Monday, October 28, 1996

Yes Keys to Ascension released

Keys to Ascension

Yes


Released: October 28, 1996


Recorded: March 4-6, 1996 (live cuts)


Peak: 99 US, -- UK, -- CN, 22 AU


Sales (in millions): --


Genre: progressive rock


Tracks – Disc 1 (live):

Song Title (Writers) [time]

  1. Siberian Khatru (Anderson, Howe, Wakeman) [10:16]
  2. The Revealing Science of God (Dance of the Dawn) (Anderson, Squire, Howe, Wakeman, White) [20:32]
  3. America (Paul Simon) [10:28]
  4. Onward (Squire) [5:48]
  5. Awaken (Anderson, Howe) [18:33]

Tracks – Disc 2 (live/studio):

Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Roundabout (live) (Anderson, Howe) [8:30]
  2. Starship Trooper (live) (Anderson, Squire, Howe) [13:05]
  3. Be the One (studio) [9:49]
    i. The One (Anderson, Squire)
    ii. Humankind(Anderson, Squire)
    iii. Skate (Howe)
  4. That, That Is (studio) [19:11]
    i. Togetherness ( Howe)
    ii. Crossfire (Anderson, Squire)
    iii. The Giving Things (Anderson, Howe)
    iv. That Is (Anderson)
    v. All in All (Anderson, White)
    vi. How Did Heaven Begin? (Anderson, Howe, White)
    vii. Agree to Agree (Anderson, Squire)


Total Running Time: 116:16

Rating:

2.822 out of 5.00 (average of 9 ratings)

Keys to Ascension 2

Yes


Released: November 3, 1997


Recorded: March 4-6, 1996 (live cuts)


Peak: -- US, -- UK, -- CN, -- AU


Sales (in millions): --


Genre: progressive rock


Tracks – Disc 1 (live):

Song Title (Writers) [time]

  1. I’ve Seen All Good People (Anderson, Squire) [7:16]
  2. Going for the One (Anderson) [4:58]
  3. Time and a Word (Anderson, David Foster) [6:23]
  4. Close to the Edge (Anderson, Howe) [19:40]
  5. Turn of the Century Anderson, Howe, White) [7:55]
  6. And You and I (Anderson, Bruford, Howe, Squire) [10:48]

Tracks – Disc 2 (studio):

Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Mind Drive (Anderson, Squire, White, Howe, Wakeman) [18:37]
  2. Foot Prints (Anderson, Squire, Howe, White) [9:04]
  3. Bring Me to the Power (Anderson, Howe) [7:20]
  4. Children of Light [6:02]
    i. Children of Light (Anderson, Squire, Vangelis)
    ii. Lifeline (Howe, Wakeman)
  5. Sign Language (Howe, Wakeman) [3:26]


Total Running Time: 101:42

Rating:

2.821 out of 5.00 (average of 4 ratings)

Keystudio

Yes


Released: May 21, 2001


Peak: -- US, -- UK, -- CN, -- AU


Sales (in millions): --


Genre: progressive rock


Tracks:

Song Title (Writers) [time]

  1. Foot Prints (Anderson, Squire, Howe, White) [9:04]
  2. Be the One [9:49]
    i. The One (Anderson, Squire)
    ii. Humankind(Anderson, Squire)
    iii. Skate (Howe)
  3. Mind Drive (Anderson, Squire, White, Howe, Wakeman) [18:34]
  4. Bring Me to the Power (Anderson, Howe) [7:20]
  5. Sign Language (Howe, Wakeman) [3:26]
  6. That, That Is [19:11]
    i. Togetherness ( Howe)
    ii. Crossfire (Anderson, Squire)
    iii. The Giving Things (Anderson, Howe)
    iv. That Is (Anderson)
    v. All in All (Anderson, White)
    vi. How Did Heaven Begin? (Anderson, Howe, White)
    vii. Agree to Agree (Anderson, Squire)
  7. Children of the Light [6:31]
    i. Lightning (Howe)
    ii. Children of Light (Anderson, Squire, Vangelis)
    iii. Lifeline (Howe, Wakeman)


Total Running Time: 74:21

Rating:

3.850 out of 5.00 (average of 3 ratings)

The Players on All 3 Albums:

  • Jon Anderson (vocals, synth guitar, harp, percussion)
  • Steve Howe (guitar, bass, backing vocals)
  • Chris Squire (bass, backing vocals)
  • Rick Wakeman (keyboards)
  • Alan White (drums, backing vocals)
  • Billy Sherwood (producer)

About All 3 Albums:

