The Ladder

Title The Ladder
Artist Yes
Released
Type Studio

Track list

  1. Homeworld (The Ladder) 9:33
  2. It Will Be a Good Day (The River) 4:53
  3. Lightning Strike 4:34
  4. Can I? 1:32
  5. Face to Face 5:03
  6. If Only You Knew 5:42
  7. To Be Alive (Hep Yadda) 5:07
  8. Finally 6:01
  9. The Messenger 5:13
  10. New Language 9:19
  11. Nine Voices (Longwalker) 3:20

Credits

  • Alan White – Drums, Percussion, and Backing Vocals
  • Billy Sherwood – Guitars, and Backing Vocals
  • Chris Squire – Bass Guitar, and Backing Vocals
  • Igor Khoroshev – Keyboards, and Backing Vocals
  • Jon Anderson – Lead Vocals
  • Steve Howe – Lead Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Steel Guitar, Mandolin, and Backing Vocals

Supporting credits

  • Derry Burns – Trumpet (3)
  • Neil Nicholson – Tuba (3)
  • Rod Murray – Trombone (3)
  • Tom Colclough – Alto Saxophone (3)
  • Tom Keenlyside – Piccolo, and Tenor Saxophone (3)

About the album

The Ladder is the eighteenth studio album by Yes, and was released in 1999. It is the only Yes studio album to feature Igor Khoroshev on keyboards as a fulltime member, and is the last on which Billy Sherwood plays.

The album was hyped as a return to form, and a conscious return to the classic Yes sound. It was commercially more successful than the previous album Open Your Eyes, reaching #99 in the US Billboard 200 and peaking at #36 in the UK charts.

Following the disastrous last album, on which Sherwood took a lead, the band decided to bring in the objective ears of an outside producer. That producer was Bruce Fairbairn, and the band set up in Vancouver, Canada, in order to record their new album. By this time, Khoroshev had been instated as the band’s official keyboardist, and with his Wakeman-esque sound he brought a classic sound to the album which had not been heard since the 1970s. Sherwood was demoted to second guitar, leaving all keyboard duties to Khoroshev.

As the project came to a close in May, 1999, Fairbairn unexpectedly passed away. According to Chris Squire, his sudden death came just before completion of final vocals and mixing. Yes dedicated The Ladder to Fairbairn upon its release in September of that year.

Musically, The Ladder is a reboot to the classic Yes sound last heard before 1980’s Drama, but it still maintains a contemporary edge. Several of the songs reference tracks from previous albums. Can I? quotes Jon Anderson’s We Have Heaven, from their 1971 album Fragile, whereas New Language features a play on the bassline from Roundabout, and Nine Voices (Longwalker) references Your Move from The Yes Album. Lightning Strikes, as well as borrowing the flute solo from The Kinks’ Phenomenal Cat, also makes reference to The Revealing Science of God (Dance of the Dawn) from Tales from Topographic Oceans.

At the same time that the album was released, Sierra Studios released a PC game Homeworld, which licensed the title track from The Ladder and used it during the game’s credit sequence. A preview of the game was also included with the album.

Following the Masterworks tour supporting the album, both Sherwood and Khoroshev left the band. Sherwood left amicably, however, that was not the case with Khoroshev. Following an incident involving two female security guards, Khoroshev was charged with assault and battery, and sexual battery. The matter was settled out of court, but he was no longer a member of Yes.

The album cover for The Ladder features artwork by Roger Dean, and shows a fantasy landscape of stone spires and arches that look like an ancient city, with the spires incorporating what appear to be windows. Several people appear to be walking on the archway in the foreground.

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