Tales from Topographic Oceans

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Tales from Topographic Oceans
Tales from Topographic Oceans (Yes album).jpg
Studio album by
Released7 December 1973
RecordedLate summer–early autumn 1973
StudioMorgan Studios, Willesden, London
GenreProgressive rock
Yes chronology
Tales from Topographic Oceans

Tales from Topographic Oceans is the sixth studio album by English progressive rock band Yes, released on 7 December 1973 by Atlantic Records. Yes frontman Jon Anderson devised the concept album during the band's 1973 Japanese tour when he read a footnote in Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda that describes four bodies of Hindu texts about a specific field of knowledge, collectively named shastras: the shruti, smriti, puranas, and tantras. After pitching the idea to guitarist Steve Howe, the two developed the album's themes and lyrics that took shape as a double album containing four side-long tracks based on each text. The album was negatively received by keyboardist Rick Wakeman, who disagreed with its structure and elaborate concept and felt unable to contribute to the music that had been written. It is the first Yes album to feature drummer Alan White, who replaced Bill Bruford in the previous year.

Tales from Topographic Oceans received a mixed critical reception and became a symbol of alleged progressive rock excess with its detailed concept and lengthy songs. However it was a commercial success, becoming the first UK album to reach gold certification solely based on pre-orders. It topped the UK Album Chart for two weeks and reached No. 6 in the US, where it went gold in 1974 for selling 500,000 copies. Yes supported the album with a five-month tour of Europe and North America, the largest in the band's history at the time, that featured the entire album performed live. Tales from Topographic Oceans was reissued in 1994 and 2003; the latter included previously unreleased tracks. An edition with new stereo and 5.1 surround sound mixes by Steven Wilson arrived in 2016.

Background and writing[edit]

Frontman Jon Anderson devised the album's concept

In March 1973, Yes were on the Japanese leg of their Close to the Edge Tour to promote their latest studio album Close to the Edge (1972). By this time, the line-up had stabilised with singer Jon Anderson, bassist Chris Squire, guitarist Steve Howe, keyboardist Rick Wakeman, and drummer Alan White, who had replaced original member Bill Bruford after the album was recorded.[1] While in Tokyo, Anderson was in his hotel room and explored ideas for the band's next album. One of which involved a "large-scale composition" as the group had success with longform pieces, including the 18-minute title track from Close to the Edge. With the idea in mind Anderson found himself "caught up in a lengthy footnote" in Autobiography of a Yogi (1946) by Indian yogi and guru Paramahansa Yogananda which described four bodies of Hindu texts, named shastras,[2] that Yogananda described as "comprehensive treatises [that cover] every aspect of religious and social life, and the fields of law, medicine, architecture, art..." that "convey profound truths under a veil of detailed symbolism".[3] Anderson recalled he "became engrossed" with the idea of a "four-part epic" concept album based on the four texts, though he later admitted that he did not fully understand what the scriptures were about.[4] He was introduced to Yogananda by King Crimson drummer and percussionist Jamie Muir at Bruford's wedding reception on 2 March 1973.[5] Anderson spoke about his meeting with Muir: "I felt I had to learn from him. We started talking about meditation in music—not the guru type but some really heavy stuff."[4] Anderson gained further clarification of the texts from talking to Vera Stanley Alder, a mystic, painter, and author of spirituality books that had a profound influence on him.[6]

While the tour wrapped up in Australia and the US in March and April 1973, Anderson pitched his idea to Howe, a prolific songwriter and arranger in the group, who took an interest in the concept. Together they used the spare time in between gigs to hold writing sessions in their hotel rooms lit by candlelight, sharing musical and lyrical ideas that suited the album's concept. Howe recalled: "Jon would say to me, 'What have you got that's a bit like that...?' so I'd play him something and he'd go: 'that's great. Have you got anything else?' and I'd play him another tune".[7] One riff that Howe played for Anderson was rejected at first, but it was later incorporated into "The Ancient" as by then, the two sought for a different theme that would suit the track.[7] A six-hour session in Savannah, Georgia that ended at 7 a.m. saw Anderson and Howe complete the outline of the vocals, lyrics, and instrumentation which took the form of one track based on each of the four texts. Anderson described the night as "magical [that] left both of us exhilarated for days".[8] When they pitched the concept to the rest of the group Howe recalled some resistance, "but Jon and I did manage to sell the idea ... sometimes [we] really had to spur the guys on".[7]

"I think there was a psychological effect of, "Oh, we're doing a double album. Now we can make things twice as long, twice as boring, and twice as drawn out!"[9]

