Yes - Keys To Ascension II

Year of Release: 1997
Label: Yes Records/Cleopatra-Purple Pyramid
Catalog Number: CLP 0159-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 99:42:00

About a year ago Yes released a double CD called Keys to Ascension which featured 2 new studio tracks and 7 live tracks recorded during a series of concerts the band did at the Fremont Theatre, San Luis Obispo, California in March 1996. Keys to Ascension 2 is another double CD. The first disc contains the missing live tracks from the SLO gig and the second disc has 5 new songs recorded 2 years ago in the fall of 95 and spring of 96.

Looking at the live tracks of Keys 2 I can't help but thinking, "Hey, haven't I seen these before on a Yes or ABWH live album?". Surrounded by "I've Seen All Good People, Going for the One, Time and a Word, Close to the Edge" and "And You and I" there's only one track you wouldn't immediately expect; "Turn of the Century." If you add the songs on Keys 1 and take a look at the complete SLO setlist you will notice that all songs played during that gig come from albums from the 70s! I don't know if this was the purpose of the whole performance, but I do think it's striking.

Although we've heard it all before, it's still nice to hear these songs again. After all it's some of the best material of the band. The recording and production is much better than previous official live releases and "Time and a Word" has a beautiful and completely new arrangement. On the other hand, I've heard better and more powerful versions of some of the live tracks. Especially the keyboards sound rather thin and flat at times. The church organ solo on "Close to the Edge" has almost been reduced to a barrel-organ playing in the background. Also, at certain moments the members of the band (in this case Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Chris Squire, Rick Wakeman and Alan White) seem to have a slight difficulty to play together and in tune with each other. Fortunately, these moments are rare.

Listening to the second disc with new studio tracks I get the feeling that the band tried to do the same as during the SLO gig; go back to their musical style of the 70s. And believe it or not, the results are very good indeed. Of course, there are some weak and some very strong bits but these were also present in the 70s material. First of all we get the 18 and a half minute long "Mind Drive" which has some great recurring melodies and powerful passages. "Foot Prints" (9.09), possibly the weakest of the five, is followed by "Bring me the Power "(7.25).

The next track, "Children of the Light" (6.02) has two parts. First, "Children of the Light" which was written by Anderson, Squire and Vangelis and is rumoured to originate from a 70s composition which has been performed live a couple of times under different names. The second part is a very nice instrumental piece by Wakeman and Howe called "Lifeline." The album closes with another beautiful Howe / Wakeman instrumental called "Sign Language" (3.29). All in all, as far as I'm concerned this new stuff is some of the best work Yes did in recent years.

The packaging of Keys 2 is (of course) very similar to its predecessor. There's another one of those Roger "I like rocks" Dean covers which is probably part of the same painting. The booklet contains 3 pages of live pictures, song credits and another looooong thank you list. Unfortunately, no lyrics have been included in the new booklet, although they were in Keys 1.

Conclusion: thanks to the improved sound quality of the live tracks compared to older versions, the great version of "Time and a Word" and the highly interesting new material this album still deserves a 8 out of 10 despite its shortcomings.

This review is courtesy Dutch Progressive Rock Page (DPRP), rights acquired when PW took over the content of AudioVison in early 1999 - ed. Dec 2005]

Disc One: I've Seen All Good People (7:16) / Going For The One (4:58) / Time And A Word (6:24) / Close To The Edge (19:40) / Turn Of The Century (7:55) / And You And I (10:51)

Disc Two Mind Drive (18:37) / Foot Prints (9:09) / Bring Me To The Power (7:25) / Children of the Light (6:06) / Sign Language (3:29)

Jon Anderson - vocals, guitars, harp
Steve Howe - guitars, bass, vocals
Chris Squire - bass, guitars
Rick Wakeman - keyboards
Alan White - drums, vocals

