Yes
The Ladder


3.0
good

Review

by Nagrarok USER (219 Reviews)
June 2nd, 2011 | 23 replies


Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

Review Summary: There have been stronger return-to-forms, but with years of throwaway material in its wake, The Ladder performs above expectations.

Only their most loyal fans must still have had faith in Yes producing a great album in the late 90’s: recent history was speaking for itself. 1997’s Open Your Eyes was yet another failure in the line, Chris Squire and Rick Wakeman’s replacement Billy Sherwood being creatively responsible for nearly a disc-full of overproduced pop songs, topped off with a 24-minute epic that certainly was no Close to the Edge, or anything remotely close to it. Yes’ final 90’s release The Ladder saw yet another obligatory personnel shift, Sherwood proceeding to share the guitar spot with Howe, and Russian player Igor Khoroshev, who had previously contributed on Open Your Eyes, taking over the keys. A slightly odd transition, since the group’s line-up had practically never featured two guitarists.

Those things aside, was The Ladder a step forward" The band promised, not for the first time, a return to the more classic Yes sound, and for a major part, that is indeed what this record is going for. Epic-length opener Homeworld takes time to get going, but is definitely a highlight here, especially instrumentally, doing a fairly decent job at emulating that classic 70’s vibe and effectively setting the scene. Most of the better tracks are actually found on the album’s second half, which grows more consistent towards the end, starting with the frantic Finally, possibly a homage in part to one of Yes’ all-time greats Siberian Khatru. There are more deliberate nods to the Fragile-era: Can I" bears an obvious similarity to We Have Heaven, and New Language contains passages close to those in the characteristic Roundabout. Call it a lazy move, but it is surely more pleasant than listening to some of their past garbage.

Musically at least, the band seem fitter than they’d been in quite some years. Whether this was Khoroshev's intention or not, the keys are far less dominant than usual, which is actually refreshing since it allows for a more guitar-centred sound. Anderson, perhaps Yes’ most recognizable factor throughout their existence, but often a point of annoyance on previous works, is fortunately also in much better shape, though the happy-go-lucky lyrics and vocals often influence the entire sound of the material too strongly, leading to The Ladder’s greatest flaw. Potentially great songs like Lightning Strikes turn just a little too vibrant for their own good, and the sugar-sweet ballad If Only You Knew is an easy low point.

Despite a few hiccups, The Ladder is actually the most enjoyable Yes album, or the most Yes album for that matter, that the band had made in quite some years. That doesn’t say a whole lot considering what was brought out before it, but with just a few fillers the record is altogether solid. Why it can’t hope to be more than that is plain and simple: as pleasant and return-to-form as an aging group like this can make an album sound, they cannot possibly hope to recapture their younger creativity at this point in time. The Ladder isn’t all that memorable, but it’s the closest you’ll get to enjoying a progressive Yes album made after the 70’s ended.

The Ladder’s Yes was:

- John Roy Anderson ~ Lead Vocals
- Stephen James Howe ~ Lead Guitars, Backing Vocals, Mandolin
- William Wyman Sherwood ~ Rhythm Guitars, Backing Vocals
- Christopher Russell Squire ~ Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals
- Igor Petrovich Khoroshev ~ Keyboards, Backing Vocals
- Alan White ~ Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals


TO BE CONTINUED...




Recent reviews by this author
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user ratings (239)
Chart.
2.9
good


Comments:Add a Comment 
Nagrarok
June 2nd 2011


8588 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Magnification and then I'm done. This was a 2.5 at first, but a relisten and comparing it to Talk made me reconsider. Next up is #200, how exciting.

KILL
June 2nd 2011


81231 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

rockin

Nagrarok
June 2nd 2011


8588 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

They've rocked harder.

Jethro42
June 2nd 2011


15567 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I've only heard Homeworld on here, and I really enjoyed it. For some reasons I never sinked in, but your review makes me want to give the whole album a try. It seems you won't cover Keystudio, right? I guess it's because it's presented as a compilation album despite its original content, all due to the fact that its material was initially (strangely) coming from the two live 'Keys to Ascension'...

I pos your work and I'm looking forward to read your 200th

Nagrarok
June 2nd 2011


8588 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It seems you won't cover Keystudio, right? I guess it's because it's presented as a compilation album despite its original content, all due to the fact that the material was initially coming from the two live 'Keys to Ascension'...




Pretty much, I'd rather do the Keys at some point. 17 studio albums is quite enough. Thanks mate.

RavenRock
June 2nd 2011


688 Comments


Oh god! What WILL the 200th review BE?

LepreCon
June 2nd 2011


5451 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Another Yes album that you like more than I do...

Seriously, I like to think that they didn't make music after the 1980s

Nagrarok
June 3rd 2011


8588 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

^the 3 is somewhat generous, I probably would have this half a point lower if I hadn't been doing the rest of their albums. But yeah, the Yes collection I intend to complete at some point will only go up to 19025.

JamieTwort
June 3rd 2011


26988 Comments


As always great review Nag. I haven't heard anything off of this.

Nagrarok
June 3rd 2011


8588 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks Jamie, I think you should only bother with The Yes Album through Relayer.

Tyrael
June 3rd 2011


21112 Comments


Great review man, I love how you manage to review a whole discography and still manage to keep it interesting from the beginning until the end.

Nagrarok
June 3rd 2011


8588 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks man, I can tell you that isn't always easy, also for myself, always glad when I get to the end. But who else is crazy enough to do it?

Jethro42
June 3rd 2011


15567 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

But who else is crazy enough to do it?


Please use your craziness more often.

lechman
July 30th 2011


3 Comments


"Why it can’t hope to be more than that is plain and simple: as pleasant and return-to-form as an aging group like this
can make an album sound, they cannot possibly hope to recapture their younger creativity at this point in time."

I agree to a point, but I suggest that what also comes into to play here with older bands such as Yes, is that their life-
perspectives have simply changed. A 60 year-old looks at the world much differently than a 20-year old. This means
that as much as older people don't understand a younger generation's music, the reverse is true as well. Yes is now
working from a place and a perspective which results in a musical language that is often alien to a person of a
drastically lesser life-experience than say, Steve Howe or Jon Anderson. Kings of Leon are thinking about looking cool
in a magazine. Yes are thinking about their grandchildren. I am not trying to disparage either mindset here, I am
merely pointing out the obvious truth. And yes, I am high right now.


AngelofDeath
Emeritus
July 30th 2011


16223 Comments


Lol. Like it or not, you have to admit this isn't as good as their old stuff.

KILL
April 30th 2012


81231 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

if only you knew

KILL
April 30th 2012


81231 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

To Be Alive (Hep Yadda)

OmairSh
August 3rd 2014


14468 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

It will be a good day

Titan
April 15th 2017


19092 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

the epitome of average Yes

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
April 15th 2017


18038 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Lightning Strikes is pretty catchy

Digging: Ichiko Aoba - QP



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