Eddy Offord, producer

Yes regrouped at Manticore Studios in Fulham, then owned by fellow progressive rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer, to start rehearsals and develop the material Anderson and Howe had outlined.[4] They ended with four pieces that Wakeman recalled: "One was about eight minutes. One was 15. One was 19 and one was 12", which required editing to fit a single album or extending the arrangements to fit on a double. Howe recalled a mutual agreement to making a double,[7][4] which Wakeman supported providing that the group could come up with strong enough music.[10] Anderson gained confidence towards a double from the success of Yessongs, their first live album released that May as a triple that contained almost 130 minutes of music.[11] The group had no new material to develop, however, so ideas were penned that relied heavily on improvisation which Wakeman disagreed with, calling it "almost busking, free-form thinking" and thought the music ventured into "avant-garde jazz rock, and I had nothing to offer".[10][12] Though he considered "Ritual (Nous sommes du soleil)" as a strong track and good melodies and themes throughout the album, Wakeman remained displeased with the "padding" that was added.[10] Squire recognised "a lot of substance" to the four tracks, but thought they lacked at times which resulted in an album that is "too varied and too scattered".[13][9] Roughly one month into rehearsals, the band took a break from recording, during which Anderson vacated to Marrakesh with his family and wrote lyrics.[6]

Despite the mixed opinions, Anderson wrote in the album's liner notes that Squire, Wakeman, and White made "important contributions of their own" to the music.[14] He believed the group were "on the same page" and supported it at the time, but later saw Wakeman's criticisms as the end of a period of "illusive harmony" that existed in Yes since Fragile (1971).[15] White contributed some lengthy sections of music that bridged between the main sections of tracks, but did not receive a writing credit. This bothered him at first, but he later acquiesced and accepted the concept was mostly Anderson and Howe's brainchild.[16]

Album title[edit]

Phil Carson, then the London Senior Vice President of Atlantic Records, remembered that, during a dinner with Anderson and Nesuhi Ertegun, Anderson was originally going to name the album Tales from Tobographic Oceans and claimed he invented the word "tobographic", a word that summarised one of Fred Hoyle's theories of space. Ertegun informed Anderson that "tobographic" sounded like "topographic", so Anderson changed the title accordingly.[17] Wakeman jokingly nicknamed the album Tales from Toby's Graphic Go-Kart.[10]


Yes spent five months arranging, rehearsing, and recording Tales from Topographic Oceans.[14] The group were split in deciding where to record; Anderson and Wakeman wanted to retreat in the countryside while Squire and Howe preferred to stay in London, leaving White, who was indifferent.[18] Anderson had thought of recording under a tent in a forest at night with electrical generators buried into the ground so they would be inaudible, but "when I suggested that, they all said, 'Jon, get a life!'"[19][2] Yes were joined by engineer and producer Eddy Offord, who had worked with the band since 1970 and shared production duties with the band. He tried to push their manager Brian Lane to set up recording in the country, thinking "some flowers and trees" would lessen the tension that the album had created within the group.[9] Yes were swayed to remain in London and record at Morgan Studios as it housed Britain's first 24-track tape machine, produced by Ampex, which presented greater possibilities in the studio.[20] Despite the advantage, Squire recalled that the machine malfunctioned often.[21] Squire worked in the studio for as long as sixteen-hour days, seven days a week on the album.[22]

When the band settled into Morgan Studios, Lane and Anderson proceeded to decorate the studio like a farmyard. Squire believed Lane did so as a joke on Anderson as he wished to record in the country.[20] Anderson brought in flowers, pots of greenery, and cut out cows and sheep to make the studio resemble a garden as a typical studio did not "push the envelope about what you're trying to create musically".[19] Wakeman recalled the addition of white picket fences and his keyboards and amplifiers placed on stacks of hay.[20] At the time of recording, heavy metal group Black Sabbath were recording Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1973) in the adjacent studio. Singer Ozzy Osbourne recalled the Yes studio also had a model cow with electronic udders fitted and a small barn to give the room an "earthy" feel.[23] "About halfway through the album", said Offord, "The cows were covered in graffiti and all the plants had died. That just kind of sums up that whole album".[9] At one point during the recording stage, Anderson wished for a "bathroom sound" effect on his vocals and asked the band's lighting engineer, Michael Tait, to build him a plywood box with tiles stuck onto it. After Tait explained to Anderson that the idea would not work, Tait "built it anyway".[24] Sound engineer Nigel Luby recalled that tiles would fall off the box during recording takes.[25]

Wakeman felt increasingly disenchanted by the album during the recording stage, and spent much of his time drinking and playing darts in the studio bar.[26] He also spent time with Black Sabbath, playing the Minimoog synthesiser on their track "Sabbra Cadabra". Wakeman would not accept money for his contribution, so the band paid him in beer.[27]

In one incident during the last few days of mixing, Anderson left the studio one morning with Offord carrying the tapes. Offord placed them on-top of his car in order to find his car keys, and proceeded to drive away, forgetting about the tapes. They stopped the car to find the tapes had slid off and fallen on the road, causing Anderson to rush back and stop an oncoming bus to save them.[7] Yes's studio time amounted to £90,000 in costs.[28]


"Side one was the commercial or easy-listening side of Topographic Oceans, side two was a much lighter, folky side of Yes, side three was electronic mayhem turning into acoustic simplicity, and side four was us trying to drive the whole thing home on a biggie."[29]

