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Thread: 20 Years of The Ladder

  1. #1
    Member IMWeasel's Avatar
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    20 Years of The Ladder

    .....so kind of insane to think. Its been *20* years since this was released? While it came at a very busy time for the band, there hasn't been much studio output since. They've gone through about a billion and a half lineup changes. And they split off into two bands. Heck why two bands why not 3? Then another union tour when the band turns 60.

    But seriously, at the time it felt like an important album. The band was sorta back in a way. They were touring again, and putting out new stuff. But this album seemed like it was half fluff, and half callbacks to the past. That being said they can still write some decent stuff. Homeworld was a cool tune that tied in with a computer game, which was still kind of a new concept at the time. I've got the game and its pretty fun too. I saw the tour at the Warfield in SF, and it was pretty amazing (as Yes usually was live). New Languages was another cool throwback to the past. It was cool to see them revive "Nine Voices" on their last live release, thats another tune that I don't think ever got its due.

    What say you about The Ladder?
    Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by IMWeasel View Post

    What say you about The Ladder?
    I really liked it when it came out. Much better than Magnification, Keysstudio or OYE. It holds up today but "If Only You Knew" should have been left off.

  3. #3
    Member Paulrus's Avatar
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    I rate it the best album since Big Generator. Magnification is close behind it, but The Ladder felt like a group effort. There was almost a Fragile-like vibe to it, IMO. As far as I'm concerned "Homeworld" is the last honestly good Yes-style prog song they've come up with. Do I listen to it all the time? No. There's still some Andersonian cheese, plus Steve was deep in his gutless tone phase then. But still -- a thumbs up overall as far as I'm concerned. RIP Bruce Fairbairn.
    I'm holding out for the Wilson-mixed 5.1 super-duper walletbuster special anniversary extra adjectives edition.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by IMWeasel View Post
    Heck why two bands why not 3?
    Actually, this is going to happen! Wakeman has said that ARW will tour 50 to 60 shows in 2020/2021, but I just got off the phone with Jon, and he tells me it will be RW touring and A will go tour as "Jon Anderson: The Voice of Yes." We will have three Yeses next year - a Yes fan's dream come true!

  5. #5
    Member thedunno's Avatar
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    I disliked The Ladder when it came out and got rid of it a few years ago. The only song I liked was homeworld. The rest was incredibly cheesy imho.

  6. #6
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    "Homeworld" was a pleasant experience, like they intended (and succeeded) to return to and apply many classic YES formulae into the composition, arrangement and production (vocal melody, choir arrangement, very Howe:y sounding guitar and of course, the up-and-down-the-neck bass lines).
    My Progressive Workshop at http://soundcloud.com/hfxx

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    I really liked it at the time but rarely play it now. Too many easy listening songs, only Homeworld and New Language showed any prog spark but even then too many JA vocals and not enough instrumental fireworks. For Me Heaven & Earth is rather like The Ladder. I enjoyed the live shows though!

  8. #8
    Moderator Poisoned Youth's Avatar
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    In retrospect, The Ladder becomes kind of a jewel in their catalog if you consider 25 years post-Talk. I didn’t care for OYE and I get absolutely no mileage from the three albums released since The Ladder. In my mind, this ends their catalog.
    WANTED: Sig-worthy quote.

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    My favourite of the post-90125 Yes albums. At its best, it is a melodic, highly enjoyable album, with their best truly new songs in many years ('Homeworld', 'The Messenger', 'Face To Face', 'It Will Be A Good Day' etc.). I say 'truly new' because to the best of my knowledge there is little if any rehashing of decades-old material here.

    The production is slick and a few songs around the middle are far too twee for me ('To Be Alive', 'If Only You Knew'). But nevertheless I think they managed a good stylistic balance of 70s and 80s Yes on this album. Bruce Fairbairn really did get a coherent album out of the band.

    I think the piano/vocal ending of 'Homeworld' is quite saccharine, unfortunately, but before that point, they get surprisingly close to the old magic on this track IMHO. I'd have preferred it ended on a repeat of that little Howe acoustic figure and just faded on that.

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    First heard The Ladder 5 or 6 years ago, going on someone’s recommendation here. I was pleasantly surprised. It’s the album I reach for when I want to hear Yes.

  11. #11
    The last Yes album I like. Much better than Open Your Eyes. Not quite as good as Keystudio. The two longest tracks, Homeworld and New Language, are the best. The rest is average to good. I even like If Only You Knew, in contrast to some others commenting in this thread.There's not a song I dislike, which is saying something for an eleven track 60 minute album considering a lot of the post 70s drek they've released.

