Mike's Music Reviews: T-Z


  Artist (see also Other Related Artists)
** Album Title
Year Released
Somewhat Similar Albums (Artist)
My comments go here, and of course are just my opinion based on my own musical tastes. If I don't like an album at all, I won't include it here; however that doesn't mean lack of inclusion means I necessarily don't like it - I may not have it, I may not have typed a review yet, or aliens may have eaten it. In any case, all albums that are listed in here get a thumbs-up from me.

Ratings in the first column are as follows:
  *   means one of the artist's best albums
  **   means an overall must-have album (one you just can't live without!)



  They Might Be Giants
Lincoln (They Might Be Giants)
This has got to be one of the most truly original, quirky bands that ever existed, and they are always worth seeing live... as much for the party on stage (and off) as for the music. It's hard to pick an album since they're all so good, although Flood is perhaps the best-known for the tracks Istanbul (Not Constantinople) and Birdhouse In Your Soul. It would be hard to go wrong with this one.
  Rick Wakeman (see also Yes)
* The Myths An Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table
Journey To The Centre Of The Earth (Rick Wakeman)
Days Of Future Past (The Moody Blues)
Wakeman, Yes's keyboard wizard and the man that keyboardists tend to label "the best of the best" and "the guy the synthesizer was invented for" is also quite prolific... he produced at least 18 albums in the 1980s alone! However, his work from the 1970s is still regarded as legendary in progressive rock circles, and for good reason. This is an excellent example (not that he really has a set style) of his unique variety of flamboyant synthesizer rock, tempered with good taste and backed with well-placed orchestral and choir bits to capture the mood appropriate to such a heady subject as Arthurian legends. Good stuff!
  Yes (see also J. Anderson, B. Bruford, S. Howe, C. Squire, R. Wakeman)
* Fragile
The Yes Album (Yes)
This is a unique concept album in that each member had a track that was "theirs". We Have Heaven is an amazing use of Jon's voice, and I always found Five Percent For Nothing (Bruford's percussion song) to be nice and quirky. This album contains Roundabout, Long Distance Runaround/The Fish (quick, give me a dinosaur in eight syllables) and Heart Of The Sunrise. (Heart is one of those songs that is incredible live whether you like it on the album or not.) This album was a true landmark of progressive rock, and remains a favorite for Yes fans.
** Close To The Edge
Fragile (Yes)
Even though it only contains three songs, this is Yes at their absolute best, before they got a little too carried away with long songs. The title track is good, And You And I is stupendous (Note: a really cool thing to look for is the backing vocals in the second verse, the ones that start "Turn round tailor, assaulting..." Hint: that is NOT an organ in the background!) and Siberian Khatru wraps things up nicely. Don't worry that the lyrics are a bit hard to understand in some places, Jon Anderson uses his voice as an instrument far more fully than almost any other artist. If you don't want to spring for the box set, this should probably be your first Yes album.
** Going For The One
A Trick Of The Tail (Genesis)
This album rocks. It's clean, honest jamming, and the trademark long expanses of sound they frequently create here take the form of brilliant and inspired tracks like Awaken, which may be one of the most dramatic and spiritual Yes tracks ever made... a description that could apply to this whole album, actually. Wonderous Stories also is quite spiritual, the kind of song that will give you goose bumps at its sheer power and perfect weave of instruments. The title song is pure Yes jamming, plain and simple. This album really clicks, it captured a magical time in Yes's history.
Open Your Eyes (Yes)
I mention this album because it is probably the best of Trevor Rabin-era Yes. This album's best tracks are at the beginning and the end. The Calling is a good song, modern but a bit different. Endless Dream is a long, three-part song that has some powerful moments and reflects a little bit of the epics of old. State of Play has a hard edge on it that is good to see from Yes. One interesting thing about this album is that it was the Guinea pig for a new recording system that uses hard drives to store the recording sessions, and the digital quality is extremely evident throughout. This is one good sounding album, it can really shake down the old CD player!!
  Keys To Ascension 2
An Evening Of Yes Music Plus (ABWH)
Yes's long-awaited reformation with the "Classic" lineup (Anderson / Howe / Squire / Wakeman / White) recorded new studio tracks in late 1995/96 and performed three nights in March 1996. This album is part two of that effort. While the live performances are not technically perfect, they are certainly very good, very enjoyable and capture an energy that comes from guys having a ton of fun rediscovering great musical interaction with each other. The studio tracks on KTA2 are very good, some have called them as good as the tracks from the first time around for these guys... they have that same distinctive Yes style, and each of the players is certainly in good form. Unfortunately Wakeman left before the next album (Open Your Eyes) but his replacement is excellent.
  Open Your Eyes
Talk (Yes)
The first all-studio album of the post-Rabin era, the lineup for OYE is Anderson / Howe / Squire / White and new guitarist/vocalist (and longtime Chris Squire associate) Billy Sherwood. It also includes keyboard assistance by Steve Porcaro and unofficial member Igor Khoroshev, whom is actually close to the level of Rick Wakeman in his skills (judging from seeing him live in concert) - Igor and is widely expected to be made "official". This album does sort of what 90125 did for the band, in that it has re-defined their direction with a new, more modern sound. Overall I think it works well and has more uniqueness than the Rabin era sound did, and is a bit more "pop" without being too blatantly commercial than recent efforts. It also is more complexity than 90125 or Talk. Several tracks were leftovers from Chris Squire's second solo project that never made it to release, and have that distinct moody sound that Squire is so good at.

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