5 Things You May Not Have Known About Yes’s TALES FROM TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS
45 years ago today, Yes released their famed TALES FROM TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS album, which is a fine excuse to sit down and deliver five things about this groundbreaking double-LP set that you might not be aware of.
- Itâs almost certainly the only double-LP concept album based on a footnote.
While in Tokyo in March 1973, Jon Anderson was reading Parmahansa Yoganandaâs Autobiography of a Yogi when he was â to use his own choice of phrase â âcaught up in a lengthy footnote,â one describing the four bodies of Hindu text. Anderson suddenly had the idea to do an album revolving around these bodies, dedicating a side to each one. In short order, Anderson entered into conversation with Steve Howe about the idea, and the next thing you know, the process of writing TALES FROM TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS.
- The band members almost had a dust-up over where to record the album.
Anderson wanted to record in the countryside, and Rick Wakeman felt the same way. Howe and Chris Squire, however, wanted to record in London. Alan White, meanwhile, was Switzerland, not really caring about the location one way or the other. Eventually, they stayed in London and recorded the album at Morgan Studios, but a compromise of sorts was made to the dÃ©cor of the studio, which weâre about to discuss.
- Anderson, along with Yesâs manager, Brian Lane, decorated the studio like it was a farmyard.
While this sounds so ridiculous that youâd be well within your rights to wonder, âAre you having a laugh? Is the band having a laugh? Surely this canât be true!â But it is, and there are plenty of witnesses to the dÃ©cor, including one Ozzy Osbourne, who â along with his bandmates in Black Sabbath â was recording SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH at the same time. Ozzy reported that there was a model cow with electronic udders and a small barn, among other items, including bales of hay on which Wakeman placed his amplifiers and keyboards.
- Wakeman grew weary of the album before it was completed.
Itâs been reported that Wakeman spent a good chunk of his time during the sessions in the studio bar, where he would alternate between drinking and playing darts. He also ended up joining in on Black Sabbathâs sessions, playing a Minimoog on âSabbra Cadabra.â
- During the final stages of mixing, the album was almost accidentally destroyed.
The story goes like this: Anderson left the studio with the bandâs co-producer, Eddy Offord, who had the tapes of the album in hand. When he got his car, he set the tapes atop the vehicle in order to find his keys. Upon doing so, he unlocked the car door, hopped in, turned the ignition, and drove offâ¦with the tapes still sitting on the roof. Realizing relatively quickly what heâd done, Offord realized that theyâd slid off the roof and were sitting in the middle of the road. Anderson rushed back to the scene, and itâs a good thing he did: there was a bus heading their way, and if he hadnât been thereâ¦ Well, perish the thought!
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