Heaven and Earth - what does everyone [anyone] think?



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Heaven and Earth - what does everyone [anyone] think?

Postby Chris1960 » Mon Jul 28, 2014 11:03 am

Not much activity here but it would be nice to have a high-quality discussion about the new album.

I will keep my powder dry at the moment except that I will say I can't remember how long it is since I fairly radically changed my mind about a new Yes album.
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Re: Heaven and Earth - what does everyone [anyone] think?

Postby Yessong » Tue Jul 29, 2014 9:01 pm

I was out of the country when it dropped and, as a result, have been too slammed at work to grab it but once I do I'll chime in. Friends reactions are not promising but I'll reserve judgement till I can form my own opinion
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Re: Heaven and Earth - what does everyone [anyone] think?

Postby guilddigger » Thu Jul 31, 2014 1:09 am

I got it yesterday. The last copy in that store...
Today I had the time give it a listen while on a roadtrip for work.
Since each stretch took about one hour I spun it three times.
So far I have enjoyed several parts of it, but I'll be back with a more in-depth view.
However, it sounds promising.
Tomorrow I'll do another roadtrip!
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Re: Heaven and Earth - what does everyone [anyone] think?

Postby Chris1960 » Thu Jul 31, 2014 11:37 am

I can understand the negative reviews and many of the negative comments. This is on the whole quite a 'soft' album and perhaps because of that, the veneer of 'lightness' it might be not unreasonable to make the assumption there wouldn't be too much in the way of hidden depth.

I made that mistake too - bolstered by the fact I did buy the two tracks that were pre-released.

Believe Again is pleasant enough, but for a playing length which [I think] comes in as second longest on the disc belies the fact that it is a fairly slight affair. The keyboard part in particular sounds very under-written, there's that short pattern that comes in early and underlays the verse - it's very repetitive and it's the sort of thing that I find annoying as I perceive it as 'grating' rather than 'spare'. It's a lesser reaction than I have to that bass-line in Stevie Wonder's I Just Called... which drives me nuts, but thankfully, in this case there is quite a pleasant song around it, sung with some taste and feeling. I think the middle instrumental section sounds a little deliberated and perhaps slightly hesitant because of that. Steve Howe seems to come to life more in the coda which has a bit more of his inspired playing. But overall a decent track which I liked more after a few listens, but nothing to really bowl me over.

In a World of Our Own was the second prerelease and my initial reaction to this was a bit less than luke warm. It's quite a plodding tempo and for me it was very redolent of lots of later, lighter and cheesier Queen tracks, which is possibly indicative of the producer's influence here. But in spite of not warming to it for quite a while I have ultimately come to quite like it - it's not unpleasant as a tune by any means and there is some wonderful guitar figuration over parts of it.

So there's my reaction and more considered opinions on the first two tracks I heard. I do think they are quite possibly the weakest tracks on the album still and I can't quite work out the logic of presenting those as a taster. I'll post my thought on the other tracks later, but suffice it to say it does get much, much better and perhaps surprisingly does reward repeated listening to a far greater extent than I expected. Even in 2014 Yes continues to surprise and confound expectations. Should be getting used to that...
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Re: Heaven and Earth - what does everyone [anyone] think?

Postby TaterMouse » Sat Aug 09, 2014 6:39 am

This album is... well... odd to me. I've listened to it about 40 times both paying attention and in the background. By now it should have grown on me more. Don't get me wrong. I don't dislike it. Something just seems off. And the more I listen to it, the more I have to conclude a few things. Jon Davison is holding his own quite well. Anderson as always is sorely missed, but Davison does a good job. But I feel like we have a problem child and that would be Geoff Downes. I do like him well enough, but the whole album comes off sounding sort of like an Asia album with Yes singing. It's weird.
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Re: Heaven and Earth - what does everyone [anyone] think?

Postby happytheman » Wed Aug 13, 2014 10:44 am

I may be in the minority here.. but I like my Yes with some "balls".. and this release offers little of that.. Subway Walls and Light of the Ages come close to what I would expect from a Yes release.. You'd think they could have taken the necessary time in order to be a bit more creative vs. the fluff they offered up with this release.. Would Anderson's contribution have changed anything to the writing? Hmm.. me thinks Jon hasn't offered up much in the way of ballsy Yes music in quite some time..
Hate to see the band go out on this note.. and doubt they will continue to be the nostalgic act that they are right now for too many more years..
Howe on his solo efforts offers up much better songwriting that what's presented here.. Chris.. hard to say where he's at.. Alan didn't really offer up much imagination with his playing on this album either.. Geoff has a few tasty bits.. Jon.. well he may be better than Benoit but if he's the one who did most of the writing.. then that explains a lot.. hate to offer up such a bummer of a review.. but I want to believe these guys can do much better based on past performance.. however I'm beginning to doubt that..
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Re: Heaven and Earth - what does everyone [anyone] think?

Postby guilddigger » Thu Aug 14, 2014 10:25 am

I've listened to it a few more times now to let it sink in.
I think all I can really say is that this is Yes of today and this is how this lineup sound.

