|The album cover from Tales from Topographic Oceans. Painting © Roger Dean/Rhino Records|
I'll even admit that my first copy of Tales, (a cassette, and my last-ever purchased at the late lamented Village record store It's Only Rock & Roll) was difficult for me to understand. I'd listened to albums like Relayer and Close to the Edge, but the soundscapes and musique concréte of Topographic befuddled, confused and irritated.
What helped me finally understand Yes' biggest album was a live performance by Steve Howe from his album Not Necessarily Acoustic. Playing acoustic and electric excerpts from this magnum opus, the Howe recording gave me a "crib", a "cheat sheet" if you well to help understand the larger album. Today, careful listening reveals glorious melodic writing and some of the best work this classic line-up of Yes ever recorded. Enjoy.