  12. #12
    The Ladder is a very good album IMO. Jon Anderson sounds phenomenal on it. I think the songs are really good too. I dont mind a bit of cheese and this clearly has it. I say bring it on. Hard for me to compare it to the classic Yes stuff, so I almost consider it a diffrerent band, maybe a cross between Yes 1975 and Yes 90125. Kind of an odd blend, but it does work for me and I am amazed at how prolific the songwriting of this band is/was.
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  13. #13
    Member Kcrimso's Avatar
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    I mostly like The Ladder but Magnification is much better.
    "A waste of talent and electricity." John Peel on ELP

  14. #14
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    I am still a big fan of The Ladder. I actually pulled it out for a listen about a week ago and still think it is a strong album. Jon Anderson's most recent solo album reminds me of The Ladder in spots.

  15. #15
    I think The Ladder is the freshest, although not the best, Yes album since Fragile. The better songs have vigor and vitality: "Face to Face" is a five-minute masterpiece, with more going on there than in certain other band's supposed epics, and the singing and lyrics are stunning. I never saw the appeal of "Homeworld," and "If Only You Knew" I would rather unknow, but "It Will Be a Good Day," "Lightning Strikes," "Can I?", "To Be Alive," and "Nine Voices" are all good to very good songs, and the aforementioned "Face to Face" is one of the best songs in the entire Yes canon. The performance and production are superb, nothing at all like what's on the Milquetoast Heaven and Earth. So I give The Ladder a solid B, as I do to many other Yes albums: 90125, Big Generator, Talk, Keys to Ascension II, and Magnification.

    Furthermore, The Ladder came out in 1999, a time when progressive rock was surging; indeed, that same year The Flower Kings released their best album, Flower Power, which surpassed even The Ladder. That a flagship band like Yes offered such a strong album helped give the entire genre new life, just as the dreadful albums those same bands released in the late 1970s and early 1980s (Love Beach, Tormato, Real to Reel, Vinyl Confessions/Drastic Measures) helped kill it.

  16. #16
    Moderator Sean's Avatar
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    I really liked it when it was new. In hindsight it was one of the better ones from that era. It was their first stab at writing some long compositions with Howe back in tow and it had a fresher vibe. I agree the timing was great since prog was on the upswing. A strong album from prog's best known band was needed and they delivered. Not that they were addressing that need, I doubt they were. The timing was just right though.

    Now I find it about as inspired as most of the albums that surround it. Magnification had as many epic high points, for example. Fly From Here was solid too- the side long suite. Almost on that level. I think about half of it still stands up. A pretty good average for a 'modern' Yes album.
    Last edited by Sean; 3 Weeks Ago at 04:00 PM.

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    Member Top Cat's Avatar
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    Thank ya'll for choosing one of the many cds for our Friday Night Pizza, Beer&Music night.
    The Ladder is in queue.
    Soundcloud page: Open Window, musical meanderings https://soundcloud.com/precipice

  18. #18
    Member moecurlythanu's Avatar
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    I think Magnification was softer still at its weakest- not helped by the orchestration, which was very 'straight' IMHO. 'Don't Go', 'Soft As A Dove', 'We Agree'- could do without all those. The rest of the album was very good from a writing perspective though. 'Can You Imagine' (which I do really like) obviously goes back to the 80s XYZ demos but otherwise was mostly fresh material again, AFAIK.

    Back to The Ladder, I wonder what people make of 'Lightning Strikes'? I personally don't like all that programming one bit...however, beneath all that, the basic song is very good IMHO.

  20. #20
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    While i like the album, this is the tour where i got off the bus excepting the RCMH show in 2002.

    Time to revisit.
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  21. #21
    Member Guitarplyrjvb's Avatar
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    I like it a lot. Strong melodies have always been a hallmark of the best Yesmusic. This record delivers more of them than any record since 90125.

  22. #22
    I haven't listened to The Ladder in so long, I don't remember much about it. I remember they played about half the album when they played in Cincinnati that year. Curiously, just this afternoon, the "radio edit" of Homeworld (The Ladder) came up on my Pandora Atom Heart Mother station. Kinda cool to hear it again.

    Anyone remember that video game that Homeworld was supposed to be connected to?

  23. #23
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    I thought the Ladder was a credible attempt for Yes to regain some radio play and commercial success that they had not had for several years. World music was quite big at the time and I thought the album did a nice job incorporating elements from that genre. I spun it a lot back in '99 and saw the tour twice.

    But I pulled out the Ladder about a year ago and for me it hasn't aged well. Too much of it now sounds trite and trivial whereas 20 years ago I would have said clever and catchy. This might be improved with some editing. I could see trimming it down to a solid 35-40 minute album.

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarGeek View Post

    Anyone remember that video game that Homeworld was supposed to be connected to?
    Homeworld, the game.

  25. #25
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    “The Ladder” got a pretty good buzz when it was released. I wanted to like this and at the time if an album had a good word of mouth following, I would try hard to find what I was missing. I never did find it after repeated listening. Not bad but nothing to get excited about besides Homeworld.
    Last edited by Tangram; 3 Weeks Ago at 12:58 AM.

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