Anderson, Howe, Wakeman, Squire, and White were all featured on the 1991 “Union ‘mega-Yes’ album,” BE but hadn’t really recorded an album together since 1978’s Tormato. When they came together for 1996’s Keys to Ascension, they produced a double album of live cuts and new studio recordings. The live material was recorded at the Fremont Theater in San Luis Obispo, California over three nights in March 1996. WK-K1 The two new songs are “superior to anything on…Union…with soaring harmonies and very spacious song construction.” BE

A companion set, Keys to Ascension 2, followed in 1997. It also paired live material and new studio songs on a double CD. The live material, which is drawn from the same March 1996 live dates as the first album, WK-K2 is really a rehash of “material adequately covered in Yessongs and YesshowsPC since this “is nothing that you haven’t heard before.” PC

In 2001, the “seven superb studio tracks” BA from the two collections were repackaged as the awkwardly-named Keystudio, effectively serving as a studio album which could have been released between 1994’s Talk and 1997’s Open Your Eyes.

The studio material is “a welcome return to form for the band.” PC “These songs retain Yes’ trademark instrumental prowess, but there's a maturity to the cohesive arrangements and the melodies. Most tracks push either ten or 20 minutes, ensuring the adoration of Yes diehards who yearn for 1970s-style experimentation.” BA

Mind Drive is a “multi-movement suite strongly reminiscent of early Yes;” PC it was their eighth song to exceed the 18-minute mark. WK-K2 The song originated in 1981 when Squire and White were tentatively forming a band with Jimmy Page called XYZ. WK-K2 “The song’s closing instrumental sounds straight out of Tales from Topographic Oceans.” PC The song “stretches out with both soothing, dreamy passages and tough, full-band bombast.” BA “Wakeman’s parts were overdubbed last here, and it shows: the keyboards are solely for atmospheric effect, ceding the melodic drive to the bass and guitar.” PC

“Not that Wakeman’s presence goes to waste; structured around a ‘Heart of the Sunrise’-like bass riff, Bring Me to the Power gallops through muscular Moog solos and equally slick harmonies. Like the rest of the studio tracks, it's a perfect blend of vintage art rock craftsmanship and gleaming modern production.” PC

Foot Prints relies largely on the rhythm section drive of Squire and White and Howe’s economical guitar lines. The terrifically tasteful instrumental Sign Language is basically a duet by co-writers Howe and Wakeman.” BA “Prior to this album's release, it was reported that it would have a track called ‘The Second Time Around’. This would have been a version of ‘Sign Language’ that incorporated Jon Anderson’s vocals. However, the track was not included on this disc.” WK-KS

That, That Is resembles Yes’ 1970s work the most, with the exception of Anderson’s lyrics, which address drug and violence problems in inner cities, not his usual mystical topics.” BA

Children of Light was originally written by Jon and Vangelis in 1986 as ‘Distant Thunder’”. WK-K2 It “was later demoed by Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe during the recording of their self-titled album. The lyrics…ended up in Yes’ Union tourbook. In 1994, Jon Anderson performed the song on the Tommy Vance show. During a Mother’s Day concert in 1996, Jon Anderson performed ‘Children of Light’ and said he hoped it would appear on a Yes album.” WK-K2

Lightning, Rick Wakeman’s introduction to ‘Children Of Light’, was mixed out” WK-K2 of the Keys to Ascension 2 version, but was restored on the Keystudio release. WK-K2 The Keystudio version also “omits the opening lyrics found on the Keys to Ascension 2 version.” WK-KS

Keystudio would have been a smash had it been released 25-30 years earlier. Even casual Yes fans from both the 1970s and 1980s should enjoy Keystudio. Highly recommended.” BA

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First posted 6/7/2011; updated 7/25/2021.

Saturday, October 26, 1996

Toni Braxton charted with "Un-Break My Heart": October 26, 1996

Originally posted October 26, 2011.



Braxton was a preacher’s daughter “raised in a household where pop music was strictly forbidden.” KX In 1990, she recorded with her sisters as The Braxtons, but by 1992 she’d launched a solo career. In 1993, she landed the Grammy for Best New Artist and found her way into the top 10 of the pop charts with “Another Sad Love Song” and “Breathe Again”.

Braxton’s second album, Secrets, proved she would not suffer the Best New Artist Grammy curse of disappearing from the music scene. Lead-off single “You’re Makin’ Me High” was a #1 hit which won a Grammy for R&B Female Vocal.

