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Yes

Keys to Ascension 2

Review by Gary Hill

 

 

Keys to Ascension 2 contains live tracks from the San Luis Obispo concerts, recorded March of 1996(disc one), and 5 new studio songs(disc two). The lineup for the album is Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Chris Squire, Rick Wakeman and Alan White.

The live tracks are well recorded, and generally good renditions, but with the exception of Turn of the Century they are rather rendundant, as anyone who has the remainder of the official Yes catalog already have live versions of these songs. The studio tracks, are quite good, although I do not share the enthusiasm that I have heard from many people about them. They seem to have elements of older, classic Yes, and Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe, with some other influences present to a lesser degree.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: The Early Years Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Live Disc
I've Seen All Good People
This is a good rendering of this song, but not really all that special. Frankly, we already have two official live recordings of All Good People, one on Yessongs and one on Classic Yes, and this version really does not seem to rise above either of those.
Going For the One
I would say that as the live material on this release goes, this track is one of the standouts. It is a very nice rendition, and well recorded. I prefer this to the Yesshows version.
Time and a Word
The intro to this song is very well done, and the recording is quite good, but, beyond that, I don`t feel that it really is any better or worse than the Yesshows recording.
Close to the Edge
The intro on this performance seems a bit looser and more sonically open than the Yessongs recording. This makes the song seem somewhat fresh to me. All in all, one of the better portions of the live disc.
Turn of the Century
Having a live version of this song, is nearly worth the price of admission for this album by itself. The guitar work really shines on this one, as does the drumming (especially towards the end of the song).
And You and I
I really don`t hear much difference between this and the Yessongs version, but, there was nothing wrong with that version, so I do enjoy this one.
Studio Disc
Mind Drive
The intro to this song is rather reminiscent of Tales From Topographic Oceans, but as it builds it breaks into new musical ground, while still maintaining a definite Classic Yes feel. I really felt at first that the chorus section really didn`t fit this song, but now I have grown to see that it does fit. However, it still seems to mar the continuity a bit by repeatedly bringing a song that seems to be building well back down. Just seems kind of unsatisfactory from a dramatic point of view to me. There is an acoustic break which reminds me a lot of Peter Banks` style of playing, then it breaks into a nice instrumental section, much in the vein of Close to the Edge, although, perhaps a bit jazzier at times. The mood of the end of the song is quite nice.
Foot Prints
I really don`t like the gospel sort of feel to the intro of this song, but in general, this piece has a nice groove to it-----at times seems a bit reminiscent of The Yes Album while still maintaining a fresh new sound. This contains a very nice keyboard break, followed by an interesting instrumental section, but does get a bit repetitive at times.
Bring Me to the Power
This song, which in many ways has an Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe sort of feel to it, in general contains some very nice guitar work, most notably in the intro section.
Children of Light
This song was not very impressive when performed live, but this version is far better. It starts with a nice acappella intro, then the instruments come in and the whole piece gradually builds, a Yes technique that I have always really liked. There is some very nice piano work in this song, and the ending segment is a very dramatic break which reminds me a bit of one of the more sedate instrumental sections of Awaken.
Sign Language
This is a nice instrumental, again, rather in the vein of Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe, and contains some very tasteful guitar work.
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