Yes - Topographic Drama – Live Across America album review

Latest Yes line-up rework career highs

Yes - Topographic Drama album artwork

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As Yes approach their half-century, they release their 18th live album: three more and they’ll match their studio album tally. Of course most of these, over the years, have documented differing incarnations, the personnel being as stable as Trump’s Twitter feed. This latest legacy-bolsterer showcases the Howe/White/Downes/ Davison/Sherwood line-up and draws from their early 2017 US dates. As the title suggests, they play Drama plus sides one and four – universally and correctly acknowledged as the best bits – of Tales From Topographic Oceans. There are four extra treats: Heart Of The Sunrise, And You And I and a slightly tinny sounding Roundabout and Starship Trooper. Drama and Tales…are almost the two extreme contrasts within the Yes heritage: the former (relatively) concise and structured, auguring the 80s; the latter finding timeless beauty in hit-and-miss elaboration. Here they sound kindred, Jon Davison’s honeyed voice a charming presence. The rhythm section is tamer without Chris Squire (big boots to fill), and overall it feels solid and skilled. Yet soak in the new Roger Dean artwork, play it loud, and you’ll find these rituals as revealing as ever

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.