Drummer Alan White on Yes’ Epic Masterwork, “Tales From Topographic Oceans”

Tales from Topographic Oceans © Roger Dean 1973
Tales from Topographic Oceans © Roger Dean 1973 | http://www.rogerdean.com

The Topographic Drama tour and new album can be seen as interesting career bookends for longtime drummer Alan White in Yes. His very first album, Tales From Topographic Oceans was to be his first of many studio recordings, following the Close To The Edge/Yessongs tour. And Drama capped of what has come to be known as the first “Classic Yes” period, where the band virtually defined, and certain epitomized the progressive rock genre.

We spoke with Alan at length about Tales and Drama as the band was putting the wraps on their astounding new live recording, Topographic Drama:

The idea on Tales From Topographic Oceans was to have a recurring theme all the way through the album, in different shapes and forms, in different songs. You hear licks from the first song in the last song, and in different areas where you don’t expect them. That kind of stuff repeats itself a lot within the themes. Some of it, like in the end of “Soon,” and some other songs, the bass and drums play a rhythm that was essentially part of the last song. So there are a lot of mixed things like that. Many people may not pick up on it. It’s just very subtle. But we know. So that’s how it helps to play these long pieces because these things reoccur in different shapes and forms. All you’ve got to do is think of which shape is next and which form is next and then you’ll know what to play.

Alan White

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Also See:

Geoff Downes On Drama Rarities and that Album’s Defining Song

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