I waited a long time to get the energy up to listen to this. Some of it was the legend of how overwhelming and pretentious it was even though I am not afraid of pretentious. It also may have been a badge of pride that I had never heard it all the way through in all my years of listening to Yes.
Sucking it up I placed the first disc on the deck and went with it. It is not that bad but it is not that good, an opportunity missed I think and that may conform to Rick Wakeman’s opinion as well and let’s face it he never ran screaming from the thought of overblown. Maybe his problem was there was no plan for the ballet, of course I bet Jon Anderson has had that thought.
There are some truly stunning moments that at times overcome the legend of the album but let’s face it there was probably a great single album here that was aching to get out.
In a real effort to overcome the 90 minutes or so of Tales From Topographic Oceans I took the well judged decision to immerse myself in the Icicle Works second best album The Small Price of a Bicycle, it does contain their best song with Rapids though.
Jingle Jangle guitar rock to put their then peers to shame, their major problem commercially was probably that they never managed a consistent sound. Guitars and drums to die for was the signature noise the Icicle Works made but each song often stands alone. They rocked like gods live and sounded like a cross between Crazy Horse and the Byrds on record.
The Small Price of a Bicycle may be their most cohesive effort but not their best, that we save for another day if I find a copy of Blind. It does contain some of their best songs with Hollow Horse, Rapids and Conscience of Kings and Windfall sounds like Ian McNabb was channeling Hank Marvin on speed in the guitar playing.
Never as big as their contemporaries they don’t sound as dated now mostly I think because of that restless nature of their sound even though this was considered a setback at the time it has become a strength. Of course the biggest asset they had was Ian McNabb’s songwriting guitar which was based on a fans idea of what a rock band should sound like.