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Yes - The Ladder CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.27 | 906 ratings

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Magnum Vaeltaja
Special Collaborator
Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars As their final hoo-rah of the 20th Century, Yes' "The Ladder" draws the millennium to a close with what may be one of their finest post-70's offerings. Before reading any further, just bear in mind that it isn't a prog album, per se. None of the material on here gets any more complex than "Roundabout" - or even "I've Seen All Good People" for that matter - but the characteristic Yessound could not be more prominently on display. The divine vocal harmonies of Anderson & Co. weave the fabric of the album, and the Squire/White rhythm section gives the material their distinct pulse and drive.

So if you haven't really followed what Yes had been doing since "90125" (or even "Relayer" if you're a true prog purist), what can you expect from "The Ladder"? This hour long work is a melodic rock journey around the world, taking ethnic instruments and sounds and weaving them into the Yes framework. Now I know what you're thinking - this is just a sappy New Age album. And that isn't entirely wrong, as such, but bear in mind that everything with Jon Anderson involved has a fundamentally New Age ethos, with his sun-worship-change-the-world-with-the-power-of- music lyrical motifs. So don't think of this as Yes stooping to the likes of Yanni or Zamfir, but more along the lines of the vapid New Age cliches getting a much-needed Yes facelift.

Ultimately, this endeavour is quite successful. "The Ladder" is a faithful marriage of the positive rock energy of Yes' classic material with the light and affirmative timbres typical of the New Age sound. That isn't to say that there isn't at least a little bit of cheesemaking on this album, of course. If you're the sort who gets openly offended by pop music, then tracks like "It Will Be A Good Day" or "If Only You Knew" will inevitably get you reaching for the barf bags. But as far as I'm concerned, this is an album that's enjoyable from start to finish, with two particular highlights. The ground-shaking, momentous "Homeworld (The Ladder)" and the catchy, driving "New Language" are both fantastic proggy rock tracks that I will shamelessly crank up and belt out each and every time they come on, and it wouldn't surprise me if you find yourself following suit.

I would never consider this to be an essential piece of the Yes oeuvre, but if you're looking for fun, well-produced, and infectiously melodic rock music, then this is a great album to pick up, whether you're a Yes fan or not. 3 stars.

Magnum Vaeltaja | 3/5 |


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