Release Date: 1974

Track Listing
DISC ONE
1)  The Revealing Science of God- Dance of the Dawn
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2)  The Remembering- High The Memory
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3)  The Ancient- Giants Under The Sun
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DISC TWO
1)  Ritual- Nous Sommes Du Soleil
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Bonus Tracks
2)  Dance of the Dawn (Studio Run-Through)
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3)  Giants Under The Sun (Studio Run-Through)
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Member: Sean (Profile) (All Album Reviews by Sean)
Date: 5/26/2003
Format: CD (Album)

In the annals of prog rock history, this album is notorious. Possibly the most grandiose statement a rock band has ever made. If ever there was a ‘love/hate’ album, this would have to be the one because, as a rule, the fans are evenly divided. They love it or they hate it, there is not much sitting on the fence with this one. I for one, love it. It’s probably not my favorite Yes album, but it ranks up there with the best. Tales took me a long time to get around to though. I had to burn myself out on the more concise Yes albums first. I had a thirst for more classic Yes and Tales seemed like the next stop on that journey. Once I started listening, REALLY listening, it’s beauty revealed it’s self to me.

Initially I was drawn to Yes because of their more bombastic moments like the first 5 minutes of "Close To The Edge" or the battle section of "Gates of Delirium". Similar intense passages are on Tales as well, but they are evenly balanced with more ethereal sections that border on delicate. Those sections quickly became some of my favorite Yes music. People may claim there is some “filler” on this double lp, but the thought never occurred to me back when I first heard it. I didn't question the validity of any part of the music, so when I reached the net many years later, it was news to me. Some passages may be a little longish, but they are still important to the compositions.

Tales is a 4 song, 4 sided (back in the vinyl days) album. Of the 4 sides, I think the first- "The Revealing Science of God", and the last or fourth, "Ritual", are the best. They offer the full range of what the best Yes music was about. "Ritual", in particular, was their way of “driving it all home on a biggie” and it works splendidly. The other two sides have their own unique charms as well, "The Remembering", the second track, has some of Yes’ most delicate and ethereal moments, as well as some more intricate passages. I consider this side a lost gem, one of the more underrated pieces of Yes music. The third side, "The Ancient", starts out as some of Yes’ most bizzare and demanding (to the listener) music ever committed to an LP. This points the way to what they would be doing on their next album, Relayer, really pushing the avant garde envelope. "The Ancient" ends in a beautiful classical guitar piece from Steve Howe, his best IMO. If I have any gripe, it’s that "The Ancient" is really 2 10 minute pieces, but with the spirit of this album I can see why they left it as one side. If you have yet to discover Tales, please take the time, it will be a rewarding experience if you are open to it.
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Member: Sean (Profile) (All Album Reviews by Sean)
Date: 9/12/2003
Format: CD (Album)

Just a few words about the new Rhino remaster of Tales From Topographic Oceans and the bonus tracks included-

The folks at Rhino have shown over the years a great attention to detail when it comes to remastering and rereleasing classic albums by such known artists as Frank Zappa and Chicago, to name just a few. They continue this quest for detail here with the newly acquired Yes catalog.

The newly remastered and repackaged Tales is probably the best of the new lot of remasters and the one that was needed the worst. The version remastered back in the mid 90s was badly done and masked a lot of what was lurking "in the grooves". This new remaster though is like someone wiped away a layer of hiss and grime and you can finally hear all the instruments in their own sonic space.

The packaging is probably the first thing that will attract fans. A double 'digi-pak', cardboard case is what you get (all remasters with Roger Dean covers are rereleased in this format). A double edged sword of sorts. It looks cool and has all the original art and photos and liner notes of the orginal album- plus many rare photos and a short thesis on the albums making and the climate of the band at the time. The downside is, these "digi-paks" are not very durable compared to jewel cases (which can easily be replaced if they break). I feel inclined to put mine on a shelf and try not to let them get beat up.

The other draw here are the bonuses, trackwise. The first few minutes of sound was restored to the beginning of The Revealing Science of God. A wash of ocean and wind sounds with a few volume swells from Steve Howe in the mix. Nice addition, but nothing special, I can see why it was one of the pieces left on the cutting room floor originally.

What is much more interesting are the two 'studio run throughs'. One of "RSOG" - "Dance of the Dawn", which features music the same music and the final version, but few solos and crude vocals from Jon Anderson. You get a glimpse at the Yes creative process here. Interesting stuff for die hard fans, but probably too rough for casual ones to enjoy. Though anyone that already likes Tales probably isn't a casual fan I suspect....

The other bonus track is best and more interesting- the version of "The Ancient" - "Giants Under The Sun". This is an early version of the whole song just like "RSOG" was, but this tune is quite a bit different than the final product that the band settled on. It seems by this point Yes had the luxury of splicing together a crude version of their epics and then went and rerecorded the whole piece later for the album proper. Sometimes things differed greatly between the two versions and this is true for "Giants Under The Sun". Rick Wakeman's keys are way up front in the mix. And the acoustic bit at the end is all played on electric guitar, so it has a totally different character. It is louder, more a full band version. You hear Anderson sing many of the lines that later Howe would play on the guitar in unison with him here, which makes me wonder if maybe Anderson wrote some of those melodies. Fascinating stuff!
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