The Quest

Crotchety Man is on a quest. Or rather, his alter ego in the real world is. The details of the journey and the destination are not relevant here, suffice it to say that I have come to an impasse. Standing in my way is a small group of people who are resistant to change. To move forward, I need to overcome their fears and trepidations. The task is daunting, but it might be possible if I can show them a vision of the brighter future that I know lies not far ahead. Words, though, will not be enough. Only a living model of Nirvana will do, and that needs specialist skills and construction equipment. I know someone who can build it, but it would be unfair to ask him to put in the time and effort when there is no guarantee we will be allowed to pass.

It’s a Catch 22 situation. I can’t move on until I can demonstrate Nirvana, but I can’t demonstrate Nirvana until I can be sure we can all move on.

Yes released their twenty-second album, The Quest, on 1st October. There’s no need for me to give a biography of the band – there’s plenty of information on the Internet covering their formation in 1968 and their various incarnations up to the present day. It’s worth a few words about this latest release, though. Let’s start with the first single from the album, Future Memories.

The band and their management chose well in selecting this track. It’s a sweet song built around Jon Davison’s vocals and Steve Howe’s acoustic guitar work. The other instruments fill in the background and add appropriately delicate decoration without detracting from the simple idea. The lyrics are more mystical than poetic, much like Jon Anderson’s writing:

I don’t want to make another memory without you.

The album as a whole returns to the early style of the original band line-up, mixing pop melodies with expansive prog-rock instrumentation. The opening track, The Ice Bridge, is typical.

This ice bridge is a metaphor for climate change. The temperature is rising; the ice will melt. Our tribe will be trapped in the mountains without food or shelter if we stay here any longer. It’s a stirring call to action.

The Quest is packaged as two discs: disc 1 is the usual length of around 42 minutes; disc 2 clocks in at under 15 minutes. It has all the hallmarks of a reissue with bonus tracks. The first disc sports eight well-crafted songs worthy of the Yes name, if not quite reaching the pinnacle of The Yes Album or Fragile. Disc 2 has three weaker tracks that add little to the album’s appeal.

Fans will not be disappointed with The Quest. It is full of pleasing, singable songs, with fine arrangements and excellent production. But the ideas don’t have the originality and sparkle that made the band’s early line-ups so exciting. In short, it’s the classic Yes sound but not a classic album.

Perhaps, if I paint a picture of the Nirvana ahead, I can persuade the people blocking my path to let me through. That might work. The picture would have to be both realistic and a beautiful work of art to be convincing. And, first, I will have to learn how to paint.

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