The material seem to be more individually written, mostly by new Jon and whoever collaborated.
But the famous arguing in the old days that in the end made the sum larger than the individual efforts seem to be lost.
Budget for time in the studio these days perhaps has an effect on the creative process where everybody can have a say.

I noticed that Mr Sherwood is responsible for mixing as well as the backing vocals, which made me realise
why it at times sounds like Open Your Eyes.
Mr Baker of course also put his mark on the album as a whole and I haver never liked Queen...

It's a softer album than expected, like others have mentioned, though it does have some really strong melodies and some great playing.
However, not all songs grab me.
Maybe they actually lack a strong leader with a clear vision who pulls the whole album in the same direction.
I think that, as with Fly From Here, the album tries to go in too many directions.
For instance, I don't think Yes should try to play blues (In a World of Our Own), because they can't. For me blues is Muddy Waters.
I don't mind the poppier songs though, in some way that's where they once started.

That said, I like the album for what it is. But not all songs. Yet.
I suppose we can never again expect an album that is up to par with the classic albums that we love.
At least, they still want to make music!
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Re: Heaven and Earth - what does everyone [anyone] think?

Postby TaterMouse » Thu Aug 14, 2014 9:55 pm

guilddigger wrote:That said, I like the album for what it is. But not all songs. Yet.
I suppose we can never again expect an album that is up to par with the classic albums that we love.
At least, they still want to make music!


Yeah. Chicago put its first new album of all new music out in eight years and it's a giant, boring pile of crap. I was disgusted. But there again, they did the same thing Yes did. The unceremonious booting of a strong member (Oliver Wakeman for Yes and Bill Champlin for Chicago).

And in response to an earlier comment, I think Jon Anderson would have made a big difference. Even if he didn't do a large part of the writing, he would have probably had enough control in the matter to change things in a more positive direction. And if he'd been back earlier he probably would have told Trevor Horn to go fly a kite instead of letting Oliver get the boot. I still find that whole thing disturbing. I mean have you heard Geoff Downes' interpretation of Awaken? It's not just totally wrong, it's downright sloppy. Yes was always a band that had keyboardists with great chops. Geoff is a talented writer, but more of a mood setter. I respect him for a lot of reasons, but he's simply not that good. And take the high road. If he can't play it, don't play the song at all. (Well there goes half the repertoire.)

Finally of course, all you hear about it how rushed everything was. Then don't release the album. Come back and finish it later this year.

By the way guilddigger, I think we CAN expect that kind of quality from them. They won't be instant classics, but listen to some of the more recent material from the 90s and Magnification. There's some rock solid stuff there. I'm also very partial to Open Your Eyes and The Ladder. I think Billy Sherwood's assistance on this album may have kept it from being a complete disaster. Too bad he's not playing and singing on it.

Sorry, the rant is over. No offence intended at all. I do like pieces parts of it, but even Fly From Here was a far better effort.
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Re: Heaven and Earth - what does everyone [anyone] think?

Postby guilddigger » Tue Aug 19, 2014 11:36 pm

TaterMouse wrote:By the way guilddigger, I think we CAN expect that kind of quality from them. They won't be instant classics, but listen to some of the more recent material from the 90s and Magnification. There's some rock solid stuff there. I'm also very partial to Open Your Eyes and The Ladder. I think Billy Sherwood's assistance on this album may have kept it from being a complete disaster. Too bad he's not playing and singing on it.


Well you are right, after all they still have the capability to write good material. It comes down to how it's presented, that is, produced and performed.
That's what I meant about a visionary pulling it in one direction. A visionary who really understands Yesmusic. (I'm not so sure about Mr Baker's understanding of Yes...)
That combinded with the hunger of the members to really come up with something great and push each other to higher levels.

I was never that fond of Open Your Eyes though, a bit too slick for my taste.
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Re: Heaven and Earth - what does everyone [anyone] think?

Postby Yessong » Thu Aug 21, 2014 6:52 pm

I have listened to the entire LP a few times now. My initial reaction is there appears to be almost no dynamic range. When I would expect the drums to crash in they are soft in the background. None of the songs have a dramatic build up with a moving crescendo. While there is plenty of Howe he is not rocking and once again when you'd expect him to lead he seems lost on the mix or strumming an acoustic. The writing is not that strong but I do enjoy more than less of the tracks. New Jon does sing with his own voice even if it does echo JA's and I respect the guy for that.

On the whole, I do not hear this as a "Yes" LP but more of a side project done by members of Yes as it does not bear the signature YES elements that I have come to look for in each new release.

Even Subway Walls noted as being the sole Prog piece I find a bit boring.

My feeling is the real culprit here is R.T.B.. A good producer can make or break an LP - I think he broke it.
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Re: Heaven and Earth - what does everyone [anyone] think?

Postby Yessong » Mon Aug 25, 2014 8:48 pm

Ok so I spent the weekend driving around listening to the new LP - I find that "To Ascend" and One Step beyond" are the stand-outs in my book
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Re: Heaven and Earth - what does everyone [anyone] think?

Postby tardistraveler » Wed Nov 12, 2014 3:16 pm

Still don't have this one yet, so I've only heard the cuts played live. "Believe Again" translated well live, and I don't remember the name of the other one they played.
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