Steve Howe

Tales from Topographic Oceans contains four tracks, or "movements" as described by Anderson,[14] that range between 18 and 22 minutes. The lyrics were written by Anderson and Howe, and each band member is credited for composing the music. Its liner notes feature a short summary written by Anderson of how the album's concept is expressed in a musical sense.[30]

"The Revealing Science of God" is based on the shruti class of Hindu scripture which Yogananda described as scriptures that are "directly heard" or "revealed", in particular the Vedas.[3] Regarding its title, Anderson said: "It's always delicate to start talking about religious things ... [the track] should have just been "The Revealing". But I got sort of hip." According to Howe, the track was originally 28 minutes in length but six minutes were cut due to the time constraints of a vinyl record.[31] His guitar solos on the track, performed on a Gibson ES-345,[32] were influenced by his belief that Frank Zappa performed lengthy solos "because the audience wanted it. I was thinking at one stage, "I'll do that. They'll love it".[31] Anderson was inspired to open the track with voices that gradually build from listening to Gregorian chants. The ongoing Vietnam War at the time provided a source for its lyrics.[19] The "Young Christians see it..." section of the song originated from a take recorded during the Fragile recording sessions that was previously unreleased until the album's 2015 reissue, which contained the track named "All Fighters Past".[7]

"The Remembering" relates to the smriti, literally meaning "that which is remembered". Yogananda wrote the smritis were "written down in a remote past as the world's longest epic poems", specifically the Mahabharata and Ramayana, two Indian epic poems.[3] Anderson described it as "a calm sea of music" and aimed to get the band to play "like the sea" with "rhythms, eddies, swells, and undercurrents".[31] The track includes a keyboard solo from Wakeman that Anderson wrote in the album's liner notes, "bring alive the ebb and flow and depth of our mind's eye".[14] Anderson ranked the solo as one of Wakeman's best works.[19] Squire described his bass playing on the track, done on a fretless Guild bass, as "one of the nicest things" he has done, ranking it higher than his playing on some of the band's more popular tracks. He called it a very successful piece of musical arrangement.[31] White came up with the chord basis of an entire section of the song on the guitar, which he does not play confidently, but Anderson told him to "keep playing" so it could be developed further.[33] Howe plays a Danelectro electric sitar, lute, and acoustic guitar on the track.[34]

"The Ancient" is attributed to the puranas, meaning "of ancient times", which contain eighteen "ancient" allegories.[3] "Steve's guitar", wrote Anderson, "is pivotal in sharpening reflection on the beauties and treasures of lost civilisations."[14] The lyrics contain several translations of the word "Sun" or an explanation of the Sun from various languages.[19] Howe felt the opening section of the track amazes him to this day, thinking how the band could "go so far out".[4] He plays a steel guitar and a Spanish Ramirez acoustic guitar on the track,[34][7] and described it as "quite Stravinsky, quite folky". To help achieve the right sound he wanted out of his guitars, Howe played several recordings by classical guitarist Julian Bream to Offord as a guide.[7]

"Ritual" relates to the tantras, literally meaning "rites" or "rituals".[3] Anderson described its bass and drum solos as a presentation of the fight and struggle that life presents between "sources of evil and pure love".[14] Howe is particularly fond of his guitar solo at the beginning, which to him was "spine-chilling ... it was heavenly to play".[35] He plays a Gibson Les Paul Junior in the song.[34] Howe's outro guitar solo was more improvised and jazz-oriented at first, but the rest of the group felt dissatisfied with the arrangement. Anderson suggested that Howe pick several themes from the album and combine them, which Howe did with "a more concise, more thematic approach".[36] During one of Wakeman's absences from the studio, White came up with the piano sequence for the "Nous sommes du soleil" section.[7]

Sleeve design[edit]

The album was packaged as a gatefold sleeve designed and illustrated by Roger Dean, who had also designed the art for Fragile, Close to the Edge (1972), and the band's first live album, Yessongs (1973).[37] Each of them carried a loose narrative thread that Dean did not continue for Tales from Topographic Oceans. The album's design was discussed during an in-depth conversation Dean and Anderson had in 1973 during the band's flight from London to Tokyo via Anchorage, Alaska, during the Close to the Edge tour. Prior to the flight, Dean had completed the front cover to The View Over Atlantis (1969) by John Michell, and "the wives and girlfriends made a cake ... and we all had some. I have no idea what was in it but from London to Anchorage, I was stoned ... But from Anchorage to Tokyo, I couldn't stop talking. And I was telling Jon all about this book, about patterns in the landscape and dragon lines, and we were flying hour after hour after hour over the most amazing landscapes ... So the idea of ... a sort of magical landscape and an alternative landscape ... that informed everything: the album cover, the merchandising, the stage."[38]

A Mayan temple at Chichen Itza that Anderson requested to have on the album's sleeve

