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Music / Tales from Topographic Oceans

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"Nous sommes du soleil."

"What happened to wonders we once knew so well?
Signed promise for moments caught within the spell
I must have waited all my life for this moment."
—"The Revealing Science of God"

Tales from Topographic Oceans is the sixth album by British Progressive Rock band Yes, released on 7 December 1973 through Atlantic Records. It was also the first studio album to feature former Plastic Ono Band drummer Alan White, who replaced Bill Bruford on the drums after the latter left for King Crimson after recording Close to the Edge. While on the Japanese leg of the Close to the Edge tour, Jon Anderson was inspired to create a next album based upon Paramahansa Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi, and pitched the ideas to Steve Howe while in Australia and the US. At the conclusion of the tour, the band reconvened in London to record a double-album with four side long tracks. When the album finally saw release, it became certified Gold on preorders alone in the UK, and was similarly commercially successful in the United States, but Rick Wakeman had famously expressed his dissatisfaction with the creation of the album multiple timesnote  before departing the band at the conclusion of the album's tour.


Disc One

Side One
  1. "The Revealing Science of God (Dance of the Dawn)" (20:27)

Side Two

  1. "The Remembering (High the Memory)" (20:38)

Disc Two

Side Three
  1. "The Ancient (Giants Under the Sun)" (18:34)

Side Four

  1. "Ritual (Nous Sommes du Soleil)" (21:35)

Principal members

  • Jon Anderson: lead vocals, acoustic guitar, percussion
  • Steve Howe: guitars, electric sitar, backing vocals
  • Chris Squire: bass, backing vocals
  • Rick Wakeman: keyboards
  • Alan White: drums, percussion, backing vocals

The strength of the troping lies with you:

  • Album Filler: If Rick Wakeman was anything to go by, he suggested that that there is about an hour of quality material, which is too long to fit in a single LP.
  • All There in the Manual: The liner notes elaborate on the themes of the album, which is largely drawn upon Autobiography of a Yogi.
  • Alternate Album Cover: Most early CD releases (barring Japanese ones) zoom in on the band logo and album title at the top-center in order to account for both the smaller size and different proportions of a fatbox jewel case compared to an LP sleeve. The booklet inside the fatbox contained the full artwork. Later remasters would switch to standard-sized jewel cases that contained two discs via a hinged tray, which became standard for double-CD albums starting in the '90s.
  • Arc Words: In "The Remembering", the word "Relayer" is sung. This ended up becoming the title of the next album.
  • Bookends: A riff from "The Revealing Science of God" appears at the end of "Ritual".
  • Concept Album: Inspired by a segment of Paramahansa Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi
  • Design Student's Orgasm: Once again, Roger Dean's artwork has been utilized, on the front and back.
  • Epic Rocking: An infamous example of this, where each of the four tracks fits an entire LP side and comprises of several movements and changes. Of note, the omitted two-minute instrumental introduction of "The Revealing Science of God" was included in the 2003 Rhino rerelease of the album, making this the longest song Yes ever did prior to Fly From Here's titular suite in 2011.
  • Gratuitous French: The recurring refrain "Nous sommes du soleil" ("We are from the sun") from "Ritual".
  • Longest Song Goes Last: The album closes with "Ritual (Nous Sommes du Soleil)", which at 21:35 outpaces both of the 20-and-a-half-minute tracks on disc one.
  • Lyrical Cold Open: "The Revealing Science of God" opens this way, except on the 2003 CD reissue and the Steven Wilson remix, which add a previously cut 2 minute synth intro.
  • Recurring Riff:
    • The chorus to "The Revealing Science of God" makes a reappearance at the climax of "The Remembering". The placid guitar solo at the start of "Ritual" reprises not only a number of motifs from earlier in the album, but also the main riff of the title track from their previous album, Close to the Edge.
    • The melody of the chorus to "The Remembering" is featured in every single song, lyrically in the first two songs (Soft summer mover distance mind in "The Revealing Science of God", and obviously the chorus of "The Remembering") and musically in the last two during Howe's guitar solos.