Tales From Playing The Oceans (Highland HL638/639)
Westfalenhalle, Dortmund, Germany – April 16th, 1974
Disc 1 (61:35): Firebird Suite, Siberian Khatru, And You And I, Close To The Edge, The Revealing Science of God
Disc 2 (71:36): The Ancient, Prelude Ritual, Ritual, Roundabout, Starship Trooper
Tales From Playing The Oceans contains one of the final shows from the Tales From Topographic Oceans tour and is just weeks away from Rick Wakeman’s first of four exits from the band. The tape is a fair to good audience recording with some distortion and fuzziness surrounding the music with a predominant hollow echo. It can be enjoyable once your ears adjust to it, but there are better tapes out there of this tour. The tape is complete except for a cut at 2:53 in “The Revealing Science Of God”.
Yes began the tour with the intention of playing the full Close To The Edge and Tales From Topographic Oceans LPs with “Roundabout” played as the encore. This was the set list for the six week UK tour in November and December 1973 and the first month of the North American tour in February 1972. After the second Detroit performance on the 28th (and available as Science Of God Story on Highland (HL416/417)) the second side of Topographic Oceans, “The Remembering”, was dropped and “Starship Trooper” was added as the second encore. This decision was made since Wakeman consistently improvized the keyboard in that piece upsetting Anderson and Howe. It is a regretful decision since his solos were always inventive in that piece.
This release on Highland is their third from the final week of this tour, following Tales From The Edge (HL14142#23) documenting their April 14th date in Ludwighafen and Paris ’74 (HL132/33#Y26) covering their Paris date on April 19th. It’s difficult to understand the label’s facination with this period. In this concert, as well as the others, they sound tired and frustrated with the new material. The opener “Siberian Khatru” is a storming start but “And You And I” has trouble getting off the ground. “The Revealing Science Of God” sounds good and they play a thunderous version of “Ritual”, but in “The Ancient” Wakeman completely disappears from the middle section leaving Howe and Squire to fight for themselves.
As interesting a document for Yes’ history is, it would be great if Highland were to release some of the earlier shows from this tour when there was more enthusiasm and they were playing “The Remembering”. That track is a fantastic live piece which the band members themselves still want to play live. It at least let Wakeman and Howe stretch out and improvise. The label utilizes several rare photos that appeared on the Rhino remastered and expanded edition of Topographic Oceans released recently.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)