Dean, who primarily describes himself as a landscape painter, wished to convey his enthusiasm for landscapes within the album's artwork. He stressed that nothing depicted in the design is made up, and that everything is of a particular thing.[39] Painted using watercolour and ink, the front depicts fish circling a waterfall under several constellations of stars. In his 1975 book Views, Dean wrote: "The final collection of landmarks was more complex than ... intended because it seemed appropriate to the nature of the project that everyone who wanted to contribute should do so. The landscape comprised amongst other things, some famous English rocks taken from Dominy Hamilton's postcard collection. These are, specifically: Brimham Rocks, the last rocks at Land's End, the Logan Rock at Treen and single stones from Avebury and Stonehenge. Jon Anderson wanted the Mayan temple at Chichen Itza with the sun behind it, and Alan White suggested using markings from the plains of Nazca. The result is a somewhat incongruous mixture, but effective nonetheless."[40] The original pressing of the sleeve included a slipstream in the background by the fish that was removed from future reissues. Although it was not a part of the original design, Anderson persuaded Dean to incorporate it after it was painted, so Dean drew it on a clear cel and had it photographed with and without the slipstream. Dean thought the idea still did not work and used the original for the album's advertisements and posters.[41] In 2002, readers of Rolling Stone magazine voted the album's cover as the best cover art of all time.[42]


On 8 November 1973, Tales from Topographic Oceans was set to be played on Radio Luxembourg by host David Jensen,[43] but according to Anderson, the radio station somehow received blank tapes, resulting in dead air after the album was introduced.[44] Two more radio broadcasts of the album aired on Your Mother Wouldn't Like It with Nicky Horne on 9 November, and Rock on Radio One with Pete Drummond on 10 November.[43]

The album was released in the UK on 7 December 1973,[45] followed by its North American release on 9 January 1974.[46] It was a commercial success for the group; following a change in industry regulations by the British Phonographic Industry for albums to qualify for a Gold disc in April 1973, the album became the first UK record reach Gold certification based on pre-orders alone after 75,000 orders were made.[47] It reached number 1 on the UK Album Chart for two weeks and peaked at number 6 on the US Billboard Top LPs chart.[48] The album was certified Gold in the UK on 1 March 1974[45] and in the US on 8 February 1974, the latter for 500,000 copies sold.[49]


Professional ratings
Review scores
All About Jazz5/5 stars[50]
AllMusic3.5/5 stars[51]
Christgau's Record GuideC[53]
Rolling Stone(unfavourable)[54]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[55]

Early reviews[edit]

The album received a divided reception from music critics. Robert Sheldon for The Times termed the music as "rockophonic", and selected "The Ancient" as a piece of music that "will be studied twenty-five years hence as a turning point in modern music".[56] The Guardian thought Anderson's "high-pitched and carefully modulated voice ... seemed at ease and control".[57] Steve Peacock reviewed the album and a live performance of it for Sounds using the headlines "Wishy washy tales from the deep" and "Close to boredom".[58]

In his negative review for Rolling Stone, Gordon Fletcher described the record as "psychedelic doodles" and thought it suffers from "over-elaboration" compared to more successful songs on Fragile and Close to the Edge. He complained about the album's length, Howe's guitar solos on "The Ancient", and the percussion section on "Ritual", but praised Wakeman for his "stellar performance" throughout and believed the keyboardist was the "most human of the group". Fletcher singled out the acoustic guitar section from "The Ancient" as the album's high point.[54] Chris Welch reviewed the album for Melody Maker and wrote: "It is a fragmented masterpiece, assembled with loving care and long hours in the studio. Brilliant in patches, but often taking far too long to make its various points, and curiously lacking in warmth or personal expression". He thought "Ritual" brought the "first enjoyable moments" of the entire album, "where Alan's driving drums have something to grip on to and the lyrics of la la la speak volumes. But even this cannot last long and cohesion is lost once more to the gods of drab self-indulgence."[59] For New Musical Express, Steve Clarke, who had listened to the album for two months and saw the band perform the album live once, declared the album "a great disappointment", coming from the strength of Close to the Edge and notes the "colour and excitement" that the group usually puts on their albums was missing. He thought Wakeman's abilities were restricted, and a lack of "positive construction" in the music which too often loses itself to "a wash of synthetic sounds". Howe's guitar adopts the same tone as Wakeman's keyboards, which bored Clarke, but Anderson was praised in helping carry the music through with his "frail, pure and at times very beautiful" voice. Clarke concluded with a hope of Yes making a return to "real songs" which demonstrate their musicianship better.[60]

A review from Alan Bisbort printed in The Daily Tar Heel had a headline that deemed the album "cosmic hokum". Bisbort wrote about his criticisms of its concept and the idea of the group, "who went East, got a shot of knowledge, came back West, had lots of money at their disposal ... and decided to cut an album guaranteed to give shortcut answers to the question for the multitude". He did not dismiss the album entirely, and recognised the group's musical talents.[61] Tom Von Malder, for The Daily Herald, thought Yes "seldom disappoints", but named Tales an exception, with "Ritual" being the only track that lives up to the strong material on Close to the Edge and Yessongs as it is the "most cohesive, most lyrical of all". He thought the remaining three sides have some good music, but are too scattered, and claimed the album's concept is "a bit too obtuse for a rock album".[62] Holly Spence, in the Lincoln Evening Journal, called Tales a unique and creative album that displays an "inventive combination of sounds and rhythms" that is more interesting than the "dull repetitive noise" that she thought was typical of rock music at the time.[63]

