Release Date: 1999

Track Listing
1)  Homeworld (The Ladder)
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2)  It Will Be A Good Day (The River)
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3)  Lightning Strikes
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4)  Can I?
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5)  Face To Face
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6)  If Only You Knew
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7)  To Be Alive (Hep Yadda)
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8)  Finally
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9)  The Messenger
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10)  New Language
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11)  Nine Voices (Longwalker)
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Member: AdmKirk (Profile) (All Album Reviews by AdmKirk)
Date: 2/20/2001
Format: CD (Album)

For 31 years, Yes has made music that is challenging and thought provoking. Four guitarists, six keyboard players, one bassist, two lead singers, make that three, counting Trevor Rabin, and two drummers have contributed to the musical construct that is Yes. Whatever hardcore fans have whined and complained about, the band continues. Offering their musical views on a variety of styles while staying true to their progressive rock roots.

Their latest album, The Ladder, continues this path. It opens with the nine minute title cut featuring new keyboardist Igor Khoroshev playing much in the style of Rick Wakeman (close your eyes, you'll never know the difference). And that's not a bad thing either. He also lends his own style to the proceedings, a touch of Edgar Froese here and a bit of organ their and his influences add up to an individual style.

Billy Sherwood takes on the Trevor Rabin bits, which are the parts Steve Howe wouldn't be caught dead playing. Fortunately, Sherwood is a better team player than Howe or Rabin.

Vocalist Jon Anderson has come up with some good, if not great, lyrics. He remains a most underrated singer/lyricist. Anderson leads the band on some terrific harmonies, particularly on "It Will Be a Good Day," where there are three separate melodies operating at the end.

Drummer Alan White is unassailable in his playing, and bassist Chris Squire, steps up his playing a notch.

Steve Howe's steel guitar on "If Only You Knew" saves the weakest cut on the record from wallowing in trite, poppish sentiment. His and Sherwood's styles compliment each other very well.

For listeners expecting Tales from Topographic Oceans, this probably won't scratch the itch, but if you are a Yes fan with an open mind and can embrace all the styles the band brings to the table, then you will find this a rewarding experience.

Bill Harris.
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Member: Sean (Profile) (All Album Reviews by Sean)
Date: 12/31/2003
Format: CD (Album)

A sort of return to form for late 90s Yes. I would put this cd just behind the Keys To Ascension cds as their best 90's work. Problem is, they didn't do much in the 90s did they? So that isn't saying much, still this one conjures up a bit of the 70s Yes prog-like flavor on a few tracks. "Homeworld" and "New Languages" are the two 'ambitious' longish tunes and are worth a listen. A whole album of material as ambitious as those tunes would have made this a really good album that would get in the ballpark of 70s Yes, unfortunately there is a lot of middle of the road filler on here. Yes still trying to do it all, be prog, have hits. Folks, they can't have it all and make a great album, so this album is what it is.
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Member: Reginod (Profile) (All Album Reviews by Reginod)
Date: 4/25/2005
Format: CD (Album)

With all due apologies to my good friend AdmKirk, and to all the others that like this album it's not that another Yes review is needed here, but I wanted to go on record about this one, and from this day forward, I will write or post no more about it.

First, a little confessional. Historically, I'm a huge Yes fan. Ridiculously so. I've become a died-in-the-wool progressive music addict largely because "Heart Of The Sunrise" so thoroughly blew my mind in a small college dorm room 22 years ago. I've traveled far and wide to see them in concert, 13 times now. Very likely I will see them again before all is said and done.

Really, it's gotten out of hand at times. For several years in the late 80's through the early 90's, I was, in embarrassing fanboy fashion, convinced that Yes could do no wrong. I tried with varying degrees of success to learn all of Steve Howe's guitar licks. I tried to sing like Jon Anderson. I wrote egregious lyrics about the sun, and the sky, and eagles' wings, and the Great Spirit and whatnot.

Even to this day, I'll adamantly defend the Rabin albums. It's simply a different band, quite fitting for its era. I'll defend Open Your Eyes. It contains three songs I don't like, but other than that I dig the YesTrade/Conspiracy vibe. I'll defend the KTA project, especially KTA II. I'll defend Union. (yep . . . . I like that one too). I'll defend Magnification. It's a pretty fantastic album for a bunch of worn-out old geezers, as far as I'm concerned. And I'll even give ABWH a passing grade, barely, based on the strength of two or three really strong tracks.

But The Ladder is the one Yes album that I just can't stomach.

All the worst possible things that Yes could do, they did in spades on this one. They engaged the services of a producer (Bruce Fairbairn, God rest his soul) that was known for churning out tepid pop albums, easily consumed by the masses.

They fell into the trap of playing to Jon Anderson's solo interests, much like they did on ABWH, and ended up with another batch of sappy-happy island dance music, not to mention "If Only You Knew" (this one's dedicated to Janey. . . . woooooo! . . . . . . there she is . . . . . . over there . . . . . . she travels with me everywhere . . . . . wooo! Saturday night, San Jose!).

They failed to push any limits compositionally (much moreso than usual) and ended up with a load of predictable pabulum better suited to children's television programming than serious music listeners. They blatantly plagiarized themselves on "New Language" and "Nine Voices".

Even the stuff that initially works as pop music- "The Messenger" for example- quickly grows stale. Despite a few passable moments, hearing this album makes me feel like I'm being injected with saccharine. Oh, "Homeworld" is admittedly pretty good, but the album doesn't just go downhill after that . . . . . it goes straight over the cliff and splatters quite horribly on the jagged crags of the Adult Contemporary wasteland.

I tried many, many times to listen to this and find something to like. I really did. But after due consideration, I find myself agreeing with the immortal words of another PE member in a recent thread about The Ladder: "I want my money back".
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