However, even more successful was the album’s second single, “Un-Break My Heart”, a ballad of “blistering heartbreak” SF in which Braxton begs a former lover to return and undo the pain he has caused. SF In her “distinctive, husky alto” BB100 Braxton delivered a performance which was “both poignant and hopeful.” TB The song’s eleven weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100 put it amongst the biggest #1 songs of all time. It sold more than 4 million worldwide and won her yet another Grammy – this one for Pop Female Vocal.

The song was written by Diane Warren who’d penned such #1 hits as Chicago’s “Look Away” and Celine Dion’s “Because You Loved Me”, but this was her most successful song in the U.S. in terms of chart performance. SF Warren said she knew immediately that “Heart” would be a hit, but that Braxton didn’t want to sing it. Even after the song succeeded, Braxton told Warren she “didn’t want another one of those”. SF




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Tuesday, October 22, 1996

Journey back with Trial by Fire after a decade

First posted 10/11/2008; updated 9/12/2020.

Trial by Fire

Journey


Released: October 22, 1996


Peak: 3 US, -- UK, 16 CN, -- AU


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 3.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: classic rock


Tracks:

Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Message of Love (10/5/96, 18 AR, 36 CN)
  2. One More
  3. When You Love a Woman (10/12/96, 12 US, 1 AC, 3 CN, sales: ½ million)
  4. If He Should Break Your Heart (3/29/97, 21 AC, 13 CN)
  5. Forever in Blue
  6. Castles Burning
  7. Don’t Be Down on Me Baby
  8. Still She Cries
  9. Colors of the Spirit
  10. When I Think of You
  11. Easy to Fall
  12. Can’t Tame the Lion (2/8/97, 33 AR, 86 CN)
  13. It’s Just the Rain
  14. Trial by Fire
  15. Baby, I’m A-Leavin’ You [hidden track]


Total Running Time: 71:14


The Players:

  • Steve Perry (vocals)
  • Neal Schon (guitar, backing vocals)
  • Jonathan Cain (keyboards, rhythm guitar, backing vocals)
  • Ross Valory (bass, backing vocals)
  • Steve Smith (drums)

Rating:

2.948 out of 5.00 (average of 13 ratings)

About the Album:

After 1986’s Raised on Radio, Journey seemingly was gone for good as years went by without any new product. The band may have been on ice, but its individual members were still busy. Guitarist Neal Schon and keyboardist Jonathan Cain hooked up with singer John Waite and bassist Ricky Phillips, who’d both been in The Babys a decade earlier with Cain, to form Bad English. They didn’t reach Journey-like levels with sales, but did land a #1 pop hit with “When I See You Smile,” a feat which Journey never accomplished.

After two albums, Bad English went kaput, but Schon and that band’s drummer, Deen Castronovo, formed another rock band, Hardline. That band was even more short-lived and less successful than Bad English, but it made for another important relationship for Schon – he and Castronovo would work together again as Journey members down the road.

The Journey interim also saw a reunion of three past members – Gregg Rolie, Ross Valory, and Steve Smith, for the rock group The Storm. Meanwhile, Steve Perry put out a second solo album in 1994.

It was that last effort that made for the greatest likelihood of a Journey reunion since Perry hadn’t recorded in eight years. Indeed, two years later, 1996’s Trial by Fire saw the return of Journey, and not just any line-up, but “their most successful Escape-era line-up.” JM “With Jonathan Cain, Steve Perry, and Neal Schon leading Journey once again, and bassist Ross Valory and drummer Steve Smith behind them, it would seem that Trial by Fire would contain the same elements that gave them their stardom in the ‘80s.” AMG “Journey should have delivered a great album. They managed only half a great album.” CRM

“Perry’s singing hasn’t lost too much of its power, but the faster tunes come off as contrived and messy.” AMG “Sounding hard and scattered, the smoothness of their trademarked music is nowhere to be found, replaced with brash, beat-up, hollow rock riffs.” AMG “Big rock epics Castles Burning and Can’t Tame the Lion, were all bluster.” CRM “The ballads fair no better, as the passion that once flourished within the band when it came to slowing things down has long since faded.” AMG

“Journey achieved something close to peak form” CRM “on opener Message of Love and the ready-made wedding song When You Love a Woman,” CRM but even those songs are from the equals of some of their classic predecessors. “Message of Love” pales in comparison to classic rockers like “Don’t Stop Believin’,” “Any Way You Want It,” or “Separate Ways.” Meanwhile, “When You Love a Woman” had enough schlock to land it atop the AC chart, a first for Journey, but it didn’t make it more memorable than gems like “Open Arms,” “Lights,” or “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’.”

The reunion proved short-lived; “the band’s comeback tour was aborted after Perry injured his hip in a hiking accident. Tragically, he never sang for Journey again.” CRM

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