Later reviews[edit]

Retrospectively, Bruce Eder of AllMusic thought the album contains "some of the most sublimely beautiful musical passages ever to come from the group, and develops a major chunk of that music in depth and degrees in ways that one can only marvel at, though there's a big leap from marvel to enjoy. If one can grab onto it, Tales is a long, sometimes glorious musical ride across landscapes strange and wonderful, thick with enticing musical textures".[51] In its fortieth anniversary issue from 1992, NME selected Tales from Topographic Oceans as their "40 Records That Captured The Moment" for 1974.[64] In 1996, Progression magazine writer John Covach wrote that it is Tales from Topographic Oceans, not Close to the Edge (1972), that represents the band's true hallmark of the first half of their 1970s output and their "real point of arrival". He pointed out "the playing is virtuosic throughout, the singing innovative and often complex, and the lyrics mystical and poetic. All this having been asserted ... even the most devoted listener to Tales is also forced to admit that the album is in many ways flawed. Tracks tend to wander a bit ... and the music therefore is perhaps not as focussed as it might be." He notes that while Howe "set a new standard for rock guitar", he thought Wakeman's parts were not used properly and that the keyboardist was instead "relegated to the role of sideman".[26] Author and critic Martin Popoff called the album one of the "black hole of Yes experiences, the band dissipating, expanding, exploding and imploding all at once", though he thought it contained "some fairly accessible music".[65]

Band members[edit]

In 1990, Anderson felt pleased with three quarters of the album, with the remaining quarter "not quite jelling", but felt the too soon release deadline given to the band resulted in a lack of time to listen and alter the music properly.[16] Squire recalled the album's period as not a happy one, and deemed the album "a difficult one".[4] He commented on Anderson's attitude then: "Jon had this visionary idea that you could just walk into a studio, and if the vibes were right ... the music would be great at the end of the day ... It isn't reality".[9] Wakeman continues to hold a critical view. In 2006, he clarified that his total dislike of the album is "not entirely true" and thinks there are some "very nice musical moments in Topographic Oceans, but because of the format of how records used to be we had too much for a single album but not enough for a double, so we padded it out and the padding is awful ... but there are some beautiful solos like "Nous sommes du soleil" ... one of the most beautiful melodies ... and deserved to be developed even more perhaps."[66]


Anderson spoke about his wish to edit the album and reissue it as a condensed 60-minute version with remixes and overdubs, but the plan was affected by "personality problems".[16] The album was first remastered for CD by Joe Gastwirt in 1994.[67] It was remastered again by Bill Inglot in 2003 as an "expanded" version on Elektra/Rhino Records, which features a restored two-minute introduction to "The Revealing Science of God" not included on the original LP (this restored intro version was also featured on the box set "In a Word: Yes (1969–)" released the previous year) plus studio run-throughs of the same track and "The Ancient".[68] The 2003 edition was released once more as part of the band's 2013 studio album box set, The Studio Albums 1969–1987.[69]

Tales from Topographic Oceans was reissued with new stereo and 5.1 surround sound mixes completed by Steven Wilson in October 2016 on the Panegyric label. The four-disc set available on CD and Blu-ray or DVD-Audio that includes the new mixes, several bonus and previously unreleased mixes and tracks, and expanded and restored cover art.[70]


Anderson, White, Squire and Wakeman performing in February 1974 during the album's tour.

Yes had planned to start touring the album with an American leg from October 1973, but it was cancelled to allow more time for the band to complete it.[71] The 1973–1974 tour visited Europe and North America between November 1973 and April 1974 and featured a two-hour set of Close to the Edge and Tales from Topographic Oceans performed in their entirety, plus encores. The set was altered as it progressed, with "The Revealing Science of God" dropped for some early shows in 1974 and "The Remembering" removed completely from March.[72] The band brought four times as much stage equipment than their previous tours which included an elaborate stage designed by Roger Dean and his brother Martyn with fibreglass structures, dry ice effects, a rotating drum platform surrounding White, and a tunnel that the band emerged from. During one show, the structure around White that opened and closed failed to operate, leaving him trapped inside. White claimed the incident was the inspiration behind a scene depicted in the rock mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap (1984). The UK leg saw Yes sell out the Rainbow Theatre in London for five consecutive nights, marking the first time a rock band achieved the feat.[47] The North American leg included two sold out shows at Madison Square Garden in New York City that grossed over $200,000.[73] The band spent £5,000 on a hot air balloon which was decorated with the album's artwork and tethered in each city they performed in the US.[74]

During the tour, Wakeman called for a band meeting and announced his intention to leave at its conclusion. His boredom and frustration from playing the whole of Tales from Topographic Oceans culminated during a show in Manchester where his keyboard technician brought him a curry, which he proceeded to eat on stage.[75] Anderson felt he had pushed Wakeman too far as he was unsatisfied with one of his keyboard solos in the set and had constantly asked him to get it right.[76] Wakeman declined to attend rehearsals for their next album and confirmed his exit on 18 May 1974, his twenty-fifth birthday. Later that day, he found out his solo album Journey to the Centre of the Earth had entered the UK chart at number one. He called it "a day I will never forget for as long as I live".[77]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics by Jon Anderson and Steve Howe. All music written and arranged by Anderson, Howe, Chris Squire, Rick Wakeman and Alan White.

