Jon Anderson: Vocals Steve Howe: Guitars, Vocals Chris Squire: Bass, Vocals
Rick Wakeman: Keyboards Alan White: Drums, Percussion
“We just knew we had a big landscape we could explore...” – Steve Howe (from the sleeve-notes)
Tales From Topographic Oceans was and remains one of the most ambitious, expansive, experimental and, successful albums of the so-called “classic era” of rock music. Released just prior to Christmas in the UK in 1973, it became the first Number 1 album of 1974 (against competition from the likes of David Cassidy, Elton John, Slade and Perry Como who held the No 1 position immediately prior to and after release), while in the US a slightly later release saw the album quickly rise to Number 6 in the Billboard Top 200 – in a chart whose upper echelons included Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon and John Denver. The achievement of band and album in placing such uncompromising music – a single piece per side of a double album – firmly into the mainstream commercial music marketplace was unprecedented and remains under-appreciated to this day. It is a vindication of how well Yes understood its audience that the current Yes line-up is, at the point of writing these notes, about to embark on a major US tour, performing large sections of the album more than 40 years later.
“I worked on and off for about 3 years on this new mix in my quest to do it justice… I hope it will satisfy the people who agree with me that it may just be Yes' pre-eminent masterpiece” Steven Wilson
Any re-presentation of such an album, especially one so beloved of long-term Yes fans (it has been the most consistently requested title of the series since the announcement of the first release), needs careful consideration. As the above quote illustrates, Steven Wilson applied both patience and time with the mixes appraising each mix separately and as part of the greater album in order to bring fresh clarity to every nuance of the music. That approach has yielded new mixes in stereo and 5.1 surround which will delight Yes fans and, perhaps, even allow for a necessary re-appraisal of an album which has often been unfairly overlooked by comparison with other releases of the era. For anyone who still finds the concept of such lengthy pieces daunting, Steven has helpfully included a series of ‘single edits’ derived from the new mixes. These are included on the CDs along with a new mix of “Dance of the Dawn”.
“Music was driving us and it had nothing to do with the record business. It had nothing to do with radio or a hit record. It’s standing by your dreams and your aspirations. In this lifetime isn’t it worth trying to do something a bit different?” Jon Anderson (from the sleeve-notes).
Far from being unafraid to do “something a bit different” Yes was confident enough in its decisions to consistently defy record industry convention, management advice and music critics alike in its determination to be informed and directed by the music. The results of that commitment to music were evident at the time in the quality of the recordings, the enthusiasm of the fans then (as can be heard on the sole live recording included here but is also clear on all surviving concert recordings of the time) and the love and affection for this album from both long-standing fans there at the time of release and those many newer fans who have discovered the album over the decades.
This edition also presents the best transfer of the original stereo mix issued in the digital age. With the combination of the original album mix, completely new stereo and surround mixes, expanded artwork, fully approved by Roger Dean and more, this is the definitive edition of Tales From Topographic Oceans.