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Yes - Heaven & Earth CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

2.37 | 549 ratings

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2 stars This review is being written some 14 months after the release of Heaven And Earth, the album which would prove to be the studio swan song of the great Chris Squire, who sadly passed away about a year following its release.

This, it is tempting (very tempting) to write a review that tells all that this is a fantastic way for the great man to have left his imprint upon the world.

Tempting, yes, but it would be wholly inappropriate. For said imprint, I am afraid you need to go back a far while in history.

As others have commented, this is not an album of epics. It is a song based album, and, as regular readers of my reviews know, I do not regard this as a bad thing. It basically depends upon the songs. If they are great, the album is. Pretty simple concept, really.

The songs are not terrible. They are, in the main, pleasant. Surprisingly, given his antipathy in the past to anything resembling a song based album as far as Yes are concerned (although not, of course, with Asia), the main man whose mark is all over the album is Steve Howe. His playing is sublime. On Subway Walls, he tries his best to pick the tempo up at the end to something resembling a rock album, and almost succeeds.

Downes contributes suitably well played light keys (I say this as someone who greatly admires his work with Asia), Squire is, well, Squire without the bombast, whilst White is barely noticeable, as if he completely disappeared during the mix.

And what of Mr Davison, then? He is, well, erm, pleasant. He has a pleasant voice. He has a voice which can pass in tone for a certain Mr Anderson. But, Mr Anderson he ain't. Sorry, he just isn't. Probably the most striking album of Yes with Jon which this bears resemblance to in both approach and tone is The Ladder, an album I loved. That had a lot of songs, and when Anderson belted out If Only We Knew, a paean to his wife, he sounded as if he meant it, and he didn't half belt it out. Davison does not belt anything. I am sorry, but it sounds for all the world as if he is merely going through the motions, pleasantly.

And therein lies the rub. The Game is, perhaps, the best example of a track on this album which, with an Anderson contributing, could have been a classic Yes commercial track. As it is, it is unutterably bland. Nice enough, yes, but just damned bland, and those who know me well know full well that I adore good commercial progressive pop rock. This just doesn't cut the mustard.

To Ascend really stands out for me on this theme. A track which has Squire written all over it, with his characteristic (gorgeous) voice, a melodic bass line, backed by soft acoustic guitar (there is a drum somewhere, but not so that you would really notice), this could, and should, have been something exceptional, special, beautiful. As it is, it is just....oh dear, damned pleasant. Never has such a nice word been used to such ill effect.

Light Of The Ages is an attempt at good old fashioned Yes cosmic grandiosity, Howe slide guitar wonderfully wailing, with some very good Downes tinkling. It is, perhaps, the closest this album comes to being enjoyable, but is, ultimately, ordinary, without the atmosphere we, rightly, come to expect from such a group of virtuosos.

This is not a turkey of an album. It was touted as being a statement of intent by the band, a record of Yes in 2014, with the past banished forever (excepting, of course, in the live shows, because it is, naturally, the classics which keep the punters rolling in). Well, I defended, rightly, Genesis right throughout the so-called sellout phase, because, you know, they produced some staggeringly good music, stuff I play with pleasure regularly, and music that will live in my mind forever.

This is nothing like that. It is not an Open Your Eyes. It is not a turkey.

It is, like, pleasant. It is a nice album. And it is fantastically unforgettable.

I did not expect a classic album from the band who released Relayer, CTTE, Fragile, or even Tormato and The Ladder. I did, though, expect better than this. Even Fly From Here had a marvellous suite, beautifully produced and performed, to recommend it. This has no such thing, and, as such, is, in my opinion, an album only for us diehard collectors who have to have all that the band released.

Two stars. Simply not good enough, a statement I take no pleasure in writing at all.

lazland | 2/5 |


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