Yes (1969)
Time And A Word (1970)
The Yes Album (1971)
Fragile (1972)
Close To The Edge (1972)
Yessongs (1973)
Tales From Topographic Oceans (1974)
Relayer (1975)
Yesterdays (1975)
Going For The One (1977)
Tormato (1978)
Yesshows (1980)
Drama (1980)
Keys To The Studio (1980)
Classic Yes (1982)
90125 (1983/2004)
90125 Live - The Solos (1985)
Big Generator (1987)
Union (1989)
Yesyears (1991)
Yesstory (1991)
Greatest Hits (1993)
Highlights: The Very Best Of Yes (1993)
Talk (1994)
Affirmative: The Yes Solo Family Album (1994)
Keys To Ascension I (1996)
Keys To Ascension II (1997)
Open Your Eyes (1997)
Yes, Friends And Relatives (1998)
Beyond And Before: BBC Recordings 1969-1970 (1998)
Something's Coming (1998)
Friends & Relatives (1998)
The Ladder (1999)
Millennium Collection (1999)
House Of Yes: Live From The House Of Blues (2000)
Yes, Friends and Relatives - Volume Two (2001)
YesSymphonic (ep) (2001)
Magnification (2001)
Keystudio (ep) (2001)
3 For 1 Box Set (2001)
Original Members Of Yes (2001)
Extended Versions (2002)
Friends And Relatives: Ultimate Collection, Vol. 1 (2002)
Yestoday (2002)
In A Word (2002)
Yes Remixes (2003)
Friends And Relatives: Ultimate Collection, Vol. 2 (2003)
Roundabout: Best Of Yes Live (2003)
The Yes Story Gold (2003)
The Ultimate Yes - 35th Anniverary Collection (2004)
(Re)Union (2004)
Topography: The Yes Anthology (2004)
Inside Yes 1968-1973: A Critical Review (2004)
The Word Is Live (2005)
Live And Solo: The Collection (2006)
Greatest Hits Live (2006)
An Evening Of Yes (2006)
Yesstories: Group & Solo Tales (2006)
Essentially Yes (2006)
The Definitive Rock Collection (2007)
Roundabout & Other Hits (2006)
Live At Montreux 2003 (2007)
Works (2007)
The Best Of Yes: 1970-1987 (2007)
Symphonic Live (2009)
The BBC Recordings 1969-1970 (2009)
Introducing Yes (2009)
Wonderous Stories: The Best Of Yes (2009)
Union Live (2011)
Fly From Here (2011)
In The Present - Live From Lyon (2011)
Heaven & Earth (2014)
Songs From Tsongas (2014)
Like It Is: Yes At The Bristol Hippodrome (2014)
Progeny: Seven Shows From Seventy-Two (boxset) (2015)
Like It Is: Yes At The Mesa Arts Center (2015)

9012LIve (VHS/DVD) (1985/2005)
Greatest Hits Video (VHS/DVD) (1991/2001)
Yesyears: A Retrospective (VHS/DVD) (1991/2003)
Yes: Live - 1975 At Q.P.R. (VHS) (1993)
Live In Philadelphia 1979 (VHS/DVD) (1996/2003)
Keys To Ascension (VHS/DVD) (1997/2001/2009)
The Union Tour Live (DVD) (1999)
House Of Yes: Live From The House Of Blues (VHS/DVD) (2000)
The Best Of MusikLaden Live (VHS/DVD) (2000/2003)
Live In Amsterdam (VHS/DVD) (2002)
Symphonic Live (DVD+CD) (2003)
Yes: Special Edition EP (DVD) (2003)
YesSpeak (DVD) (2003)
YesAcoustic (DVD) (2004/2006)
35th Anniversary Concert: Songs From Tsongas (DVD) (2004)
YesSpeak - YesAcoustic - 35th Anniversary Edition (DVD) (2005)
Critical Review 1968-1973 (DVD) (2005)
Greatest Video Hits (DVD) (2005)
Inside Yes Plus Friends And Family (DVD) (2006)
Acoustic Live (DVD) (2006)
Total Rock Review (DVD) (2006)
Close To The Edge: Rock Milestones (DVD) (2007)
Live At Montreux (DVD/BR) (2007)
The Lost Broadcasts (DVD) (2009)
Rock Of The 70s (DVD) (2009)
Union Live (2011)
Live Hemel Hempstead Pavilion October 3rd 1971 (2014)

Genre: Symphonic Prog

Origin UK

Added: July 1st 1999
Reviewer: Ed Sander

Artist website:
Hits: 1005
Language: english


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