Saturday, December 14, 2013
40 Year Itch : Amid Fusions of Wonder
On December 14, 1973 Yes released the double album Tales From Topographic Oceans, which would wind up underneath enough UK Christmas trees to knock Goodbye Yellow Brick Road out of the #1 spot. Each of the four sides represents a class of Hindu scripture known as the Shistras ( "sacred books") which singer Jon Anderson discovered in footnotes to Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda. That explains lyrics like:
Dawn of thought transferred through moments of days under searching earth
Revealing corridors of time provoking memories, disjointed but with purpose,
Craving penetrations offer links with the self instructor's sharp and tender love as we took to the air, a picture of distance.
No doubt this album remains an all time favorite among certain fans, but many critics expressed a lack of patience with all the noodling involved in 83 minutes + of symphonic prog rock. Sounds Magazine headlined their review "Close to Boredom". Rolling Stone's Gordon Fletcher described the effort as "psychedelic doodling". Melody Maker summed up its reaction with "No".
As for keyboard player Rick Wakeman who would depart Yes after the TFTO tour:
“Tales From Topographic Oceans is like a woman’s padded bra, The cover looks good but when you peel off the padding there’s not a lot there.”
Could the punk revolution be far behind?