Tales from Topographic Oceans

Title Tales from Topographic Oceans
Artist Yes
Type Studio

Track list

Disc 1

  1. The Revealing Science of God (Dance of the Dawn) 20:27
  2. The Remembering (High the Memory) 20:38

Disc 2

  1. The Ancient (Giants Under the Sun) 18:34
  2. Ritual (Nous Sommes Du Soleil) 21:35


About the album

Tales from Topographic Oceans is the sixth studio album by Yes, and was released in 1973. It is the first Yes studio album to feature Alan White on drums after he replaced Bill Bruford in 1972. It is also the last album to feature Rick Wakeman until he returned in 1976.

The album reached #1 on the UK charts, where it stayed for two weeks, and peaked at #6 on the US Billboard 200. It was the first UK album to be certified Gold in pre-orders alone with over 75,000 copies ordered in advance.

Following Close to the Edge, Jon Anderson began searching for another theme upon which the band could base a large-scale composition, when he discovered a lengthy footnote in Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda. The footnote describes four Shastric scriptures (Shruti, Smriti, Puranas and Tantras) covering religion, art, society, medicine, music and architecture. He brought the ideas to Steve Howe, who liked the idea of four interlocking pieces based on the scriptures and the two spent six hours in a hotel room coming up with lyrics and musical themes.

During the recording sessions, the band were split over whether to record in the country or the city, and eventually compromised by recording in the city with bales of hay and fake cows in the studio. At the same time, Black Sabbath were producing their album Sabbath Bloody Sabbath in the next studio, and Wakeman is featured on their track Sabbra Cadabra. He took a dislike to the concept behind Tales, and contributed little to the music in terms of writing, preferring to spend time in the studio bar and playing darts.

The title of the album was originally to have been Tales from Tobographic Oceans, however, then CEO of Atlantic Records, Phil Carson, pointed out that tobographic sounded like topographic, and Anderson liking the suggestion changed the title.

The album cover again features art by Roger Dean. This time, the front of the album has rocks with small waterfalls pouring out of them and an Aztec/Incan pyramid in the background, and the reverse shows fish seemingly flying through the air.

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  • 5 out of 5

    This album is one that you either love or hate. I love it, but I can see why many people wouldn’t. With only four tracks at around twenty minutes each it’s hard to skip the bits you might not like.

    This was the first Yes album I ever bought, and actually the first prog album I ever owned, so it remains special to me. From the opening harmony (which is a bit of a discord at that) to the “Leaves of Green” section, even the most difficult sections are entertaining.

    It’s probably one of the most challenging Yes albums, but it’s well worth a listen.