Episode 142 – Heaven and Earth review

Heaven and Earth
New in July 2014

The one hundred and forty-second episode of the Yes Music Podcast, featuring my initial review of the new studio album, Heaven and Earth.

  • Did the extracts of tracks tell us all there is to know about the new material?
  • Can we hear what Geoff Downes mentioned last week?
  • What do Jon Davison and Roy Thomas Baker bring?

Listen to the episode and then let me know what you think via any of the methods below.

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Show links

Yes Heaven and Earth Website

Macwood Fleet review of Heaven and Earth

Theme music

The music I use is the last movement of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. This has been used as introduction music at many Yes concerts. My theme music is not take from a live concert – I put it together from the following two creative commons sources: thanvannispen and archive.org
About the Author

Kevin

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13 thoughts on “Episode 142 – Heaven and Earth review

  1. Oh how I wish I could be as positive as you Kevin. It’s not a case of being prog vs. pop, or Relayer Yes vs. 90125 Yes for me – I just haven’t heard a song that I liked. At the end of the day I think Heaven and Earth will disappear without trace (much like “Calling All Stations” did for Genesis) and you’ll probably never hear these songs again live after the current tour (which is also true for songs from Open Your Eyes, The Ladder, Magnification, and probably Fly From Here.)

    1. It would be a great shame if Jon Davison’s first writing experience with the band turned out as you suggest. However I agree it may well happen. I do like a lot of the album but it’s possible I’m being over-positive. Time will tell!

      1. I only heard this podcast just now after listening to the album for almost a year. Most of the time it has been in whatever folder I’m in on iTunes, and I still enjoy hearing these mostly easy-listening songs of spiritual positivity. it’s great vocal work with pop arrangements, so it’s an atypical Yes album not a bad one. But it’s still hard to hear straight from the horses mouth that an even more progressive song was abandoned, because I think that would have gone a long way to selling this album to their fan base. And we’ve also heard from Davison in the last few months that Light of the Ages was originally 12 minutes long. It’s hard to second guess the band’s decisions in these matters. On Roy Thomas Baker– Howe has since said that they re-produced the album after he left. I’d like to hear his original conception. And in concert, it’s hard to understand playing “The Game” which is overly repititious over “Subway Walls” which fits in much better with the style of the “whole albums” tours focusing on their classic period. But it’s all water under the bridge at this point. As for the phenomena of old bands abandoning their new albums, I can tell you this is just as true of The Moody Blues tours. I would still like to hear things from Yes’s latter works but I don’t count on it. Actually what I’d like to hear is Topographic Oceans but I’m not holding my breath there either. Just as fans thought Topographic was too experimental and un-rock like, so today we have the SAME argument that an essential pop album is too un-rock like. In the case of both Topographic Oceans and Heaven and Earth, the band has divided its audience along what is essentially the same lines: traditonal Yes rock styles versus some other kind of style. I think the real winner is these cases is Yes themselves, because what can be worse for an artist than to be permanently locked in the expectations of their audience. They need to try other things, even if it’s a one-off like 90125, Open Your Eyes, Topographic Oceans, Magnification, and Heaven and Earth.

        1. Thanks so much for the comment!

          Yes I agree that prog piece should have been added maybe at the expense of some others… I think Subway Walls would work well live. Maybe one day!
          Thanks for the thoughtful comment!

  2. Well first I must say like all good YES albums before Heaven and Earth that its not about if its a classic or not its about Yes and you either love them or you hate them. I remember on the Union tour when they interviewed Rick and was asking him about various works and as I remember him saying when Close to the Edge came out their were the people who loved it and the people who hated it.
    I believe that all of Yes works are like that If your a Yes Fan you listen to it because you have a genuine love of there music.

    Like Ken said above there are so many tracks / albums that “Most” people have never heard and really I believe that Yes has always had their own fan base and I don’t believe that they worry so much about the “Billboard” number.
    If your a Yes fan you will listen to this album just because its YES, that being said enjoy it for what it is if you’re looking for a classic then I believe that lies in the listeners ears….