Original issue[edit]

Side one
1."The Revealing Science of God (Dance of the Dawn)"20:27
Side two
1."The Remembering (High the Memory)"20:38
Side three
1."The Ancient (Giants Under the Sun)"18:34
Side four
1."Ritual (Nous Sommes du Soleil)"21:35

1994 reissue[edit]

Disc one
1."The Revealing Science of God (Dance of the Dawn)"20:27
2."The Remembering (High the Memory)"20:38
Disc two
1."The Ancient (Giants Under the Sun)"18:34
2."Ritual (Nous Sommes du Soleil)"21:35

2003 reissue[edit]

Disc one
1."The Revealing Science of God (Dance of the Dawn)"22:37
2."The Remembering (High the Memory)"20:53
3."The Ancient (Giants Under the Sun)"18:35
Disc two
1."Ritual (Nous Sommes du Soleil)"21:52
2."Dance of the Dawn" (Studio Run-Through)23:35
3."Giants Under the Sun" (Studio Run-Through)17:17

2016 Definitive Edition[edit]

CD One – 2016 Stereo Mixes
1."The Revealing Science of God (Dance of the Dawn)"20:18
2."The Remembering (High the Memory)"20:32
3."The Ancient (Giants Under the Sun)"18:40
CD Two – 2016 Stereo Mixes and Alternate Album
1."Ritual (Nous sommes du soleil)"21:44
2."Dance of the Dawn"22:36
3."Dance of the Dawn (Extended version, mislabelled as Studio Run-Through)"22:23
CD Three – Alternate Album and Single Edits
1."High the Memory (Studio Run-Through)"20:36
2."Giants Under the Sun (Studio Run-Through)"17:18
3."Ritual (Nous sommes du soleil)" (Live in Zurich, 21 April 1974))23:11
4."The Revealing Science of God (Single Edit)"3:54
5."The Remembering (Single Edit)"2:50
6."The Ancient (Single Edit)"3:26
7."Ritual (Single Edit I)"4:20
8."Ritual (Single Edit II)"3:47
Blu-ray Disc and DVD-Audio – 2016 Stereo Mix (LPCM Stereo 24-bit/96kHz)
1."The Revealing Science of God"20:18
2."The Remembering"20:32
3."The Ancient"18:40
5."Dance of the Dawn (Extended Version of "The Revealing Science of God")"22:36
Blu-ray Disc and DVD-Audio – 5.1 Surround Sound Mix (LPCM Stereo 24-bit/96kHz and DTS-HD MA)
1."The Revealing Science of God"20:18
2."The Remembering"20:32
3."The Ancient"18:40
5."Dance of the Dawn (Extended Version of "The Revealing Science of God")"22:36
Blu-ray Disc and DVD-Audio – Original Stereo Mix from Flat Transfer (LPCM Stereo 24-bit/192kHz)
1."The Revealing Science of God"20:26
2."The Remembering"20:41
3."The Ancient"18:40
Blu-ray Disc – Alternate Takes (LPCM Stereo 24-bit/48kHz, mislabelled as 96 kHz)
1."Dance of the Dawn (Extended version, mislabelled as Studio Run-Through)"22:23
2."High the Memory (Studio Run-Through)"20:36
3."Giants Under the Sun (Studio Run-Through)"17:18
4."Ritual (Nous sommes du soleil)" (Live in Zurich, 21 April 1974))23:11
Blu-ray Disc – 2016 Stereo Singles Edits (LPCM Stereo 24-bit/48kHz, mislabelled as 96 kHz)
1."The Revealing Science of God (Single Edit)"3:54
2."The Remembering (Single Edit)"2:50
3."The Ancient (Single Edit)"3:26
4."Ritual (Single Edit I)"4:20
5."Ritual (Single Edit II)"3:47
Blu-ray Disc – 2016 Stereo Instrumental Mixes (LPCM Stereo 24-bit/96kHz)
1."The Revealing Science of God"20:18
2."The Remembering"20:32
3."The Ancient"18:40
5."Dance of the Dawn (Extended Version of The Revealing Science of God)"22:36
Blu-ray Disc – UK Vinyl Needle-Drop Transfer (LPCM Stereo 24-bit/48kHz, mislabelled as 96 kHz)
1."The Revealing Science of God"20:27
2."The Remembering"20:38
3."The Ancient"18:34
Blu-ray Disc – US Banded Promo Vinyl Needle-Drop Transfer (LPCM Stereo 24-bit/48kHz, mislabelled as 96 kHz)
1."The Revealing Science of God" (a. 3:30 / b. 6:17 / c. 3:21 / d. 4:30 / e. 2:55)20:27
2."The Remembering" (a. 4:40 / b. 3:06 / c. 8:10 / d. 1:45 / e. 3:06)20:38
3."The Ancient" (a. 3:15 / b. 4:19 / c. 2:17 / d. 3:56)18:34
4."Ritual" (a. 5:25 / b. 6:42 / c. 5:20 / d. 4:18)21:35




