The Keys to Ascension CD's were released separately about a year apart in 1996 and 97 and both included what amounted to a whole CD of new Yes music and an entire concert. The first original music by the classic lineup in 18 years. They should have released the live stuff as a double live CD and the studio stuff as a separate CD of new Yes music. Sales would have been triple of what they were and money was left on the table that's for sure. This collection makes for a good "best of" the classic lineup as well as some quality new stuff.
Disc one: Starts with the best opening song in progressive rock, "Siberian Khatru." Then you get a wonderful version of "The Revealing Science of God," the great epic from Tales. "They move fast they tell me, but I just can't believe they really mean too." The maturity of the playing here is just incredible, worth the price of what was Keys 1. I'm listening to it right now and the middle part is what progressive rock is all about: Wow. The rest of the first disc features a solid version of Paul Simon's "America," I always liked the way they approached this number and stayed true to the original. "Onward" is so much better than the original, Steve plays acoustic guitar with Jon and Chris harmonizing and it is beautiful. "Awaken" is mind blowing as always and Wakeman excels. 5 stars for disc 1.
Disc 2: This includes the two ending songs of the show: "Roundabout" one of the hits and Chris, Rick, and Alan do some fine work here making this the best of all the Roundabout versions that are roundabout. "Starship Trooper" which most likely was the encore and would have left the crowd wanting more after Ricks amazing solo. Then we have two "new" songs: "Be The One" which is a pretty good 10 minute song that starts out with a similar sound to a Jon solo album, but Alan steps in and the song picks up quickly. "That, That Is" is a classic Yes 20 minute epic and it stands up to any of them. Steve's guitar solo "togetherness" is as good as anything he has ever done. I must admit that Jon singing about crack heads is a little strange but this is still one solid progressive rock song. 4 stars for Disc 2, it's the worst of the set but worth having and a good listen.
Disc 3: Has the rest of the live show with "All Good People," "Going for the One," and "Time and a Word" and they are all very good. The mix and sound of these CD's is just wonderful and kudos to Billy Sherwood: good job. "Close To The Edge" is well done and to hear "Turn of The Century" live, makes this a 5 star disc and it still has "And You and I" to go. The best disc in the set.
Disc 4: Features five new studio songs, the first of which "Mind Drive" is what Yes is all about. 18 minutes of 5 great musicians doing what they do best: making the best prog rock ever. Steve Howe with some killer solos, Chris laying down a thrilling bass line, Alan playing his best on the drums, Rick chipping in with some well placed keyboards, and Jon with great vocals as always. This is the heaven I need, thanks boys. The other songs are real good as well but none come up to the standard set by Mind Drive. 5 stars for disc 4.
Summary: The music on this CD is top notch and the mix and production is great and makes this package a must have for any fan of the classic Yes lineup. Someone says they had more energy in 1972, well so didn't I, but the maturity in the playing and the quality of the sound make this a great look at the best progressive rock band ever. "Mind Drive" is playing as I type this and if you haven't heard it, please do.