    Thank You

    Paul Tomei

  3. Kevin, yesterday I made the statement that you will probably never hear the songs from Heaven and Earth again after this tour which, I said, was the same for songs from The Ladder, Magnification and Open Your Eyes.

    I was thinking about that and wondered if what I said was actually true – were songs from those albums played again after their respective tours? So, using the excellent Forgotten Yesterday’s website, I did some research and yes, that is in fact true for songs on those albums – they have never been played again after the tours immediately following their release.

    I then decided to look at the songs from albums further back in time. In reverse order:

    1997 Keys to Ascension – Mind Drive was last played in 2004 (but was not actually played on the 1997 tour)
    1991 Union – Masquerade was played once or twice in 2009/2010
    1987 Big Generator – Rhythm of Love was played regularly up to 2004
    1984 90125 – Owner of A Lonely Heart is still played regularly today
    1980 Drama – Machine Messiah & Tempus Fugitive were played from 2008 – 2013 (the band had to wait for JA to leave first!)
    1978 Tormato – Don’t kill the Whale was played in 2003/4

    Which takes us back to the songs from Going For The One which, of course, have all been played on the recent Three Albums Tour.

    While a similar scenario may well be true for other bands too the inevitable conclusion is, if you want to hear a new yessong live catch it while it’s hot!

    Cheers

    1. Thanks for your impromptu research. It seems that Yes is as attached to their “Golden Era” material as we are. Still, I like to hear new material from a band when they tour rather than attending a greatest hits show. I find it odd that thay appear to be taking only one or two new songs out on the road with them rather than the usual three or four.

  4. I believe we all tend to “imprint” on particular albums from our favorite bands. Each new release is judged against them. Sometimes fairly and sometimes unfairly. I must admit that I have had trouble embracing newer Yes material. And yet I want to continue to see them produce new stuff.

  5. Having read several comments here and several, mostly scathing reviews, it seems I’m going to buck the trend. I’m really enjoying Heaven and Earth and I am very firmly a “main sequence” fan. What is perhaps more surprising is that after half a dozen listens I’m less enamored by the proggier tracks, despite initially being more drawn towards them.

    Example – Subway Walls might have different sections but they don’t appear to fit together naturally in the way classic yes prog does. The driving odd time signature section under the Hammond and guitar solos is the sort of thing I expect from a modern wannabe prog band and I don’t necessarily dislike that, but Yes has always been above that – odd time signatures have always seemed to have arisen naturally as a necessity of the melody rather than being laid down and having a solo or something forced on top. And those two solos are, I’m sorry to say, really poor. Both Geoff and Steve sound like they are just widdling away over the top without any real thought to construction (with one exception where Steve does make a reference to one of the song’s themes). On the other hand, after the solos are out of the way, the song finally does come alive.

    But what about the less proggy tracks? Much better quality (I’m surprising myself here) Whereas Subway Walls sounds a bit like Yes trying to do a bit of prog by numbers, these sound much more like songs that wanted to be written (even if the lyrics are rather dubious at times). It’s disappointing that they are mainly in 4/4 with four bar patterns, one chord per bar, but some of the best songs ever written and recorded are no more than that.

    These tracks are not prog, but they are definitely Yes music. They are uplifting and positive. I cannot imagine them being by anyone other than Yes.Turned up loud in the car whilst driving in the sunshine they make me feel GOOD.

    To many, Beethoven was the master of the Symphony, but that does not mean that his piano sonatas or string quartets aren’t worthy of praise.

    1. Good man, Tim. All we can do is listen and use our own judgement. I see what you mean about the ‘proggier’ tracks and it does worry me when Downes definitely sets out to create a ‘prog’ number based on his knowledge of the genre, rather than the members of Yes just creating what they felt led to do in the 70s. Having said that, I do enjoy Subway Walls.

      Apart from a couple, I really enjoy listening to the whole album and like you I do find them uplifting. Perhaps it’s time to stop pretending that there’s life in the traditional prog genre and just go with whatever you feel you should create…

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