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Friends and Relatives

Review by Gary Hill

Friends and Relatives is a two CD set that is a compilation of two Yes tracks from the KTA albums with solo works from the various artists. Other than the two stellar group performances, the Rick Wakeman pieces and Steve Howe`s take on Tales From Topographic Oceans stand out the most.

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Track by Track Review
Disc 1
Jon Anderson-Owner of A Lonely Heart (98 Remake)
Here Anderson puts in a techno/disco remake of Yes` pop pinnacle.
Rick Wakeman-Ice
Throughout much of the song, rather regal sounding music is accompanied by a poppish vocal line. The instrumental break is quite funky and entertaining.
Steve Howe-Red And White
This is a demo version of the Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe song Birthright. There is a certain raw charm to this rendition (although, even though it is a demo, it is much better produced and arranged than that term would lead one to believe). The guitar work here really stands out.
Esquire-Zone of O
A pop-rock sort of song, Zone of O is not particularly strong, but not overly weak either.
Earthworks and Bill Bruford-Up North
A solid jazz piece, this one sort of bridges the gap between traditional and more modern jazz forms.
Rick Wakeman-The Pyramids of Egypt
The early section of the cut is composed of textural keys with a spoken word, informative monologue about the pyramids. This section drops into a dramatic, keyboard dominated piece. This one contains some beautiful, if perhaps a bit pretentious, music.
Steve Howe-Roundabout
Taken from Not Necessarily Acoustic, this is an extremely abbreviated (just over 2 minutes) acoustic guitar and vocal rendition of the Yes classic performed by Mr. Howe.
Wakeman With Wakeman-Sync Or Swim
Featuring intricate work, Sync or Swim has a new age sort of feel in the early segments. However, a enthusiastic rock mode takes over after a time. This is a very competent cut.
Rick Wakeman-Arthur
Arthur is a live recording of this classic Wakeman solo work from the Myths and Legends of King Arthur album. A very strong and dramatic cut, it showcases Wakeman at his prime.
Yes-Close to the Edge
The intro on this performance seems a bit looser and more sonically open than the Yessongs recording. This makes the song seem somewhat fresh.
Disc 2
Wakeman With Wakeman-No Expense Spared
Exhibiting a very intriguing texture in the intro, this is a rock song with very fascinating sound structures. While exploring fresh ground, much of this piece has a very classic Wakeman feel to it. At times, the mode is perhaps a bit too no-frills (particularly the vocal segments), but this is quite a strong cut.
Jon Anderson-Say
Although this track, which is based in a techno mode with rap moments, is rather weak, the vocals are quite strong, and even include moments of scat.
Steve Howe-Walk Don`t Run
Starting in and returning to an acoustic mode, this is a lively version of this Ventures classic surf song.
Esquire-Tron Thomi:
A solid prog track, this one contains some strong moments, including some very Yesish arrangements. This is a strong number.
Jon Anderson-10 Million
Featuring a definite hip-hop feel, this one is quite intriguing.
Steve Howe-Excerpts From Tales From Topographic Oceans
This is a stripped down performance of sections of the Tales album. Taking away much of the layering of the original seems to heighten the emotional impact of much of this material. This is one of the standout cuts on the album.
Jon Anderson-The More You Know
This song has some of the textures of the Jon/Damian Anderson project Close to the Hype in places. Very modern, urban sounds make up the track, and the vocal work is very strong.
Rick Wakeman-Journey
The studio version being from the Journey to the Center of the Earth album, this is a strong live performance of a classic Wakeman piece.
This is a live rendition of Yes` arrangement of Paul Simon`s America. The piece has always been a crowd pleaser, although Yes has not frequently performed it. This is a powerful cut.
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