  • Yes – production
  • Eddy Offord – engineering, production
  • Bill Inglot – sound production
  • Guy Bidmead – tapes
  • Mansell Litho – plates
  • Roger Dean – cover design and illustrations, band logo
  • Brian Lane – co-ordination
  • Steven Wilson – 2016 Definitive Edition mixes

Charts and certifications[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]



  1. ^ Watkinson 2000, p. 107.
  2. ^ a b Welch 2008, p. 141.
  3. ^ a b c d e Yogananda 1998, p. 104.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Morse 1996, p. 44.
  5. ^ Bruford 2009, p. 72.
  6. ^ a b Solomon, Linda (30 March 1974). "Journey into time and space...". New Musical Express. p. 32. ProQuest 1777004487.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Tales from Topographic Oceans [2016 Definitive Edition] (Media notes). Yes. Panegyric. 2016. GYRBD80001.CS1 maint: others (link)
  8. ^ Welch 2008, p. 142.
  9. ^ a b c d e Morse 1996, p. 45.
  10. ^ a b c d Greene, Andy (11 October 2019). "Rick Wakeman on His Tumultuous History With Yes, Playing on Bowie's 'Space Oddity'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
  11. ^ Campbell, Mary (24 March 1974). "Yes does what it thinks is right". Green Bay Press-Gazette. p. 14. Retrieved 15 October 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  12. ^ Chambers 2002, p. 30.
  13. ^ Squire, Chris (2007). Classic Artists: Yes. Disc One (DVD). Image Entertainment. 1:19:36–1:19:48 minutes in.
  14. ^ a b c d e f Tales from Topographic Oceans (Media notes). Atlantic Records. 1973. K 80001.
  15. ^ Anderson, Jon (2007). Classic Artists: Yes. Disc One (DVD). Image Entertainment. 1:20:01–1:20:21 minutes in.
  16. ^ a b c Morse 1996, p. 46.
  17. ^ Carson, Phil (2007). Classic Artists: Yes. Disc One (DVD). Image Entertainment. 1:18:14–1:19:13 minutes in.
  18. ^ Wakeman, Rick (2007). Classic Artists: Yes. Disc One (DVD). Image Entertainment. 1:20:04–1:20:45 minutes in.
  19. ^ a b c d e Roche, Peter. Jon Anderson of Yes raids rock vault, talks "Topographic Oceans" 40 years on. Examiner.com. (12 September 2013) Retrieved on 12 May 2016.
  20. ^ a b c Welch 2008, p. 140.
  21. ^ Squire, Chris (2007). Classic Artists: Yes. Disc One (DVD). Image Entertainment. 1:22:14–1:22:20 minutes in.
  22. ^ Romano 2010, p. 124.
  23. ^ Ayres & Osbourne 2010, p. 160.
  24. ^ Tait, Michael (2007). Classic Artists: Yes. Disc One (DVD). Image Entertainment. 1:20:58–1:21:16 minutes in.
  25. ^ Luby, Nigel (2007). Classic Artists: Yes. Disc One (DVD). Image Entertainment. 1:21:16–1:21:20 minutes in.
  26. ^ a b Covach, John (Winter 1996). "Progressive or Excessive? Uneasy Tales from Topographic Oceans". Progression.
  27. ^ Iommi 2011.
  28. ^ Clarke, Steve (15 November 1975). "New music and old arguments". New Musical Express. Retrieved 8 October 2018.
  29. ^ Chambers 2002, p. 31.
  30. ^ Halliwell & Hegarty 2011, p. 80.
  31. ^ a b c d Morse 1996, p. 47.
  32. ^ Mead, David (15 March 2018). "Steve Howe: "Guitars always give me a feeling of complete freedom"". Music Radar. Retrieved 26 April 2020.
  33. ^ Morse 1996, p. 48.
  34. ^ a b c Tiano, Mike (21 January 1995). "Notes from the Edge #124 – Conversation with Steve Howe conducted 27 November 1994". Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  35. ^ Morse 1996, p. 49.
  36. ^ "Ask YES – Friday 17th May 2013 – Steve Howe". YesWorld. 17 May 2013. Retrieved 12 September 2016.
  37. ^ Thorgerson & Powell 1999, p. 142–143.
  38. ^ Brodsky, Greg (21 October 2015). "Roger Dean Interview: Getting Close To The Edge". Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  39. ^ Wilson, Rich (18 March 2015). "Cover Story: Yes – Tales From Topographic Oceans". Team Rock. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  40. ^ Dean 1975.
  41. ^ Tiano, Mike (2008). "NFTE #308: Conversation with Roger Dean from 3 September 2008". Notes from the Edge. Archived from the original on 2 November 2008. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  42. ^ Lyall, Sarah (24 July 2003). "Dreaming Between The Grooves". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
  43. ^ a b Popoff 2016, p. 45.
  44. ^ Jon Anderson on Classic Artists: Yes DVD. Bonus Interviews.
  45. ^ a b "British album certifications: Yes – Tales from Topographic Oceans". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 21 May 2016. Enter "Tales from Topographic Oceans" in the field Keywords and select the option Title in the Search by field. Click Search.
