel" one; we are all so assured being our realty. Revealing Science Of God is straight prove of strong magical moments that chemistry of this line up was capable to achieve by constant seeking for perfect inner musical balance. Feel the magic of collision between all those multiple layers of Steve's finger flicking moments and his space steel pedal spicy melodies, intergalactic and medieval Wakeman's arrangements, purely following their inner voice. As usual Yes music offers once again genuine fusion of diverse palette of different sounds. Shapes of sounds fluidly flow one into another with almost undetectable switches for listener's auditory system.
A record that offers each and every circle of it's listening always something different, new and yet unheard. Yes did it perfectly again. Fantastic puzzle created. No superlatives needed. Whole music carries many deviations towards Indian folk music. Rock meets folk meets jazz fusion. Progressive as only it can be. "Tales" is celebration record. Floating the waves real high it radiates strong positive light vibrations! Descend and create! Ascent and fly on! Join the oceans! Be the light!