classic rock bands as some of the groups of the early 90s broke up. When I came across this Yes album pretty much all I knew about the band was they were the “Owner of a Lonely Heart” and “Roundabout” band. The cover had that distinct style of painting I recognized from their 70s albums so I thought it was from their heyday not realizing it had just came out right at that time thirty years(!) after their first LP.
This late period album is one of my favorites from them as a whole. They were a part of a movement that progressed rock from its initial origins into a merge of classical and jazz influences. “The Ladder” is a nice blend of world music and rock. They became a pretty different band from the 70s into the 80s as they became more pop. Most of the members who were behind the more commercial 80s singles had left the band in the mid 90s or before.
Here there is neither the twenty minute song voyages from the early records or much of the simple verse-chorus-verse structure of the 80s output.
They have a nice balance between the longer multi-part songs like the 9 minute ones near the beginning and end of the album and 4 to 6 minute tracks in between which contain plenty of meandering solos and changing time signatures.
The beautiful “It Will Be a Good Day” is a great start. I love how the instruments used in “Face to Face” are the same ones used on the classic Strider video game! The great organ and keyboard work on “New Language” and the several singers doing the chorus on “Nine Voices” is the perfect ending.
Yes probably aren’t the first band people think when in comes to 90s rock but they closed out the decade with a great collection worthy of more attention then it likely gets.
I was fortunate enough to see Anderson Rabin Wakeman perform this track during their last tour. Jon's voice is truly magical.