  46. ^ Tales from Topographic Oceans (Media notes). Elektra/Rhino Records. 2003. 8122-73791-2.
  47. ^ a b Wooding 1978, p. 114.
  48. ^ a b "Tales from Topographic Oceans – Charts & Awards". Allmusic. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
  49. ^ "Gold & Platinum: Searchable Database: Tales from Topographic Oceans". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
  50. ^ Kelman, John (8 October 2016). "Yes: Tales from Topographic Oceans (Definitive Edition)". allaboutjazz.com. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
  51. ^ a b Tales from Topographic Oceans at AllMusic
  52. ^ Dahlen, Chris; Leone, Dominique; Tangari, Joe (8 February 2004). "Pitchfork: Album Reviews: Yes: The Yes Album / Fragile / Close to the Edge / Tales from Topographic Oceans / Relayer / Going for the One / Tormato / Drama / 90125". pitchfork.com. Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 19 January 2008.
  53. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: Y". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved 9 March 2019 – via robertchristgau.com.
  54. ^ a b Fletcher, Gordon (28 March 1974). "Psychedelic Doodles: Record Review of Yes's "Tales from Topographic Oceans"". Rolling Stone: 49.
  55. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian David (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. p. 895. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  56. ^ Boone & Covach 1997, p. 26.
  57. ^ Hedges 1982, p. 91–92.
  58. ^ Peacock, Steve (1 December 1973). "Yes-Close to Boredom". Sounds.
  59. ^ Welch, Chris (1 December 1973). "Yes–Adrift on the Oceans: Record review of Yes' Tales from Topographic Oceans". Melody Maker: 64.
  60. ^ Clarke, Steve (19 January 1974). "YES: "Tales from Topographic Oceans" (Atlantic)". New Musical Express. p. 10. ProQuest 1777020962.
  61. ^ Bisbort, Alan (13 February 1974). "Yes' 'Tales' cosmic hokum". The Daily Tar Heel. Chapel Hill, North Carolina. p. 4. Retrieved 28 September 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
  62. ^ Von Malder, Tom (22 February 1974). "Playback". The Daily Herald. Chicago, Illinois. p. 15. Retrieved 28 September 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
  63. ^ Spence, Holly (20 March 1974). "Album Review". Lincoln Evening Journal. p. 15. Retrieved 28 September 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
  64. ^ "NME List: 40 Records That Captured The Moment". www.rocklistmusic.co.uk. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
  65. ^ Popoff 2016, p. 47.
  66. ^ Wakeman, Rick (2007). Classic Artists: Yes. Disc One (DVD). Image Entertainment. 1:24:09–1:24:49 minutes in.
  67. ^ "Yes: Tales from Topographic Oceans (CD – Atlantic / Elektra / Rhino #7567826832)". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  68. ^ "Yes: Tales from Topographic Oceans (CD – Warner Bros. / WEA #WPCR-11685)". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  69. ^ "Yes: The Studio Albums 1969–1987". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  70. ^ "Release Date and Contents For Upcoming Steven Wilson Remix Of Yes' Tales From Topographic Oceans". MusicTAP. 25 July 2016. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  71. ^ Atkinson, Rick (23 December 1973). "No, Pink Floyd's not splitting". The Record. p. B12. Retrieved 24 October 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  72. ^ Sullivan, Steve. "Forgotten Yesterdays". Steve Sullivan. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  73. ^ Welch 2008, p. 143.
  74. ^ Wooding 1978, p. 115.
  75. ^ Wooding 1978, p. 110.
  76. ^ Welch 2008, p. 147.
  77. ^ Wakeman 1995, p. 124–125.
  78. ^ "Number 1 Albums – 1970s". The Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on 9 February 2008. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
  79. ^ "Yes – Tales From Topographic Oceans". CollectionsCanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  80. ^ "Yes – Tales From Topographic Oceans". Dutchcahrts.nl. Retrieved 20 February 2012.
  81. ^ "Yes – Tales From Topographic Oceans". Swedishcahrts.nl. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  82. ^ "Yes – Tales From Topographic Oceans". Norwegiancahrts.nl. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  83. ^ 『オリコンチャート・ブックLP編(昭和45年‐平成1年)』(オリジナルコンフィデンス/1990年/ISBN 4-87131-025-6)p.73


DVD media[edit]

  • Various band members and associates (18 June 2007). Classic Artists: Yes (DVD). Disc 1 of 2. Image Entertainment. ASIN B000PTYPSY.

External links[edit]